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A Closer Look at Stock Trading Technical Analysis

Jun 14, 2008
Reading charts is a tricky thing, one you need training to do successfully. A person without training will see simply up-and-down moves with no meaning. Those trained in analysis, however, can discern the meaning of these sometimes seemingly random movements. Those 'in the know' can use the charts to see what the future holds for stock prices. There is not necessarily one pattern that can be used to make good predictions but when the dozens and dozens of different patterns, all of the indicators, are taken together, those with practice can be very good indeed at anticipating future market movements.

Stock Price Patterns - One commonly used pattern to watch for is Cup and Handle. A high price to start then a dip and then back up forms the cup. Then when prices level out for a bit you have the handle. Buying on the handle can bring you quite satisfactory profits.

Head and Shoulders is another commonly watched pattern to look for. The first shoulder is a peak in price. Then follows a dip, then a second, higher, peak forms the head. This is followed by a dip and then the rise that forms the second shoulder. This is interpreted bearishly and you should look for prices to fall significantly after the second shoulder.

Moving Average - Hands down, the most used indicator is the Moving Average. For a 30 day moving average the Average price over time is calculated by adding the closing prices each day for 30 days together and then dividing by 30. Moving averages are also frequently used for 20, 50, 100 and 200 days. Moving averages are plotted onto a graph as a line that goes up and down as the price changes. When you see prices fall below the moving average they often will continue that fall. On the other hand, a rise above the moving average often signals a continued rise.

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is used to analyze the number of days a stock ends up with the number of days it finishes down. It is calculated as follows. You take the closing price of a particular stock over a certain period, (usually between 9 and 15 days) divide the average number of days with an up finish by the average number of days with a down closing. Then add this number to one and use the result to divide 100. Subtract that result from 100. This gives you the RSI, which has a range between 0 and 100.

Often an RSI above 70 is a signal that a particular stock is overbought and a fall in price can be expected. Conversely, an RSI below 30 can be a good signal that it is time to buy. Of course, these numbers must be used in conjunction with an appreciation of how the market stands as a whole. What is a high or low RSI varies between a bull and bear market. If you chart RSI over longer periods the movement becomes less abrupt so looking at charts that cover a year or more gives a good indication of how that stock normally moves against its RSI.

Unlike the RSI, which follows only stock prices, The Money Flow Index, also known as MFI, also includes the number of shares traded. This indicator also varies from 0 to 100. As with the RSI, 30 is usually a good place to look at buying and 70 is where selling should be considered. And again as with the RSI, tracking the MFI over longer periods gives a more accurate result.

For Bollinger Bands three lines are charted on a graph and read together. Market volatility is measured in the upper and lower lines. A more volatile market moves the lines apart and when the market is quieter the lines move toward each other. The simple moving average is plotted on the middle line. When prices rise toward the upper line it signals that an overbought stock is due for a fall in price. As you would expect, then, when the market price falls toward the bottom band a rise in price should be expected. Of course, no single indicator should be used in isolation. Those who succeed as technical analysts consistently look at a number of indicators before making trading decisions.
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