Quantitative Analysis, Risk Management, Modelling, Algo Trading, and Big Data Analysis

Rebinning Tick-Data for FX Algo Traders

If you work or intend to work with FX data in order to build and backtest your own FX models, the Historical Tick-Data of Pepperstone.com is probably the best place to kick off your algorithmic experience. As for now, they offer tick-data sets of 15 most frequently traded currency pairs since May 2009. Some of the unzip’ed files (one month data) reach over 400 MB in size, i.e. storing 8.5+ millions of lines with a tick resolution for both bid and ask “prices”. A good thing is you can download them all free of charge and their quality is regarded as very high. A bad thing is there is 3 month delay in data accessibility.

Dealing with a rebinning process of tick-data up, that’s a different story and the subject of this post. We will see how efficiently you can turn Pepperstone’s Tick-Data set(s) into 5-min time-series as an example. We will make use of scripting in bash (Linux/OS X) supplemented with data processing in Python.

Data Structure

You can download Pepperstone’s historical tick-data from here, month by month, pair by pair. Their inner structure follows the same pattern, namely:

$ head AUDUSD-2014-09.csv 
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:01.323,0.93289,0.93297
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.138,0.9329,0.93297
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.156,0.9329,0.93298
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.264,0.9329,0.93297
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.265,0.9329,0.93293
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.265,0.93289,0.93293
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.268,0.93289,0.93295
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.277,0.93289,0.93296
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.278,0.9329,0.93296
AUD/USD,20140901 00:00:02.297,0.93288,0.93296

The columns, from left to right, represent respectively: a pair name, the date and tick-time, the bid price, and the ask price.

Pre-Processing

Here, for each .csv file, we aim to split the date into year, month, and day separately, and remove commas and colons to get raw data ready to be read in as a matrix (array) using any other programming language (e.g. Matlab or Python). The matrix is mathematically intuitive data structure therefore making direct reference to any specific column of it makes any backtesting engine running with its full thrust.

Let’s play with AUDUSD-2014-09.csv data file. Working in the same directory where the file is located we begin with writing a bash script (pp.scr) that contains:

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# pp.scr
# Rebinning Pepperstone.com Tick-Data for FX Algo Traders 
# (c) 2014 QuantAtRisk, by Pawel Lachowicz
 
clear
echo "..making a sorted list of .csv files"
for i in $1-*.csv; do echo ${i##$1-} $i ${i##.csv};
done | sort -n | awk '{print $2}' > $1.lst
 
python pp.py
head AUDUSD.pp

that you run in Terminal:

$ chmod +x pp.scr
$ ./pp.scr AUDUSD

where the first command makes sure the script becomes executable (you need to perform this task only once). Lines #7-8 of our script, in fact, look for all .csv data files in the local directory starting with AUDUSD- prefix and create their list in AUDUSD.lst file. Since we work with AUDUSD-2014-09.csv file only, the AUDUSD.lst file will contain:

$ cat AUDUSD.lst 
AUDUSD-2014-09.csv

as expected. Next, we utilise the power and flexibility of Python in the following way:

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# pp.py
import csv
 
fnlst="AUDUSD.lst"
fnout="AUDUSD.pp"
 
for lstline in open(fnlst,'r').readlines():
    fncur=lstline[:-1]
    #print(fncur)
 
    with open(fnout,'w') as f:
        writer=csv.writer(f,delimiter=" ")
 
        i=1 # counts a number of lines with tick-data
        for line in open(fncur,'r').readlines():
            if(i<=5200): # replace with (i>0) to process an entire file
                #print(line)
                year=line[8:12]
                month=line[12:14]
                day=line[14:16]
                hh=line[17:19]
                mm=line[20:22]
                ss=line[23:29]
                bidask=line[30:]
                writer.writerow([year,month,day,hh,mm,ss,bidask])
                i+=1

It is a pretty efficient way to open really a big file and process its information line by line. Just for further purpose of display, in the code we told computer to process only first 5,200 of lines. The output of lines #10-11 of pp.scr is the following:

2014 09 01 00 00 01.323 "0.93289,0.93297
"
2014 09 01 00 00 02.138 "0.9329,0.93297
"
2014 09 01 00 00 02.156 "0.9329,0.93298
"
2014 09 01 00 00 02.264 "0.9329,0.93297
"
2014 09 01 00 00 02.265 "0.9329,0.93293
"

since we allowed Python to save bid and ask information as one string (due to a variable number of decimal digits). In order to clean this mess we continue:

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# pp.scr (continued)
echo "..removing token: comma"
sed 's/,/ /g' AUDUSD.pp > $1.tmp
rm AUDUSD.pp
 
echo "..removing token: double quotes"
sed 's/"/ /g' $1.tmp > $1.tmp2
rm $1.tmp
 
echo "..removing empty lines"
sed -i '/^[[:space:]]*$/d' $1.tmp2
mv $1.tmp2 AUDUSD.pp
 
echo "head..."
head AUDUSD.pp
echo "tail..."
tail AUDUSD.pp

what brings us to pre-processed data:

..removing token: comma
..removing token: double quotes
..removing empty lines
head...
2014 09 01 00 00 01.323  0.93289 0.93297
2014 09 01 00 00 02.138  0.9329 0.93297
2014 09 01 00 00 02.156  0.9329 0.93298
2014 09 01 00 00 02.264  0.9329 0.93297
2014 09 01 00 00 02.265  0.9329 0.93293
2014 09 01 00 00 02.265  0.93289 0.93293
2014 09 01 00 00 02.268  0.93289 0.93295
2014 09 01 00 00 02.277  0.93289 0.93296
2014 09 01 00 00 02.278  0.9329 0.93296
2014 09 01 00 00 02.297  0.93288 0.93296
tail...
2014 09 02 00 54 39.324  0.93317 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.533  0.93319 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.543  0.93318 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.559  0.93321 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.784  0.9332 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.798  0.93319 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 39.885  0.93319 0.93325
2014 09 02 00 54 39.886  0.93319 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 40.802  0.9332 0.93321
2014 09 02 00 54 48.829  0.93319 0.93321

Personally, I love that part as you can learn how to do simple but necessary text file operations by typing single lines of Unix/Linux commands. Good luck for those who try to repeat the same in Microsoft Windows not spending more than 30 sec for doing it.

Rebinning: 5-min Data

The rebinning has many schools. It’s the art for some people. We just want to have the job done. I opt for simplicity and understanding of the data we deal with. Imagine we have two adjacent 5 min bins with a tick history of trading:

sam
We want to derive the closest possible (or most fair) price estimation every 5 min, denoted in the above painting by a red marker. The old-school approach is to take the average over a number (larger than 5) of tick data points from the left and from the right. That creates the under- or overestimation of the mid-price.

If we trade live, every 5 min we receive an information on the last tick point before the minute hits 5 and we wait for the next tick point after 5 (blue markers). Taking the average of their prices (mid-price) makes most of sense. The precision we look at here is sometimes $10^{-5}$. It is not much of significance if our position is small, but if it is not, the mid-price may start playing a crucial role.

The cons of the old-school approach: a possible high volatility among all tick-data within last 5 minutes that we neglect.

The following Python code (pp2.py) performs 5-min rebinning for our pre-processed AUDUSD-2014-09 file:

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# pp2.py
import csv
import numpy as np
 
def convert(data):
     tempDATA = []
     for i in data:
         tempDATA.append([float(j) for j in i.split()])
     return np.array(tempDATA).T
 
fname="AUDUSD.pp"
 
with open(fname) as f:
    data = f.read().splitlines()
 
#print(data)
 
i=1
for d in data:
    list=[s for s in d.split(' ')]
    #print(list)
    # remover empty element in the list
    dd=[x for x in list if x]
    #print(dd)
    tmp=convert(dd)
    #print(tmp)
    if(i==1):
        a=tmp
        i+=1
    else:
        a = np.vstack([a, tmp])
        i+=1
 
N=i-1
#print("N = %d" % N)
 
# print the first line
tmp=np.array([a[1][0],a[1][1],a[1][2],a[1][3],a[1][4],0.0,(a[1][6]+a[1][7])/2])
print("%.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %6.3f %10.6f" %
             (tmp[0],tmp[1],tmp[2],tmp[3],tmp[4],tmp[5],tmp[6]))
m=tmp
 
# check the boundary conditions (5 min bins)
for i in xrange(2,N-1):
    if( (a[i-1][4]%5!=0.0) and (a[i][4]%5==0.0)):
 
        # BLUE MARKER No. 1
        # (print for i-1)
        #print(" %.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %6.3f %10.6f %10.6f" %
        #      (a[i-1][0],a[i-1][1],a[i-1][2],a[i-1][3],a[i-1][4],a[i-1][5],a[i-1][6],a[i-1][7]))
        b1=a[i-1][6]
        b2=a[i][6]
        a1=a[i-1][7]
        a2=a[i][7]
        # mid-price, and new date for 5 min bin
        bm=(b1+b2)/2
        am=(a1+a2)/2
        Ym=a[i][0]
        Mm=a[i][1]
        Dm=a[i][2]
        Hm=a[i][3]
        MMm=a[i][4]
        Sm=0.0        # set seconds to zero
 
        # RED MARKER
        print("%.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %6.3f %10.6f" %
              (Ym,Mm,Dm,Hm,MMm,Sm,(bm+am)/2))
        tmp=np.array([Ym,Mm,Dm,Hm,MMm,Sm,(bm+am)/2])
        m=np.vstack([m, tmp])
 
        # BLUE MARKER No. 2
        # (print for i)
        #print(" %.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %2.0f %6.3f %10.6f %10.6f" %
        #      (a[i][0],a[i][1],a[i][2],a[i][3],a[i][4],a[i][5],a[i][6],a[i][7]))

what you run in pp.scr file as:

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# pp.scr (continued)
 
python pp2.py > AUDUSD.dat

in order to get 5-min rebinned FX time-series as follows:

$ head AUDUSD.dat
2014  9  1  0  0  0.000   0.932935
2014  9  1  0  5  0.000   0.933023
2014  9  1  0 10  0.000   0.932917
2014  9  1  0 15  0.000   0.932928
2014  9  1  0 20  0.000   0.932937
2014  9  1  0 25  0.000   0.933037
2014  9  1  0 30  0.000   0.933075
2014  9  1  0 35  0.000   0.933070
2014  9  1  0 40  0.000   0.933092
2014  9  1  0 45  0.000   0.933063

That concludes our efforts. Happy rebinning!

Ideal Stock Trading Model for the Purpose of Backtesting Only


There is only one goal in algorithmic trading: to win the game. To emerge victorious. To feel the sunlight again after the months of walking through the valley of shadows being stuck in the depths of algo drawdowns. An endless quest for the most brilliant minds, to find the way to win over and over, and over again. To discover a perfect solution as your new private weapon in this battleground. Is it possible? If the answer were so simple, we wouldn’t be so engaged in seeking for a golden mean.

However, algo trading is a journey, and sometimes in the process of programming and testing of our trading systems, we need to have an ideal trading model ready-to-use straight away! What I mean by the ideal model is a sort of template, a benchmark that will allow us to list a number of successful trades, their starting and closing times, open and close price of the trades being executed, and the realized return coming down to our pocket from each trade. Such a trading model template also allows us to look at the trading data from a different perspective and re-consider and/or apply an additional risk management framework. In fact, the benefits are limitless for the backtesting purposes.

In this post we will explore one of the easiest ways in programming a perfect model by re-directing the time-axis backwards. Using an example of the data of a Google, Inc. (GOOG) stock listed at NASDAQ, we will analyse the stock trading history and find all possible trades returning at least 3% over past decade.

The results of this strategy I will use within the upcoming (this week!) series of new posts on Portfolio Optimization in Matlab for Algo Traders.

Model and Data

Let’s imagine we are interested in finding a large number of trades with the expected return from each trade to be at least 3%. We consider GOOG stock (daily close prices) with data spanning 365$\times$10 days back in time since the present day (last 10 years). We will make use of Google Finance data powered by Quandl as described in one of my previous posts, namely, Create a Portfolio of Stocks based on Google Finance Data fed by Quandl. Shall we begin?

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% Ideal Stock Trading Model for the Purpose of Backtesting Only
%
% (c) 2013 QuantAtRisk.com, by Pawel Lachowicz
 
 
clear all; close all; clc;
 
stocklist={'GOOG'};
 
% Read in the list of tickers and internal code from Quandl.com
[ndata, text, alldata] = xlsread('QuandlStockCodeListUS.xlsx');
quandlc=text(:,1); % again, as a list in a cell array
quandlcode=text(:,3) % corresponding Quandl's Price Code
 
% fetch stock data for last 10 years
date2=datestr(today,'yyyy-mm-dd')     % from
date1=datestr(today-365*10,'yyyy-mm-dd') % to
 
stockd={};
for i=1:length(stocklist)
    for j=1:length(quandlc)
        if(strcmp(stocklist{i},quandlc{j}))
            fprintf('%4.0f %s\n',i,quandlc{j});
            % fetch the data of the stock from Quandl
            % using recommanded Quandl's command and
            % saving them directly into FTS object (fts)
            fts=0;
            [fts,headers]=Quandl.get(quandlcode{j},'type','fints', ...
                          'authcode','ENTER_YOUR_CODE',...
                          'start_date',date1,'end_date',date2);
            stockd{i}=fts; % entire FTS object in an array's cell
        end
    end
end

The extracted data of GOOG from Google Finance via Quandl we can visualize immediately as follows:

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% plot the close prices of GOOG
cp=fts2mat(stockd{1}.Close,1);
plot(cp(:,1),cp(:,2),'color',[0.6 0.6 0.6])
xlim([min(cp(:,1)) max(cp(:,1))]);
ylim([min(cp(:,2)) max(cp(:,2))]);
xlabel('Nov 2003 - Nov 2013 (days)');
ylabel('GOOG Close Price ($)');

ideal-fig01

We open the trade on the first day (long position) and as time goes by, on the following day we check whether the stock value increased by 3% or more. If not, we increase the current time position by one day and check again. If the condition is met, we close the opened trade on the following trading (business) day at the stock’s market price. We allow to open a new trade at the stock’s market price one next business day after the day when the previous trade has been closed (exercised). Additionally, we check if the ‘running’ return from the open trade exceeds -5%. If so, we substitute the open time of a new trade with the time when the latter condition has been fulfilled (the same for the open price of that trade). The latter strategy allow us to restart the backtesting process therefore the search for a new profitable trade.

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t0=cp(1,1);    % starting day for backtesting
tN=cp(end,1);  % last day
 
trades=[]; % open a log-book for all executed traded
status=0; % status meaning: 0-no open trade, 1-open trade
t=t0;
% we loop over time (t) [days]
while(t<tN)
    [r,~,~]=find(t==cp(:,1)); % check the row in cp vector
    if(~isempty(r))
       if(~status)
           topen=t; % time when we open the trade
           popen=cp(r,2); % assuming market price of the stock
           status=1;
       else
           ptmp=cp(r,2); % running close price
           rtmp=ptmp/popen-1; % running return of the open trade
           if(rtmp>0.03) % check 3% profit condition
               % if met, then
               tclose=busdate(t,1); % close time of the trade
                                    %  assumed on the next business day
               t=busdate(tclose,1); % next day in the loop
               if(tclose<=tN)
                   [r,~,~]=find(tclose==cp(:,1));
                   pclose=cp(r,2); % close price
                   ret=pclose/popen-1; % realized profit/loss
                   % save the trade details into log-book
                   trades=[trades; topen tclose popen pclose ret*100];
                   status=0; % change status of trading to not-open
                   % mark the opening of the trade as blue dot marker
                   hold on; plot(topen,popen,'b.','markerfacecolor','b');
                   % mark the end time of the trade
                   hold on; plot(tclose,pclose,'r.','markerfacecolor','r');
               end
           elseif(rtmp<=-0.05) % check an additional condition
               topen=t; % overwrite the time
               popen=cp(r,2); % and the price
               status=1; % sustain the status of the trade as 'open'
           else
               t=t+1;
           end
       end
    else
        t=t+1;
    end
end

In this piece of code, in the variable matrix of trades (a log-book of all exercised trades) we store the history of all successful trades meeting our earlier assumed criteria. The only uncertainty that we allow to slip into our perfect solution is the one related to an instance when the the close price on the next business day occurs to be lower, generating the realized profit from the trade less than 3%. By plotting all good trades with the ending day of $tN$ set as for Nov 18, 2013, we get a messy picture:

ideal-fig02

which translates into more intuitive one once we examine the distribution of profits from all trades:

figure(3);
hist(trades(:,5),50);
xlabel('Profit/loss (%)');
ylabel('Number of trades');

ideal-fig03

In this point the most valuable information is contained in the log-book which content we can analyze trade by trade:

>> format shortg
>> trades
 
trades =
 
   7.3218e+05   7.3218e+05       100.34        109.4       9.0293
   7.3218e+05   7.3220e+05       104.87          112       6.7989
   7.3221e+05   7.3221e+05       113.97       119.36       4.7293
   7.3221e+05   7.3222e+05       117.84       131.08       11.236
   7.3222e+05   7.3222e+05        129.6       138.37        6.767
   7.3223e+05   7.3224e+05       137.08       144.11       5.1284
   7.3224e+05   7.3224e+05       140.49       172.43       22.735
   7.3224e+05   7.3225e+05        187.4       190.64       1.7289
   ...
   7.3533e+05   7.3535e+05       783.05       813.45       3.8823
   7.3535e+05   7.3536e+05        809.1       861.55       6.4825
   7.3536e+05   7.3537e+05       857.23       915.89        6.843
   7.3546e+05   7.3549e+05       856.91       888.67       3.7063
   7.3549e+05   7.3553e+05       896.19       1003.3       11.952

where the columns correspond to the open and close time of the trade (a continuous Matlab’s time measure for the financial time-series; see datestr command for getting yyyy-mm-dd date format), open and close price of GOOG stock, and realized profit/loss of the trade, respectively.

Questions? Discuss on Forum.

Just dive directly into Backtesting section on QaR Forum and keep up, never give up.

Anxiety Detection Model for Stock Traders based on Principal Component Analysis

Everybody would agree on one thing: the nervousness among traders may lead to massive sells of stocks, the avalanche of prices, and huge losses. We have witnessed this sort of behaviour many times. An anxiety is the feeling of uncertainty, a human inborn instinct that triggers a self-defending mechanism against high risks. The apex of anxiety is fear and panic. When the fear spreads among the markets, all goes south. It is a dream goal for all traders to capture the nervousness and fear just by looking at or studying the market behaviour, trading patterns, ask-bid spread, or flow of orders. The major problem is that we know very well how much a human behaviour is an important factor in the game but it is not observed directly. It has been puzzling me for a few years since I accomplished reading Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich by Jason Zweig sitting at the beach of one of the Gili Islands, Indonesia, in December of 2009. A perfect spot far away from the trading charts.

So, is there a way to disentangle the emotional part involved in trading from all other factors (e.g. the application of technical analysis, bad news consequences, IPOs, etc.) which are somehow easier to deduce? In this post I will try to make a quantitative attempt towards solving this problem. Although the solution will not have the final and closed form, my goal is to deliver an inspiration for quants and traders interested in the subject by putting a simple idea into practice: the application of Principal Component Analysis.

1. Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

Called by many as one of the most valuable results from applied linear algebra, the Principal Component Analysis, delivers a simple, non-parametric method of extracting relevant information from often confusing data sets. The real-world data usually hold some relationships among their variables and, as a good approximation, in the first instance we may suspect them to be of the linear (or close to linear) form. And the linearity is one of stringent but powerful assumptions standing behind PCA.

Imagine we observe the daily change of prices of $m$ stocks (being a part of your portfolio or a specific market index) over last $n$ days. We collect the data in $\boldsymbol{X}$, the matrix $m\times n$. Each of $n$-long vectors lie in an $m$-dimensional vector space spanned by an orthonormal basis, therefore they are a linear combination of this set of unit length basic vectors: $ \boldsymbol{BX} = \boldsymbol{X}$ where a basis $\boldsymbol{B}$ is the identity matrix $\boldsymbol{I}$. Within PCA approach we ask a simple question: is there another basis which is a linear combination of the original basis that represents our data set? In other words, we look for a transformation matrix $\boldsymbol{P}$ acting on $\boldsymbol{X}$ in order to deliver its re-representation:
$$
\boldsymbol{PX} = \boldsymbol{Y} \ .
$$ The rows of $\boldsymbol{P}$ become a set of new basis vectors for expressing the columns of $\boldsymbol{X}$. This change of basis makes the row vectors of $\boldsymbol{P}$ in this transformation the principal components of $\boldsymbol{X}$. But how to find a good $\boldsymbol{P}$?

Consider for a moment what we can do with a set of $m$ observables spanned over $n$ days? It is not a mystery that many stocks over different periods of time co-vary, i.e. their price movements are closely correlated and follow the same direction. The statistical method to measure the mutual relationship among $m$ vectors (correlation) is achieved by the calculation of a covariance matrix. For our data set of $\boldsymbol{X}$:
$$
\boldsymbol{X}_{m\times n} =
\left[
\begin{array}{cccc}
\boldsymbol{x_1} \\
\boldsymbol{x_2} \\
… \\
\boldsymbol{x_m}
\end{array}
\right]
=
\left[
\begin{array}{cccc}
x_{1,1} & x_{1,2} & … & x_{1,n} \\
x_{2,1} & x_{2,2} & … & x_{2,n} \\
… & … & … & … \\
x_{m,1} & x_{m,2} & … & x_{m,n}
\end{array}
\right]
$$
the covariance matrix takes the following form:
$$
cov(\boldsymbol{X}) \equiv \frac{1}{n-1} \boldsymbol{X}\boldsymbol{X}^{T}
$$ where we multiply $\boldsymbol{X}$ by its transposed version and $(n-1)^{-1}$ helps to secure the variance to be unbiased. The diagonal elements of $cov(\boldsymbol{X})$ are the variances corresponding to each row of $\boldsymbol{X}$ whereas the off-diagonal terms of $cov(\boldsymbol{X})$ represent the covariances between different rows (prices of the stocks). Please note that above multiplication assures us that $cov(\boldsymbol{X})$ is a square symmetric matrix $m\times m$.

All right, but what does it have in common with our PCA method? PCA looks for a way to optimise the matrix of $cov(\boldsymbol{X})$ by a reduction of redundancy. Sounds a bit enigmatic? I bet! Well, all we need to understand is that PCA wants to ‘force’ all off-diagonal elements of the covariance matrix to be zero (in the best possible way). The guys in the Department of Statistics will tell you the same as: removing redundancy diagonalises $cov(\boldsymbol{X})$. But how, how?!

Let’s come back to our previous notation of $\boldsymbol{PX}=\boldsymbol{Y}$. $\boldsymbol{P}$ transforms $\boldsymbol{X}$ into $\boldsymbol{Y}$. We also marked that:
$$
\boldsymbol{P} = [\boldsymbol{p_1},\boldsymbol{p_2},…,\boldsymbol{p_m}]
$$ was a new basis we were looking for. PCA assumes that all basis vectors $\boldsymbol{p_k}$ are orthonormal, i.e. $\boldsymbol{p_i}\boldsymbol{p_j}=\delta_{ij}$, and that the directions with the largest variances are the most principal. So, PCA first selects a normalised direction in $m$-dimensional space along which the variance in $\boldsymbol{X}$ is maximised. That is first principal component $\boldsymbol{p_1}$. In the next step, PCA looks for another direction along which the variance is maximised. However, because of orthonormality condition, it looks only in all directions perpendicular to all previously found directions. In consequence, we obtain an orthonormal matrix of $\boldsymbol{P}$. Good stuff, but still sounds complicated?

The goal of PCA is to find such $\boldsymbol{P}$ where $\boldsymbol{Y}=\boldsymbol{PX}$ such that $cov(\boldsymbol{Y})=(n-1)^{-1}\boldsymbol{XX}^T$ is diagonalised.

We can evolve the notation of the covariance matrix as follows:
$$
(n-1)cov(\boldsymbol{Y}) = \boldsymbol{YY}^T = \boldsymbol{(PX)(PX)}^T = \boldsymbol{PXX}^T\boldsymbol{P}^T = \boldsymbol{P}(\boldsymbol{XX}^T)\boldsymbol{P}^T = \boldsymbol{PAP}^T
$$ where we made a quick substitution of $\boldsymbol{A}=\boldsymbol{XX}^T$. It is easy to prove that $\boldsymbol{A}$ is symmetric. It takes a longer while to find a proof for the following two theorems: (1) a matrix is symmetric if and only if it is orthogonally diagonalisable; (2) a symmetric matrix is diagonalised by a matrix of its orthonormal eigenvectors. Just check your favourite algebra textbook. The second theorem provides us with a right to denote:
$$
\boldsymbol{A} = \boldsymbol{EDE}^T
$$ where $\boldsymbol{D}$ us a diagonal matrix and $\boldsymbol{E}$ is a matrix of eigenvectors of $\boldsymbol{A}$. That brings us at the end of the rainbow.

We select matrix $\boldsymbol{P}$ to be a such where each row $\boldsymbol{p_1}$ is an eigenvector of $\boldsymbol{XX}^T$, therefore
$$
\boldsymbol{P} = \boldsymbol{E}^T .
$$

Given that, we see that $\boldsymbol{E}=\boldsymbol{P}^T$, thus we find $\boldsymbol{A}=\boldsymbol{EDE}^T = \boldsymbol{P}^T\boldsymbol{DP}$ what leads us to a magnificent relationship between $\boldsymbol{P}$ and the covariance matrix:
$$
(n-1)cov(\boldsymbol{Y}) = \boldsymbol{PAP}^T = \boldsymbol{P}(\boldsymbol{P}^T\boldsymbol{DP})\boldsymbol{P}^T
= (\boldsymbol{PP}^T)\boldsymbol{D}(\boldsymbol{PP}^T) =
(\boldsymbol{PP}^{-1})\boldsymbol{D}(\boldsymbol{PP}^{-1})
$$ or
$$
cov(\boldsymbol{Y}) = \frac{1}{n-1}\boldsymbol{D},
$$ i.e. the choice of $\boldsymbol{P}$ diagonalises $cov(\boldsymbol{Y})$ where silently we also used the matrix algebra theorem saying that the inverse of an orthogonal matrix is its transpose ($\boldsymbol{P^{-1}}=\boldsymbol{P}^T$). Fascinating, right?! Let’s see now how one can use all that complicated machinery in the quest of looking for human emotions among the endless rivers of market numbers bombarding our sensors every day.

2. Covariances of NASDAQ, Eigenvalues of Anxiety


We will try to build a simple quantitative model for detection of the nervousness in the trading markets using PCA.

By its simplicity I will understand the following model assumption: no matter what the data conceal, the 1st Principal Component (1-PC) of PCA solution links the complicated relationships among a subset of stocks triggered by a latent factor attributed by us to a common behaviour of traders (human and pre-programmed algos). It is a pretty reasonable assumption, much stronger than, for instance, the influence of Saturn’s gravity on the annual silver price fluctuations. Since PCA does not tell us what its 1-PC means in reality, this is our job to seek for meaningful explanations. Therefore, a human factor fits the frame as a trial value very well.

Let’s consider the NASDAQ-100 index. It is composed of 100 technology stocks. The most current list you can find here: nasdaq100.lst downloadable as a text file. As usual, we will perform all calculations using Matlab environment. Let’s start with data collection and pre-processing:

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% Anxiety Detection Model for Stock Traders
%  making use of the Principal Component Analsis (PCA)
%  and utilising publicly available Yahoo! stock data
%
% (c) 2013 QuantAtRisk.com, by Pawel Lachowicz
 
clear all; close all; clc;
 
 
% Reading a list of NASDAQ-100 components
nasdaq100=(dataread('file',['nasdaq100.lst'], '%s', 'delimiter', '\n'))';
 
% Time period we are interested in
d1=datenum('Jan 2 1998');
d2=datenum('Oct 11 2013');
 
% Check and download the stock data for a requested time period
stocks={};
for i=1:length(nasdaq100)
    try
        % Fetch the Yahoo! adjusted daily close prices between selected
        % days [d1;d2]
        tmp = fetch(yahoo,nasdaq100{i},'Adj Close',d1,d2,'d');
        stocks{i}=tmp;
        disp(i);
    catch err
        % no full history available for requested time period
    end
end

where, first, we try to check whether for a given list of NASDAQ-100’s components the full data history (adjusted close prices) are available via Yahoo! server (please refer to my previous post of Yahoo! Stock Data in Matlab and a Model for Dividend Backtesting for more information on the connectivity).

The cell array stocks becomes populated with two-dimensional matrixes: the time-series corresponding to stock prices (time,price). Since the Yahoo! database does not contain a full history for all stocks of our interest, we may expect their different time spans. For the purpose of demonstration of the PCA method, we apply additional screening of downloaded data, i.e. we require the data to be spanned between as defined by $d1$ and $d2$ variables and, additionally, having the same (maximal available) number of data points (observations, trials). We achieve that by:

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% Additional screening
d=[]; 
j=1; 
data={};
for i=1:length(nasdaq100)
    d=[d; i min(stocks{i}(:,1)) max(stocks{i}(:,1)) size(stocks{i},1)];
end
for i=1:length(nasdaq100)
    if(d(i,2)==d1) && (d(i,3)==d2) && (d(i,4)==max(d(:,4)))
        data{j}=sortrows(stocks{i},1);
        fprintf('%3i %1s\n',i,nasdaq100{i})
        j=j+1;
    end
end
m=length(data);

The temporary matrix of $d$ holds the index of stock as read in from nasdaq100.lst file, first and last day number of data available, and total number of data points in the time-series, respectively:

>> d
d =
      1      729757      735518        3970
      2      729757      735518        3964
      3      729757      735518        3964
      4      729757      735518        3969
     ..          ..          ..          ..
     99      729757      735518        3970
    100      729757      735518        3970

Our screening method saves $m=21$ selected stock data into data cell array corresponding to the following companies from our list:

  1 AAPL
  7 ALTR
  9 AMAT
 10 AMGN
 20 CERN
 21 CHKP
 25 COST
 26 CSCO
 30 DELL
 39 FAST
 51 INTC
 64 MSFT
 65 MU
 67 MYL
 74 PCAR
 82 SIAL
 84 SNDK
 88 SYMC
 96 WFM
 99 XRAY
100 YHOO

Okay, some people say that seeing is believing. All right. Let’s see how it works. Recall the fact that we demanded our stock data to be spanned between ‘Jan 2 1998′ and ‘Oct 11 2013′. We found 21 stocks meeting those criteria. Now, let’s assume we pick up a random date, say, Jul 2 2007 and we extract for all 21 stocks their price history over last 90 calendar days. We save their prices (skipping the time columns) into $Z$ matrix as follows:

t=datenum('Jul 2 2007');
Z=[];
for i=1:m
    [r,c,v]=find((data{i}(:,1)<=t) & (data{i}(:,1)>t-90));
    Z=[Z data{i}(r,2)]
end

and we plot them all together:

plot(Z)
xlim([1 length(Z)]);
ylabel('Stock price (US$)');
xlabel('T-90d');

anxiety-fig01
It’s easy to deduct that the top one line corresponds to Apple, Inc. (AAPL) adjusted close prices.

The unspoken earlier data processing methodology is that we need to transform our time-series into the comparable form. We can do it by subtracting the average value and dividing each of them by their standard deviations. Why? For a simple reason of an equivalent way of their mutual comparison. We call that step a normalisation or standardisation of the time-series under investigation:

[N,M]=size(Z);
X=(Z-repmat(mean(Z),[N 1]))./repmat(std(Z),[N 1]);

This represents the matrix $\boldsymbol{X}$ that I discussed in a theoretical part of this post. Note, that the dimensions are reversed in Matlab. Therefore, the normalised time-series,

% Display normalized stock prices
plot(X)
xlim([1 length(Z)]);
ylabel('(Stock price-Mean)/StdDev');
xlabel('T-90d');

look like:
anxiety-fig02
For a given matrix of $\boldsymbol{X}$, its covariance matrix,

% Calculate the covariance matrix, cov(X)
CovX=cov(X);
imagesc(CovX);

as for data spanned 90 calendar day back from Jul 2 2007, looks like:
anxiety-fig03
where the colour coding goes from the maximal values (most reddish) down to the minimal values (most blueish). The diagonal of the covariance matrix simply tells us that for normalised time-series, their covariances are equal to the standard deviations (variances) of 1 as expected.

Going one step forward, based on the given covariance matrix, we look for the matrix of $\boldsymbol{P}$ whose columns are the corresponding eigenvectors:

% Find P
[P,~]=eigs(CovX,5);
imagesc(P);
set(gca,'xticklabel',{1,2,3,4,5},'xtick',[1 2 3 4 5]);
xlabel('Principal Component')
ylabel('Stock');
set(gca,'yticklabel',{'AAPL', 'ALTR', 'AMAT', 'AMGN', 'CERN', ...
 'CHKP', 'COST', 'CSCO', 'DELL', 'FAST', 'INTC', 'MSFT', 'MU', ...
 'MYL', 'PCAR', 'SIAL', 'SNDK', 'SYMC', 'WFM', 'XRAY', 'YHOO'}, ...
 'ytick',[1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21]);

which results in $\boldsymbol{P}$ displayed as:
anxiety-fig04
where we computed PCA for five principal components in order to illustrate the process. Since the colour coding is the same as in the previous figure, a visual inspection of of the 1-PC indicates on negative numbers for at least 16 out of 21 eigenvalues. That simply means that over last 90 days the global dynamics for those stocks were directed south, in favour of traders holding short-position in those stocks.

It is important to note in this very moment that 1-PC does not represent the ‘price momentum’ itself. It would be too easy. It represents the latent variable responsible for a common behaviour in the stock dynamics whatever it is. Based on our model assumption (see above) we suspect it may indicate a human factor latent in the trading.

3. Game of Nerves

The last figure communicates an additional message. There is a remarkable coherence of eigenvalues for 1-PC and pretty random patterns for the remaining four principal components. One may check that in the case of our data sample, this feature is maintained over many years. That allows us to limit our interest to 1-PC only.

It’s getting exciting, isn’t it? Let’s come back to our main code. Having now a pretty good grasp of the algebra of PCA at work, we may limit our investigation of 1-PC to any time period of our interest, below spanned between as defined by $t1$ and $t2$ variables:

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% Select time period of your interest
t1=datenum('July 1 2006');
t2=datenum('July 1 2010');
 
results=[];
for t=t1:t2
    tmp=[];
    A=[]; V=[];
    for i=1:m
        [r,c,v]=find((data{i}(:,1)<=t) & (data{i}(:,1)>t-60));
        A=[A data{i}(r,2)];
    end
    [N,M]=size(A);
    X=(A-repmat(mean(A),[N 1]))./repmat(std(A),[N 1]);
    CovX=cov(X);
    [V,D]=eigs(CovX,1);
    % Find all negative eigenvalues of the 1st Principal Component
    [r,c,v]=find(V(:,1)<0);
    % Extract them into a new vector
    neg1PC=V(r,1);
    % Calculate a percentage of negative eigenvalues relative
    % to all values available
    ratio=length(neg1PC)/m;
    % Build a new time-series of 'ratio' change over required
    % time period (spanned between t1 and t2)
    results=[results; t ratio];    
end

We build our anxiety detection model based on the change of number of eigenvalues of the 1st Principal Component (relative to the total their numbers; here equal 21). As a result, we generate a new time-series tracing over $[t1;t2]$ time period this variable. We plot the results all in one plot contrasted with the NASDAQ-100 Index in the following way:

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% Fetch NASDAQ-100 Index from Yahoo! data-server
nasdaq = fetch(yahoo,'^ndx','Adj Close',t1,t2,'d');
% Plot it
subplot(2,1,1)
plot(nasdaq(:,1),nasdaq(:,2),'color',[0.6 0.6 0.6]);
ylabel('NASDAQ-100 Index');
% Add a plot corresponding to a new time-series we've generated
subplot(2,1,2)
plot(results(:,1),results(:,2),'color',[0.6 0.6 0.6])
% add overplot 30d moving average based on the same data
hold on; plot(results(:,1),moving(results(:,2),30),'b')

leading us to:
anxiety-fig05
I use 30-day moving average (a solid blue line) in order to smooth the results (moving.m). Please note, that line in #56 I also replaced the earlier value of 90 days with 60 days. Somehow, it is more reasonable to examine with the PCA the market dynamics over past two months than for longer periods (but it’s a matter of taste and needs).

Eventually, we construct the core model’s element, namely, we detect nervousness among traders when the percentage of negative eigenvalues of the 1st Principal Component increases over (at least) five consecutive days:

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% Model Core
x1=results(:,1);
y1=moving(results(:,2),30);
tmp=[];
% Find moments of time where the percetage of negative 1-PC
% eigenvalues increases over time (minimal requirement of
% five consecutive days
for i=5:length(x1)
    if(y1(i)>y1(i-1))&&(y1(i-1)>y1(i-2))&&(y1(i-2)>y1(i-3))&& ...
      (y1(i-3)>y1(i-4))&&(y1(i-4)>y1(i-5))
        tmp=[tmp; x1(i)];
    end
end
% When found
z=[];
for i=1:length(tmp)
    for j=1:length(nasdaq)
        if(tmp(i)==nasdaq(j,1))
            z=[z; nasdaq(j,1) nasdaq(j,2)];
        end
    end
end
subplot(2,1,1); 
hold on; plot(z(:,1),z(:,2),'r.','markersize',7);

The results of the model we over-plot with red markers on top of the NASDAQ-100 Index:
anxiety-fig06
Our simple model takes us into a completely new territory of unexplored space of latent variables. Firstly, it does not predict the future. It still (unfortunately) remains unknown. However, what it delivers is a fresh look at the past dynamics in the market. Secondly, it is easily to read out from the plot that results cluster into three subgroups.

The first subgroup corresponds to actions in the stock trading having further negative consequences (see the events of 2007-2009 and the avalanche of prices). Here the dynamics over any 60 calendar days had been continued. The second subgroup are those periods of time when anxiety led to negative dynamics among stock traders but due to other factors (e.g. financial, global, political, etc.) the stocks surged dragging the Index up. The third subgroup (less frequent) corresponds to instances of relative flat changes of Index revealing a typical pattern of psychological hesitation about the trading direction.

No matter how we might interpret the results, the human factor in trading is evident. Hopefully, the PCA approach captures it. If not, all we are left with is our best friend: a trader’s intuition.

Acknowledgments

An article dedicated to Dr. Dariusz Grech of Physics and Astronomy Department of University of Wroclaw, Poland, for his superbly important! and mind-blowing lectures on linear algebra in the 1998/99 academic year.

Yahoo! Stock Data in Matlab and a Model for Dividend Backtesting


Within the evolution of Mathworks’ MATLAB programming environment, finally, in the most recent version labelled 2013a we received a longly awaited line-command facilitation for pulling stock data directly from the Yahoo! servers. What does that mean for quants and algo traders? Honestly, a lot. Now, simply writing a few commands we can have nearly all what we want. However, please keep in mind that Yahoo! data are free therefore not always in one hundred percent their precision remains at the level of the same quality as, e.g. downloaded from Bloomberg resources. Anyway, just for pure backtesting of your models, this step introduces a big leap in dealing with daily stock data. As usual, we have a possibility of getting open, high, low, close, adjusted close prices of stocks supplemented with traded volume and the dates plus values of dividends.

In this post I present a short example how one can retrieve the data of SPY (tracking the performance of S&P500 index) using Yahoo! data in a new Matlab 2013a and I show a simple code how one can test the time period of buying-holding-and-selling SPY (or any other stock paying dividends) to make a profit every time.

The beauty of Yahoo! new feature in Matlab 2013a has been fully described in the official article of Request data from Yahoo! data servers where you can find all details required to build the code into your Matlab programs.

Model for Dividends

It is a well known opinion (based on many years of market observations) that one may expect the drop of stock price within a short timeframe (e.g. a few days) after the day when the stock’s dividends have been announced. And probably every quant, sooner or later, is tempted to verify that hypothesis. It’s your homework. However, today, let’s look at a bit differently defined problem based on the omni-working reversed rule: what goes down, must go up. Let’s consider an exchange traded fund of SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust labelled in NYSE as SPY.

First, let’s pull out the Yahoo! data of adjusted Close prices of SPY from Jan 1, 2009 up to Aug 27, 2013

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% Yahoo! Stock Data in Matlab and a Model for Dividend Backtesting
% (c) 2013 QuantAtRisk.com, by Pawel Lachowicz
 
close all; clear all; clc;
 
date_from=datenum('Jan 1 2009');
date_to=datenum('Aug 27 2013');
 
stock='SPY';
 
adjClose = fetch(yahoo,stock,'adj close',date_from,date_to);
div = fetch(yahoo,stock,date_from,date_to,'v')
returns=(adjClose(2:end,2)./adjClose(1:end-1,2)-1);
 
% plot adjusted Close price of  and mark days when dividends
% have been announced
plot(adjClose(:,1),adjClose(:,2),'color',[0.6 0.6 0.6])
hold on;
plot(div(:,1),min(adjClose(:,2))+10,'ob');
ylabel('SPY (US$)');
xlabel('Jan 1 2009 to Aug 27 2013');

and visualize them:

spy-1

Having the data ready for backtesting, let’s look for the most profitable period of time of buying-holding-and-selling SPY assuming that we buy SPY one day after the dividends have been announced (at the market price), and we hold for $dt$ days (here, tested to be between 1 and 40 trading days).

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% find the most profitable period of holding SPY (long position)
neg=[];
for dt=1:40
 
buy=[]; sell=[];
for i=1:size(div,1)
    % find the dates when the dividends have been announced
    [r,c,v]=find(adjClose(:,1)==div(i,1));
    % mark the corresponding SPY price with blue circle marker
    hold on; plot(adjClose(r,1),adjClose(r,2),'ob');
    % assume you buy long SPY next day at the market price (close price)
    buy=[buy; adjClose(r-1,1) adjClose(r-1,2)];
    % assume you sell SPY in 'dt' days after you bought SPY at the market
    % price (close price)
    sell=[sell; adjClose(r-1-dt,1) adjClose(r-1-dt,2)];
end
 
% calculate profit-and-loss of each trade (excluding transaction costs)
PnL=sell(:,2)./buy(:,2)-1;
% summarize the results
neg=[neg; dt sum(PnL<0) sum(PnL<0)/length(PnL)];
 
end

If we now sort the results according to the percentage of negative returns (column 3 of neg matrix), we will be able to get:

>> sortrows(neg,3)
 
ans =
   18.0000    2.0000    0.1111
   17.0000    3.0000    0.1667
   19.0000    3.0000    0.1667
   24.0000    3.0000    0.1667
    9.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   14.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   20.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   21.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   23.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   25.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   28.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   29.0000    4.0000    0.2222
   13.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   15.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   16.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   22.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   27.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   30.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   31.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   33.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   34.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   35.0000    5.0000    0.2778
   36.0000    5.0000    0.2778
    6.0000    6.0000    0.3333
    8.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   10.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   11.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   12.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   26.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   32.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   37.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   38.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   39.0000    6.0000    0.3333
   40.0000    6.0000    0.3333
    5.0000    7.0000    0.3889
    7.0000    7.0000    0.3889
    1.0000    9.0000    0.5000
    2.0000    9.0000    0.5000
    3.0000    9.0000    0.5000
    4.0000    9.0000    0.5000

what simply indicates at the most optimal period of holding the long position in SPY equal 18 days. We can mark all trades (18 day holding period) in the chart:

spy-2

where the trade open and close prices (according to our model described above) have been marked in the plot by black and red circle markers, respectively. Only 2 out of 18 trades (PnL matrix) occurred to be negative with the loss of 2.63% and 4.26%. The complete distribution of profit and losses from all trades can be obtained in the following way:

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figure(2);
hist(PnL*100,length(PnL))
ylabel('Number of trades')
xlabel('Return (%)')

returning

spy-3

Let’s make some money!

The above Matlab code delivers a simple application of the newest build-in connectivity with Yahoo! server and the ability to download the stock data of our interest. We have tested the optimal holding period for SPY since the beginning of 2009 till now (global uptrend). The same code can be easily used and/or modified for verification of any period and any stock for which the dividends had been released in the past. Fairly simple approach, though not too frequent in trading, provides us with some extra idea how we can beat the market assuming that the future is going to be/remain more or less the same as the past. So, let’s make some money!

Slippage in Model Backtesting


A precious lesson I learned during my venture over programming an independent backtesting engine for new trading model was slippage. Simply speaking, slippage is a fraction of stock price which you need to assume as a deviation from the price you are willing to pay. In model backtesting the slippage is extremely important. Why? Let’s imagine your model generates a signal to buy or sell a stock on a day $t_i$, i.e. after when the market has been closed and your stock trading history has been updated with a stock close price. Since you can’t buy/sell this stock on day $t_i$, your algo-trading system in connection to your model rules places a new order to be executed on day $t_{i+1}$. Regardless of the position the stock holds, you don’t know the price on the following day at the opening of the market. Well, in real-time trading – yes. However, in the backtesting of your model this information is available, e.g. your have historical stock prices of IBM in Aug 2008, so you know the future.

Now, you may wish to program your backtesting engine to buy/sell this stock for you on $t_{i+1}$ day at the open, mid-day, intra-day, or even close price. The choice is yours. There are different strategies. Close price is good option for consideration as long as you have also an track of intra-day trading on $t_{i+1}$, therefore you have time to analyze the intra-day variability, take extra correction for extreme volatility or black-swans, and proceed with your order with extra caution. But if you program a simple approach in your order execution (e.g. buy at open price) you assume some risk of the price not to be in your favour.

Quite conservative approach to compensate for systematic unexpected slippages in the stock price when your order has been sent to the broker is to assume in simulations (backtesting) a fixed slippage working against your profits every time. Namely, you don’t buy/sell your stock at the price as given on $t_{i+1}$ day in your historical price table. You assume the slippage of $\Delta S$. If the price of the stock is $P$ your slippage affects the price:
$$
P’ = P \pm (P\times \Delta S)
$$ where $P’$ is the executed price for your simulated order. The sign $\pm$ has double meaning. To allow you to understand it, let me draw two basic rules of the slippage in backtesting:

slippage-long

If your trading decision is to go long you always buy at the price higher by $P\times \Delta S$ than P and you sell the stock at the price lower than $P$, again by $P\times \Delta S$. Reversely, if you open a short position, you buy lower and sell higher when closing the same position.

The amount of slippage you should assume varies depending on the different conditions. If you are involved in lots of algorithmic trading operations, you probably are able to estimate your slippage. In general, the simulated slippage shouldn’t be more than 2%.

If you forget to include the slippage in your backtesting black-box, it may occur that your model is extremely profitable and you risk a lot in practice. On the other hand, adding slippage to your test may make your day less bright as it has started. But don’t worry. Keep smiling as a new day is a new opportunity, and life is not about avoiding the risks but managing them right.

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