State of the Market With 200 Day Moving Average

One well-recognized method of assessing the overall direction of the market is comparing the S&P 500’s current price to its 200 day moving average.  If the S&P 500 is above its 200 day moving average, it suggests a lower risk environment for the broad market.  If the S&P 500 is below its 200 day moving average, it suggests a higher risk environment for the broad market.  As the adage goes, the trend is your friend.  Being prepared to play defense when in a higher risk environment has the potential to help mitigate severe declines for investors.  Consider the following charts of the S&P 500 and its 200 day moving average since 1950 and the second chart showing it since 2000.

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Source: Yahoo! Finance.  *10/18/1950 – 5/12/2015.  The performance above is based on pure price returns, not inclusive of dividends or all transaction costs.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.  Potential for profits is accompanied by possibility of loss.  Investors cannot invest directly in an index.  Indexes have no fees.  

Since 1950, the S&P 500 has been above its 200 day moving average 70% of the time.  That means that 30% of the time it was below its 200 day moving average and there were some pretty hairy markets during those times.  Consider the range of trailing 12 month performance of the S&P 500 over this period of time:

12 month

Source: Yahoo! Finance.  10/18/1950 – 5/12/2015.  The performance above is based on pure price returns, not inclusive of dividends or all transaction costs.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.  Potential for profits is accompanied by possibility of loss.  Investors cannot invest directly in an index.  Indexes have no fees.  

During some 12 month periods, the S&P 500 had spectacular returns—even approaching and exceeding 60%.  However, there were also plenty of trips into negative territory, with a number of them falling 20+%.

What does this mean for your clients?  Well, it depends upon the client.  If a particular client’s time horizon is really long and their tolerance for draw downs is high, then a passive approach to investing may work just fine.  However, most clients would prefer to have the ability to play some defense, especially if they planning on tapping into their nest egg in the near future.

One of the nice features of the 5 Virtus funds that Dorsey Wright was recently hired to provide research for is that they all have the ability to play defense in a meaningful way.  Each of the funds implement defensive measures in a slightly different way, but the 200 day moving average is a key component in all 5 of the funds.

To learn more about each of the funds, please click here to access the fact sheets and accompanying How It Works sheets.

The relative strength strategy is NOT a guarantee.  There may be times where all investments and strategies are unfavorable and depreciate in value.

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