Market Overview

TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index: The Look Back at 2016


TD Ameritrade, Inc. ("TD Ameritrade"), a broker-dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (Nasdaq: AMTD), is today releasing the Investor Movement Index® reading for December 2016 and a summary of the year overall.

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TD Ameritrade's IMX (Graphic: TD Ameritrade)

TD Ameritrade's IMX (Graphic: TD Ameritrade)

The Investor Movement Index, or the IMXSM, is a proprietary, behavior-based index created by TD Ameritrade that aggregates Main Street investor positions and activity to measure what investors are actually doing and how they are positioned in the markets.

The December 2016 Investor Movement Index for the five weeks ending December 30, 2016, reveals:

  • Reading: 5.48 (compared to 5.53 in November)
  • Trend direction: Negative
  • Trend length: 2 months
  • Score relative to historic ranges: High

The IMX fell 0.87 percent to a score of 5.48 as markets reached all-time highs. Exposure to the equities markets within TD Ameritrade accounts declined minimally in December, despite clients being net buyers. This reduction was primarily driven by lower relative volatility in some widely held names like Apple Inc. (AAPL) and General Electric Co. (GE).

"2016 started with double-digit losses and concluded with double-digit gains in the market. Our clients steadily increased their exposure on the downturns and are well positioned for 2017," said Steve Quirk, Executive Vice President of the Trader Group.

As the holiday shopping season reached its peak in December, Inc. (AMZN) was a net buy. This is the third month in a row TD Ameritrade clients were buyers of Amazon, as well as of Facebook Inc. (FB). Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) and Dry Ships Inc. (DRYS), which have both seen declines in share price recently, were net buys. Bank of America Corp. (BAC), which appeared to stabilize following a dramatic increase after the presidential election last month, was also a net buy. Nvidia Corp. (NVDA), which was in the news as one of the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500, was also a popular buy.

Widely held Apple Inc. (AAPL) was net sold during the December IMX period as it traded up toward its year-to-date high. Energy sector issuers ConocoPhillips Corp. (COP) and Chevron Corp. (CVX) were net sold as their share prices appeared to match gains in crude oil prices, which rose above $50 for the first time since October. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and Citigroup Inc. (C) were also net sold as each reached new year-to-date highs in December. Dividend payers Alcoa Corp. (AA) and Ford Motor Co. (F) were net sold as well.

The Look Back at 2016

TD Ameritrade clients were net buyers overall in 2016, increasing their equity positions heading into 2017. The most popular buys of these investors over the past year were Amazon (AMZN), followed by Facebook (FB). Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX), Gilead Sciences (GILD), and Alphabet (GOOG) rounded out the ranks of the top five stocks bought.

The five most popular stocks sold in 2016 by clients were Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Alibaba (BABA), Bank of America (BAC), and Chevron (CVX).

Though TD Ameritrade clients ended the year with equity exposure nearing two-year highs, the spike in volatility at the year's outset had retail clients reducing their equity exposure in the first quarter, and the IMX dipped to a low of 4.33 in March. The IMX then trended upward for the remainder of the year, dipping once more in July following the Brexit vote. As campaigning around the U.S. presidential election drew to a close, the IMX reached its 2016 high in October.

"In fact, Brexit was the year's biggest trading event for TD Ameritrade clients," added Quirk, thinking back on notable events throughout the year. "Not only was June 24 the top trading day of the year overall, it was also the number one day for equity and options trades for retail clients. The U.S. presidential election was clients' second biggest trading event overall, and November 8 was the top day for futures trading. Volatility in the January sell-off of 2016 drove trading on January 20 to be the third-biggest trading day for our clients."

Trading volume increased among clients in the fourth quarter of 2016, following U.S. election results and December's highly anticipated interest rate hike announcement by the Federal Reserve.

Equities were the most popular securities traded by TD Ameritrade retail clients, comprising 55 percent of all trades, and options accounted for 31 percent of trades placed. Futures/forex trading made up 12 percent of client trades at TD Ameritrade, and mutual funds and fixed-income trading combined made up two percent of trades.

As of December 31, 2016, the most widely held stocks by TD Ameritrade retail clients in 2016 were Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), AT&T (T), General Electric (GE), and Microsoft (MSFT).

About the IMX

The IMX value is calculated based on a complex proprietary formula. Each month, TD Ameritrade pulls a sample from its client base of 6 million funded accounts, which includes all accounts that completed a trade in the past month. The holdings and positions of this statistically significant sample are evaluated to calculate individual scores, and the median of those scores represents the monthly IMX.

For more information on the Investor Movement Index, including historical IMX data going back to December 2010; to view the full report from December 2016; or to sign up for future IMX news alerts, please visit Additionally, TD Ameritrade clients can chart the IMX using the symbol $IMX in either the thinkorswim® or TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader platforms.

Inclusion of specific security names in this commentary does not constitute a recommendation from TD Ameritrade to buy, sell, or hold.

Past performance of a security, strategy, or index is no guarantee of future results or investment success.

Historical data should not be used alone when making investment decisions. Please consult other sources of information and consider your individual financial position and goals before making an independent investment decision.

The IMX is not a tradable index. The IMX should not be used as an indicator or predictor of future client trading volume or financial performance for TD Ameritrade.

For the latest TD Ameritrade news and information, follow the company on Twitter, @TDAmeritradePR.

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation

About TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
Millions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade's (NASDAQ: AMTDtechnologypeople, and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how, - bringing Wall Street to Main Street for more than 40 years. An official sponsor of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, as well as an official sponsor of the National Football League, TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade's newsroom or for more information, or read our stories at

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TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
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