Can traders rely on Twitter for investment decisions?

A new algorithm helps traders tap into Twitter to predict the stock market. Here's how.

Despite its recent lull, Twitter proves its still a social media heavyweight when it comes to news dissemination and now, stock tips.

Researchers from RSM Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University have found a way for traders to use Twitter to make better investment decisions, showing another side to the network dominated by haters and trolls.

Information taken from Twitter posts could be used to predict the stock market – and help traders to make better investment decisions.

Ting Li, professor of Digital Business and Dr Jan van Dalen analysed over a million twitter messages that mentioned stocks listed on the S&P 100 share index.

The researchers then developed an algorithm that looked at the sentiment of the tweets and extracted distinct ‘buy’, ‘hold’ and ‘sell’ signals embedded in them – before comparing them to actual price fluctuations on the stocks over the following days.

They found that stocks that are tweeted bullish sentiments such as ‘buy!’ experience, on average, higher abnormal returns.

The results also showed that the relationship between bullish language and increased stock performance was even stronger for influential Twitter users who are frequently retweeted and often mentioned – and that the number of tweets about a particular stock could predict trading volumes, volatility and follow-up return on a stock.

The results often showed that the more that Twitter users disagreed about a particular stock, the higher the trading volumes.

To test if these findings could be the basis for a profitable trading strategy, the researchers ran a 21-week simulation using the information from the study and found that, even taking transaction costs into account, the simulated returns beat the market.

Li says this could be useful for investors looking to make informed trading decisions. “In the simulation we showed that if you invested money in the S&P 100 and used the information gleaned from twitter using our algorithm, you would beat the market. You could invest in one company or a number, you could sell at the end of each day and reinvest the next or you could trade every other day or every three, four, or five days – and even when you take transaction costs into consideration, you’d still come out ahead.”

Li adds, “This could be used by institutional investors or home-based day traders and proves that twitter isn’t just noise – useful information can be extracted and could help investors make better decisions.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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