This paper examines direction-of-change predictability in commodity futures markets using a variety of binary probabilistic techniques. As well as traditional techniques, we apply Variable Length Markov Chain (VLMC) analysis, an innovative technique popularised in computational biology when predicting DNA sequences (B¨uhlmann et al., 1999). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first application of VLMC in finance. Our results show that both VLMC and technical analysis methods provide strong predictability of the direction-of-change of commodity returns, with annualised mean returns of approximately 8%, substantially higher than the passive long strategy. Our results suggest that a short-term learning effect is present in commodities market which can be exploited using innovative direction-of-change forecasting techniques.
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