Relatively high levels of put buying are indicative of worry on the part of traders, which is why they are more common during selloffs than during upmoves. I looked back to check other times when the 4-day put/call ratio was above 1.10 and the market was within three days of a 20-day high. Looking back to 1995 I only found three instances: 8/23/06, 2/23/07, and 5/25/07.
August 23, 2006 was a great buying opportunity both short and long-term. It marked a low point and the market rallied for several months following that.
February 23, 2007 was certainly not a buying opportunity. It came just two days before the market collapsed over 3.5% on February 27th.
May 25, 2007 was followed by a 5-day rally and then an extremely choppy month of June.
Not much to learn from these three examples. It should be noted, though that the put/call ratio has been significantly higher over the past couple of years than it was in the beginning of the decade. To adjust for this I normalized the data by using the 100-day moving average.
I once again looked at any time the S&P 500 had made at least a 20-day high in the last 3 days. This time I only required that the four-day average put/call ratio was above its 100-day moving average. After eliminating overlap and looking out at least 20-days I found 47 instances going back to 1995. 33 of these led to positive returns over the next 20 days and 14 of them led to declines – a 70% win rate. The average win was 2.7% and the average loss was 2.5%. The average trade was 1.1%. Not overwhelming numbers by any stretch but not bad, especially considering the market was already at a 20-day high.
In all I would consider the relatively high put/call ratios we are currently seeing a positive. They may help to provide a “wall of worry” for the market to climb.