Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chart of the Week: Might Recent Volume Bottom Doom Stocks?

This week’s chart of the week could easily chronicle the recent decline in volatility, but that’s a story many pundits have already flogged to within an inch of its life, so it’s time for something else. Like volume.

The volume story rarely gets the air (electron?) time it deserves, so I have plucked out a chart in hopes of being provocative.

In the StockCharts lexicon, $NYTV is one of several measures of NYSE volume. Specifically, it is the daily NYSE volume figure reported by the Wall Street Journal and the one I have chosen to standardize on for my own charts. The chart below uses the NYTV numbers to plot NYSE total volume (dotted black line) against the backdrop of a solid gray area chart for the SPX, with data going back to May 2008. To smooth out some of the fluctuations and holiday-induced dips in volume, I have added a 9-day exponential moving average (EMA) as a solid blue line. I have also included a 10-day rate of change (ROC) study below the main chart.

While readers will undoubtedly draw their own conclusions from the chart, I have chosen to highlight three bottoms in the 9-day volume EMA. The first one occurs in late August 2008, just before the Lehman-induced September swoon. The second bottom is from late December, just before the January top. With Friday’s late volume surge triggered by the Russell index reconstitution, the spike in volume is almost certain to confirm that the mid-June volume drought will now become another bottom. The dip in volume coincided with the most recent top in the SPX and it is possible that for the third time in 1 ½ years, the volume bottom could signal a multi-month drop in the SPX.

[source: StockCharts]

124 comments:

Wayne said...

That's an interesting chart Bill and the conclusion converges with my interpretation of other sentiment indicators.

Total market volume is not one I've watched before, but I will be in the future, thanks for putting it up.

Wayne

Douglas said...

thanks Bill.

I have studied volume in all bear market rallies and new bull markets since 1962 (on the S&P 500).

I did not see any new bull markets built on falling volume (compared with volume at the index low).

Of course there are many ways of trying to measure this...and I find the relationship of volume and price to be more complicated to measure than that between price and implied volatility.

However, I have seen elsewhere on the blogsphere others talking about studies back to the 1930s that have similar conclusions regarding volume.

One thing I am not sure about however is whether to try and 'seasonally adjust' the volume. There seem to be summer and Christmas drops - but is it a good idea to 'seasonally adjust' volume? Perhaps the 'Sell in May' idea is not unrelated to lower summer volume? Any thoughts on that?

Bill Luby said...

Thanks, Wayne. The intent here is not necessarily to present an infallible indicator, but one that has considerably better than average potential (at least for certain market conditions), with the hope that the idea will spur some further investigation on the part of the reader.


Douglas,

Thanks for chiming in here. I have not done any studies that use seasonal adjustments for volume, but since volume clearly has a seasonal component to it, I think these types of adjustments would yield better data.

If you end up going forward with such a study, I would be interested to hear some of your findings.

Cheers,

-Bill

Colli said...

Thanks for the info Bill. If you couple this information with the drop in taxes information published by Bloomberg (http://online.barrons.com/article/SB124579469824143923.html#mod=BOL_hpp_dc) it spells out a very ominous period in the near future.

Colli

goldstocktrades said...

I had a post way back in May saying how skeptical I was of this rise on low volume.

Check out what I wrote.

Be Prepared To Short

Tom D said...

I started out in technical analysis in the 1970's which, because of the classical writers and Joe Granville's and Don Wolanchuk's work on OBV, was the decade for volume.

To keep this short I now believe that volume is overrated or unreliable for one very important several reason. It used to be that nearly all volume was NYSE traded and therefore recorded. A lot of volume today is traded "OTC" or privately or offshore, etc. so that we do not really know what the volume truly is.

Second it is not true that all bull markets start on high volume such that a low volume startup can definitively be stated not to be a bull market. Obviously at some point a real bull market WILL have much greater volume, but not necessarily during the first phase. Several people have written about this recently.

The massive bull market which started in May 1942 had very low volume for six months while the Dow rose 16%. Similarly for the bull market phase starting in 1949 and the one starting in 1958, 1980 etc.

Breadth and other data seem more important than volume early in bull markets. Volume "should" theoretically be lower early on after a major crash since few are believers. It takes little volume to run the convinced shorts. Believers only come into the market in numbers much later.

I'm not saying we are definitely having a new bull market since March, but I don't think we can rely on volume to help us either way this early in the game.

goldstocktrades said...

Tom,

Volume confirms price movement. Look at the bottom in 2003 and see how the volume came in. Do you agree we have a rounding top and the primary trend is down?

Dow Trade Opportunity

Tom D said...

""Volume confirms price movement. Look at the bottom in 2003 and see how the volume came in. Do you agree we have a rounding top and the primary trend is down?""


GST,

Volume *eventually* confirms price movement. And I see a presently wavering trend up from March 09 which still deserves respect, "until it doesn't".

Sentiment is not near normal bear market rally top levels, in my opinion.

TD

Anonymous said...

I'm coming in late, but interestingly, the only commenter AFTER this indicator was yet again proven.

The article is titled, "might recent volume bottom, doom stocks?" Published in June.

Sure enough, Going through mid July, stocks had a sell off! At the time of this publishing, the S&P traded at 927. Through July 10th, it traded down going to 879!

(Further, Following this publication, AIG popped up on my stockscreen as a buy on the correction, on July 9th and on July 10th. AIG then continued upwards, from $9/share to $50/share within 2 MONTHS!)

I will definitely use this as an indicator of possible drops to come in bull markets (and bear markets).

However, I am wondering if the drop in volume around Dec 29th, 2009 is a true indicator EVEN IN BULL MARKETS and predictor for a January 2010 drop, OR, is it merely due to vacation of traders - I believe another commenter referred to this.

What do you think?
dg

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