MailBag Blog Archives

September 2011

How can I Track Commodities on provides spot prices for several commodities. These are EOD charts, which means the data is updated at the end of the day (after the close). Chartists can track precious metals, copper, energy related commodities and agricultural commodities. This list can be found on the Market Summary page by choosing “End-of-Day” in the drop down box. The commodity prices can be found by scrolling just below the mid point of the EOD Market Summary page.

Click this image to see the EOD Market Summary page.

Chartists can also track commodities by using ETFs. These are shown by choosing “ETF” in the drop down box at the top of the Market Summary page. has selected over a dozen commodity related ETFs to track on this page. These prices can be found by scrolling down towards the end of the ETF Market Summary page.

Click this image to see the ETF Market Summary page.

How can I create the NYSE AD Line and other cumulative indicators?

The AD Line starts with Net Advances, which is advancing issues less declining issues. provides Net Advances data for the AMEX, CDNX, Nasdaq, NYSE and TSE. The symbols are shown at the end of this commentary. First, enter the symbol for Net Advances. In this example, we are using the NYSE Advance-Decline Issues ($NYAD). A line chart, bar chart or candlestick chart will show one big choppy data series that fluctuates between positive and negative territory.

Click this image for a live chart.

To give this data some direction, chartists edit the settings by going to “Chart Attributes” and then “Type”. Click the drop down box arrow and select “Cumulative”. Click update and the choppy data turns into a line chart that can be used analyze this breadth indicator. Chartists can apply this technique to Net Advances (Advance-Decline Issues), Net Advancing Volume (Advancing Volume-Declining Volume) and Net New Highs (New Highs – New Lows). 

Click this image for a live chart.


How can I Decrease Sensitivity in Parabolic SAR?

Developed by Wells Wilder, Parabolic SAR stands for Parabolic Stop and Reverse (SAR). It is a popular indicator for setting stops and identifying directional shifts in price. The default setting (.02, .2), however, can produce quite a few directional changes and trigger lots of stops.


Chartists can reduce these directional shifts by decreasing the parameters. The first parameter (.02) is called the step. The second parameter (.2) is the maximum step. Reducing the step to .01 and the maximum step to .05 reduces the number of directional changes to four. This allows for bigger moves before the indicator triggers a stop or signals a directional change. This example uses SPY. Different settings may be required for different, and more volatile securities. You can read more on the Parabolic SAR in our ChartSchool.

Click this image for a live chart.

What does the Zigzag Indicator Measure?

The Zigzag indicator is not really an indicator per se. Instead, it defines price swings that meet a minimum percentage change. Chartists can use this indicator to identify significant price swings and filter out insignificant price swings. The definition of significant is, of course, subjective.

A Zigzag set at 10% would only shows swings that were at least 10%. Price swings less than 10% would be ignored. The example below shows a 15-minute chart for the Gold SPDR (GLD) with the 10% Zigzag overlaid. There have been three 10% swings in the last two months. Chartists should ignore that last Zigzag line. It simply connects the last peak or trough with the current close. It may or may not be a 10% swing.

Click this image for a live chart.

The Zigzag can also help with Elliott Wave counts. The chart below shows the Gold SPDR (GLD) with a 5% Zigzag using daily bars. Elliotticians could count only the pink zigzag waves and ignore price action that does not fit the Zigzag. Note that the Zigzag on a bar or candle chart uses intraday highs and lows. The Zigzag on a close-only line chart uses closing prices only. The Zigzag on a close-only chart will look different and have fewer zigzags.

Click this image for a live chart.

Tweaking the Market Carpet to See More Details

The Sector Market Carpet provides a wealth of information in color-coded format. Moreover, users can tweak this carpet with just a few mouse clicks to dive into the details. The first image shows a classic Sector Market Carpet with Price Performance. The first thing I did was to hover over the slider and right click on the mouse to show time period options. 20 days represents four weeks. Chartists can instantly see that the utilities sector is the strongest because it has the most green and the average change is +6.2%. The finance sector is the weakest because it has the most red and the average change is -2.7%.

Click this image for a live chart.

With the utilities sector showing relative strength, it would be nice to focus on the sector for more details. Clicking on the title bar shows a Market Carpet specific to the utilities sector. Users can hover over the carpet and right click on the mouse to see more display options. I chose “show ticker symbol” to see each ticker in each box. A quick chart can be shown for each stock by clicking on the corresponding box.

Click this image for a live chart.

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