The Fear & Greed Index is an indicator that provides a comprehensive view of market sentiment. By analyzing various market factors such as market momentum, stock price strength, stock price breadth, put and call options, junk bond demand, market volatility, and safe haven demand, the Index can depict the overall emotions driving market behavior, categorizing them into two main sentiments: Fear and Greed.
- Fear: Indicates a market scenario where investors are scared, possibly leading to a sell-off or a stagnant market. In such conditions, the indicator helps in identifying potential buying opportunities as assets may be undervalued.
- Greed: Represents a state where investors are overly confident and buying aggressively, which can lead to inflated asset prices. The indicator in such cases can signal overbought conditions, advising caution or potential short opportunities.
█ How It Works
The Fear & Greed Index is an aggregate of seven distinct indicators, each gauging a specific dimension of stock market activity. These indicators include market momentum, stock price strength, stock price breadth, put and call options, junk bond demand, market volatility, and safe haven demand. The Index assesses the deviation of each individual indicator from its average, in relation to its typical fluctuations. In compiling the final score, which ranges from 0 to 100, the Index assigns equal weight to each indicator. A score of 100 denotes the highest level of Greed, while a score of 0 represents the utmost level of fear.
- S&P 500's Momentum: The Index monitors the S&P 500's position relative to its 125-day moving average. Positive momentum (price above the average) signals growing confidence among investors (Greed), while negative momentum (price below the average) indicates rising fear.
- Stock Price Strength: By comparing the number of stocks hitting 52-week highs to those at 52-week lows on the NYSE, the Index gauges market breadth. An extreme number of highs indicates Greed, whereas an extreme number of lows suggests Fear.
- Stock Price Breadth (Market Volume): Using the McClellan Volume Summation Index, which considers the volume of advancing versus declining stocks, the Index assesses whether the market is broadly participating in a trend, or if a smaller subset of stocks is driving it.
- Put and Call Options: The put/call ratio helps gauge investor sentiment. A rising ratio, particularly above 1, indicates increasing fear, as more investors are buying puts to protect against a decline. A falling ratio suggests growing confidence.
- Market Volatility (VIX): The VIX measures expected market volatility. Higher values generally indicate Fear, while lower values point to Greed. The Fear & Greed Index compares the VIX to its 50-day moving average to understand its trend.
- Safe Haven Demand: The performance of stocks versus bonds over a 20-day period helps understand where investors are putting their money. Bonds outperforming stocks is a sign of Fear, while the opposite suggests Greed.
- Junk Bond Demand: By comparing the yields on junk bonds to safer investment-grade bonds, the Index gauges risk appetite. A narrower yield spread suggests Greed (investors are taking more risk), while a wider spread indicates Fear.
The Fear & Greed Index combines these components, scales, and averages them to produce a single value between 0 (Extreme Fear) and 100 (Extreme Greed).
█ How to Use
The Fear & Greed Index serves as a tool to evaluate the prevailing sentiments in the market. Investors, often driven by emotions, can react impulsively, and sentiment indicators like the Fear & Greed Index aim to highlight these emotional states, helping investors recognize personal biases that might impact their investment choices. When integrated with fundamental analysis and additional analytical instruments, the Index becomes a valuable resource for understanding and interpreting market moods and tendencies.
The Fear & Greed Index operates on the principle that excessive fear can result in stocks trading well below their intrinsic values,
while uncontrolled Greed can push prices above what they should be.
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