The Library of Technical Analysis

This week I got the chance to spend some time at the MTA Library of Technical Analysis. The collection is kept in a safe room inside of the Newman Library at Baruch College. If you’re a member of the Market Technicians Association and happen to be in New York City, I highly recommend checking it out. The collection has 100+ year old books, archives of newspapers and magazines from the 1950s, hand drawn point & figure charts, and even a 2nd Edition Graham & Dodd from 1940 that made the cut.

I was able to check out a few of the old books that will be delivered to me this week. I’m sure I’ll post some of my findings after I dig in. But I brought my camera and took some pictures that I wanted to share. Enjoy:


Related Posts:

The World’s Most Awesome Room (Sept 4, 2012)

This is What Technical Analysis Was Like in the 70s (Oct 12, 2012)


Intermarket Year in Review

When it’s time to sit down and figure out exactly how we want our portfolio to be positioned, we start from the top/down. Diversification is not, buy everything and hope for the best. I think it’s important to take each asset class for what it is and decide how (and if) you want that to compliment your other assets. So we take stocks, for example, and ask ourselves, “ok do we want to lean long or short? smaller caps or larger caps? staples or discretionaries? emerging or developed?” Then we look at bonds, “do we want to be in Treasuries? Junk? Corporates? nothing at all? Long, short?” We also need to figure out how big we want our position to be in each asset class. Or do we even want to be them at all? This is all part of our diversified, non-correlated (target) portfolio.

So let’s look back and see how each of the major asset classes performed versus one another throughout 2012 (Click Chart to Embiggen):

Stocks led the way this year, as represented by the S&P500. Gold should finish the year positive while the rest of the CRB Index was dragged down by the struggling Crude Oil market. Treasury Bonds prices, while off the highs are still closing the year in the green. And with the Euro coming back hard off those summer lows, the US Dollar Index is going out slightly down for the year.

Correlations aren’t what they were a year ago and especially not what they were three & four years ago. So keep in mind that these relationships are constantly changing, and staying on top of these developments in the intermarket world really give you a leg up versus other market participants.

Intermarket Analysis is a very important part of our Technical work. Sometimes it gets forgotten as part of the study that we like to call Technical Analysis. But at the end of the day, we study price behavior regardless of the asset class. This is one of the many advantages that I feel technicians have over other forms of analysis. We don’t care what were looking at. Price is price whether the chart shows shares of $AAPL or the Crude Oil vs Natural Gas ratio. I can’t imagine not being able to do that.

Let’s use this time of the year to give this some thought. How do you think the intermarket landscape will be different in 2013?



What Does January Mean To You?

This is typically a slow, yet very exciting time of the year for us. A fresh start in 2013 to show this market what we’re made of. Coming up in a few days starts the month of January, a very powerful and predictive period. Appropriately named after Janus, the God of the Doorway, the results for this month could lead to conclusions about the rest of the year. There is definitely some validity to January’s effects as well as some confusion. For example, the January Barometer and the January Effect are two completely different things. I’d bet that plenty will get this one wrong over the next few weeks. So let’s get right into it, and let me explain what the month of January means to me:

The January BarometerAs the S&P500 Goes in January, So Goes The Year. When the month of January records a gain, as measured by the S&P500 Index, history suggests that the rest of the year will serve as a benefactor, and finish in the black as well. Since 1950, this indicator has an incredible 88.7% accuracy ratio. This number also includes 2012, as January closed the month up 4.35% and the S&P500 is on pace to finish positive for the year.

Down Januarys Serve as a Warning – According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, every down January for the S&P500 since 1950, without exception, preceded a new or extended bear market, flat market, or a 10% correction. 12 bear markets began, and ten continued into second years with poor Januarys. When the first month of the year has been down, the rest of the year followed with an average loss of 13.9%. In most years, these declines later provided excellent buying opportunities. For example, 2008 was the worst January on record and preceded the worst bear market since the Great Depression. But 2009 proved to be one of the greatest buying opportunities in American history.

First Five Days in January Indicator –  This one has a very nice track record as well. The last 40 UP first five days of the year have been followed by full-year gains 34 times for an 85% accuracy ratio. This includes 2012 which had a 1.8% rally in the first 5 days. The average gain for the first 39 of those years was 13.6%. It looks like 2012 will close up somewhere right around that number as well. The results are less reliable when the first 5 days in January are negative, showing just a 47.8% accuracy rate and an average gain of 0.2%. Going forward, I think it’s important to note that the S&P500 posted a gain for the first 5 days of the year in just 6 of the last 15 Post-Election Years.

The January Barometer Portfolio – The Standard & Poors top performing industries in January tend to outperform the S&P500 over the next 12 months. According to Sam Stovall, if on Feb. 1 you invested equally in the 3 sectors that posted the best returns in the month of January and held them until Feb. 1 of the following year, you would’ve received a compound rate of growth of 8% as compared with 6.6% for the S&P 500. If you bought the worst performers in January, you would’ve underperformed the market with a 5.5% return. Since 1970, the compound rate of growth for the 10 best-performing sub-industries based on their January performance was 14.4% as compared with 6.8% for the S&P 500, and 4% for the worst 10 sub-industries in the S&P 500 in that January. The best-performing sub-industries in January went on to beat the market in the subsequent months 69% of the time, so nearly 7 out of every 10 years. The worst performing groups outperformed the S&P only 38% of the time. This indicates to us that you’re better off sticking with the winners rather than the losers.

The January Effect – As we mentioned in our December 6th Post, “It’s Game Time for Small-Caps”, there is a tendency for Small-Cap stocks to outperform Large-Caps in the month of January. There are plenty of theories about why this is the case, but as a lot of us already know, this phenomenon now begins in mid-December. The stats don’t lie: from 1953 to 1995, small-caps outperformed large-caps in January 40 out of 43 years. But the shift into the mid-December starting point really got going after the 1987 crash. This year, however, the Russell2000 actually began outperforming the Larger-Cap Russell1000 in mid-November. So the results here should be interesting to look back on.

January is the NASDAQ’s Top Performing Month – Since 1971, the total percentage gain for the Nasdaq Composite in January is an unbelievable 115.2%. If you take the rest of the 11 months combined during that period, the rest of the year has averaged just 30.1% (1971-2011). 2012 was no different as the Nasdaq Composite gained 8% for the month of January and is up just about 6.6% since then.


As we did last year, we’ll go over all of these again at the beginning of February and see what sort of conclusions we can make based on the results. I always like to make Janus proud and open the door a little bit into the world of January. As a God who looks both ways, some would say that this is a reminder to all of us that we must focus our attention, not just on the long side, but on the short side of the market as well. Markets move both up AND down. So rather that focusing our attention on why a given market may be in decline, let us remember that the markets have ALWAYS gone in both directions and this is perfectly normal behavior. In 2013, let’s make a conscious effort to anticipate market corrections and benefit from them, as opposed to looking for people to blame. Let’s take responsibility for our portfolios and have a killer year!

Best of luck in 2013



*Make sure to check out the Stock Trader’s Almanac, Bespoke Investment Group and Standard & Poors, who I believe provide some of the best data and tools for the above mentioned stats.

The Financial Blogosphere: Technicals

If you’re reading this blog, there is a pretty high likelihood that you read other blogs as well. There’s a tremendous amount of value throughout the Financial Blogosphere and this is something that I’ve really tried to take advantage of for many years. But you’d be surprised as to how many people out there are still unaware of the brilliant minds publishing their thoughts on a daily basis. And there’s no filter either – that’s the best part. As bloggers, we don’t have to worry about what corporate higher-ups think, or having to repeat the same garbage over and over again just because that’s what we’re told drives traffic to sell advertising. We get to say and write whatever we want. That’s why it’s awesome. No ulterior motives.

Because of the great analytics tools at our disposal, I can see everyone who comes to read the blog, what city they come from around world, and sometimes even what company they work for. So I know for a fact that visitors to Allstarcharts come from over 200 different countries, most major financial institutions, many large corporations, hedge funds, Universities and Government agencies. Readers really come from all walks of life. And to me, that’s cool.

I get asked all the time to recommend a list of financial blogs for new comers to the blogosphere. Obviously I steer everyone towards my favorite technical blogs. That’s just how I roll. But there’s never been a go to place that has all of the best ones.

Which brings me to one of the greatest lists ever assembled. Josh Brown, a good friend of mine and author of the Reformedbroker blog just came out with his guide to the financial web. He goes category by category sharing his personal list of financial blogs. And I’m happy to report that his first section is dedicated to Technical Analysis. Well done JB.

So without further ado:


The Deadly Venoms: Traders, Technicians and Disciples of the Guild of Charts

Market Montage
All Star Charts
The Armo Trader
Dynamic Hedge
Downtown Trader
Kimble Charting Solutions

Zikomo Letter

Price Action Lab

Dr. J Blog (OptionMonster)
Peter Brandt

High Chart Patterns
Derek Hernquist

Upside Trader

The Kirk Report
Slope of Hope

Dragonfly Capital
Joe Fahmy
Risk Reversal
Vix and More
Bill Cara

Quantifiable Edges
Afraid To Trade
Condor Options
Surfview Capital
SMB Capital
Dynamic Hedge
Andrew Thrasher
Dragonfly Capital
Mercenary Trader
Investing With Options
The Trend Rida
Crosshairs Trader
Ivanhoff Capital
Chicago Sean
Bigger Capital


Make sure you check out the rest of the categories. This is an excellent list:

Enter The Financial Blogosphere (Reformedbroker)

Words of Wisdom from PTJ

“Don’t be a hero. Don’t have an ego. Always question yourself and your ability. Don’t ever feel that you are very good. The second you do, you are dead” – PTJ

Paul Tudor Jones has always been a trader and money manager that I’ve looked up to throughout my career. I don’t know him personally, but his strategy and market philosophy is something I’ve always admired. You see, as market participants we are forced to read, listen to and watch things that are as irrelevant as it gets when it comes to truly managing risk. So if you let yourself be consumed by the nonsense that is 99% of what you read, listen to and watch, then you’re in trouble. Price is the only thing that pays, and for some reason that common sense is easily forgotten by so many.

My pal IvanHoff has assembled a killer list of market insights directly from PTJ himself. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did:


PTJ is not only a successful hedge fund manager and philanthropist, but also very original and clear thinker. Here are some of his best market-related insights:

1. Markets have consistently experienced “100-year events” every five years. While I spend a significant amount of my time on analytics and collecting fundamental information, at the end of the day, I am a slave to the tape and proud of it.

2. I see the younger generation hampered by the need to understand and rationalize why something should go up or down. Usually, by the time that becomes self-evident, the move is already over.

3. When I got into the business, there was so little information on fundamentals, and what little information one could get was largely imperfect. We learned just to go with the chart. Why work when Mr. Market can do it for you?

4. These days, there are many more deep intellectuals in the business, and that, coupled with the explosion of information on the Internet, creates an illusion that there is an explanation for everything and that the primary tast is simply to find that explanation. As a result, technical analysis is at the bottom of the study list for many of the younger generation, particularly since the skill often requires them to close their eyes and trust price action. The pain of gain is just too overwhelming to bear.

5. There is no training — classroom or otherwise — that can prepare for trading the last third of a move, whether it’s the end of a bull market or the end of a bear market. There’s typically no logic to it; irrationality reigns supreme, and no class can teach what to do during that brief, volatile reign. The only way to learn how to trade during that last, exquisite third of a move is to do it, or, more precisely, live it.

6. Fundamentals might be good for the first third or first 50 or 60 percent of a move, but the last third of a great bull market is typically a blow-off, whereas the mania runs wild and prices go parabolic.

7. That cotton trade was almost the deal breaker for me. It was at that point that I said, ‘Mr. Stupid, why risk everything on one trade? Why not make your life a pursuit of happiness rather than pain?’

8. If I have positions going against me, I get right out; if they are going for me, I keep them… Risk control is the most important thing in trading. If you have a losing position that is making you uncomfortable, the solution is very simple: Get out, because you can always get back in.

9. Losers average down losers

10. The concept of paying one-hundred-and-something times earnings for any company for me is just anathema. Having said that, at the end of the day, your job is to buy what goes up and to sell what goes down so really who gives a damn about PE’s?

11. The normal progression of most traders that I’ve seen is that the older they get something happens. Sometimes they get more successful and therefore they take less risk. That’s something that as a company we literally sit and work with. That’s certainly something that I’ve had to come to grips with in particular over the past 12 to 18 months. You have to actively manage against your natural tendency to become more conservative. You do that because all of a sudden you become successful and don’t want to lose what you have and/or in my case you get married and have children and naturally, consciously or subconsciously, you become more conservative.

12. I look for opportunities with tremendously skewed reward-risk opportunities. Don’t ever let them get into your pocket – that means there’s no reason to leverage substantially. There’s no reason to take substantial amounts of financial risk ever, because you should always be able to find something where you can skew the reward risk relationship so greatly in your favor that you can take a variety of small investments with great reward risk opportunities that should give you minimum draw down pain and maximum upside opportunities.

13. I believe the very best money is made at the market turns. Everyone says you get killed trying to pick tops and bottoms and you make all your money by playing the trend in the middle. Well for twelve years I have been missing the meat in the middle but I have made a lot of money at tops and bottoms.


Also Read:

John Murphy’s Ten Laws of Technical Trading


13 Insights from Paul Tudor Jones (Ivanhoff)

John Murphy’s Ten Laws of Technical Trading

This post was originally published on December 7, 2011

John Murphy is the Author of a few of my favorite books. He is a legend in the field of Intermarket Analysis. His website, is one of the best out there – I use it everyday.

When people ask me what they can do to start learning some Technical Analysis – I always say the same thing, “Read Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets and then read Intermarket Analysis“, both by John Murphy.

He is one of the best that ever did it. These are his Ten Laws of Technical Trading:


1. Map the Trends

Study long-term charts. Begin a chart analysis with monthly and weekly charts spanning several years. A larger scale map of the market provides more visibility and a better long-term perspective on a market. Once the long-term has been established, then consult daily and intra-day charts. A short-term market view alone can often be deceptive. Even if you only trade the very short term, you will do better if you’re trading in the same direction as the intermediate and longer term trends.

2. Spot the Trend and Go With It

Determine the trend and follow it. Market trends come in many sizes – long-term, intermediate-term and short-term. First, determine which one you’re going to trade and use the appropriate chart. Make sure you trade in the direction of that trend. Buy dips if the trend is up. Sell rallies if the trend is down. If you’re trading the intermediate trend, use daily and weekly charts. If you’re day trading, use daily and intra-day charts. But in each case, let the longer range chart determine the trend, and then use the shorter term chart for timing.

3. Find the Low and High of It

Find support and resistance levels. The best place to buy a market is near support levels. That support is usually a previous reaction low. The best place to sell a market is near resistance levels. Resistance is usually a previous peak. After a resistance peak has been broken, it will usually provide support on subsequent pullbacks. In other words, the old “high” becomes the new low. In the same way, when a support level has been broken, it will usually produce selling on subsequent rallies – the old “low” can become the new “high.”

4. Know How Far to Backtrack

Measure percentage retracements. Market corrections up or down usually retrace a significant portion of the previous trend. You can measure the corrections in an existing trend in simple percentages. A fifty percent retracement of a prior trend is most common. A minimum retracement is usually one-third of the prior trend. The maximum retracement is usually two-thirds. Fibonacci retracements of 38% and 62% are also worth watching. During a pullback in an uptrend, therefore, initial buy points are in the 33-38% retracement area.

5. Draw the Line

Draw trend lines. Trend lines are one of the simplest and most effective charting tools. All you need is a straight edge and two points on the chart. Up trend lines are drawn along two successive lows. Down trend lines are drawn along two successive peaks. Prices will often pull back to trend lines before resuming their trend. The breaking of trend lines usually signals a change in trend. A valid trend line should be touched at least three times. The longer a trend line has been in effect, and the more times it has been tested, the more important it becomes.

6. Follow that Average

Follow moving averages. Moving averages provide objective buy and sell signals. They tell you if existing trend is still in motion and help confirm a trend change. Moving averages do not tell you in advance, however, that a trend change is imminent. A combination chart of two moving averages is the most popular way of finding trading signals. Some popular futures combinations are 4- and 9-day moving averages, 9- and 18-day, 5- and 20-day. Signals are given when the shorter average line crosses the longer. Price crossings above and below a 40-day moving average also provide good trading signals. Since moving average chart lines are trend-following indicators, they work best in a trending market.

7. Learn the Turns

Track oscillators. Oscillators help identify overbought and oversold markets. While moving averages offer confirmation of a market trend change, oscillators often help warn us in advance that a market has rallied or fallen too far and will soon turn. Two of the most popular are the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastics. They both work on a scale of 0 to 100. With the RSI, readings over 70 are overbought while readings below 30 are oversold. The overbought and oversold values for Stochastics are 80 and 20. Most traders use 14-days or weeks for stochastics and either 9 or 14 days or weeks for RSI. Oscillator divergences often warn of market turns. These tools work best in a trading market range. Weekly signals can be used as filters on daily signals. Daily signals can be used as filters for intra-day charts.

8. Know the Warning Signs

Trade MACD. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator (developed by Gerald Appel) combines a moving average crossover system with the overbought/oversold elements of an oscillator. A buy signal occurs when the faster line crosses above the slower and both lines are below zero. A sell signal takes place when the faster line crosses below the slower from above the zero line. Weekly signals take precedence over daily signals. An MACD histogram plots the difference between the two lines and gives even earlier warnings of trend changes. It’s called a “histogram” because vertical bars are used to show the difference between the two lines on the chart.

9. Trend or Not a Trend

Use ADX. The Average Directional Movement Index (ADX) line helps determine whether a market is in a trending or a trading phase. It measures the degree of trend or direction in the market. A rising ADX line suggests the presence of a strong trend. A falling ADX line suggests the presence of a trading market and the absence of a trend. A rising ADX line favors moving averages; a falling ADX favors oscillators. By plotting the direction of the ADX line, the trader is able to determine which trading style and which set of indicators are most suitable for the current market environment.

10. Know the Confirming Signs

Include volume and open interest. Volume and open interest are important confirming indicators in futures markets. Volume precedes price. It’s important to ensure that heavier volume is taking place in the direction of the prevailing trend. In an uptrend, heavier volume should be seen on up days. Rising open interest confirms that new money is supporting the prevailing trend. Declining open interest is often a warning that the trend is near completion. A solid price uptrend should be accompanied by rising volume and rising open interest.


Technical analysis is a skill that improves with experience and study. Always be a student and keep learning.

– John Murphy



John Murphy’s Ten Laws of Technical Trading (StockCharts)

Watching Aussie Dollar as a Leader

With equity markets around the world vulnerable for a correction, the Australian Dollar is probably a good place to start looking for leadership. Over the last couple of years, breakdowns in the Aussie have led to weakness in the S&P500. Today we’re looking at a chart of the $AUDUSD breaking support from an uptrend line of closing prices from the June lows (Click Chart to Embiggen)

Chris Kimble of Kimble Charting Solutions does a nice job here of showing how the Aussie Dollar has been a solid leading indicator for US Equities. Although it appears to be breaking down, Kimble says, “One day does not make a trend, so keep a close eye on where the AU$ heads from here, because it could help you with portfolio construction in a big way!

Make sure to follow Chris Kimble on Stocktwits @KimbleCharting



Keep An Eye on this World Leading Indicator (KimbleChartingSolutions)


Futures Market Flash Crash

Here’s what the E-mini S&P 500 Index futures did at 8:18 PM Thursday evening:


Tags: $ES_F

Financials Lead Market Higher in 2012

How about that for a headline?

The financials, banks, $XLF, broker dealers, or all of the above. The group they call, “The Financial Sector”, has led the United States stock market higher for the year. Tell me the capital markets aren’t awesome.

I have conversations with random non-market professionals all the time. And to this day, if I tell them I’m buying banks, they get this disgusted look on their face, “Really, financials? Why?”. I tell them, “there’s one reason why – look at your reaction”. All those disastrous banks blowing up was over 4 years ago. Do you know how long that is in internet years? Instagram didn’t even exist yet.

Sentiment is a powerful thing. And it’s our choice whether to take advantage of it or not.

Bespoke Investment Group has a timely post up today showing the sector by sector performance for 2012. Financials are up almost 27% and leading the way higher for the market in 2012. How about that?

Last week an accountant friend of mine came by the office and was looking over my shoulder at my monitors. I had a chart of Spain up and told him we were buying $EWP – the Spain ETF. He had the same disgusted look on his face that I’ve seen many a time when bringing up a long financials position. Coincidence?



Financials On Top (BespokeInvest)

Nasdaq 100 Equal Weight Index Paints a Different Picture

You might think that the Nasdaq has been lagging some of the other major US equity averages lately. And after a quick glance at the Nasdaq100 ($QQQ), it’s a fair point. But remember that this disaster of an Apple stock is close to 20% of that index. Apple lost almost 30% of its value in just 3 months. I guess the 100B in cash and “low” p/e ratio wasn’t so important after all.

Now, looking at the Nasdaq100 in a different way, it actually turns out that they’ve been the leader. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P500, Russell2000, and Midcap400 are still below their September highs, the Nasdaq100 Equal Weight ETF ($QQEW) is already challenging those highs.

So basically, if you take $AAPL’s monster weighting out of the equation, the Nasdaq100 looks great:

Look at the lower window in the chart. How about that outperformance in the Equal Weight Nasdaq100 since the $AAPL destruction began?

We can have a long philosophical discussion about price and cap weighted averages. I have my feelings on that, like $IBM being the most important stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average while Alcoa is almost irrelevant. But that’s a topic for another blog post.



Equal Weight Tech ETFs If You’re Shy About Apple (ETF Trends)

Nasdaq100 Equal Weight ETF Breaks September Highs (StockCharts)

PowerShares QQQ Holdings (YahooFinance)


3 Technical Reasons to Worry in 2013

Mary Ann Bartels, technician at BofA/ML, is out with her 2013 outlook. Although she is still bullish equities going into early next year, she points to three reasons why there is a risk of a bear market in excess of a 20% decline beginning in 2013.

The first is the divergence in the advance/decline line. While the S&P500 has made new price highs, the advance/decline line for both the S&P500 and NYSE has remained flat:

Her next concern is the Presidential Cycle. The month of February after an election is often down sharply, on average by 2.3%. Based on historical trends, the post-election year is usually the weakest period of the four-year presidential cycle:

And finally, the shelf life of a 20%+ bull market in stocks is usually about 2.5 years. If you consider how far we’ve come off the 2009 lows, 2013 would mark four years of this expansion in the stock market. So she thinks that it’s about time for a change in direction.

Personally, I can’t say that I disagree with most of this stuff. The Presidential Cycle is definitely leaning in the direction of the bears. The A/D line, however, can still confirm the new price highs. But this rocking bull market is going on four years. Can you count the 2011 correction as a valid interruption of that main trend? Not sure. We did make fresh highs less than a year later. So to her point, we’ve probably been in a bull market for too long. Time for a change?



Here Are 3 Reasons Why Stocks Can Enter A Bear Market in 2013 (BusinessInsider)

A Lump of Coal For Christmas May Not Be So Bad

Tradition has it that if you misbehave throughout the year, you might just end up with a lump of coal under the tree on Christmas morning. But going into the end of 2012, it might not be such a bad thing. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Coal sector has been consolidating in a nice tight range for almost 7 months. These narrow ranges typically resolve themselves with a vicious move one way or another. We’re in the camp that this resolution comes with a move higher.

Here is a chart of the Market Vectors Coal ETF ($KOL) in a tight range since May. The first thing that stands out to me here is the higher low that momentum was putting in as prices were making fresh 52-week lows in September. This bullish divergence in the relative strength index is clue number one for higher prices:

Next, we need to factor in the amount of attempts that Coal has made to get above this $26 level. It’s more of a 50-60 cent range and not an exact number, but the resistance is clear. Currently, this space is working on a 5th test of that resistance. As always, the more times that a level is tested, the higher the likelihood that it breaks.

From a risk management perspective, I’d be looking at November’s lows. We really should hang on to those if $KOL is going to breakout to the upside. A rollover there would signal to us that this space isn’t ready yet and needs some further consolidation.

So we’re watching Coal pretty closely here, and more specifically the components of the ETF itself. I think it pays to dig deeper into this space and maybe get creative with positioning and entry points. As we approach the end of the year, we’re looking at some of the areas of the market that could turn into leaders. We mentioned China recently, and I think Coal should follow that space.