Build a Financial Trading Algorithm in Python in 5 Easy Steps

What will we cover in this tutorial?

Step 1: Get time series data on your favorite stock

To build a financial trading algorithm in Python, it needs to be fed with data. Hence, the first step you need to master is how to collect time series data on your favorite stock. Sounds like it is difficult, right?

Luckily, someone made an awesome library pandas-datareader, which does all the hard word you for you. Let’s take a look on how easy it is.

import datetime as dt
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from dateutil.relativedelta import relativedelta


# A Danish jewellery manufacturer and retailer
stock = 'PNDORA.CO'
end = dt.datetime.now()
start = end - relativedelta(years=10)
pndora = pdr.get_data_yahoo(stock, start, end)

pndora['Close'].plot()

plt.show()

Which results in a time series of the closing price as shown here.

Pandora A/S time series stock price

The stock is probably quite unknown, considering it is a Danish company. But to prove a point that you can get data, including for Pandora.

In the code you see that you send a start and end date to the call fetching the data. Here we have taken the last 10 years. The object returned integrates well with the matplotlib library to make the plot.

To understand the data better, we need to explore further.

Step 2: Understand the data available

Let us explore the data object returned by the call (pndora).

To get an overview you should run the following code using the iloc-call to a the Dataframe object (pndora returned by pandas_datareader).

pndora.iloc[-1]

This will show what the last item of the object looks like.

High            365.000000
Low             355.600006
Open            360.000000
Close           356.500000
Volume       446004.000000
Adj Close       356.500000
Name: 2020-06-26 00:00:00, dtype: float64

Where you have the following items.

  • High: The highest price traded during that day.
  • Low: The lowest price traded during that day.
  • Open: The opening price that day.
  • Close: The closing price that day, that is the price of the last trade that day.
  • Volume: The number of shares that exchange hands for the stock that day.
  • Adj Close: It accurately reflect the stock’s value after accounting for any corporate actions. It is considered to be the true price of that stock and is often used when examining historical returns.

That means, it would be natural to use Adj Close in our calculations. Hence, for each day we have the above information available.

Step 3: Learning how to enrich the data (Pandas)

Pandas? Yes, you read correct. But not a Panda like this the picture.

Pandas the Python library.
Pandas the Python library.

There is an awesome library Pandas in Python to make data analysis easy.

Let us explore some useful things we can do.

import datetime as dt
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from dateutil.relativedelta import relativedelta


# A Danish jewellery manufacturer and retailer
stock = 'PNDORA.CO'
end = dt.datetime.now()
start = end - relativedelta(years=10)
pndora = pdr.get_data_yahoo(stock, start, end)

pndora['Short'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=20).mean()
pndora['Long'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=100).mean()

pndora[['Adj Close', 'Short', 'Long']].plot()
plt.show()

Which will result in the following graph.

Pandora A/S stock prices with Short mean average and Long mean average.
Pandora A/S stock prices with Short mean average and Long mean average.

If you inspect the code above, you see, that you easily added to two new columns (Short and Long) and computed them to be the mean value of the previous 20 and 100 days, respectively.

Further, you can add the daily percentage change for the various entries.

import datetime as dt
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from dateutil.relativedelta import relativedelta


# A Danish jewellery manufacturer and retailer
stock = 'PNDORA.CO'
end = dt.datetime.now()
start = end - relativedelta(years=10)
pndora = pdr.get_data_yahoo(stock, start, end)

pndora['Short'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=20).mean()
pndora['Long'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=100).mean()

pndora['Pct Change'] = pndora['Adj Close'].pct_change()
pndora['Pct Short'] = pndora['Short'].pct_change()
pndora['Pct Long'] = pndora['Long'].pct_change()

pndora[['Pct Change', 'Pct Short', 'Pct Long']].loc['2020'].plot()
plt.show()

Which will result in this graph.

Pandora A/S stock's daily percentage change for Adj Close, short and long mean.
Pandora A/S stock’s daily percentage change for Adj Close, short and long mean.

Again you can see how easy it is to add new columns in the Dataframe object provided by Pandas library.

Step 4: Building your strategy to buy and sell stocks

For the example we will keep it simple and only focus on one stock. The strategy we will use is called the dual moving average crossover.

Simply explained, you want to buy stocks when the short mean average is higher than the long mean average value.

In the figure above, it is translates to.

  • Buy when the yellow crosses above the green line.
  • Sell when the yellow crosses below the green line.

To implement the simplest version of that it would be as follows.

import datetime as dt
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
from dateutil.relativedelta import relativedelta


# A Danish jewellery manufacturer and retailer
stock = 'PNDORA.CO'
end = dt.datetime.now()
start = end - relativedelta(years=10)
pndora = pdr.get_data_yahoo(stock, start, end)

short_window = 20
long_window = 100

pndora['Short'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=short_window).mean()
pndora['Long'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=long_window).mean()

# Let us create some signals
pndora['signal'] = 0.0
pndora['signal'][short_window:] = np.where(pndora['Short'][short_window:] > pndora['Long'][short_window:], 1.0, 0.0)

pndora['positions'] = pndora['signal'].diff()

To visually see where to buy and sell you can use the following code afterwards on pndora.

fig = plt.figure()

ax1 = fig.add_subplot(111, ylabel='Price')

pndora[['Adj Close', 'Short', 'Long']].plot(ax=ax1)

ax1.plot(pndora.loc[pndora.positions == 1.0].index,
         pndora.Short[pndora.positions == 1.0],
         '^', markersize=10, color='m')

ax1.plot(pndora.loc[pndora.positions == -1.0].index,
         pndora.Short[pndora.positions == -1.0],
         'v', markersize=10, color='k')

plt.show()

Which would result in the following graph.

Finally, you need to see how your algorithm performs.

Step 5: Testing you trading algorithm

There are many ways to test an algorithm. Here we go all in each cycle. We buy as much as we can and sell them all when we sell.

import datetime as dt
import pandas_datareader as pdr
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
from dateutil.relativedelta import relativedelta


# A Danish jewellery manufacturer and retailer
stock = 'PNDORA.CO'
end = dt.datetime.now()
start = end - relativedelta(years=10)
pndora = pdr.get_data_yahoo(stock, start, end)

short_window = 20
long_window = 100

pndora['Short'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=short_window).mean()
pndora['Long'] = pndora['Adj Close'].rolling(window=long_window).mean()

# Let us create some signals
pndora['signal'] = 0.0
pndora['signal'][short_window:] = np.where(pndora['Short'][short_window:] > pndora['Long'][short_window:], 1.0, 0.0)

pndora['positions'] = pndora['signal'].diff()

cash = 1000000
stocks = 0
for index, row in pndora.iterrows():
    if row['positions'] == 1.0:
        stocks = int(cash//row['Adj Close'])
        cash -= stocks*row['Adj Close']
    elif row['positions'] == -1.0:
        cash += stocks*row['Adj Close']
        stocks = 0

print("Total:", cash + stocks*pndora.iloc[-1]['Adj Close'])

Which results in.

Total: 2034433.8826065063

That is a double in 10 years, which is less than 8% per year. Not so good.

As this is one specific stock, it is not fair to judge the algorithm being poor, it can be the stock which was not performing good, or the variables can be further adjusted.

If compared with the scenario where you bought the stocks at day one and sold them on the last day, your earnings would be 1,876,232. Hence, the algorithm beats that.

Conclusion and further work

This is a simple financial trading algorithm in Python and there are variables that can be adjusted. The algorithm was performing better than the naive strategy to buy on day one and sell on the last day.

It could be interesting to add more data into the decision in the algorithm, which might be some future work to do. Also, can it be combined with some Machine Learning?

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