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Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduction to Candlesticks

Bulls vs. Bears
A candlestick depicts the battle between Bulls (buyers) and Bears (sellers) over a given period of time. An analogy to this battle can be made between two football teams, which we can also call the Bulls and the Bears. The bottom (intra-session low) of the
candlestick represents a touchdown for the Bears and the top (intra-session high) a touchdown for the Bulls. The closer the close is to the high, the closer the Bulls are to a touchdown. The closer the close is to the low, the closer the Bears are to a touchdown. While there are many variations, I have narrowed the field to 6 types of games (or candlesticks):
1.  Long white candlesticks indicate that the Bulls controlled the ball (trading) for most of the game.
2.  Long black candlesticks indicate that the Bears controlled the ball (trading) for most of the game.

3.  Small candlesticks indicate that neither team could move the ball and prices finished about where they started.
4.  A long lower shadow indicates that the Bears controlled the ball for part of the game, but lost control by the end and the Bulls made an impressive comeback.
5.  A long upper shadow indicates that the Bulls controlled the ball for part of the game, but lost control by the end and the Bears    made an impressive comeback.
6.  A long upper and lower shadow indicates that the both the Bears and the Bulls had their moments during the game, but neither could put the other away, resulting in a standoff.
What Candlesticks Don’t Tell You :
Candlesticks do not reflect the sequence of events between the open and close, only the relationship between the open and the close. The high and the low are obvious and indisputable, but candlesticks (and bar charts) cannot tell us which came first.

With a long white candlestick, the assumption is that prices advanced most of the session. However, based on the high/low sequence, the session could have been more volatile. The example above depicts two possible high/low sequences that would form
the same candlestick. The first sequence shows two small moves and one large move: a small decline off the open to form the low, a sharp advance to form the high and a small decline to form the close. The second sequence shows three rather sharp moves: a
sharp advance off the open to form the high, a sharp decline to form the low and a sharp advance to form the close. The first sequence portrays strong sustained buying pressure and would be considered more bullish. The second sequence reflects more
volatility and some selling pressure. These are just two examples and there are hundreds of potential combinations that could result in the same candlestick. Candlesticks still offer valuable information on the relative positions of the open, high, low and close. However, the trading activity that forms a particular candlestick can vary.
Prior Trend
Candlestick Charting Explained, Greg Morris notes that for a pattern to qualify as a reversal pattern, there should be a prior trend to reverse. Bullish reversals require a preceding downtrend and bearish reversals require a prior uptrend. The direction of the trend can be determined using trendlines, moving averages, peak/trough analysis or other aspects of technical analysis. A downtrend might exist as long as the security was trading below its down trendline, below its previous reaction high or below a specific moving average. The length and duration will depend on individual preferences. However, because candlesticks are short-term in nature, it is usually best to consider the last 1-4 weeks of price action.
Star Position
A candlestick that gaps away from the previous candlestick is said to be in star position. The first candlestick usually has a large real body, but not always, and the second candlestick in star position has a small real body. Depending on the previous candlestick, the star position candlestick gaps up or down and appears isolated from previous price action. The two candlesticks can be any combination of white and black. Doji, hammers, shooting stars and spinning tops have small real bodies and can form in
the star position. Later we will examine 2- and 3-candlestick patterns that utilize the star position.


Harami Position
A candlestick that forms within the real body of the previous candlestick is in Harami position. Harami means pregnant in Japanese and the second candlestick is nestled inside the first. The first candlestick usually has a large real body and the second a
smaller real body than the first. The shadows (high/low) of the second candlestick do not have to be contained within the first, though it’s preferable if they are. Doji and spinning tops have small real bodies and can form in the harami position as well. Later
we will examine candlestick patterns that utilize the harami position.
Courtesy Copyright Stock Charts.com .This content copyrights protected  Written by Arthur Hill.

Moving Averages – Part 2

Trend-Following Indicator
Moving averages smooth out a data series and make it easier to identify the direction of the trend. Because past price data is used to form moving averages, they are considered lagging, or trend following, indicators. Moving averages will not predict a change in trend, but rather follow behind the current trend. Therefore, they are best suited for trend identification and trend following purposes, not for prediction.
When to Use
Because moving averages follow the trend, they work best when a security is trending and are ineffective when a security moves in a trading range. With this in mind, investors and traders should first identify securities that display some trending characteristics before attempting to analyze with moving averages. This process does not have to be a scientific examination. Usually, a simple visual assessment of the price chart can determine if a security exhibits characteristics of trend.
In its simplest form, a security’s price can be doing only one of three things: trending up, trending down or trading in a range. An uptrend is established when a security forms a series of higher highs and higher lows. A downtrend is established when a security forms a series of lower lows and lower highs. A trading range is established if a security cannot establish an uptrend or downtrend. If a security is in a trading range, an uptrend is started when the upper boundary of the range is broken and a downtrend begins when the lower boundary is broken.

Ford
In the Ford example, it is evident that a stock can go through both trending and trading phases. The red circles indicate trading range phases that are interspersed among trending periods. It is sometimes difficult to determine when a trend will stop and a trading range will begin or when a trading range will stop and a trend will begin. The basic rules for trends and trading ranges laid out above can be applied to Ford. Notice the trading range periods, the breakouts (both up and down) and the trending periods. The moving average worked well in times of trend, but faired poorly in times of trading. Also note how the moving average lags behind the trend: it is always under the price during an uptrend and above the price during a downtrend. A 50-day simple moving average was used for this example. However, the number of periods is optional and much will depend on the characteristics of the security as well as an individual’s trading and investing style.
Courtesy Copyright StockCharts.com .This content copyrights protected  Written by Arthur Hill.