Market analysis and insights on Forex & Commodities!

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Investing in 2017


Brexit, Trump, Italy, asset bubbles all over the world… you name it, there’s probably some financial market jitters that keeps most people out of the world of investments.

On the flipside, the financial world often quips about some investment that has made xx% over a certain period of time, trying to entice visitors with a glimpse of the profits possible for anyone. In the world of investing, it is easy to find spectacular returns on hindsight, and salesmen go through great lengths to market what has already happened.

As traders, we live in a constant state of uncertainty. Every trade we make has the possibility of going wrong, and this is taken into account when a decision is made. It is the knowledge of this that gives power to a trader; if he can understand the math behind his investment decision, he can have a positive expectation and a positive traders’ equation.

There are three main reasons why trading is even more attractive these days. Indeed, with advanced technology, there has never been a better time to step into the world of finance, and grab a golden egg while you still can.


fdThe best you can get on a fixed deposit is 0.35% a year in Singapore, as at December 2016.

While inflation is a constant enemy for our savings accounts, most people do not know what to do to combat inflation. The most common quick-fix is to work harder and earn more money. While that does feed us and our families for some time, the need to build a war chest for emergencies becomes more and more real.


How much can you make from trading? Institutional traders bring in a success rate anywhere from 30%-70%. Why is this so?

The greatest insight into the markets that can make you profitable is this: 90% of the time, the odds are 50-50, while 10% of the time, the odds swing 60-40 (slightly in your favor).

That’s right. While most of the time, markets are 50-50, it is those brief moments when the market gives some opportunity, and prices quickly move to take advantage of this opportunity. That means that if you were to buy or sell randomly, you already have a 50% chance of success!

Another insight to know is that a high success rate (hit-rate) brings a lower profit target, while a low success rate brings a higher profit target.

What do I mean by this? Institutions trade using a combination of low-probability and high-probability trades.

Example: 40% (low) success rate, win = +2%, lose = -1%.”


In this case, if you were to make 100 of such low-probability trades, you would make +80% on winning trades and -60% on losing trades, bringing a 20% return on capital.

Example 2: 75% (high) success rate, win = +0.5%, lose = -1%


In this case, if you made 100 high-probability trades, you made 37.5% on winning trades and -25% on losing trades, bringing +12.5% return on capital.

It is impossible for the market to give high-probability trades with a high profit potential. This would be quickly detected by institutional traders, who have mathematicians, PhD staff, and computer science experts who can quickly make adjustments and profit from it. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, these people would do all they can to bring profits for their firm.


That is why if anyone quips that they have a 80-90% success rate, they are probably having many small wins but a few gigantic losses. If you don’t believe me, try trading forex and planting random trades with low profit potential and high loss potential. The numbers indeed prove to be true!

That is also why it is important to understand the traders’ equation. With a reasonable success rate and an appropriate win-loss ratio (or risk-reward ratio, RRR), you would be profitable over the long-run.

I have had days where I ran 7-8 trading losses in a row, but because I trusted in the probabilities, the next 3-4 trades ended up profitable, as long as I stuck to my trade setups and didn’t let the emotions get the better of me.


If you have $500 to invest: trade forex.

In the Forex market, you are entitled to ‘get a feel of the game’ by risking a few dollars per trade. By trading the smallest lot size (0.01 lots), you can learn to make a few dollars here, lose a few dollars there, and rack up trading experience and learn to trade ‘live’ without incurring hefty losses.

By learning to make many decisions and experiencing all the different conditions of the market, you would become seasoned enough to trade a bigger size, and fine-tune your own trading strategy.

Many traders discover they have certain characteristics about themselves that hinder success. In trading a ‘live’ account with a small sum of money, they are putting in some skin in the game, and getting used to the ups and downs of their account.

The best part about forex is that there are no commission charges. The broker makes money from the bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the buy/sell price, and most brokers charge reasonable spreads, allowing you to trade with almost negligible transaction cost.

If you have $3000 to invest: explore stock CFDs.

Stock CFDs have low commissions and can be bought in small quantities – a few thousand dollars can allow you to have a portfolio of 5-10 stock positions.

For people with less time and more money, stock CFDs can be a great way to learn to deal with commissions, spreads, fee structures, and the whims and fancies of the stock market.

The stock market is only open during working hours, unlike the forex market. Someone who is interested to take longer-term positions may be open to trading stock CFDs, risking small amounts of money, and yet racking up trading experience.

Some people quip that the forex market is more difficult to trade than the stock market. I beg to differ, because it is your circle of competence that determines your success, not the actual characteristics of the market.

If I were to ask you to drive a Formula 1 race car, you probably would kill yourself within the next few hours or so. However, if you were progressively taught how to drive the race car, it doesn’t become dangerous, and because of the progressive nature of your learning, the high speeds don’t come as a shock to you.

f1Driving this car is dangerous, only if you are not trained.

Many people get shocked at the speed by which forex markets move during the Non-Farm Payroll Announcements and FOMC Interest Rate Announcements; prices can move 10-50 times faster than normal during those crazy periods! However, with practice, these sessions can become a profitable time for traders with experience and proper risk management.

If you have $10,000 to invest: trade everything.

People with more money have the luxury of trading a combination of stocks, forex, commodity, bonds, and index trades. These can be accessed through any decent forex broker, and you’ll be surprised to find that most forex brokers let you trade forex, oil, gold, the Dow Jones Index, the S&P, the bond markets, wheat, corn, natural gas, and more. These of course come with higher margin requirements, but exploring all the asset classes makes you a seasoned, well-rounded investor that can take any market condition.

Sideways in the forex market? Maybe there is a trending opportunity in the oil market. There’s always something to trade if you have the experience and know where to look.

However, in my opinion, the greatest investment is Golden Egg 3.


John Murphy: Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets. One of the great trading classics that builds a strong foundation.

John Murphy’s book on technical analysis reveals the fundamental nature of financial markets. Prices move in patterns and cycles, and understanding history helps you to cope with what is to come.

In my trading journey, I’ve read more than 200 books, and found only about 11 of them that are useful in my trading career. These books were either borrowed from the library, or bought only for $30-$50 a book, which is a very good price (since stock commissions can be $15-$25 already!).

Buying a few good trading books can completely change your destiny.

If you are starting out, why not invest in 3-5 good trading books, before getting your hands wet in the financial markets? These books would build a strong foundation, and you would start off with a better understanding of why things happen.

bookSome of the more famous online bookstores.
Source: Company websites and provide great options and they ship almost anywhere in the world. Personally, I found that bookdepository has the more exotic books, but it is a little pricey (yet still worth it since you can’t find the books easily!)

Second-hand books: Carousell if you live in Singapore! If you’re lucky you can find good books at a discounted price. Even though the books may be a little dusty and yellowed, it’s the content that you want to really absorb. You can always find what you want if you search hard enough!


If you are still thinking about it, here’s why you should pick up investing education:

  • Historical chart data is free (we used to need to pay in the 1990s and 2000s)
  • Free resources are available
  • Books are cheap and easy to find
  • Starting cost is as low as $500
  • Cost of failure is low
  • Experience can be racked up with very little capital
  • There is a market for every type of investor

And most of all, it can bring higher returns in the long-run than placing your capital in the bank account. Sure, you might risk losing a couple of dollars at the start, but the cost of ignorance is a lot higher when compounded over the next 5, 10, or 20 years!

Wishing you all the best in your trading journey, and I do hope this article serves as a pump to start you on your quest for investment expertise!




Will Higher Interest Rates Eventually Lead to a Stock Market Crash?

asJanet Yellen’s actions come into the spotlight once again.


After a slew of unprecedented events (Trump, Brexit), what has been troubling the world financial markets in recent days? As the FOMC announcement approaches, market participants have all eyes fixed on the almost-certain rate-hike that is coming up on Thursday. You probably have started to see Yellen’s photograph in news articles across all major financial newspapers.

Traditional economics theory teaches us that when interest rates rise, they are deflationary; businesses find it harder to borrow and affects interest-sensitive investment, while home owners find it harder to pay their mortgages. It all seems reasonable on the surface, but what actually goes on behind it?

In an economic climate such as ours today, traditional predictions have fallen very flat. There are Fed officials and scholars (not lay-people) who still insist that QE has no impact on the real economy whatsoever. The average wage-labourer probably doesn’t feel much when interest rates change, nor will he care even if rates drop or rise significantly.

However, as traders, our portfolios are at stake and it will bode us well to study this properly. Several macroeconomic indicators have to be understood and analysed to understand what is likely to happen. I’ve broken it down into 4 components for easy reading. Let’s get going:

INDICATOR #1: Falling GDP?

The body of scholastic material addressing the link between interest rates and GDP is rather depressing. Stephen D. Williamson summarizes this rather aptly:

“There is no work, to my knowledge, that establishes a link from QE to the ultimate goals of the Fed—inflation and real economic activity”-Stephen D. Williamson, St. Louis Fed Vice President

When the cost of borrowing rises, economic activity slows. That has been what the Fed was trying to do when it goes ahead and raises interest rates. They were used as a deflationary tool to keep the economy from expanding too rapidly. What have we seen? I came across this table while researching on this topic:


What we see is that the average rate hike cycle takes 22 months, while a recession normally happens 41 months later. However, it has been 87 months since the last rate hike, eclipsing even the 85 months lag time since the 1994-1995 rate hike.
These are definitely unusual circumstances. While the economy has been chugging along for 7 years despite near-zero interest rates, I don’t see how a rate hike would dramatically change this, especially in the short-term (1-2 years from now). While the economy has been a big topic on Trump’s agenda during the election, the reality is that the economy is still reeling from the damage caused in 2008, and it could take far more than more investments to bring the world back to economic health.


INDICATOR #2: Lower Stock Prices?

The US stock market has been breaking new highs and with every new high, another analysts comes out and purports that ‘this is the top’.


econDire predictions by an economist.
Source: CNBC

However, before we all go into doom and gloom, let us remember that the bear markets of the last 50 years have had different causes, to be fair, there had to be some sort of trigger. It could be a political issue, such as the 1973-74 oil crisis, and the 1990 bear market caused by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Furthermore, the Fed could be behind a market crash; in 1982, after raising interest rates relentlessly, the U.S market saw some severe bear moves in that period of time.

Sometimes bear markets happen because of bubbles; such as when the 2001 dot-com bubble and 911 terrorist attacks came about. In 2008, we saw a market crash as a result of a tanking housing market spurred by widespread institutional dishonesty.

Let us not be quick to jump to conclusions about a market crash coming. I’ll be watching the S&P and other indices closely over the next few months.

Interestingly, some quip that the “three steps and a stumble” rule would become a reality. It last happened in 2004, but we didn’t see a stock market crash until 4 years later.

“The ‘three steps and a stumble’ rule states that after three consecutive rate hikes (three steps), the stock market would begin to fall rapidly (stumble).”

I don’t quite buy into this idea. Over the past 30 years, there were only nine occasions where we saw 3 rate hikes in a row. Thrice in the 1970s, four times in the 1980s, and twice in the 1990s, and on average, only the 1970s saw a significant decline (approximately 10%) of the stock market in the next year or so.

chartChart of DJIA price changes after 3 rate hikes

More interestingly, the S&P500 looks like it’s ‘toppish’; the bull run seems rather unsustainable, but something seems to be sustaining this euphoria. On a technical basis, it has simply broken out of an expanding wedge on the daily chart.

The S&P500 has broken out of an expanding wedge pattern. It looks rather unsustainable, but it is happening before our eyes.
Source: MetaTrader 4

We’ll have to watch closely how the S&P behaves near the resistance before deciding if it would continue the rally (which is very possible!).


INDICATOR #3: Volatile Bond Prices?

There are signs that the market has already adjusted to an interest rate hike. Check out what happened to the 30-yr Treasury Bonds over the past year or so:


The 30-yr Treasury Bonds have fallen 15% since its last high in July 2016.
Source: MetaTrader 4

The rude correction has shocked many bulls out of the market, and it seems we have entered bearish territory in the bond market. My opinion is that the rate hike has definitely contributed to this, but it seems that the rate hike is a mere response to the macroeconomic conditions of the world. On the technical side, we see a head and shoulders pattern that has broken down (as a result of election fever), and the downtrend has continued somewhat.

yieldsShort-term yields have risen almost as much as long-term yields.
Source: Bloomberg

If you’ve studied finance in university you would immediately recognize that the yield curve has flattened. Check out the table above; 3-month rates have risen as much as 30-year rates! This means 3-month yields have risen more than 100%, while 30-year yields rose about 10% or so. This is a typical response when the Fed tightens monetary policy.  A famous interpretation of the yield curve states that when yield curves get inverted (when short-term bonds yield more than long-term bonds), that’s when the stock market crashes like nobody’s business.

We are still very far off from an inverted yield curve, so a market crash is still some distance away. My guess is that the bond market, as a measure of fear, will be in a state of confusion as there are valid reasons for economic strength as well as economic panic. Volatility in yields is likely to be the norm in the year ahead.

INDICATOR #4: Commodity Prices

Although some pundits claim to be able to predict how interest rates will move commodities, I beg to differ. Oil, for example, is very much output driven (think OPEC), and recently we’ve been having output cuts among producers. As you can see in the image below, when I checked the newsmap yesterday, ‘Oil Surges as More Producers Join Output Cuts’ was the most-read news of the day.

A casual glance at the NewsMap reveals a heightened focus on oil production.

Generally speaking, if you look at the relationship between oil and real interest rates, we see very little correlation even over the very-long-term.

irIt’s hard to come to conclusions about how interest rates have affected commodity prices globally.

More recently, we’ve seen commodity prices tank over the past 5 years despite interest rates remaining almost constant. I just did a simple google search on the price of DBC (the global commodity price ETF) and this is what happened in the past 5 years.

A quick glance shows that commodity prices have fallen for 5 years.
Source: Google finance

To make an investment decision on commodities solely on interest rates isn’t wise. On a technical basis, commodities look like a good buy and I’ll be watching them closely to spot trading opportunities.


If you aren’t already riding the bull market in stocks, it doesn’t make sense to enter now. Heroic bulls would want to enter now with a small profit target, and the world will be watching closely how the new year starts. Moreover, you won’t want to have too much exposure during the final FOMC meeting of 2016. Volatility on all other asset classes are expected, and I’ll be trading currencies, perhaps more regularly on an intra-day basis if I can’t find any good longer-term trends to ride on. All eyes will be on Thursday’s Rate Decision and the price action in the aftermath will be worth watching.


Santa Claus Rally: Do Stocks Always Run Up in December? (Statistics from the Past 20 Years Reveals Some Surprising Facts!)

Christmas in London; checkout these unorthodox white lights hanging across oxford street
Image Source:

Christmas has started early in many places around the world as retailers and malls deck out their retail space with Christmas music, deco, and the like. I especially like the decorations done in some of the major cities in the world, such as that in London. Of course, not only are stores enjoying the higher sales volume; the stock market and forex market tend to go into the same festive mood during this period.

However, is the mood really that buoyant during Christmas?

Christmas in the NYSE
Image Source: USA Today

“What about a Santa Claus Rally?”

Graphic shows average monthly change in Standard and Poor’sChart Source: Stock Trader’s Almanac 2010

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the statistics for Nov to Feb rallies in past years is pretty positive. Starting from 1950 to 2009, the average November-January rally brings in 4.2% returns. It seems buying on any dip from now till about February next year would be a statistically sound trade.

So, being the statistics freak that I am, I decided to do some excel sheet magic and figure out what really goes on during the festive season.


This time, I decided to take a look at the statistics even more closely. For the past 5 years, this is what happened:

1Chart Source: The Amazing Microsoft Excel. And Yahoo finance for historical data. 🙂

Looks good, but if you bought on 1 Dec and sold on the first day of the next year, this would be what you get:

December Statistics:

2011: 4.64%

2012: 5.12%

2013: -3.52%

2014: -2.96%

2015: -4.98% — Total returns for 5 years = -1.71%!!!

For a grand total of… -1.71% returns over 5 years. Wonderful.  I decided to sum up the data in groups of 5 years, and see how the returns would be if we had this simple “buy in December, sell in January” strategy.

5-year “Buy in December, Sell in January” Statistics:

2011-2015: -1.71%

2006-2010: -14.06%

2001-2005: -1.30%

1996-2000: 10.46%

So it seems that the only time December was a profitable month was in 1996-2000. Let’s go into more stats and compare the number of winning Decembers versus the number of losing Decembers:


Using my trusty “countif” formula, I discovered this;

For the past 20 years of trading, 50% of Decembers were profitable for the S&P500 index, while 50% of Decembers were losing months.

10 out of 20 of the past 20 years were losing months.

Curiously enough, for crude oil, 9 of 10 of the past 10 Decembers ended in losses.

And of course, being the nerd/geek I am, I decided to test it out on other months. Suppose you bought in January, and closed in February:

January Statistics:

2011: 4.34%

2012: 1.28%

2013: 4.55%

2014: 5.62%

2015: -0.08% — Total returns for 5 years = +15.71%!!!

February Statistics:

2011: 2.77%

2012: 3.34%

2013: 0.39%

2014: -2.01%

2015: 6.18% — Total returns for 5 years = +10.66%!!!

March Statistics:

2011: -0.67%

2012: 1.92%

2013: 0.70%

2014: 0.98%

2015: 0.39% — Total returns for 5 years = +3.33%!!!

Now that we’ve seen that the “buy in January, sell in February” portfolio yielded the best results in the past 5 years, let’s check out the past twenty years.

5-year “Buy in January, Sell in February” Statistics:

2011-2015: +15.71%

2006-2010: -8.7%

2001-2005: +0.88%

1996-2000: -6.38%

Uh oh. Looks like the buy-in January phenomenon is quite a recent thing. It surely didn’t happen in the preceding 15 years. However, I’ve heard of the Santa Claus rally, so let’s see what happens if we only buy when Santa is around. What happens if you buy 1 week before christmas, and sell 1 week after christmas?

After some simple calculations, here are the results:

“Buy 1 week Before Christmas, Sell 1 week After Christmas” Statistics:

2015: -6.69%

2014: -2.01%

2013: 0.16%

2012: 5.03%

2011: 2.66% – 5-year performance: -0.85%!!!

I understand that the Santa Claus rally graphic at the top showed that over a 30-year period, buying in December and waiting until February seems like a prudent strategy. But the truth is most people don’t have 30 years to wait! I would rather go for something far more consistent and which takes a shorter time to see results.

In summary, this is what I’ve discovered from spending 10 minutes getting data, plucking in the values into Excel, and doing some simple calculations:

“The Santa Claus rally brought -0.85% over the past 5 years, and no considerable advantage is found in the months around Christmas.”



Let me know if there are any interesting phenomenon you would like me to research. The Santa Claus rally is a nice piece of information to know, but it clearly does not provide a trading edge. If it did, the entire market would trade it, and the edge would disappear.

I’ve shown you the statistical performance of this phenomenon, and I hope you’ve gained some useful knowledge. Some websites purport to ‘stock-pick’ over this holiday season, but I don’t see how the statistics could lie.




Goldman Sach’s Top 6 Trading Ideas for 2017 + 3 Trade Ideas of My Own!

As I was preparing for the year ahead, I came across this interesting read in the news. Goldman Sachs had just released their top trade recommendations for the year 2017 as a response to a Trump win in the recent U.S elections, amid economic and political uncertainty. These trade ideas were birthed by recent developments in the major economies of the world, and I couldn’t help but recall what Goldman said in 2015, about 2016 being a year of economic gloom. Already, the S&P 500 is hovering at 2,200, up 9.4% for the year 2016.

goldmanImage Source: Bloomberg

“Goldman Sachs’ top strategists predict that stocks will once again disappoint next year. Goldman predicts the S&P 500 will go nowhere in the coming year, ending 2016 at 2,100.” – (November 2015)

Analysts can be wrong, and to be fair, very few expected the S&P to hit all-time highs. As traders know, we don’t expect to be right all the time. There were a number of great opportunities for bears to take profits even in the uptrend market we’ve seen this year. With information from 29 Nov 2016, the S&P 500 was about 100 points above what Goldman predicted for the year, and the graphic (a weekly chart of the S&P 500 index) below gives a clearer picture of this.

goldman-predictionImage Source: MetaTrader 4

I often read opinions of the market not because I need them, but because as a trader it is essential that I keep up to date with what the institutions are thinking. In the latest recommendation, Goldman recommended the following: (quoting the titles directly from Bloomberg’s report)

  1. “U.S. Dollar the Winner From Developed Market Populism”
  2. “Bet on Trump Getting More Upset About China’s currency”
  3. “Keep Calm and Carry the Right Emerging Market Currencies”
  4. “Long Emerging Market Stocks with ‘Insulated Exposure to Growth’ “
  5. “The Reflation Trade Has Legs”
  6. “Long European Dividend Growth”

What in the world do these ideas mean? Just in case it sounds too confusing, I have translated them into simpler bite-sized titbits below.

confusedImage Source:


Trade Idea #1: Short the EUR/USD pair and GBP/USD pair

currencyImage Source:

Goldman expects the US Dollar to rise. As such, shorting currency pairs with ‘USD’ at the back would express this adequately. Trump’s economic policies are expected to be growth-inducing. Stuff like great quantities of fiscal stimulus, protectionism (both in terms of foreign products and foreign people, haha) to boost local growth and employment, and not to forget, rising interest rates; all these increase demand for the US Dollar.

Uncertainty in Britain (because of the details of the Brexit process) and “populism in Europe” (another Donald Trump situation in Europe?) should “weigh on the pound and the euro”. Essentially, they mean the currency of Britain and Europe should be less in demand as compared to the US Dollar.

Trade Idea #2: Go long on the USD/CNY pair

globalImage Source:

China’s current currency regime is a fixed yuan with respect to a basket of other currencies, therefore a strong US Dollar should push the Yuan higher. Kind of the same logic as idea No.1.

Trade Idea #3:
Go long on emerging market currencies, like MXN, NOK and others

Following the U.S. election, a number of the higher-yielding currencies experienced a mini-meltdown. Nothing new; they’re just recommending taking a reversal trade on oversold currencies.

mxnnokHuge run-ups in USDMXN and USDNOK show major selling in emerging market currencies.
Image Source: MetaTrader 4

Trade Idea #4:
 Buy emerging market equities that don’t benefit much from U.S and China’s growth

Quite a straight-forward idea; countries like Brazil and India will probably continue to grow despite America and China’s antics, and they should be seen as safer places to park money.

Trade Idea #5:
 Bet on rising inflation by buying 10-year U.S. TIPS

Growth in the U.S should lead to re-introduction of inflationary pressures. Along with bullish expectations for energy prices, Goldman expects 2017 to be a year of inflation.

Trade Idea #6: 
Bet on rising dividends by buying Euro Stoxx 50 2018 dividend futures

Yes, you can not only bet on inflation, but on dividends rising. The Eurex actually offers futures contracts for people who want to bet on dividends rising. I’ve heard of other strange futures contracts like cheese, freight, gold volatility index futures, crack spread futures, but this is interesting.

In 2011, Goldman Sachs expressed their prediction for 2012 as “Overall, though, a volatile market, with little overall change, what we describe as ‘fat and flat,’ would be our central view for the year as a whole, but with things getting worse before they get better…”

In 2012, Goldman Sachs predicted the end of the gold bull market and an improved economy (as well as a bullish stock market), and accurately so. Well done for them. (check out the bullish move in 2013 in the chart below)

spAnd so Goldman Sachs predicted the bull market of 2013.
Image Source: MetaTrader 4

From an outsider’s point of view, it seems that Goldman could just be very, very good at predicting things. However, a quick google search will reveal that they are also incorrect in their calls at times, and this should humble any aspiring trader.

In my opinion, the end of the gold market of 2013 was a result of simple price action analysis. Statistically speaking, or using probabilistic reasoning, a sideways market was a reasonable prediction.

In the image below of the gold weekly chart, we can clearly see the multiple trend line breaks that 2012 was characterized by, and the subsequent sideways-bearish move in 2013. We are still in a sideways market on a multi-year basis.

bullGold experienced a bearish move after multiple trendline breaks in 2012.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

With all this in mind, what then should we be looking out for in 2017? Although trading themes are being churned out by analysts year after year, using simple price action strategies, the average investor can identify a few potential trade strategies to take for the upcoming year.



As most traders know, when the market is trending strongly, ride the trend until it proves itself otherwise. This simple strategy is what I applied on the USDJPY right after the recent U.S election results. In the chart below, we see 12 distinct buying opportunities spread out over 14 days. By simply riding on a strong uptrend, it is actually not too hard to watch your profits snowball – provided you have the patience to hold your trades.

usdjpy12 buying opportunities spotted on the USDJPY 1-hour chart
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

On the S&P500, a strong trending bull market means buying on any dips is a profitable strategy. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to realize that this is a high probability trade. Of course, as with any other trade, stop losses will take me out of the market immediately if the trend quickly reverses.

“What about a Santa Claus Rally?”

Graphic shows average monthly change in Standard and Poor’sChart Source: Stock Trader’s Almanac 2010

The statistics for Nov to Feb rallies in past years is pretty positive. Starting from 1950 to 2009, the average November-January rally brings in 4.2% returns. It seems buying on any dip from now till about February next year would be a statistically sound trade.



For those who aren’t aware, fading simply means taking the trade in the opposite direction of the trend. This seems like a contradiction to my previous trade idea, but it isn’t; in the context of clearly trending markets, going with the trend is the reasonable thing to do, and the trend sometimes lasts for much longer than one would expect. However, when the move is very, very quick, huge, and climactic, it has to end quickly as well.

In order to see the speed of the collapse, you can obtain intra-day charts of the USDCHF on that fateful day.

chfThe famous Swiss Franc crash and rebound of 2015.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

Returning to the devalued emerging market currencies, it is reasonable to assume that huge moves will come to an end, and a reversal trade (with a clear signal!) would make for a profitable bet.



On the commodities front, the markets seem more sideways than trending. In such a case, it is prudent to look to trade near the extremes for a reasonable risk-reward ratio. Here’s the crude oil daily chart, and I’ve drawn two simple lines to aid in visual analysis:

crudeIn the case of crude oil, buying near the channel line makes sense.
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

It’s hard to say where the crude oil could go. Although Goldman predicts it would pick up modestly, I’d rather wait for a strong bullish setup before making an entry. It’s perfectly fine if you are not comfortable entering the market; wait for clarity. It always comes.

For Gold, I had to zoom out a lot more on the charts to make sense of what was happening. Sure, it’s seen a huge dip recently (as a result of the U.S election), but I’ll wait for more confirmation before deciding what to do.

goldGold price chart from Sep 2013 to Nov 2016
Chart Source: MetaTrader 4

By the time the news reports a huge move in commodities, it’s too late. It’s much more logical to look at the charts yourself, and decide on an entry before the move happens; that’s the only way you can profit from the market.


The STI has been sideways for a couple of months now. This makes for very difficult trading, as the market changes direction many times within the month. I recommend staying clear of trading it until a clear trend develops.

stiChart Source:

For dollar-cost-averaging investors, this year would have been a very frustrating one indeed.

Using a simple excel sheet, I calculated what returns the investor would obtain if he had bought in any of the first six months this year, and held it to the current price (in November): (all prices used are closing prices for each month)

returnsBuyers of the Straits Times Index from March 2016 onwards would have seen measly returns.
Source: Yahoo finance (calculations done by author)

If you had bought the STI at the end of January, good for you; you would be up 11% on your investment. If you had bought at end February, you would be up 8.6% on your investment. However, the market situation isn’t good news for those who bought in the subsequent months, as shown in the diagram above. For those of you who need candlestick charts, here you go:

stiThe STI has been in a tight sideways market since July 2016; others may say it started in April 2016.
Chart Source: ChartNexus


I’ve shown that the Singapore market has been a tough one to trade in recent months, while opportunities were plentiful in the forex markets. Also, commodities have not asserted themselves in either direction yet, and the effect of a Trump presidency is still weighing heavily investors’ minds.

With that said, as I’ve always asserted, trading decisions are made using simple price action principles and must make logical sense. Goldman Sachs could be correct or wrong, and I could be right or wrong; what matters in the end is that the winning trades make more than the losing trades.

As Soros famously quips:

“It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.” – George Soros



3 Insanely Profitable Traders You Probably Never Heard Of – What Makes Them Different?

When people think trader, they think rogue trader Nick Leeson. 20 years ago, a single derivatives trader caused Barings bank to collapse, leading to many quickly labelling forex trading as an evil profession.

Here’s a photograph of that historic event when it happened:

1Source: The Guardian

As most people know, proper risk management would prevent failure on such a catastrophic scale. At the same time, it is unfortunate that some of the most famous traders in the world shot to fame as a result of one big trade that normally rocks the headlines. This results in some traders having the mentality that they just need that one big winner to retire comfortably.

Let’s take a look at two famous examples:


Soros famously made $1 billion from shorting the British Pound. This was what made his name famous and he was named the man who “broke the Bank of England”,  apparently due to him shifting (or shorting) $10 billion dollars worth of currency.


Andrew became famous when he shorted the New Zealand Dollar of almost $1 billion in value,  which was more than the money supply in circulation in New Zealand during that year! Andrew ended up garnering $300 million in profits from this single transaction alone for his trading firm.

We know that these two traders had trading accounts that were unbelievably large. This is not the case for almost all of us. Therefore, we need to gain the skills and knowledge that can bring consistent, decent returns on an average trading account size. The key is to look for sustainability, and this is definitely learnable.

“Trading is not about getting a one-hit wonder. It’s a career decision, and requires as much commitment and passion as building a business.”

Below, I’ve picked out three excellent traders who I believe will change the way you think about trading.

How many of you can recognize these faces? 😀2Source:,


1Tom Sosnoff sharing option strategies on his daily financial show with his daughter
Source: Tastytrade

Tom Sosnoff started off as a political science graduate working in the Chicago Options Exchange as a market maker. An industry veteran, he quickly spotted the market opportunity in online option trading, and co-founded and created the famous Thinkorswim trading platform. He later sold it to TDAmeritrade for a handsome sum of more than US$600 million.

A maverick of sorts, he is currently most famous for his financial network TastyTrade, where he shares professional trading strategies relating to derivatives and covers topics that are extremely difficult, such as advanced option greeks, and also the very basic. He exhibits some traits that are very rare and valuable to a trader:

  • Substantial and deep trading expertise.

Sosnoff’s knowledge of his area of specialization is admirable indeed. If you are familiar with options, or consider yourself a veteran in the options arena, you might want to think twice after knowing how much expertise he has garnered.

If one wants to make it in the trading arena, one has to be absolutely familiar with the tools of his trade, and the lingo used by industry practitioners. Forex traders, for example, know the ebb and flow of orders throughout the day, such as the Asian/European/American session, and can detect upcoming volatility even before it strikes. For price action traders, the trader can become so proficient that he knows when to stay out of the market within a few seconds.

  • Sharp business acumen.

A trader is ultimately a shrewd businessman. His trades are merely expressions of his ability to spot opportunities for profit, and he quickly knows if he has made a wrong decision. When he is right, he presses his bets and makes the most out of it. Just as a professional poker player knows the odds of every single set of cards dealt to him, a trader knows the odds of every market situation presented to him.

“If you can play poker well, you can probably trade well. Every trader is a shrewd businessman at heart, placing bets where it matters, with reasonable, sound analysis.”

The trader is also absolutely clear of his strategy. Trading without a strategy is as good as flipping a coin, but with a clear plan for attack and defence, the trader is able to defend his account and successfully build his net worth in the long term.

  • Continuous growth.

In his daily financial shows, Sosnoff quips that he has learnt far more in his years explaining option trading concepts, than he learnt while being a professional trader and market-maker in the days of the exchange floor. His team continuously churns out data and statistics on the probability of different option strategies, ranging from basic ones like naked put selling, to exotic strategies like jade lizards and the like.

“Perhaps the reason why most traders fail is they fail to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

The ability to continually analyse his strategies and develop his domain knowledge is the key to his continual success. Where many of his peers in the trading floor days have left the industry, unable to keep up with the fast-paced world of online trading, Sosnoff has soared way above and carved a niche for himself.


3Bruce Kovner with his wife
Source: The Kovner Foundation

Kovner made his first trade on credit, borrowing money to execute a soybeans futures trade, where he made $23,000 on a borrowed sum of $3,000. He was interviewed in the famous book ‘Market Wizards’, and in 2003 he reportedly ran an $11 billion dollar hedge fund named Caxton Associates. He is a rather low-profile guy and shuns media attention.

“I have no bias toward any of the markets… I am just as happy a trader in a bear market as in a bull market, rates up or down, commodities up or down.”
– Billionaire hedge fund manager, Mr. Bruce Kovner

  • Develop a strategy that you are comfortable with.

Kovner’s hedge fund trades based on global macroeconomic conditions. In the hedge fund world, this is called macro-trading, and is a common way to manage a large portfolio. His unique approach to the markets has earned him 28% per annum over more than 20 years (every single year!). Just as he says in the quote above, he is comfortable trading any kind of market, in any kind of condition.

  • Really understand what causes markets to move.

Fundamentally, institutions and banks move money because of their view on global macroeconomic conditions, and they express this in the form of price action, demonstrating commitment through their buying and selling.

Although most small traders don’t have the luxury to express their view of the economy with hundreds of millions of dollars, it helps for us to understand where the world is heading toward, so that we can ride on the moves of the institutions.

For example, you may have heard of the famous saying “The trend is your friend.” Sure enough, as long as the trend is clear, it shows that institutions are piling into the particular financial product that you are trading. You don’t argue against a trend; you flow with what the majority of market players are doing. The context of the market is far more important than the trading signal; just because you see a bearish candlestick pattern does not mean it’s a wise trade to short the market – you have to see whether the surrounding price action supports your trade idea.


4Borsellino trading in the pits as a young man.
Source: Tastytrade

Lewis Borsellino came out of a troubled past. As a young man, he had to live with the shocking murder of his father and having to deal with emotional blow while working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He started off as a runner before becoming a formidable opponent in the S&P futures pit. At one point, he claims that he traded so large that market participants looked to him as a sign that the market was going to turn. Apparently, his trading volume accounted for as much as 10% of total trading occurring in the futures pit!

  • Get very, very good at what you do.

His confidence on the pit was astounding. He knew what he was doing, and traders around him could feel it. In those days, the expression and emotional state of the trader contributed to the mood around the arena. With electronic trading, this plays a less important role, but the market still expresses itself with price, and the despair and ecstasy of traders can be understood if you examine price very carefully.

He almost exclusively traded the Standard & Poor’s 500 pit during his 19-year career on the trading floor.

“I was very good at what I did.”
– Lewis Borsellino

Many people use multiple indicators, hoping to quickly find a system to get good as a trader. However, what works is to be very good at at most 1 or 2 indicators, or simply trade with no indicators, so that you can gain the most expertise and be familiar with what really matters.

In the proprietary trading world, some traders only use Level 2 quotes, trade ladders, without any charts! There are other traders that make portfolio allocations, while there are some that engage in high-frequency intra-day trading. It does not matter how you get there; once you have selected something, you need to get very good at what you do.

Now that we’ve covered the lives of these three traders, let’s take a closer look at trading as a possible career path.


Many traders are frustrated with their trading results because they don’t change their behaviour. They make many, many trades, but fail to ask the right people and seek the right guidance, causing them to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you do what you always do, you will get what you always have been getting.

Lewis Borsellino left the trading floor and entered online trading. Initially, he backed a lot of floor traders financially and groomed them to become profitable, but as time went by, he saw the opportunity in backing both floor traders and online traders, and forced himself to re-learn trading with charts.

If you are still unprofitable in the trading arena, what are you willing to do to make things work out for you? Change your actions, and you will see change in your results!

Anthony Robbins says this really well:

3Source: Goalcast

Perhaps you are someone considering trading as a possible side income, or even as a career. It takes dedication (time!), expertise, patience, as well as some street smarts in order to become a professional trader.

“If you are considering making a career switch to trading, what are you willing to do to make it happen?”