Market Timing

Updated on January 30, 2024
Article bySushant Deoskar
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is Market Timing?

Market timing is the plan of buying and selling the securities based on decisions made by the analysis done by financial investors by various methods of security analysis to gain and earn a profit on selling. It is the action plan to cope with the fluctuations in the market prices.

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It has always been at the center stage of traders and analysts to determine share market timings. If we take an unbiased view of trading, we might agree that it is one of the more essential factors. An investment made at the right time comes to fruition more easily and requires a greater sense of timing, knowledge, and analysis.

Key Takeaways

  • Market timing is the idea of buying and selling securities depending on decisions taken by the analysis by financial investors through various security analysis approaches to earn a profit on selling. It is the action plan to manage the fluctuations in market prices.
  • One may use it for a long-term or short-term investing horizon depending upon the investor’s risk and return preferences.
  • One may also use the strategy to enter or exit financial markets or choose between asset or asset classes.

Market Timing Explained

Market timing is the strategy of trading financial assetsFinancial AssetsFinancial assets are investment assets whose value derives from a contractual claim on what they represent. These are liquid assets because the economic resources or ownership can be converted into a valuable asset such as cash.read more based on the rule of timely buying and selling. One can apply it to a long-term or short-term investing horizon depending upon the risk and return preferences of the investors. It can operate based on simple or complex forecasting methodsForecasting MethodsTop forecasting methods include qualitative forecasting (Delphi method, market survey, executive opinion, sales force composite) and quantitative forecasting (time series and associative models).read more. One can also use this strategy to either enter or exit financial markets or choose between assets or asset classesAsset ClassesAssets are classified into various classes based on their type, purpose, or the basis of return or markets. Fixed assets, equity (equity investments, equity-linked savings schemes), real estate, commodities (gold, silver, bronze), cash and cash equivalents, derivatives (equity, bonds, debt), and alternative investments such as hedge funds and bitcoins are examples.read more.

It has always been at the center stage of traders and analysts. If we take an unbiased view of trading, we might agree that it is one of the more essential factors. An investment made at the right time comes to fruition more easily and requires a greater sense of timing, knowledge, and analysis.

A larger and all-encompassing view of timing the market is difficult to take. However, commodity and forex market timing besides others still holds significance. It provides small yet consistent gains; for others, investing is the mantra in the long run. For some reason, markets have always offered ample ways to trade. Every perspective has its fair share of gains and losses. Hence, it becomes a matter of opinion and experience.

It can be considered good market timing if it has earned returns, making it dwell in suspicious waters. One can safely assume that an accomplished trade over the long run with such strategies is rather tricky, if not impossible.

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Strategies related to global market timings may be based on fundamental analysisFundamental AnalysisFundamental Analysis (FA) refers to the process of studying any security's intrinsic value with the object of making profits while trading in it. The primary purpose of fundamental analysis is to determine whether the security or stock is undervalued or overvalued and thereby make an informed decision to buy, hold, or sell it in order to maximize the potential for gains.read more or technical analysis. Investors who do not perform any of these analyses also tend to make their predictions based on the information that comes out from these analyses. But, on the flip side of this is the perspective of some analysts who believe that markets are perfectly efficient because future prices cannot be determined.

#1 – Fundamental Analysis

When an analyst performs fundamental analysis on a stock or any security, he puts forward some assumptions that correlate to the timing of the buy or sell decisions about the stock. Market timing becomes the function of his assumed variables and thesis. The more accurate his assumptions, the more impeccable the timing of the trade. Generally, fundamental analysis forms a mid-term to long-term view of its stocks.

#2 – Technical Analysis

Technical analysisTechnical AnalysisTechnical analysis is the process of predicting the price movement of tradable instruments using historical trading charts and market data.read more is more short-sighted and takes a short to a mid-term view of its subject security. Market timing in such a case becomes the function of historical performance and investor behavior.


Suppose an investor, Mr. M, wants to invest in the market for two years. He has the following information: –

  • Stock A will gain 20% within ten months from now
  • Stock B will lose 12% within six months from now

Based on the above information, Mr. M can make a strategy of buying Stock A before it gains and buying Stock B after it loses. However, the certainty and magnitude of Mr. M’s expected returns will depend upon the authenticity and productivity of the information.

Risks & Restrictions

These strategies can be limited by the arguments laid by the following theories: –


  1. When performed with good command of timing, market transactions generate high returns.
  2. High gains may offset the risks of such strategies.
  3. One can earn quick and short-term profits.


  1. It requires constant tracking of market behavior and trends.
  2. The strategy’s short-term horizon brings tax liabilities into the picture.
  3. Since profit earnings are quick and short in duration, investors might find it rather tricky to buy and sell at the most appropriate juncture.

Market Timing Vs Buy And Hold

Buy and hold is exactly the opposite of the market timing strategy.

When investors do not believe in the fruitfulness of market timing strategies, they tend to use a technique known as buy-and-hold. This strategy is based on that better market return is possible only in the long investment run. Therefore, it is closely associated with the passive management strategy of investing and opposite market timing strategies. However, one should note that a buy-and-hold investor will not always be passive in security selection. Instead, he will actively choose stocks when he finds them worthwhile but takes a long-term position by holding the stocks.

Examples of this strategy are the investors who bought shares in Amazon stocks realizing its future potential about a decade ago. The stock below $100 towards the end of the last decade is settling on the consistent $1,500 level mark in recent trades.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why market timing doesn’t work?

Market timing only works if different major investors use their strategies and trade on their own time.

What is market timing theory?

Market timing is a theory of how firms and corporations in the economy decide to finance the investment with equity or debt instruments. In addition, it is one of the corporate finance theories and contrasts with the pecking order theory and the trade-off theory.

Is market timing illegal?

Market timing is legal and permissible in which investors are involved even though it is a discouraged practice because of its high risk and the very nature of gambling based on chance.

Is market timing possible?

The research indicates that the waiting cost for the perfect investment moment usually increases the perfect timing advantages. Moreover, since perfect market timing is nearly impossible, the best approach is to avoid involving in market timing. Instead, one must initiate a plan and invest as soon as possible they can.

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