Tag: technical

S&P 500 SMA Regimes

In the post Mixture model over S&P 500 returns, we looked at how mixture models can be used to classify returns as belonging to “bull” or “bear” regimes. Unfortunately, we found that using it to trade the index itself was a losing proposition. This lead us to ask ourselves whether a mixture model was any better than a simple moving average based classifier.

Daily returns

If we split returns that occur over different moving averages (50-, 100-, 200-days) and plot their densities, we can see how losses are more frequent when the index is trading below some moving average:
S&P 500 simple moving average returns density plot

Avoiding being long the index when it is trading below a moving average seems to be a good idea. And a quick back-test shows the 200-day average is the one to watch:
S&P 500 long-only SMA returns

All the moving-average “systems” above out-performed the mixture-model based system.


Simple beats complex, most of the time.

Code and charts are on github.

The Golden Cross and the Death Cross

The Golden Cross represents a major shift from the bears to the bulls. It triggers when the 50-day average breaks above the 200-day average. Conversely, the Death Cross restores bear power when the 50-day falls back beneath the 200-day. The 200-day average becomes major resistance after the 50-day average drops below it, and major support after breaking above it. When price gets trapped between the 50-day and 200-day averages, it can whipsaw repeatedly between their price extremes. This pinball action marks a zone of opportunity for swing trades.

Caveat: Moving averages emit false signals during the “negative feedback” of sideways markets. Keep in mind these common indicators measure directional momentum. They lose power in markets with little or no price change.