Friday, March 11, 2011

Momentum strategies in futures and forex

I have long found that it is easier to find good (i.e. high Sharpe ratio) mean-reverting strategies than good momentum strategies. Partly, that is because I was mainly a stock trader instead of a futures/currencies trader, and individual stocks mean-revert most of the time. There are exceptions, such as after special corporate events such as earnings announcements, and I have tested momentum strategies based on these events. But the success of even these event-driven strategies has been uneven, especially since more traders become aware of them.

Now that I am focusing more on trading futures and currencies, I have gradually been introduced to the world of momentum investing. There is a good book in this area that deserves to be better known: Joe Duffy's The Ultimate Trading Robot, which is an almost step-by-step guide to constructing futures trending strategies that rely on prices alone. Another example would be the London Breakout strategy mentioned by our reader Bernd in the comments here. After studying these examples, I realized why my previous, rather desultory, search for momentum strategies in the futures and FX markets had been in vain: the overnight gap in these markets seems critical. For futures, the overnight gap is obvious, but in the case of the London Breakout strategy, for example, the trader has the task defining for herself what the optimal closing and opening times are in order to compute the gap. Intraday trend without an overnight breakout does not seem persistent enough to be traded profitably. I also wonder if there is a more elegant (i.e. mathematical) way to quantify such breakout phenomena without using the traditional technical indicators.

If you know of ideas for good momentum strategies, you are most welcome to share and discuss them here!