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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Bulkowski's 12-Month Moving Average

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Busted
Patterns
Candles Chart
Patterns
Event
Patterns
Small Patterns
Market
Industrials (^DJI):
Transports (^DJT):
Utilities (^DJU):
Nasdaq (^IXIC):
S&P500 (^GSPC):
As of 02/22/2017
20,776 32.60 0.2%
9,449 -83.20 -0.9%
682 2.42 0.4%
5,861 -5.32 -0.1%
2,363 -2.56 -0.1%
YTD
5.1%
4.5%
3.4%
8.9%
5.5%
Tom's Targets    Overview: 02/14/2017
21,150 or 20,000 by 03/15/2017
8,800 or 9,700 by 03/01/2017
700 or 640 by 03/01/2017
5,950 or 5,650 by 03/01/2017
2,400 or 2,260 by 03/01/2017
Indus strength: None YTD
Mutt Losers: None YTD
Mutt Winners: None YTD

Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

This article discusses how to use the 12-month moving average to detect bull and bear markets.

12-Month Moving Average Introduction

Picture of the S and P index along with a 12 month SMA.

Pictured above is a line chart of monthly closing prices of the S&P 500 index along with a 12-month moving average of those closes (shown in red).

Notice that during the start of the 2000 to 2002 bear market, the index dropped below the moving average at A. That was a signal to sell and move into cash. In the 2007 to 2009 bear market, the index also dropped below the moving average (at B). In both cases, the index remained below the moving average until the recovery began at C and D.

If you were to use the 10-month moving average instead of the 12, price would pierce the average in the blue circle and also along the CB move at the first touch. Those would have caused an unnecessary transaction (buy then sell, or the reverse), so a 12-month simple moving average works better. The slightly longer simple moving average will get you back into the market slightly later at C and D than would the 10-month simple moving average.

If you were to test this, make sure you use monthly closing prices and not the highs or lows during the month. You'll find that the moving average reduces draw down and risk over buy-and-hold.

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12-Month Moving Average Trading Rules

Here are the trading rules.

  1. Buy into the market when the S&P 500 index rises above the 12-month simple moving average of closing prices.
  2. Sell when the index drops below the moving average.

12-Month Moving Average Testing

I asked Dr. Tom Helget to run a simulation on the S&P 500 index from January 1950 to March 2010. The following table shows a portion of his results.

SMANet
Profit
Compound
Annual
Return
Risk
Adjusted
Return
Max.
Trade
Drawdown
Win/Loss
Ratio
6$2,600.065.63%8.81%-$324.5947.14%
7$2,737.785.71%8.79%-$331.9353.23%
8$3,830.626.29%9.63%-$357.8760.78%
9$4,002.736.36%9.65%-$338.6860.42%
10$4,680.936.63%10.21%-$382.1763.41%
11$5,240.506.83%10.58%-$461.6767.57%
12$6,275.787.15%10.95%-$478.0567.74%
13$5,606.376.95%10.62%-$449.6371.43%
14$5,196.396.82%10.35%-$555.7376.92%

Here is what he says about the test.

My test ran from 1/3/1950 to 3/31/2010 (20,515 days or 56.17 years) on ^GSPC. Trades were taken when the close crossed above the n period monthly simple moving average on the open of the day after the signal. Positions were exited when the close crossed below the same n period simple moving average on the open of the day after the signal. I allowed for fractional shares to be purchased. My starting value was $100. The periods of the monthly simple moving average ranged from 6 to 14.

Optimization revealed the best performance to be the 12-month SMA with a Compound Annual Return of 7.15%. If one were to buy on 1/29/1954 (the date of the first trade generated by the system) and hold to the end date the CAR would have been 7.36%.

You can download a copy of his spreadsheet results by clicking on the link.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft, and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.