What is Intermarket Analysis?

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 5, 2023

Understanding the links between markets helps you see the bigger picture, which can offer clues relevant to your trades. Intermarket analysis — a powerful tool used by traders, investors and analysts — untangles the intricate web of relationships between asset classes like stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies. Uncovering these hidden patterns and correlations offers valuable insights that form investment strategies. 

This article explores the core concepts, methodologies and real-world applications of intermarket analysis. You’ll learn how to apply this knowledge to gain a competitive edge in the interconnected world of finance.

How Does Intermarket Analysis Work?

Intermarket analysis is an analytical approach used to analyze the market by understanding the relationships between markets and asset classes. It recognizes that markets are interconnected, and the movements in one market can impact others. Intermarket analysis aims to identify trends and potential opportunities or risks by studying these correlations.

Analysts hope to understand correlations, which measure whether markets move in tandem or in opposite directions. Correlations can be positive or negative between markets. Positive correlations indicate that two markets tend to move in the same direction, while negative correlations suggest they move in opposing directions. 

Relative strength analysis is also an important component of intermarket analysis. By comparing the performance of one market or asset class against another, investors can determine which is relatively stronger or weaker. For example, comparing the performance of stocks versus bonds or commodities can provide insights into the prevailing market sentiment. This information can be used for strategic asset allocation to decide how to invest funds.

Importance of Intermarket Analysis in the Trading World

Intermarket analysis plays a vital role in trading by offering traders a broader understanding of financial markets. Examining the relationships between asset classes enables traders to identify trends, correlations and potential opportunities or risks. This analysis helps traders gain insights into the interconnectedness of markets, allowing them to adapt their strategies accordingly. 

By incorporating intermarket analysis, traders can enhance their ability to identify profitable trades and effectively manage risk, ultimately improving their chances of success in a dynamic trading environment. For example, if there is a historically strong negative correlation between the price of crude oil and airline stocks, a trader using intermarket analysis may consider shorting airline stocks when oil prices rise. Recognizing these relationships allow traders to exploit opportunities and look out for downside risks more effectively.

Intermarket Relationships: The Backbone of Intermarket Analysis

In intermarket analysis, four primary relationships are commonly examined: stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities. The movements of these asset classes may speak volumes about market sentiment and fund flows. For instance, stocks and bonds often exhibit an inverse relationship, as investors may shift their capital between these two asset classes based on risk appetite. 

Currency market movements can affect stocks and commodities, as a stronger currency can make exports more expensive and impact corporate earnings. Additionally, commodities like oil and gold can influence inflation expectations and affect bond yields. Understanding these interrelationships is crucial for interpreting market dynamics and making strategic decisions.

Positive Correlations

A positive intermarket correlation implies that two or more markets or asset classes tend to move together. When one market experiences an upward movement, the others may follow suit, and vice versa. 

This correlation offers traders valuable insights into the relationship between these markets, allowing them to anticipate potential trends and maximize opportunities. By recognizing positive correlations, traders can identify opportunities to capitalize on the synchronized movements of these asset classes, enabling them to adjust their trading strategies accordingly.

Negative or Inverse Correlation

A negative or inverse intermarket correlation refers to a relationship between two or more markets or asset classes that have a tendency to move in opposite directions. When one market witnesses an upward movement, the negatively correlated market declines. 

Negative correlations often arise when investors redistribute their capital between asset classes based on varying risk appetites or economic conditions. For example, stocks and bonds often exhibit a negative correlation, where increased demand for bonds as a safe haven investment can lead to a rotation out of stocks and a drop in stock prices. Understanding negative correlations is fundamental to diversification and risk management strategies, as they offer opportunities to hedge against potential losses or exploit market inefficiencies.

Pros of Intermarket Analysis

Here are some key pros of using intermarket analysis:

  • Holistic view: Intermarket analysis provides a comprehensive understanding of the market by considering the relationships between asset classes. This broader perspective helps traders make smarter decisions.
  • Factor analysis: Intermarket analysis considers factors such as correlations and relative strength, allowing traders to assess market sentiment and identify potential market trends or reversals.
  • Adaptability: Intermarket analysis is versatile and can be applied to different trading strategies and timeframes. It is suitable for day traders, swing traders and long-term investors.
  • Portfolio diversification: By understanding the relationships between markets, intermarket analysis enables traders to allocate their investments strategically, reducing the risk of overexposure to a single asset class.

Cons of Intermarket Analysis

While intermarket analysis offers valuable insights, it has limitations and challenges. 

  • Complexity: Intermarket analysis can be complex and challenging to understand, especially for novice traders. It requires a deep understanding of market interrelationships and correlations.
  • Time-consuming: Conducting intermarket analysis can be time-consuming because of the need to gather and analyze a large amount of data from multiple markets and asset classes.
  • Data requirements: Intermarket analysis relies on extensive data inputs, including historical price data and economic indicators, which may require access to reliable data sources and sophisticated analysis tools.
  • Subjectivity: Interpreting intermarket relationships and correlations can involve subjective judgment, as different analysts may have varying interpretations of the data and its implications.
  • False signals: Intermarket analysis is not foolproof and can generate false signals. Correlations and relationships between markets can change over time, leading to incorrect predictions or investment decisions.

Unleashing the Power of Intermarket Analysis

Intermarket analysis is a powerful tool for traders and investors, providing valuable insights into the interconnected nature of financial markets. By examining relationships and correlations between different asset classes, intermarket analysis offers a holistic view of market dynamics, facilitates risk management and enhances decision-making. Traders can leverage this approach to adapt to changing market conditions, identify trends and diversify their portfolios strategically. While intermarket analysis can be complex and time-consuming, a deeper understanding of market interdependencies supports prudent investment choices.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an example of intermarket analysis?


An example of intermarket analysis is studying the correlation between the price of crude oil and airline stocks. When oil prices rise, it can increase operating costs for airlines, potentially impacting their profitability and stock price.


What is the correlation between stocks and commodities?


The correlation between stocks and commodities can vary, but they often exhibit a positive correlation during periods of economic growth. When the economy is performing well, stock prices and commodity prices may rise together as demand for goods and services increases.


What is the value of intermarket segmentation?


Intermarket segmentation provides value by helping traders identify unique market characteristics and opportunities within specific sectors or asset classes. By segmenting the intermarket relationships, traders can gain insights into sector-specific trends and make more targeted investment decisions.

Anna Yen

About Anna Yen

Anna Yen, CFA is an investment writer with over two decades of professional finance and writing experience in roles within JPMorgan and UBS derivatives, asset management, crypto, and Family Money Map. She specializes in writing about investment topics ranging from traditional asset classes and derivatives to alternatives like cryptocurrency and real estate. Her work has been published on sites like Quicken and the crypto exchange Bybit.