Matplotlib Visualization for DataFrame Time Series Data

What will we cover in this tutorial?

We will learn how to visualization time series data in a DataFrame with Matplotlib.

This tutorial will show you.

  • How to use Matplotlib with DataFrames.
  • Use Matplotlib with subplots (the object-oriented way).
  • How to make multiple plots in one figure.
  • How to create bar-plots

Want to access the code directly in Jupyter Notebook?

You can get the Jupyter Notebooks from the GitHub here, where there are also direct links to Colab for an interactive experience.

Step 1: Read time series data into a DataFrame

A DataFrame is a two-dimensional tabular data. It is the primary data structure of Pandas. The data structure contains labeled axes (rows and columns).

To get access to a DataFrame data structure, you need to import the Pandas library.

import pandas as pd

Then we need some time series data. You con download your own CSV file from financial pages like Yahoo! Finance.

For this tutorial we will use a dataset available from the GitHub.

remote_file = ""
data = pd.read_csv(remote_file, index_col=0, parse_dates=True)

The pd.read_csv(…) does all the magic. We set the index_col=0, which sets the first column of the CSV data file to be the index. This is the dates.

Then we set parse_dates=True, to ensure that dates are actually parsed as dates and not as strings. This is necessary to take advantage of being time series and index with time intervals.

Step 2: Import Matplotlib in Jupyter Notebook

When you import Matplotlib in Jupyter Notebook, you need to set a rendering mode.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
%matplotlib notebook

We will use the notebook mode, which is interactive. This enables you to zoom in on interval, move around, and save the figure.

It is common to use inline mode for rendering in Jupyter Notebook. The inline mode creates a static image, which is not interactive.

Step 3: Use Matplotlib the Object-Oriente way

Matplotlib can be used in a functional way and an object-oriented way. Most use it in a functional way, which often creates more confusion, as it is not always intuitive how it works.

The object-oriented way leads to less confusion for the cost of one extra line of code and parsing one argument. Hence, the price is low for the gain.

fig, ax = plt.subplots()

The first line returns a figure and axis (fig and ax). The figure is where we put the axis, and the axis is the chart.

The actually plot is made by calling the DataFrame, actually, we access the column Close in this case, which is the Series of the time series of the historic Close prices.

Confused? Don’t worry about the details.

Notice, that we parse ax=ax to the plot. This ensures that we render the chart on the returned axis ax.

Finally, we add a y-label and a title to our axis.

Step 4: Creating multiple charts in one Matplotlib figure

How can we create multiple charts (or axes) in one Matplotlib figure?

Luckily, this is quite easy.

fig, ax = plt.subplots(2, 2)
data['Open'].plot(ax=ax[0, 0], title="Open")
data['High'].plot(ax=ax[0, 1], title="High")
data['Low'].plot(ax=ax[1, 0], title="Low")
data['Close'].plot(ax=ax[1, 1], title="Close")

Here we see a few differences. First, notice plt.subplots(2, 2), which will return a figure fig, and a list of lists with 2-by-2 axes. Hence, ax is a two dimensional list of axes.

We can access the first axis with ax[0, 0,], and parse it as an argument to plot.

This continues for all the 4 plots we make, as you see.

Finally, we use plt.tight_layout(), which will ensures that the layout of the axes does not overlap. You can try without to see the difference.

Step 5: Create a bar-chart with Matplotlib

Finally, we will make a bar-chart with Matplotlib.

Actually, we will render a horizontal bar-chart.

fig, ax = plt.subplots()

We do it for the volume and only on a limited interval of time. This shows you how to take advantage of the time series aspect of the DataFrame.

Next step

The above is part of the FREE 2h Video course.

Backtesting a Trading Strategy with Pandas and Python

What will we cover?

In this tutorial we will cover.

  • What is a backtesting strategy?
  • How to measure the performance of a backtesting strategy?
  • How to implement a backtesting strategy with Pandas?

What is a backtesting strategy?

In a trading strategy backtesting seeks to estimate the performance of a strategy or model if it had been employed during a past period (source).

The way to analyze the performance of a strategy is to compare it with return, volatility, and max drawdown. Other metrics can also be used, but for this tutorial we will use these.

Step 1: Read data from Yahoo! Finance API with Pandas Datareader

Let’s get started by importing a few libraries and retrieve some data from Yahoo! Finance API with Pandas Datareader.

import pandas as pd
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import datetime as dt
import numpy as np

start = dt.datetime(2010, 1, 1)

data = pdr.get_data_yahoo("AAPL", start)

Which will read data for the Apple ticker (AAPL) since 2010.

Below is shown the head of data.

                High       Low      Open     Close       Volume  Adj Close
2010-01-04  7.660714  7.585000  7.622500  7.643214  493729600.0   6.583586
2010-01-05  7.699643  7.616071  7.664286  7.656429  601904800.0   6.594968
2010-01-06  7.686786  7.526786  7.656429  7.534643  552160000.0   6.490066
2010-01-07  7.571429  7.466071  7.562500  7.520714  477131200.0   6.478067
2010-01-08  7.571429  7.466429  7.510714  7.570714  447610800.0   6.521136

Step 2: Calculate signals for a simple strategy

The simple strategy we will use is moving average of period 5 and 20.

When the moving average of the Adj Close price of 5 days is above the moving average of 20 days, we go long (buy and hold) otherwise short (sell).

This can be calculated as follows.

data['Signal'] = data['Adj Close'].rolling(5).mean() - data['Adj Close'].rolling(20).mean()
data['Position'] = (data['Signal'].apply(np.sign) + 1)/2

This results in a Signal line, which is the differences of the two moving averages. When the signal line is positive our position is 1 (buy and hold) otherwise 0 (sell).

                  High         Low        Open  ...   Adj Close    Signal  Position
Date                                            ...                                
2021-02-26  124.849998  121.199997  122.589996  ...  121.260002 -7.610835       0.0
2021-03-01  127.930000  122.790001  123.750000  ...  127.790001 -7.054179       0.0
2021-03-02  128.720001  125.010002  128.410004  ...  125.120003 -6.761187       0.0
2021-03-03  125.709999  121.839996  124.809998  ...  122.059998 -6.782757       0.0
2021-03-04  123.599998  118.620003  121.750000  ...  120.129997 -6.274249       0.0

The reason why we want long to 1 and short to be 0 is for computational reasons, which will be clear soon.

Step 3: Remove unnecessary data columns and rows

To have a cleaner dataset we will clean it up.

data.drop(['High', 'Low', 'Open', 'Volume', 'Close'], axis=1, inplace=True)

Where drop removes columns not needed and dropna removes rows with NaN.

The inplace=True is simply to apply it on the DataFrame.

            Adj Close    Signal  Position
2010-02-01   5.990476 -0.217986       0.0
2010-02-02   6.025239 -0.252087       0.0
2010-02-03   6.128909 -0.282004       0.0
2010-02-04   5.908031 -0.297447       0.0
2010-02-05   6.012933 -0.253271       0.0

Step 4: Calculate the return of the strategy

To calculate the return we will use log returns as we will see is an advantage.

Then we use the Position, but we shift it by 1, as we assume we first react on a position the day after the signal.

data['Log return'] = np.log(data['Adj Close']/data['Adj Close'].shift())
data['Return'] = data['Position'].shift(1)*data['Log return']

This result in the following.

             Adj Close    Signal  Position  Log return  Return
2021-02-26  121.260002 -7.610835       0.0    0.002229     0.0
2021-03-01  127.790001 -7.054179       0.0    0.052451     0.0
2021-03-02  125.120003 -6.761187       0.0   -0.021115    -0.0
2021-03-03  122.059998 -6.782757       0.0   -0.024761    -0.0
2021-03-04  120.129997 -6.274249       0.0   -0.015938    -0.0

Now the additive advance of log returns comes in handy.

Remember that that we can add up log returns to calculate the final return. For details I refer to this.

Hence, we get that the return can be calculated as follows.

data[['Log return', 'Return']].cumsum().apply(np.exp)

Resulting in the following.

            Log return   Return
2021-02-26   20.242133  7.29214
2021-03-01   21.332196  7.29214
2021-03-02   20.886489  7.29214
2021-03-03   20.375677  7.29214
2021-03-04   20.053499  7.29214

Using a bit calculations.

np.exp(data[['Log return', 'Return']].mean()*252)

We get.

Log return    1.310917
Return        1.196485
dtype: float64

Which tells us that the annualized return of our strategy giver 19.6485% return. A buy and hold strategy would give 31.0917%

The natural question is: What did we gain with our strategy?

Step 5: Evaluating our strategy

If we compute the volatility comparing the buy-and-hold strategy with ours. The volatility of a stock can be calculated in many ways. Here we will use the standard deviation. For other measures refer to Investpedia.

data[['Log return', 'Return']].std()*252**.5

Which gives the annualized standard deviation.

Log return    0.283467
Return        0.188044
dtype: float64

Hence, the gain from our strategy is a less volatile strategy.

Calculate the Average True Range (ATR) Easy with Pandas DataFrames

What will we cover in this tutorial?

In this tutorial we will cover the following

Step 1: Read historic stock prices from Yahoo! Finance API

To read data from Yahoo! Finance API we use Pandas-Datareader, which has a direct method.

This requires that we give a start date on how old data we want to retrieve.

import pandas_datareader as pdr
import datetime as dt

start = dt.datetime(2020, 1, 1)
data = pdr.get_data_yahoo("NFLX", start)


This we result in similar output.

	High	Low	Open	Close	Volume	Adj Close
2021-02-12	561.250000	550.849976	556.940002	556.520020	2195900	556.520020
2021-02-16	563.630005	552.729980	557.289978	557.280029	2622400	557.280029
2021-02-17	555.250000	543.030029	550.989990	551.340027	2069600	551.340027
2021-02-18	550.000000	538.229980	549.000000	548.219971	2456200	548.219971
2021-02-19	548.989990	538.809998	548.000000	540.219971	2838600	540.219971

Step 2: Calculate the Average True Range (ATR)

The Average True Range (ATR) is calculated as follows, as defines it.

This can be calculated as follows.

import numpy as np
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import datetime as dt

start = dt.datetime(2020, 1, 1)
data = pdr.get_data_yahoo("NFLX", start)

high_low = data['High'] - data['Low']
high_close = np.abs(data['High'] - data['Close'].shift())
low_close = np.abs(data['Low'] - data['Close'].shift())

ranges = pd.concat([high_low, high_close, low_close], axis=1)
true_range = np.max(ranges, axis=1)

atr = true_range.rolling(14).sum()/14

Where we use the 14 days standard.

Step 3: Visualize the ATR and the stock price

We will use Matplotlib to visualize it as it integrates well with DataFrames from Pandas.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

fig, ax = plt.subplots()
data['Close'].plot(ax=ax, secondary_y=True, alpha=0.3)

This will result in a chart similar to this one.

Want to learn more?

Check out this full FREE course learning about Risk and Return with Pandas DataFrames (Python).

Excel Automation with Simple Moving Average from Python

What will we cover in this tutorial?

We will retrieve the historic stock prices and calculate the moving average. Then we will export the data to Excel and insert a chart, but all done from Python.

See the in depth explanation in the YouTube video. It also gives advice on how to interpret the Simple Moving Averages (SMA).

Step 1: Read historic stock prices

We will use the Pandas-datarader to get the historic prices of NFLX (the ticker for Netflix).

import pandas_datareader as pdr
import datetime as dt

ticker = "NFLX"
start = dt.datetime(2019, 1, 1)

data = pdr.get_data_yahoo(ticker, start)

And you will get the historic data for Netflix from January 1st, 2019.

	High	Low	Open	Close	Volume	Adj Close
2019-01-02	269.750000	256.579987	259.279999	267.660004	11679500	267.660004
2019-01-03	275.790009	264.429993	270.200012	271.200012	14969600	271.200012
2019-01-04	297.799988	278.540009	281.880005	297.570007	19330100	297.570007
2019-01-07	316.799988	301.649994	302.100006	315.339996	18620100	315.339996
2019-01-08	320.589996	308.010010	319.980011	320.269989	15359200	320.269989

Step 2: Understand Moving Average

We will calculate the Simple Moving Average as defined on Investopedia.

Simple Moving Average

The Simple Moving Average (Now just referred to as Moving Average or MA) is defined by a period of days.

That is, the MA of a period of 10 (MA10) will take the average value of the last 10 close prices. This is done in a rolling way, hence, we will get a MA10 for every trading day in our historic data, except the first 9 days in our dataset.

We can similarly calculate a MA50 and MA200, which is a Moving Average of the last 50 and 200 days, respectively.

Step 3: Calculating the Moving Averages

We can do that by using rolling and mean.

And it is magic.

data['MA10'] = data['Close'].rolling(10).mean()
data['MA50'] = data['Close'].rolling(50).mean()
data['MA200'] = data['Close'].rolling(200).mean()


That was easy, right?

	High	Low	Open	Close	Volume	Adj Close	MA10	MA50	MA200
2021-01-12	501.089996	485.670013	500.000000	494.250000	5990400	494.250000	515.297998	502.918599	477.08175
2021-01-13	512.349976	493.010010	495.500000	507.790009	5032100	507.790009	512.989999	503.559600	477.76590
2021-01-14	514.500000	499.579987	507.350006	500.859985	4177400	500.859985	510.616995	503.894399	478.39270
2021-01-15	506.320007	495.100006	500.000000	497.980011	5890200	497.980011	506.341998	504.109600	479.06220
2021-01-19	509.250000	493.540009	501.000000	501.769989	11996900	501.769989	504.232999	504.205999	479.72065

Step 4: Visualize it with Matplotlib

We can see the data with Matplotlib.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

data[['Close', 'MA10', 'MA50']].loc['2020-01-01':].plot()

Resulting in the following plot.

The output

Where you can see how the MA10 and MA50 move according to the price.

Step 5: Export to Excel

Now we will export the data to Excel.

For this we need to import Pandas and use the XlsxWriter engine, where you can find the details of the code.

The code can be found here.

import pandas as pd

data = data.loc['2020-01-01':]
data = data.iloc[::-1]
writer = pd.ExcelWriter("technical.xlsx", 
                        date_format = 'yyyy-mm-dd', 

sheet_name = 'Moving Average'
data[['Close', 'MA10', 'MA50']].to_excel(writer, sheet_name=sheet_name)

worksheet = writer.sheets[sheet_name]
workbook =

# Create a format for a green cell
green_cell = workbook.add_format({
    'bg_color': '#C6EFCE',
    'font_color': '#006100'

# Create a format for a red cell
red_cell = workbook.add_format({
    'bg_color': '#FFC7CE',                            
    'font_color': '#9C0006'

# Set column width of Date
worksheet.set_column(0, 0, 15)

for col in range(1, 4):
    # Create a conditional formatted of type formula
    worksheet.conditional_format(1, col, len(data), col, {
        'type': 'formula',                                    
        'criteria': '=C2>=D2',
        'format': green_cell

    # Create a conditional formatted of type formula
    worksheet.conditional_format(1, col, len(data), col, {
        'type': 'formula',                                    
        'criteria': '=C2<D2',
        'format': red_cell

# Create a new chart object.
chart1 = workbook.add_chart({'type': 'line'})

# Add a series to the chart.
        'name': "MA10",
        'categories': [sheet_name, 1, 0, len(data), 0],
        'values': [sheet_name, 1, 2, len(data), 2],

# Create a new chart object.
chart2 = workbook.add_chart({'type': 'line'})

# Add a series to the chart.
        'name': 'MA50',
        'categories': [sheet_name, 1, 0, len(data), 0],
        'values': [sheet_name, 1, 3, len(data), 3],

# Combine and insert title, axis names
chart1.set_title({'name': sheet_name + " " + ticker})
chart1.set_x_axis({'name': 'Date'})
chart1.set_y_axis({'name': 'Price'})

# Insert the chart into the worksheet.
worksheet.insert_chart('F2', chart1)


Where the output will be something similar to this.

Generated Excel sheet

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