Saturday, May 10, 2008

What the Cumulative NYSE TICK is Telling Us About Market Psychology

Recall that the NYSE TICK is a measure of very short term sentiment across the broad universe of NYSE issues. When a stock trades at its offer price, that contributes +1 to the NYSE TICK. When a stock trades at its bid price, -1 is added to the TICK. These readings are summed for all NYSE stocks every five seconds. As a result, a TICK reading of +500 means that, at that moment, 500 more stocks are trading at their offer price than at their bid. This means that traders are sufficiently bullish on stocks that they're more willing, on balance, to be paying the offer price than the bid. When sellers are more aggressive, we'll see negative TICK readings, suggesting that traders are sufficiently motivated to get out of stocks that they'll settle for the bid price.

The adjusted TICK takes the raw one-minute TICK values and subtracts from each of them the average TICK one-minute TICK reading over the past 20 trading sessions. As a result, the adjusted TICK tells us whether we're seeing more or less buying sentiment *on a relative basis*: relative to the past four weeks of trading.

If we cumulate these adjusted TICK readings over time, the resulting line (see chart above) provides an excellent picture of how sentiment is unfolding from day to day. Note that sentiment turned sharply positive from mid-March through early April, with the cumulative adjusted TICK trending steadily higher.

Since that time, the S&P 500 Index has moved to new highs, but the cumulative adjusted TICK line has not. Interestingly, we are also seeing weaker money flow readings and fewer stocks making fresh 52-week highs over this same period. Not surprisingly, the index has had difficulty sustaining its move above the 1400 resistance region.

We've had a nice move from the March lows. It will take an influx of buying sentiment to keep that move going, however.


The Cumulative NYSE TICK

Capturing Trends With NYSE TICK