Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Constructing and Interpreting the Cumulative Adjusted NYSE TICK

My recent post explained the construction of the NYSE TICK and related measures of short-term sentiment. Most uses of TICK are intraday, as a way of gauging whether buyers or sellers are gaining the upper hand on short-term moves. I've used short-term oscillators of the NYSE TICK of 10-20 minutes as a way of smoothing out one-minute values. I find the peaks and valleys helpful in execution, as I want to buy on countertrend dips in the TICK oscillator and sell on countertrend bounces.

Some years ago, I decided to create a cumulative line of one-minute TICK values as a way of gauging longer-term buying and selling interest. Each one minute reading was the average of that minute's high, low, and close TICK values. I added the one-minute average readings to a cumulative total, as one would do for an advance-decline line.

What I found was that the NYSE TICK, as a distribution, did not have a perfect zero mean. There was a positive bias to the series. That bias has since been reduced by the elimination of the uptick rule for short-selling. Still, at any given time, the mean of TICK values will depart from zero. This gave the cumulative TICK line a bias in slope, particularly over the long-term.

Thus began my efforts to adjust the cumulative TICK to create a zero mean. The solution I arrived at was to calculate the average one-minute TICK reading for the past 20 days (a roughly 7900 period moving average of the one-minute high, low, close average values) and subtract that moving 20-day average from each subsequent one-minute H-L-C TICK value. I called this the Adjusted TICK.

What the Adjusted TICK is telling you is whether the current TICK values are stronger or weaker than the average over the past 20 days. This tells us whether markets are gaining or losing buying/selling interest relative to their recent past. In a sense, we can think of this as relative sentiment: the degree to which short-term sentiment is departing from what we've seen over the past month.

When we cumulate these Adjusted TICK values, the resulting line is quite helpful in providing a picture of changes in market sentiment. If buyers or sellers are quite dominant, we'll see a sharp rise or fall in slope of the line. If we're range bound, we'll tend to see a flattening of the line. Divergences between price and the cumulative line suggest that buying or selling pressure may be waning over time, which has me looking for possible reversal.

I use the day's Cumulative Adjusted TICK (starting each day at zero) as a trend indicator; most my intraday trades will be in the direction of the TICK line. I also use breakouts in the TICK to validate price breakouts from ranges. Many of my past posts illustrate these concepts.

I don't know of any software that charts the Cumulative Adjusted TICK for you. Market Tells follows the indicator closely and utilizes it in its helpful newsletter and intraday trend-following service. For more intrepid sorts, the NeoTicker program enables you to create TICK indicators for any basket of stocks, sector, or index.

My own calculation of the indicator utilizes data from e-Signal, archived and charted within Excel. If the adjustment feature isn't crucial for you, you can simply observe how much time a moving average of TICK spends above and below the zero level during the day as a rough way of eyeballing the trend of sentiment. Together with the indicators I track weekly on the blog and that I post each morning before trading days via Twitter, I find the Cumulative TICK invaluable in keeping me on the right side of the market.