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ChartBrief 134 - Volatility regime change?

You have to look very closely at the chart, but our alternative measure of volatility has turned up... i.e. the rolling annual count of daily price moves exceeding +/- 1%. The indicator had reached a 22-year low, and as I pointed out in a previous note on US equity volatility, when this indicator starts to turn upwards you want to pay attention.

The key with this indicator, and many others for that matter, is to look for extremes first of all, and then to look for a turn from an extreme. This simple rule of thumb can be helpful as an extra piece of information in identifying market tops and bottoms.

But a turn in this volatility indicator can also indicate a transition to a new market regime (e.g. from a low volatility bull market to a high volatility bull market - as happened in the mid-late 1990's). It may be premature to call a turn in volatility, especially given part of the driver was the North Korea hysteria, we are entering into a part of the year which is characterized by generally higher volatility - and that could catalyze a possible transition from low volatility to high volatility.

The rolling annual count of daily price moves exceeding +/- 1% has turned up to 16 from a low of 13. This is potentially the beginning of a transition from low to high volatility.

Here's the same indicator but using different thresholds. Whichever way you look at it, we've reached an extreme point, and when a market indicator hits an extreme you need to pay attention.

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