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The Bullish Outside Month

I came across an article over at the blog, Jay On The Markets, that talked about applying a bullish outside indicator on a monthly chart. The article I was reading is titled, “One Sign That the Bull May Still Have Legs“. In this article Jay talks about the incredible run the U.S. broad market has experienced as of late. Remarking that “The Trend is Your Friend”, Jay goes on to highlight a potential bullish indicator which appears on the monthly chart of the S&P. The indicator is a bullish outside month.

I thought I would spend some time testing this indicator and see what the results may tell. Of course, the code used to test this indcator appears at the bottom of this article.

A Bullish Outside Month

A Bullish Outside Month happens when…

  1. Current month’s low is less than or equal to last month’s low
  2. Current month’s close is greater than last month’s high

In EasyLanguage this could be written as follows:

Variable BullishOM;

BullishOM = ( Low <= Low[1] ) And ( Close > High[1] );

If ( BullishOM ) Then Begin
   // Code for when Bullish Outside Month Happens
   End
Else Begin
   // Code for when Bullish Outside Month Does NOT hapen
   End;

This above code will determine if a Bullish Outside Month has occurred and provides a conditional test to take action based upon the result. The result in this case, is a boolean value indicating if a Bullish Outside Bar occured.

To test the effectiveness of BOM I’m going to create a simple TradeStation strategy based on the code above. When a BOM occurs I will puchase shares and hold for X number of bars. Jay performed his test on a monthly chart. I will duplicate that here. I will then also apply the BOM strategy on a weekly and daily chart.

Testing Environment

I decided to test the strategy on the S&P cash index going back to 1960. The following assumptions were made:

  • Starting account size of $100,000
  • Dates tested are from 1960 through May 2014
  • The entire account value will be put at risk for each trade
  • The P&L is not accumulated to the starting equity
  • There are no deductions for commissions and slippage
  • No stops were used

I used TradeStation’s optimize feature to test the holding period of 0 through 11. This holding period represents the number of bars to hold an open trade. Each bar represents a single interval of time based upon the type of chart I’m backtesting. For example, on a monthly chart the holding period represents weeks, while the daily chart represents days. So why do I start at the value of zero? This is a little nuance on how EasyLanguage works when executing simple market orders. Essentially this means open and close the trade on the current bar. So, the trade is opened at the “open” of the current bar and the trade is then closed on that bar. Except the trade is actually closed at the “open” of the next bar. Thus, a holding period of zero is a one bar hold. Clear as mud, right?

In the end what we are doing is testing the market’s behavior after a bullish outside bar appears. The bar graphs below represent net profit generated by the system based upon the holding period.

Monthly Results

The bar graph below represents the net profit (y-axis) generated on a monthly chart based upon the holding period (x-axis). It’s interesting to note that profit tends to climb as you increase the holding period. In this test net profit peeks at the 9 month holding period. The values of of 8, 9 and 11 maintain about the same level of net profit.

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Monthly

 

Does this tell us anything? At first glance it does appear that after our BOM event there is an edge in going long, but we have to remember the market is bias to the long side. There are many indicators that you could use that will show a positive edge.

What is an interesting observation on the chart of this strategy is it does appear to avoid the major bear markets. Notice how no trades are opened during the two bear markets after 2000 and 2007. Click on the chart for a larger view. Only after the market started to recover did we see signals. Is this just a fluke or does the BOM on a monthly chart really help tell us the market is due for new highs over the coming months? On the monthly chart we only have 17 data points, so this is far from a significant number.

Bullish Outside Bar Monthly Chart

Monthly Chart With Bullish Outside Bar Applied

The next chart is a depiction of the drawdown experienced when holding each trade. Notice we experienced drawdowns as high as 24% during the 70s however, starting the in late 1980s until present day, the drawdown has been tiny (under 4%). This means our positions have taken very little heat. Again, is this just a fluke?

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Monthly_Drawdown

Drawdown

Weekly Results

The bar graph below represents the net profit (y-axis) generated on a weekly chart based upon the holding period (x-axis). Here we see a very different picture. When this strategy is applied to a weekly chart we see very poor performance for the first 10 weeks or so. I’m guessing that our BOM on the weekly chart appears to be a shorter term exhaustion indicator which more likely tells us the market will consolidate and/or have a slight pullback over the coming weeks.

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Weekly

 

Picking a value of 19 (20-week holding period) we have 63 trades over the duration of the backtest with an average profit of $2,141.  Below is the equity graph and weekly drawdown graph.

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Weekly_EQ_Curve

20 Week Holding Period Equity Graph

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Weekly_Drawdown

Weekly Drawdown on 20 Week Holding Period

 

Daily Results

The bar graph below represents the net profit (y-axis) generated on a daily chart based upon the holding period (x-axis). This chart appears most like the monthly chart. All holding periods appear to be profitable and in general, the longer you hold the more net profit you make.

 

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Daily

Picking a value of 29 (20 day holding period) we have 145 trades over the duration of the backtest with an average profit of $930.  Below is the equity graph and weekly drawdown graph. The equity graph is not nearly as “clean” on the weekly chart. There is a large break in the equity curve during the financial crash of 2007 and 2008. Could this be the start of a trading system? It very well could be.

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Daily_EQ_Curve

20 Day Holding Period Equity Graph

Bullish_Outside_Bar_Daily_Drawdown

Weekly Drawdown on 20 Day Holding Period

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About the Author Jeff Swanson

Jeff is the founder of System Trader Success - a website and mission to empowering the retail trader with the proper knowledge and tools to become a profitable trader the world of quantitative/automated trading.

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