Part 27 Technical Analysis – Using Order Book

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Technical Analysis Strategies for Beginners

Many investors analyze stocks based on their fundamentals – such as their revenue, valuation or industry trends – but fundamental factors aren’t always reflected in the market price. Technical analysis seeks to predict price movements by examining historical data, mainly price and volume.

It helps traders and investors navigate the gap between intrinsic value and market price by leveraging techniques like statistical analysis and behavioral economics. Technical analysis helps guide traders to what is most likely to happen given past information. Most investors use both technical and fundamental analysis to make decisions.

Choose the Right Approach

There are two different ways to approach technical analysis: the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach.   Often times, short-term traders will take a top-down approach and long-term investors will take a bottom-up approach.

  • Top-Down. The top-down approach is a macroeconomic analysis that looks at the overall economy before focusing on individual securities. A trader would first focus on economies, then sectors, and then companies in the case of stocks. Traders using this approach focus on short term gains as opposed to long term valuations. For example, a trader may be interested in stocks that broke out from their 50-day moving average as a buying opportunity.
  • Bottom-Up. The bottom-up approach focuses on individual stocks as opposed to a macroeconomic view. It involves analyzing a stock that appears fundamentally interesting for potential entry and exit points. For example, an investor may find an undervalued stock in a downtrend and use technical analysis to identify a specific entry point when the stock could be bottoming out. They seek value in their decisions and intend to hold a long term view on their trades. (For related reading, see: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Investing Explained.)

In addition to these considerations, different types of traders might prefer using different forms of technical analysis. Day traders might use simple trendlines and volume indicators to make decisions, while swing or position traders may prefer chart patterns and technical indicators. Traders developing automated algorithms may have entirely different requirements that use a combination of volume indicators and technical indicators to drive decision making. 

Technical Analysis

What is Technical Analysis?

Technical analysis is the interpretation of the price action of a company’s underlying stock (or any tradable financial instrument). It utilizes various charts and statistical indicators to determine price support/resistance, range and trends. It identifies historically relevant price patterns and behaviors to help forecast potential direction of the stock. This methodology focuses only on the price of the shares, not the operations of the company.

How Does Technical Analysis Work?

By using historical price data, technical analysis attempts to interpret the supply and demand that moves share prices. Dinosaurs can’t walk in the sand without leaving footprints. The dinosaurs are the institutions, mutual and hedge funds. They are the participants that move stock prices. Technical analysis visually tracks the activity of the dinosaurs using various charts and indicators to pinpoint price areas of strong interest both in terms of buying and selling. History tends to repeat itself as evidenced by price patterns.

Who is Technical Analysis For?

Anyone who trades or invests in the stock market or any other tradable financial instrument should consider learning at least a basic level of technical analysis. It your money is invested into a position that has price movement, then technical analysis will help you make better-informed decisions as to how much risk to employ for how much potential reward.

Stocks represent the underlying company’s business and operations. However, the perception and future valuation of the company and its performance is reflected into its stock price. There is often a divergence between the two. Technical analysis also helped to determine where the divergence lies and how much opportunity may exist.

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Basics of Technical Analysis

Technical Analysis can be applied to all different chart types.

Technical analysis involves and utilizes various tools and indicators. The right mix of the tools can be used to generate converging signals that improve the probability of a direction price move.

Stock Charts

Technical analysis seeks to interpret the story of a stock’s price action. Charts act as the canvas where the story is painted. The common types of charts are candlestick, bar and line charts. Charts plot the prices where trades have been executed. The time interval of the chart can be specified through the settings. Time intervals segment the price action of the stock. For a 5-minute candlestick chart, each candle represents a five-minute segment of trading that record the starting price (open), the highest price (high), lowest price (low) and last price (close) trade during the period. As the five minute window ends, it will display a candlestick that details the four data points (open, high, low, close) and a fifth data point that encapsulates the opening and closing price (body) and colors the body red if the last trade (close) is lower than the first trade (open), or green if the last trade (close) has a higher price than the first trade (open). Bar charts include the same information without painting the body. Line charts simply connect the closing price only for each time period.

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Support/Resistance

By visually marking the charts, users can see certain price levels that tend to prevent prices from falling any further before rising back up again. These are known as price support levels. Users will also spot price levels that continue to provide a ceiling, that eventually causing prices to fall back down again after testing. These are known as price resistance levels.

Stock Volume

Volume measures the total number of shares traded for a specified period of time. It is used as a measure of interest that can manifest into significant price action. High volume indicates significant trading activity that triggers a breakout or a breakdown accompanied by a sustaining trend in prices. Breakouts result in higher trending prices and breakdowns result in lower trending prices. When volume is light, stocks tend to chop around in a range known as consolidation.

Trends indicate the current direction of share prices. When stock prices continue to rise higher, it is considered to be in an uptrend and vice versa for a downtrend. Uptrends indicate increasing demand for shares, as buyers are willing to pay higher prices as supply diminishes. Downtrends represent an oversupply of shares with waning buying interest resulting in falling prices. By connecting the various high and low points on a chart, you can manually generate trendlines that pinpoint support/resistance and direction of stock prices. When compared to historical templates of similar trendlines, you may be able to forecast the future direction, turning/inflection points and targets.

Trend lines can be used to summarize the general sentiment surrounding a stock, whether it is bullish, bearish, or neutral.

Technical Indicators

Having the data points plotted on a chart helps to eyeball the direction of stock prices, but deeper analysis requires more data crunching. What may have taken hours by hand in the old days can be processed in seconds thanks to the multitude of technical indicators on today’s charting and trading platforms. Trends can be visually tracked with indicators like moving averages, which are dynamic lines that connect each period’s closing (last) price. Charting/trading platforms enable users to manually draw in their own trendlines directly onto their charts. Different traders may have different trendlines based on the time frame of the chart as well as the starting point.

Technical indicators can be used to organize, summarize, and analyze price and volume data for improved decision making.

Price indicators

Indicators that output price-based information like trends, support and resistance are price indicators. They are usually displayed and tracked on the price portion of a chart, usually the upper chart. Moving averages, candlesticks/bars/lines, Ichimoku clouds, point and figure, pivot points, three line break and Renko bars are all popular price indicators. Trendlines and trend channels are either manually or automatically drawn are strong price indicators as well.

Momentum indicators

Indicators that measure the momentum of a stock including overbought and oversold conditions are momentum indicators. Basic momentum indicators come pre-programmed in most charting/trading platforms. These indicators help traders to better time their entries and exits. When properly used, traders are able to avoid chasing prices when momentum indicators show overbought conditions like a stochastics peaking and falling back under the 80-band. While price is important, understanding how the price level is achieved can be just as significant. Stochastic, Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Commodity Channel Index (CCI) are three widely used momentum indicators.

Using a combination of price and momentum indicators can help generate effective entry and exit signals. The science of successful trading utilizes the right mix of technical indicators to generate high probability set-ups and triggers married with prudent disciplined trade management. Technical indicators optimize the process of price analysis.

Introduction to Technical Analysis Video Course

For further information on technical analysis, review this segment of the Investors Underground free beginners day trading course.

What is Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends?

Technical analysis of stocks and trends is the study of historical market data, including price and volume. Using both behavioral economics and quantitative analysis, technical analysts aim to use past performance to predict future market behavior. The two most common forms of technical analysis are chart patterns and technical (statistical) indicators.

  • The technical analysis of stocks and trends attempts to predict future price movements, providing traders with the information needed to make a profit.
  • Traders apply technical analysis tools to charts in order to identify entry and exit points for potential trades.
  • An underlying assumption of the technical analysis of stocks and trends is that the market has processed all available information and that it is reflected in the pricing chart.

What Does the Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends Tell You?

Technical analysis is a blanket term for a variety of strategies that depend on interpretation of price action in a stock. Most technical analysis is focused on determining whether or not a current trend will continue and, if not, when it will reverse. Some technical analysts swear by trendlines, others use candlestick formations, and yet others prefer bands and boxes created through a mathematical visualization. Most technical analysts use some combination of tools to recognize potential entry and exit points for trades. A chart formation may indicate an entry point for a short seller, for example, but the trader will look at moving averages for different time periods to confirm that a breakdown is likely.

A Brief History of the Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends

The technical analysis of stocks and trends has been used for hundreds of years. In Europe, Joseph de la Vega adopted early technical analysis techniques to predict Dutch markets in the 17th century. In its modern form, however, technical analysis owes heavily to Charles Dow, William P. Hamilton, Robert Rhea, Edson Gould and many others – including a ballroom dancer named Nicolas Darvas. These people represented a new perspective on the market as a tide that is best measured in highs and lows on a chart rather than by the particulars of the underlying company. The disperse collection of theories from early technical analysts were brought together and formalized in 1984 with the publishing of Technical Analysis of Stock Trends by Robert D. Edwards and John Magee.

Candlestick patterns date back to Japanese merchants eager to detect trading patterns for their rice harvests. Studying these ancient patterns became popular in the 1990s in the US with the advent of internet day trading. Investors analyzed historical stock charts eager to discover new patterns for use when recommending trades. Candlestick reversal patterns in particular are critically important for investors to identity and there are several other commonly used candlestick charting patterns. The doji and the engulfing pattern are all used to predict an imminent bearish reversal.

How to Use the Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends

The core principle underlying technical analysis is that the market price reflects all available information that could impact a market. As a result, there’s no need to look at economic, fundamental, or new developments since they’re already priced into a given security. Technical analysts generally believe that prices move in trends and history tends to repeat itself when it comes to the market’s overall psychology. The two major types of technical analysis are chart patterns and technical (statistical) indicators.

Chart patterns are a subjective form of technical analysis where technicians attempt to identify areas of support and resistance on a chart by looking at specific patterns. These patterns, underpinned by psychological factors, are designed to predict where prices are headed, following a breakout or breakdown from a specific price point and time. For example, an ascending triangle chart pattern is a bullish chart pattern that shows a key area of resistance. A breakout from this resistance could lead to a significant, high-volume move higher.

Technical indicators are a statistical form of technical analysis where technicians apply various mathematical formulas to prices and volumes. The most common technical indicators are moving averages, which smooth price data to help make it easier to spot trends. More complex technical indicators include the moving average convergence-divergence (MACD), which looks at the interplay between several moving averages. Many trading systems are based on technical indicators since they can be quantitatively calculated.

The Difference Between the Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends and Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental analysis and technical analysis are the two big factions in finance. Whereas technical analysts believe the best approach is to follow the trend as it forms through market action, fundamental analysts believe the market often overlooks value. Fundamental analysts will ignore chart trends in favor of digging through the balance sheet and the market profile of a company in search of intrinsic value not currently reflected in the price. There are many examples of successful investors using fundamental or technical analysis to guide their trading and even those who incorporate elements of both. On the whole, however, technical analysis lends itself to a faster investing pace, whereas as fundamental analysis generally has a longer decision timeline and holding period by virtue to the time going into doing the due diligence.

Limitations of the Technical Analysis of Stocks and Trends

Technical analysis has the same limitation of any strategy based on particular trade triggers. The chart can be misinterpreted. The formation may be predicated on low volume. The periods being used for the moving averages may be too long or too short for the type of trade you are looking to make. Leaving those aside, the technical analysis of stocks and trends has a fascinating limitation unique to itself.

As more technical analysis strategies, tools and techniques become widely adopted, these have a material impact on the price action. For example, are those three black crows forming because the priced in information is justifying a bearish reversal or because traders universally agree that they should be followed by a bearish reversal and bring that about by taking up short positions? Although this is an interesting question, a true technical analyst doesn’t actually care as long as the trading model continues to work.

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