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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BULLISH FLAG PATTERN – Part 1: Formation

Bullish Flag is a short term bullish continuation pattern that occurs during an uptrend, indicating a pause / small consolidation before continuing the uptrend.
This pattern normally appears following a sharp price increase on high volume.

The Formation of Bullish Flag

Bullish Flag Pattern is usually preceded by a very steep (almost vertical) increase in price on heavy volume. This steep price increase makes the “Flagpole” of the pattern.
The sharp rise in price may occur due to positive market sentiments toward favorable events / developments, such as positive earnings surprises, new product launch, etc.

After the sharp increase, the price movement is then contained within two parallel lines, forming a small rectangle “Flag” shape, on decreasing volume.
The rectangle flag is often slightly sloping downward, although it could be horizontal as well.

This flag represents a brief pause / consolidation in the midst of an uptrend before resuming its upward movement.
Consolidation happens when prices tend to bounce between an upper and lower price limit.
This may occur after strong price movement due to market excitement over certain events / developments.
When the excitement is beginning to subside, fewer buyers are willing to purchase at the high price (resistance), but at the same time sellers are also unwilling to sell below a lower limit (support).

The completion of the pattern occurs when prices break out to the upside through the resistance level (i.e. upper parallel line) of the Flag with a spike in volume. This would mark the resumption of the original uptrend.

The Psychology Behind Bullish Flag Pattern
A Bullish Flag pattern takes place because prices seldom move higher in a straight line for an extended period. During a sharp price movement, prices will typically take brief pause periods to "catch their breath" before continuing their move.

During the 1st stage of the Bullish Flag pattern (Flagpole part), as a result of positive market reactions toward some favorable events (e.g. positive earnings surprises, upward guidance, new product launch, etc.), prices keep on soaring sharply as new buyers, who were caught-up in the euphoria at that moment, are willing to buy at even higher prices.

As the prices rises, some early buyers who have bought the stock at lower levels would begin to sell to take profits. At this point, the 2nd stage of the Bullish Flag pattern begins (i.e. the Flag part).
At first, most of the stocks sold by the early buyers are easily absorbed, since the news and market sentiments are still very positive. Nevertheless, as time passes, buying pressures abated and fewer buyers are willing to purchase at the current, high price. Consequently, the prices begin to decrease gradually, but the decrease is slow and volume is diminishing, as the bullish sentiment is actually still very strong.

After some time, just as it starts to look as if a real decline is underway, a new positive development comes out. As a result, the price begins to move higher and break out through the upper line of the Flag with a surge in volume, as new buyers now have overwhelmed those taking profits.
In the following days, there might be more positive news and/or “buy” recommendations coming out, leading the prices to lead to escalate even higher.

To be continued to Part 2: Important Characteristics of Bullish Flag pattern.

To read about other chart patterns, go to: Learning Charts Patterns.

Related Topics:
* Learning Candlestick Charts
* Options Trading Basic – Part 2
* Understanding Implied Volatility (IV)
* Option Greeks


gladcraze said...

Hi, I would like to ask how about the existing trend before the flag pole? Does it require to be as depicted in picture a somewat consolidating horizontal movement before the pole up or can also be a downtrend?


Hi Gladcraze,

I personally like that the pattern before the 1st flag pole to be consolidation that is still within an existing uptrend, not a downtrend.
Because if a pattern than looks like the 1st flagpole within a downtrend, the chances that it's only a bounce are quite high.

Options Trading Beginner