With one third of 2014 now behind us, it's a good time to take a look at year-to-date performance of our Bias strategy. The U.S. stock market has been mixed so far this year (through May 9, 2014) with the S&P 500 index gaining 1.6%, the Russell 2000 down 4.8%, and the NASDAQ 100 down 1%. The VIX has lost 5.8% YTD although it has seen some wild swings already, gaining 56.3% in early February before returning back to where it started.
At Trading Volatility we focus on trading of VIX ETPs with most attention on VXX and XIV. Today we'll review the year-to-date performance of the VXX Bias forecasts, which are generated after each trading day at 4:30pm ET.
- For those of you who are unfamiliar with our daily Bias forecasts more information can be found on the Daily Forecast page.
- For backtested performance of the Bias strategy dating back to 2006 please see this post.
VXX Bias Indicator Performance, 2014 YTD (Data sheet with trade and performance details)
As usual, we'll review the performance of the indicators in two halves:
1) the "Negative VXX Bias" strategy which involves buying XIV whenever the VXX Bias is negative, and
2) the "Positive VXX Bias" strategy which involves buying VXX whenever the VXX Bias is positive.
1) Negative VXX Bias Strategy
The VXX Bias forecasts are designed to help traders identify the direction and magnitude of any headwinds/tailwinds in VXX and XIV that arise from the structure and momentum of the underlying VIX futures securities. So far this year the Bias forecasts have identified a key change in market structure in early January to give traders a chance to exit positions in XIV before the full 29% drawdown (see graph below). Confident investors sparked a stock market rebound to keep that drawdown contained, but we've seen a mostly sideways/choppy market with a neutral VXX Bias for the majority of the year. Long-time readers of our posts will know that a neutral Bias makes for little or no trading edge in VIX ETPs, making for a more difficult trading environment. However, in late April & early May we've seen the VXX Bias grow more negative and exit the neutral zone to drive new lows in VXX and drive price higher in XIV.
- As of May 9, XIV has returned 0% YTD vs +3% with the Negative VXX Bias strategy.
2) Positive VXX Bias Strategy
We've seen several moves to a positive VXX Bias this year but only one instance has lasted more than a handful of days. In the January instance the VXX Bias remained positive for 13 days, with VXX gaining over 30% before finally closing out a 10.8% gain. Most of the remaining VXX trades have ended with small losses in typical VXX behavior. 2014 has once again demonstrated that while VXX can see good short-term gains, they tend to be fleeting when the Bias quickly returns to negative.
Hypothetical and Simulated Performance Disclaimer
Additional performance differences in backtests arise from the methodology of using the 4:00pm ET closing values for XIV, VXX, and ZIV as an approximated trade prices for indicators that require VIX and VIX futures to settle at 4:15pm ET.