Sunday, November 22, 2009

Intraday Put/Call Ratios as Short-Term Sentiment Measures

If you take a look at my recent post on the CBOE equity put/call ratio, you'll get a sense for what an average ratio has looked like lately.

Those ratios, however, can also be informative on an intraday basis.

Here we see Friday's trade in the S&P 500 Index (SPY; blue line) plotted against the CBOE equity put/call ratio for each 30-minute period of the day. Note how a very high level of bearishness accompanied the early market action, as we held above the overnight market high and then rebounded in the afternoon. Note also how the ratio turned bullish as we leveled off late in the trading day.

While there isn't a one-to-one correspondence between tops and bottoms in the put/call ratio and bottoms and tops in stocks, the ratio does do a nice job of telling us when the bull or bear sides are becoming crowded. Those are occasions where we're most likely to see short-term reversals.