Are we now in a bear market? Market Analysis (October 2018)

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Are we now in a bear market? Can we get an idea using long-term technical indicators? In my opinion, there are two robust ways to time the market for lowering investment risk: either use technical indicators/macroeconomic indicators or use a combination of both. Starting this month, I shall be publishing a market analysis based on both types of indicators to aid tactical asset allocation.

Why do you keep talking about timing the market? I am worried? Should I time the market? NO! You don’t need to time the market (click the link for proof). I am doing these posts as a student and there is no need for you to follow them. If you are not interested, please go these recent posts if you have not:

In the mood to watch some videos? I just published the Tamil version of How to select a credit card for maximum benefit on Youtube (this is the 5th step in Tamil on basics of money management): க்ரெடிட் கார்டு தேர்வு செய்வது எப்படி (how to select a credit card) – பணமயமான எதிர்காலம் ஐந்தாம் படி

For October 2018, I shall stick to technical indicators alone and gradually build on this each month. Initially, I wanted to publish this each week, but perhaps that might be too much too often? I am only a student of technical analysis and a pretty sceptical student at that.

The key reason I wish to do this periodically is to find out how hard it is to make investment decisions in real time. Since the technical indicators used are long-term in nature (eg. over 200 days and not 14 days as used by traders), the conclusions and interpretations will not be identical.

In any case, the essential point is to not treat the indicators as rules of nature and recognise that we are blind men touching an elephant and must not hesitate to change our stand (this becomes easier if we did not take a stand in the first place!).

Since we are going to touch an unknown object (= the market) blindfolded, it is important to send a team with different skillsets. That is use technical indicators that tell us different things and combine them. This will be the focus.

So without further ado, let us get on with it. If you are new to this, I suggest that you first start here: Spotting Market “highs” and “lows” Using Technical Indicators

Market Analysis October 2018: Moving Averages

200-day moving average

The simplest way to spot “trend” is to use a moving average. That is we take the last X days closing price and average it. The most common perhaps is the 200-day moving average as shown below

200 day moving average Market Analysis October 2018Up-trend: when the price is > 200-day daily moving average (200dma)

Down-trend: when the price is < 200dma. <== Current status.

While it is “okay” to buy more when the price is < 200 dma, it may be premature to exit or book profit when the price is > 200 dma. So we need better indicators.

 Double moving average

Here we use a short and long-term moving average as explained earlier. This was also backtested before (with a more thorough analysis pending):  Timing the market by spotting bullish and bearish trends.

double moving average Market Analysis October 2018

Up-trend: when the 180-day average move above the 365-day average from below.

Down-trend: When the 180-day average moves below the 365-day average from above.

Current status: Not (yet) a bear market.

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

A potentially more sensitive method is to compute the difference between the two EMAs above and then take the moving average of the difference. The MACD seen below is the difference between the 180-day EMA and 365-day EMA. The average of this difference is known as the MACD signal or simply the signal. I have used a 136-day average.

market analysis 0ct 2018 with MACD of Nifty 50

Down-trend: When the MACD goes below its signal.

Up-trend: When the MACD goes above its signal.
Current status: Since the MACD can move up and down in quick succession, it is hard to say much from this alone. If we must go by the “formula” then at least it is too soon to call this a bear market.

Market Analysis October 2018: Bollinger Bands

This technique helps us make better decisions with the 200-day moving average and also gives us insights on market volatility.

Bollinger bands are essentially rolling standard deviation bands for the 200 dma. The upper band is usually set two standard deviations above the 200 dma and the lower band set at two below.

Bollinger Bands: Market Analysis October 2018Volatility indication When the upper and lower bands converge with the 200dma moving up, it could mean bullish trend. When the upper and lower bands converge with the 200dm a moving down, then it could indicate a bearish trend.  Current status: bands spaced well apart. So the volatility is high.

Buy/sell indication With the bands reasonably spaced apart, if the price hits the upper band, it could mean an overheated market and a sell indication. That is a bearish market outlook.

With the bands spaced reasonably apart, if the price hits the lower band, it could mean a buy indication.

Current status: The price is hovering about the lower band. So it is a good time to buy more (for long-term goals).

Relative strength indicator

The simplest definition of the RSI is that it represents recent average gains divided by average losses. It is a market momentum indicator. If you look at the long-term (200 day here) RSI, a low RSI generally indicates a “buy signal”. People also look for divergences that is the difference in movement of price and RSI but I am not sure if this is possible with such a long-term average.

Relative strength Indicator: Market analysis October 2018 of Nifty 50Current status: Price and RSI are falling down. I think this is at best a “buy signal” and nothing more.

Nifty PE

If we must take the Nifty PE levels seriously, it is currently one at one standard deviation above the 10-year rolling average. Can hardly call this a bear market.

Nifty PE market analysis October 2018

Summary: Are we now in a bear market?

We have looked at four different type of indicators:

  1. Trend: 200 dma, double moving averages, MACD. Although the current Nifty level is below its 200dma, the 180 dma is still above the 365 dma. The MACD was however below its signal last few days but moved up closer.  My opinion: Too soon to call this bearish.
  2. Volatility: Bollinger bands. The upper and lower bands are spaced apart. Although the price has hit the lower band, the trend (200 dma) is still not down. Again too soon to call this bearish.
  3. Momentum: RSI. The relative strength index fell sharply but is still some distance away from previous lows.
  4. Valuation. PE is still well above long-term average.

All in all, I think (and I still learning this) it is not yet a bearish market if we look at the price alone. If factor in rise in oil price, inflation and interest rates, the hope that kept the market up for the last few years seems to have quickly vanished. With an upcoming election and the BJP not guaranteed of a victory like last time, it would be reasonable to say that we are on the brink of a bearish trend (if not in one already). However, markets being markets can move anywhere.

How should I invest?

I have written about this in detail:

As mentioned above, this is a fine time to invest. As long as your goals are far away, I suggest that you do not wait for a further fall and invest as much as possible.

I will try and add to this in the next edition. If you disagree with what is mentioned above, do point it out.

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. Hi sir, This data takes only nifty into account. but fall is more severe in mid / small cap space. Your opinion on this sir.

  2. Hi sir,
    As we are in the bear market can you do more blogs
    on gold ETF, bonds,non-convertible debentures, and other fixed-income assets…!!!!

      1. Perhaps the person is asking for more information on gold etF because if the market is bearish, he and other investors in the same mindset may want to change their asset allocation in favour of gold EPF and NCD

        Thank you for the information and classification of various technical indicators. I did not know that bollinger band can also be used with 200 DMA.

  3. How about using 20 month moving average to indicate whether we are in a bear market? Deep Bear and bull markets move in long cycles , and moving average over a longer period may give a more realistic indicator. Also, since it is nearing 11 years since the previous bear market started, and we have not had a 50% 0r more correction for last 11 years, the probability of having a deep 50% correction soon is very high. We used to have deep 50% corrections every 8 years like in 1992, 2000 and 2008, after which sensex PE used to be around 10 to 12. That is the correct time to invest large amounts.

  4. Hi Pattu, do you happen to have an excel that captures all these charts together for NIFTY?

    Spot on, the market can just enter a bear market and bounce out of it in no time!

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