Can Futures Traders Trust Continuous Contracts? [Part – 2]

Recap from Part -1

I had to wrap up Part -1 rather quickly and probably didn’t get my ideas across, completely.  Here is what we did in Part – 1.

  1. used my function to locate the First Notice Date in crude
  2. used the same function to print out exact EasyLanguage syntax
  3. chose to roll eight days before FND and had the function print out pure EasyLanguage
  4. the output created array assignments and loaded the calculated roll points in YYYMMDD format into the array
  5.  visually inspected non-adjusted continuous contracts that were spliced eight days before FND
  6. appended dates in the array to match roll points, as illustrated by the dip in open interest

Step 6 from above is very important, because you want to make sure you are out of a position on the correct rollover date.  If you are not, then you will absorb the discount between the contracts into your profit/loss when you exit the trade.

Step 2 – Create the code that executes the rollover trades

Here is the code that handles the rollover trades.


...
...
...
...
rollArr[118]=20220314;
rollArr[119]=20220411;
rollArr[120]=20220512;
rollArr[121]=20220613;
rollArr[122]=20220712;
rollArr[123]=20220812;

//  If in a position and date + 1900000 (convert TS date format to YYYYMMDD),
//  then exit long or short on the current bar's close and then re-enter
//  on the next bar's open

if d+19000000 = rollArr[arrCnt] then
begin
	condition1 = true; 
	arrCnt = arrCnt + 1;
	if marketPosition = 1 then
	begin
		sell("LongRollExit") this bar on close;
		buy("LongRollEntry") next bar at open;
	end;
	if marketPosition = -1 then
	begin
		buyToCover("ShrtRollExit") this bar on close;
		sellShort("ShrtRollEntry") next bar at open;
	end;
	
end;
Code to rollover open position

This code gets us out of an open position during the transition from the old contract to the new contract.  Remember our function created and loaded the rollArr for us with the appropriate dates.  This simulation is the best we can do – in reality we would exit/enter at the same time in the two different contracts.  Waiting until the open of the next bar introduces slippage.  However, in the long run this slippage cost may wash out.

Step 3 – Create a trading system with entries and exits

The system will be a simple Donchian where you enter on the close when the bar’s high/low penetrates the highest/lowest low of the past 40 bars.  If you are long, then you will exit on the close of the bar whose low is less than the lowest low of the past 20 bars.  If short, get out on the close of the bar that is greater than the highest high of the past twenty bars.  The first test will show the result of using an adjusted continuous contract rolling 8 days prior to FND

Nice Trade. Around August 2014

This test will use the exact same data to generate the signals, but execution will take place on a non-adjusted continuous contract with rollovers.  Here data2 is the adjusted continuous contract and data1 is the non-adjusted.

Same Trade but with rollovers

Still a very nice trade, but in reality you would have to endure six rollover trades and the associated execution costs.

Conclusion

Here is the mechanism of the rollover trade.

Roll out of old contract and roll into new contract

And now the performance results using $30 for round turn execution costs.

No-Rollovers

No Rollovers?

Now with rollovers

Many more trades with the rollovers!

The results are very close, if you take into consideration the additional execution costs.  Since TradeStation is not built around the concept of rollovers, many of the trade metrics are not accurate.  Metrics such as average trade, percent wins, average win/loss and max Trade Drawdown will not reflect the pure algorithm based entries and exits.  These metrics take into consideration the entries and exits promulgated by the rollovers.  The first trade graphic where the short was held for several months should be considered 1 entry and 1 exit.  The rollovers should be executed in real time, but the performance metrics should ignore these intermediary trades.

I will test these rollovers with different algorithms, and see if we still get similar results, and will post them later.  As you can see, testing on non-adjusted data with rollovers is no simple task.  Email me if you would like to see some of the code I used in this post.

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