NYSE Rate of Change (ROC)©

What is the NYSE Rate of Change (ROC)©?

Updated 3/23/2015

The NYSE Rate of Change (ROC) chart is helpful in getting the “big picture” of the stock market very quickly. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very applicable to this chart. Once you understand how to read the ROC chart you can easily spot the direction of the market which makes it easy for you to know whether you want to be invested in the market or not. (See Below for Current NYSE Analysis)

NYSE Rate of Change

The NYSE Rate of Change (ROC) chart shows the annual rate of return along the left axis and the years since 1990 along the bottom.

Since this chart shows the rate of return rather than the current price it is much easier to see performance, we don’t have to guess if we are up or down from last year. If we are below the zero line… we are down, if we are above the zero line… we are up. The key is to exit positions while we are in positive territory (with a gain) so we can avoid the loss and then we can reenter when we get a buy signal.

The red line is the 12 month moving average. As with most moving averages a buy signal is generated as the index crosses above the moving average and a sell signal is generated as the index crosses below the moving average. (See Current Analysis Below)

Another helpful way to use this chart is to look at the slope of the red moving average line. If the slope is down the market is trending down (gains are getting smaller) if the slope is up the market is moving up (gains are getting bigger). And obviously if the line is basically flat the market is not trending at all.  But a flat line at say the 10% level is not bad it means the market is gaining a steady 10% a year which would be very good.

Just because this chart is not moving higher does not mean we should sell. In the period from May 2005 – May 2007 the red moving average line was basically flat, although it had a bit of wiggle, but it was still flat at around 12% rate of return so holding during that period would have produced returns above the long term average.

If you are a short-term trader or simply looking for big gains, the best buy signals come from a movement from below the 0% line. This allows you to capture the greatest up move.

Note: While viewing this chart we must remember that it represents the rate of return we would have earned if we had invested in the entire NYSE for the previous 12 months. Which can be achieved through the use of an index fund.

Is there a correlation between inflation and the stock market ? This chart compares decade inflation and stock market returns during the decade.

Current NYSE-ROC Analysis:

In January the NYSE fell 2% following a 1.74% fall in December but February has regained the losses of the previous two months plus some by being up over 5% in the month and a total of 7.8% over the year. Our NYSE ROC generated a sell signal a year ago and since then the annual rate of return has continued to fall but it has not yet fallen below zero.

In January, the annual rate of return was just 1.25% above year ago levels. Which is why we were out of the market last February, we could relax and invest in interest bearing fixed dollar investments and not risk any loss. At this point the market is roughly 6% above year ago levels. But we still have a sell signal in place.

NYSE Rate of Change

The Current NYSE Chart

NYSE Composite Mar 2015a

The one positive factor for the market is that as we can see from the chart the NYSE has a rising support line i.e. it has continued to make higher lows. Unfortunately, it has a flat resistance line constantly bouncing off the ceiling at around 11,100. It has made at least 4 attempts to break through this resistance over the last year. This is forming what is typically called a “Pennant” formation.  And because the lines are converging eventually the market will have to break out in one direction or the other and typically when it does the results are explosive.

Last month I said, “If it can somehow break through the resistance line that would be bullish …”

Current levels are above the green 200 day moving average by more than 230 points.

Length of Stock Market Rallies

Our friends at Chart of the Day published the following chart on September 3, 2014.

chart of the day stock market rallies2

When you first look at it you might think, “Oh well this rally is only about half way to the max based on both magnitude and duration. It is less than average… so it has a long way to go.” But does it?

The chart plots “major rallies” since 1932 i.e. an average of one every 3.7 years. In this case, a major rally is defined as an advance of 30% or more that follows a 15% or greater decline.  There have been 23 major rallies using this definition during this period. The current rally began with the 2011 correction of 19.4% and started counting at the September 2011 low of 6770.73. From there through February 2015 the market has increased about 64% up very slightly from the 62% it registered in this chart so the only difference is a slight sliding toward the 1000 trading days mark and closing in on the 1962 rally. By looking at the chart we can see that the current rally is still a bit anemic in that it is below the linear regression average line but has already lasted a bit longer than average so a major correction can happen anytime. As a matter of fact, only 5 out of the 23 rallies have lasted longer than the current rally and 1984 lasted virtually the same length but produced much better returns. So we have 5 lasting longer without a correction and 17 lasting shorter. One factor that might influence our perception is that two of the longest 1990 and 2002 are more recent. Also a major factor is the FED’s unprecedented quantitative easing still only resulted in less that average performance.  Plus, it is possible that the FED’s actions are extending the duration of the rallies but they could also be making the crashes worse as well.

Note: The S&P 500 was not adjusted for inflation or dividends. Selected rallies were labeled with the year in which they began. There are 252 trading days in a year (100 trading days equal about 4.8 calendar months).

Back in May Chart of the Day published the following chart with slightly different parameters. In this one, the rallies followed a decline of 30% or more (rather than only 15% in the more recent chart). So in this chart the rally began after the 2008 crash and the 2011 drop was just a “correction”. Looking at it this way there are fewer points of reference (only 13) and since this chart was created we have moved a bit closer to the average point on this chart.


chart of the day stock market rallies-May 2014


In August 2012 the NYSE ROC generated a definite buy signal, not quite as dramatic as the one in 2009 but a good buy signal none-the-less. And the rate of return shot up considerably. Then the rate of return bounced around above 10% coming close to the moving average but not crossing below. In the Summer of 2013, FED chairman Bernanke spooked the markets with his talk of backing off the accelerator but then he decided to take it back, so the markets picked up again. Up until September 2013, the red moving average line was trending up and the index remained above the moving average.

But in September, possibly out of concern over what would happen when Bernanke retired, the black line crossed below the moving average generating a sell signal. At that point, we asked, “Is this “the sell signal” that signals the end of the bull market? Or will it just be another whipsaw?” We said, “Only time will tell, we are at the end of the summer and the market may be picking back up again for the winter months.” In October, it seemed that the market had accepted that the new FED chairman Yellen will continue on the easy money path so the market picked up again moving the NYSE once again in buy territory. Then for the next month, the market went basically nowhere so the annual rate of return dropped from 25.8% to 20.23%. But a 20% annual return is still excellent. Unfortunately, 20% is generally unsustainable and high returns like that generally indicate overbought conditions and the making of a bubble.”

In February, the rate of return line crossed below its moving average generating a sell signal at around 10,250. And I said, “Of course this could be the tail end of the January slump and we could get another whipsaw upward (which is highly likely) but we have received an early warning alert and we need to be cautious at this point.” Since then the Ukraine and Iraq have caused some concern in the market and we remain in sell territory. Four months later the market had suffered some bad down days but still actually made new highs.

On our ROC chart back in November it was traveling at a “speed” of over 25% per year. It dropped to 20%, then 19%, 16%, 14.5%, 14% and in May it was at 11.5%. June kicked the annual rate of return back up to 16.58% but by July the annual rate of return had dropped off a bit to 15.48%. By January 2015 the annual rate of return neared zero (1.25%)  but by February 2015 the market had picked up again and annual returns had rebounded to 7.8%.

Also see the Inflation Adjusted NYSE Stock Index – how has the NYSE fared when inflation is taken into consideration?

For more information see:  NASDAQ Rate of Change

Tim McMahon, Editor
Financial Trend Forecaster

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