Time-varying neural network for stock return prediction

We consider the problem of neural network training in a time-varying context. Machine learning algorithms have excelled in problems that do not change over time... However, problems encountered in financial markets are often time-varying. We propose the online early stopping algorithm and show that a neural network trained using this algorithm can track a function changing with unknown dynamics. We compare the proposed algorithm to current approaches on predicting monthly U.S. stock returns and show its superiority. We also show that prominent factors (such as the size and momentum effects) and industry indicators, exhibit time varying stock return predictiveness. We find that during market distress, industry indicators experience an increase in importance at the expense of firm level features. This indicates that industries play a role in explaining stock returns during periods of heightened risk. read more

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