1) Importing Prices and Sectors

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Before you can use StrataSearch, you'll first need to import price and sector data from the pricing service of your choice.  StrataSearch supports a large number of pricing services, including free price downloads from Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money.  StrataSearch also lets you import prices from the common Metastock format as well as a large variety of ASCII formats, so if you already subscribe to an end-of-day pricing service, it is likely that prices from that service can be imported into StrataSearch.

In addition to importing prices, you will also need to import sectors to take full advantage of StrataSearch's features.  Having sectors allows you to search for trading systems on groups of symbols like the S&P 500 Component Stocks, or the Russell 2000 Component Stocks, or biotech companies.

While most of the supported pricing services cater to U.S. markets, StrataSearch can be used with price data from any exchange in the world.  To use Yahoo for prices from a country other than the U.S. or Canada, simply set the Country setting to Other.  You can then click the Edit buttons to enter your Security and Index symbol lists, and you'll also need to enter the appropriate Extension.  Alternatively, you can use one of the paid pricing services.

The following steps explain how to import prices from the free service of Yahoo! Finance, and import sectors from our own free ASCII import.  This is recommended for most users during the StrataSearch trial period;  however, you can stray from this method if you have access to other prices.  See Pricing Services for more information on other services.

Importing Price Data

Importing Sector Data

Scheduling an Import

Importing Price Data

To import prices, open the File > Import Prices menu:

Make sure the Source Type is set for Yahoo! Finance.  All other settings can be left with their defaults, just as shown in the above example.  Simply click OK to begin the price import.

Once the price import has been launched, you will see it running in the Processor:

The first time you import prices using the above method, it may take an hour or more to complete, depending on the speed of your internet connection.  This is because over 500mb of data must be downloaded, which can take significant time.  When you import prices on subsequent days, the import will run much faster since the bulk of the data has already been downloaded.

When the price import has completed, the Processor will show that it is idle.  You can then enter the Setups > Price and Symbol Setups menu to examine or verify your price data:

Symbols displayed in red contain errors such as excessive numbers of missing days, highs not being at the high of the day, or excessive price changes from one day to the next.  Because of these errors, these symbols will be excluded from back testing so that your analyses will not be incorrectly skewed by them.  It's normal to leave these symbols excluded;  however, if you wish to investigate these further, visit the Invalid Prices tab of the System Settings.

To update your prices on subsequent days, simply repeat the above steps.  StrataSearch will download only the prices that you don't yet have, making the import much faster.  Because Yahoo's prices are delayed by 20 minutes, it is also best to wait at least that long after the market closes before importing the day's prices.

When you have price data, the next step is to import sectors.  See the information below for more information on importing sectors.

Importing Sector Data

Avarin Systems provides ASCII sector files for U.S. and Canadian markets that are updated regularly.  These definitions define over 225 different sectors for U.S. markets, and are sufficient for most users especially during the trial period.  However, as with prices, users can stray from this method and use another source if desired.

To import sectors, open the File > Import Sectors menu:

Make sure the Source Type is set to ASCII.  Other settings can remain at their defaults.  Click OK to import the sectors, and you'll again see the Processor handling the task.

After the sectors have been imported, you'll also see StrataSearch running a process called Rebuild Sector Indexes.  StrataSearch maintains a powerful internal database of your sector definitions, offering not only an index of each sector, but performance values such as numbers of New Highs and Lows, and Advance/Decline numbers.  Use of these performance values can greatly improve the performance of some trading systems.

When the sector import has completed, you will see that the Processor is idle.  You can then enter the Setups > Sector Setups menu to view your sector definitions:

Congratulations, you have now imported price and sector data and you are ready to begin using StrataSearch's many powerful features.  While most users do not update their sector definitions on a daily basis, you can reimport sectors by simply repeating the above steps. 

You can also have StrataSearch automatically import prices or sectors for you at a specified time each day.  For more information on this, see Scheduling an Import below.

Scheduling an Import

StrataSearch contains a helpful Scheduler that allows you to run many things unattended.  For example, you can set the Scheduler to import prices at a predefined time, run your daily buy and sell signals, run a backup, and then continue running an automated search.

In this step, you'll see how to set up a scheduled import of prices from Yahoo! Finance.  To create a scheduled import of prices, open the Setups > Scheduling menu, and then click the Add button.

First give your scheduled item a name, and then identify the time you'd like this import to run.  You should then change the Type to Import Prices and the Source Type to Yahoo! Finance.  The remaining settings can be left at their defaults.  See the above example for more information.

After clicking OK to save the scheduled item, you'll then be brought back to the Schedules Listing that displays all the scheduled items. 

Make sure you select the Scheduling is Enabled option to turn on the schedules processing.  It's also important to note that StrataSearch must be running for the scheduled items to launch.  If StrataSearch is not running, scheduled items will be ignored.

Now that you know how to import your price and sector data, you're ready for some real processing.  See the next step Creating a Simple Strategy for information on how to build a trading system manually.  Whether or not you intend to program your own strategies or not, this is still a helpful step in understanding how StrataSearch creates buy and sell signals.  And that lays the foundation for understanding the automated search down the road.

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Next Step: Creating a Simple Strategy

See AlsoImporting - General Information, Pricing Services, Processor, Schedules Setups