|Weekly Newsletter 07/29/06|
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Head and Shoulders chart pattern still on beta-test - see this week's Top Tip for backtest results
The major indexes made gains of over 3% this week led by the NASDAQ which gained 3.65%. This was the biggest gain for the NASDAQ since the first week of the year. The DJI followed with a 3.23% gain and the S&P 500 closed 3.08% higher. The largest gains came on Friday when investors reacted favorably to a Commerce Department report that GDP growth slowed by a greater than expected amount to 2.5% in the second quarter. In moving stocks higher, investors overlooked a growth in core inflation to 2.9% and stronger than expected increase in employment costs.
Although the week's upward movement was encouraging we expect the recent volatility to continue, at least until the Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee meeting on August 8. While a slowing of economic growth may give the Fed pause in raising interest rates, the Fed is also likely to view the increase in the core inflation figure with concern. The Fed's twin mandates are stable prices and full employment and they generally believe that the former is important to ensure the latter. Faced with a choice of controlling inflation or slowing the economy, they are likely to choose to control inflation. So while the markets rejoiced at a cooling economy yesterday, they are likely to return to their fear of inflation again shortly. A slow down in growth also hurts earnings, so we may see a reassessment of current price levels in view of the confirmation of slower economic growth.
There are indications that the NASDAQ may have finally found a bottom. It has climbed off its recent lows with a couple of follow-through days and overcome short term resistance. Also, the PSAR (dotted line on the chart below) has moved into a long position. It is still below both its 50 and 200 day moving averages, however, and will need to climb above th e200 before our market model will signal an 'enter'.
We are continuing to work on our new head and shoulders pattern and have just completed backtesting it to 1999. Results are presented below.
|New Features this Week||Additional Value that we added this week|
See our Top Tip below.
|This Week's Top Tip||Tips for getting the most out of our site|
Last week we described our methodology for recognizing head and shoulder (H&S) chart patterns. The newsletter article can be reviewed here. This week we look at the results of back testing this methodology against all stocks in our database (all NYSE, AmEx and NASDAQ NM companies) back to January 1, 1999, the earliest date for which we have data.
We have not completed integration of the H&S methodology with the rest of the site, including email alerts, so the existing beta-test version of the H&S display will continue to be accessible to subscribers and guests for another week.
The back testing shows that an H&S pattern is an extremely reliable predictor of a pending breakdown in a stock.
The complete set of results with links to the head and shoulders patterns can be seen here.
We found that a breakdown occurred in 96.38% of cases. This indicates that the head and shoulders pattern is a very powerful predictor of a price decline to come. This is true whether the slope of the neckline is upwards, flat or downwards. Of these, the decline after breakdown exceeded 5% in 74.5% of breakdowns.
Upward sloping necklines are much more common than downward sloping necklines and have a slightly higher potential return by about 1%.
The average actual % decline was very close to the target for both upward and downward sloping necklines and overall. However, there was wide variability between the actual % decline result versus the target % decline in each case as the scatter plot shows. Nevertheless, the Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.167 for 506 cases determined there is a statistically significant relationship between target and actual results. The regression line through the origin shows that the actual result will be about 70% of the target although there will be wide variation in that result.
In our sample, we found that 89 stocks (17.6%) set their low on the same day as they broke down and closed above the breakdown price the next day. Many went on to breakdown again, but we did not analyze their number.
Our definition of a head and shoulders pattern does not include a consideration of the volume at the left shoulder, head and right shoulder whereas most definitions of the pattern suggest that volume should be lower at each of these points. Our analysis shows that the pattern is a very good predictor of impending breakdown without considering volume.
If you hold a long position in a stock that has completed the right shoulder of an H&S pattern, then you should sell because 96% of these stocks will break down.
Because of the high probability that a breakdown is about to occur, you may wish to open a short position immediately an H&S is identified before waiting for the breakdown. The position can then be added to when the breakdown occurs.
Immediately after the breakdown, set a stop loss at the breakdown price to protect yourself against the 17.6% of breakdowns that recover the next day. Otherwise, a reasonable target profit for the trade is 70% of the target price.
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please post them to the Breakoutwatch Forum.
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|Market Summary||Overview of market direction and industry rotation|
|Weekly Breakout Report||How confirmed breakouts performed this week|
2This represents the return if each stock were bought at its breakout price and sold at its intraday high.
3This represents the return if each stock were bought at its breakout price and sold at the most recent close.
|Top Breakout Choices||Stocks on our Cup-and-Handle list with best expected gain if they breakout|
|Top Second Chances||Stocks that broke out this week and are still in buyable range|
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