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(6) How to use point and figure trading techniques.
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

BEARISH FLAG PATTERN – Part 2: Important Characteristics

Go back to Part 1: Bearish Flag Formation.

Important Characteristics of Bearish Flag Pattern

Shape of Bearish Flag:
1) Flagpole:
For Bearish Flag pattern to be more reliable, there should be a very sharp / steep price decrease (almost vertical, and may contain gaps) on heavy volume that makes the “Flagpole” part of the pattern.
Without a steep price decrease, the pattern might be less reliable and riskier.

2) Flag:
A Flag part of the pattern is formed when the price movement is contained within two parallel lines, representing a brief consolidation after the sharp decline.
This consolidation forms a small rectangle that frequently slopes against the preceding trend (i.e. the trend of the Flagpole part).
Therefore, in case of Bearish Flag, since the preceding trend is down, the rectangle flag often slightly slopes upward, although it could be horizontal as well.

Volume:
Volume should be heavy during the formation of the Flagpole part, then decreasing during the formation of the Flag part, and the volume should spike when the price break down through the support of the lower parallel line of the Flag.
High volume during the breakout increases the chances of continuation of the preceding trend.
Without a volume spike on the breakout, the pattern might be less reliable.

During the formation of the Flag, if the volume remains constant or was even increasing, then the reliability of this pattern would be doubtful and might signal a trend reversal instead.

Duration:
The duration of the pattern depends on the price fluctuation during consolidation.
The greater the fluctuation, the longer a pattern will take to form.

On a daily chart, this pattern might take about 1 to 12 weeks to develop.
Ideally, this pattern should form between 1 and 4 weeks.

When the duration is between 4 and 12 weeks, the pattern might carry more risk. After 4 weeks, interest in the stock might have decreased and make it unlikely to continue in a strong downtrend.

When the duration is more than 12 weeks, it would be classified as a Rectangle pattern.

Breakout Direction:
For Bearish Flag pattern, the breakout should happen to the downside (i.e. breakout through the lower parallel line).
However, in some rare cases, the price might break against the previous trend, and create a reverse of trend. This reversal pattern may be signaled during the Flag formation by a significant increase in volume, instead of decreasing.

Potential Price Target:
1) Compute the height of the Flagpole.
The height of the Flagpole is the distance from the start (highest point) of the sharp price decrease to the end (lowest point) of the decrease. (See picture in Part 1).
2) Calculate the potential price target:
Subtract the result from the top the Flag to get the Potential Price Target.

Return to Breakout Level:
After the breakout occurs, the price may sometimes return to breakout level for an immediate test of this resistance level. (Remember, the previous support level has now become resistance level).
However, if the price closes above this resistance level, the pattern could be considered invalid.

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

Related Posts:
* FREE Trading Educational Resources You Should Not Miss
* Learning Candlestick Charts
* Options Trading Basic – Part 2
* Understanding Implied Volatility (IV)
* Option Greeks

Friday, December 14, 2007

BEARISH FLAG PATTERN – Part 1: Formation

Bearish Flag is a short term bearish continuation pattern that occurs during a downtrend, indicating a pause / small consolidation before continuing its downward moves.
This pattern normally appears following a sharp price decrease on high volume.

The Formation of Bearish Flag



Bearish Flag Pattern is usually preceded by a very steep (almost vertical) decrease in price on heavy volume. This steep price decrease makes the “Flagpole” of the pattern.
The sharp decline in price may occur due to negative market sentiments toward unfavorable events / developments, such as negative earning surprises, downward guidance, fraud / court cases, etc.

After the sharp decrease, 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 upward, although it could be horizontal as well.
This flag represents a brief pause / consolidation in the midst of a downtrend before resuming its downward movement.

The completion of the pattern occurs when prices break to the downside through the support level (i.e. lower parallel line) of the Flag with a spike in volume. This would mark the resumption of the original downtrend.

The Psychology Behind Bearish Flag Pattern
A Bearish Flag pattern takes place because prices seldom decline sharply in a straight line for an extended period. Hence, 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 Bearish Flag pattern (Flagpole part), as a result of negative market reactions toward some unfavorable events / developments (e.g. negative earnings surprises, downward guidance, etc.), prices keep on dropping sharply as nervous sellers and new short sellers who were caught-up in the euphoria at that moment, are willing to sell at even lower prices.

As the prices drop, some early sellers who have sold short the stock at higher levels would begin to cover their short position. In addition, some investors might also start bargain-hunting. At this point, the 2nd stage of the Bearish Flag pattern begins (i.e. the Flag part).
At first, most of the stocks bought by the early sellers were easily absorbed by nervous new sellers, since the news and market sentiments are still very negative. Nevertheless, as time passes, the selling pressures subside and more investors come for bargain hunting. Consequently, the prices begin to climb up gradually, but the increase is slow and volume is diminishing, as the bearish sentiment is actually still very strong.

After some time, just as it starts to look as if a real increase is underway, new negative news come out. As a result, the price begin to collapse again and break out through the lower line of the Flag with a surge in volume, as new sellers now overwhelm those bargain hunting.
In the following days, there might be more unfavorable news / comments or less optimistic earnings forecast coming, leading the prices to drop even lower.

To be continued to Part 2: Important Characteristics of Bearish 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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chart Patterns

Since we’ve discussed some of the common chart patterns, as usual, to be more organized, I’d like to put the links of all posts on this topic below, and place the link to this post on the top left corner for easier future reference.

Click the following links to read each of the posts:

1) Technical Analysis – Definition & Assumptions

2) Chart Patterns – Introduction

CONTINUATION PATTERNS:

3) ASCENDING TRIANGLE PATTERN
* Part 1: Ascending Triangle Formation
* Part 2: Ascending Triangle Important Characteristics

4) DESCENDING TRIANGLE PATTERN
* Part 1: Descending Triangle Formation
* Part 2: Descending Triangle Important Characteristics

5) SYMMETRICAL TRIANGLE
* Part 1: Symmetrical Triangle Formation
* Part 2: Symmetrical Triangle Important Characteristics

6) BULLISH FLAG PATTERN
* Part 1: Bullish Flag Formation
* Part 2: Bullish Flag Important Characteristics

7) BEARISH FLAG PATTERN
* Part 1: Bearish Flag Formation
* Part 2: Bearish Flag Important Characteristics

8) BULLISH PENNANT PATTERN
* Part 1: Bullish Pennant Formation
* Part 2: Bullish Pennant Important Characteristics

9) BEARISH PENNANT PATTERN
* Part 1: Bearish Pennant Formation
* Part 2: Bearish Pennant Important Characteristics

10) RECTANGLE PATTERN
* Part 1: Rectangle Formation
* Part 2: Rectangle Important Characteristics

11) CHANNEL PATTERN
* Ascending Channel Pattern
* Descending Channel Pattern


REVERSAL PATTERNS:

12) DOUBLE TOP PATTERNS
* Part 1: Double Top Formation
* Part 2: Double Top Important Characteristics

13) DOUBLE BOTTOM PATTERNS
* Part 1: Double Bottom Formation
* Part 2: Double Bottom Important Characteristics

14) TRIPLE TOPS PATTERNS
* Part 1: Triple Tops Formation
* Part 2: Triple Tops Important Characteristics

15) TRIPLE BOTTOMS PATTERNS
* Part 1: Triple Bottoms Formation
* Part 2: Triple Bottoms Important Characteristics

16) HEAD AND SHOULDERS TOP PATTERN
* Part 1: Head and Shoulder Top Formation
* Part 2: Head and Shoulder Top Important Characteristics

17) HEAD AND SHOULDERS BOTTOM PATTERN
* Part 1: Head and Shoulder Bottom Formation
* Part 2: Head and Shoulder Bottom Important Characteristics


Analysis Tool:
Get Free Trend Analysis for your favorite symbols

Related Topics:
* 10 Important Trading Lessons
* Learning Candlestick Charts
* Options Trading Basic – Part 1
* Options Trading Basic – Part 2
* Option Greeks
* Understanding Implied Volatility (IV)
* Understanding Option’s Time Value

BULLISH FLAG PATTERN – Part 2: Important Characteristics

Go back to Part 1: Bullish Flag Formation.

Important Characteristics of Bullish Flag Pattern

Shape of Bullish Flag:
1) Flagpole:
For Bullish Flag pattern to be more reliable, there should be a very sharp / steep price increase (almost vertical, and may contain gaps) on heavy volume that makes the “Flagpole” part of the pattern.
Without a steep price increase, the pattern might be less reliable and riskier.
2) Flag:
A Flag part of the pattern is formed when the price movement is contained within two parallel lines, representing a brief consolidation after the sharp increase.
This consolidation forms a small rectangle that frequently slopes against the preceding trend (i.e. the trend of the Flagpole part).
Therefore, in case of Bullish Flag, since the preceding trend is up, the rectangle flag often slightly slopes downward.
However, the Flag could be horizontal as well.

Volume:
Volume should be heavy during the formation of the Flagpole part, then decreasing during the formation of the Flag part, and the volume should spike when the price break out through the resistance of the upper parallel line of the Flag.
High volume during the breakout increases the chances of continuation of the preceding trend.
Without a volume spike on the breakout, the pattern might be less reliable.

During the formation of the Flag, if the volume remains constant or was even increasing, then the reliability of this pattern would be doubtful and might signal a trend reversal instead.

Duration:
The duration of the pattern depends on the price fluctuation during consolidation.
The greater the fluctuation, the longer a pattern will take to form.

On a daily chart, this pattern might take about 1 to 12 weeks to develop.
Ideally, this pattern should form between 1 and 4 weeks.
When the duration is between 4 and 12 weeks, the pattern might carry more risk. After 4 weeks, interest in the stock might have decreased and make it unlikely to continue in a strong uptrend.

When the duration is more than 12 weeks, it would be classified as a rectangle.

Breakout Direction:
For Bullish Flag pattern, the breakout should happen to the upside (i.e. breakout through the upper parallel line).
However, in some rare cases, the price might break against the previous trend, and create a reverse of trend. This reversal pattern may be signaled during the Flag formation by a significant increase in volume, instead of decreasing.

Potential Price Target:
1) Compute the height of the Flagpole.
The height of the Flagpole is the distance from the start (lowest point) of the sharp price increase to the end (highest point) of the increase. (See picture in Part 1).
2) Add the result to the bottom the Flag to get the Potential Price Target.

Return to Breakout Level:
After the breakout occurs, the price may sometimes return to breakout level for an immediate test of this support level. (Remember, the previous resistance level has now become support level).
However, if the price closes below this support level, the pattern could be considered invalid.

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

Related Topics:
* FREE Trading Educational Videos You Should Not Miss
* Learning Candlestick Charts
* Options Trading Basic – Part 2
* Understanding Implied Volatility (IV)
* Option Greeks

Friday, December 7, 2007

Reading Links

Daily Options Report: Implied V. Historical

One Option: How Do I Know If I Get A Good Deal On An Options Purchase?

Options Guy: Long Calendar Spreads - Part 1.

Options Trading The Smart Way: Calendar Spreads Ideas on DISH

Afraid To Trade: Most Perfect Downtrend Example

Stock Bandit: Consider Risk First, Then Reward

A Trade A Day: Merge Time Frames to Make More Money

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

Monday, December 3, 2007

SYMMETRICAL TRIANGLE PATTERN – Part 2: Important Characteristics

Go back to Part 1: Symmetrical Triangle Formation.

Important Characteristics of Symmetrical Triangle Pattern

Existing Trend:
There should be an established existing trend (either uptrend or downtrend) in order for the pattern to qualify as a continuation pattern.

Shape of Symmetrical Triangle:
* There should be at least 4 reversal points to draw two converging lines, i.e. two successively lower peak (high) points forming a downward sloping upper line and two successively higher trough (low) points forming an upward sloping lower line, which converge if both line were extended right.
* There should be some distance between the two peaks as well as the two troughs
In other words, prices should increase and hit the descending upper line then decline for at least twice (forming at least two peaks). Prices should drop and hit the ascending lower line then bounce up for at least twice (forming at least two troughs).
* Prices should bounce back and forth in a fairly regular pattern as prices move towards the apex.

Volume:
Volume should be diminishing; heavy at the beginning and contracts as the pattern develops.
However, when breakout occurs, there should be a significant increase in volume.

This is because during the development of the pattern, investors / traders are still indecisive. Some are holding on to their stocks, awaiting the market's next move, whereas the others are buying and selling sooner, which translates into a narrowing range of the peaks and troughs.
When breakout finally occurs, volume should increase significantly, because investors finally have enough conviction about the market direction and they are eager to release their pent-up supply or demand.

Duration:
On a daily chart, this pattern usually may take about 1 to 3 months to form.
If the pattern duration is less than 3 weeks, it is usually considered as a bullish / bearish pennant.

Generally, the longer it takes to form the triangle (or the longer the timeframe of the triangle formation), the stronger the breakout would be.

Breakout Direction:
For Symmetrical Triangle, the breakout can happen in either direction (upside or downside).
Hence, the direction of the breakout can only be determined after the breakout has occurred.
Although triangle as a continuation pattern is supposed to break out in the direction of the existing trend, this is not always the case.

Potential Price Target:
1) Compute the height of the triangle at its widest part (on the left of the chart).
The height is determined by projecting & measuring a vertical line from the highest high point on upper line to the lowest low point on the lower line.
2) To compute the potential price target:
When the breakout is to the upside of the upper line: Add the result to the breakout point at the upper line to get the potential price target.
When the breakout is to the downside of the lower line: Subtract the result from the breakout point at the lower line to get the potential price target.

Return to Breakout Level:
After the breakout occurs, it is common that prices may return to the apex or the support / resistance level around the breakout level for an immediate test of this new support / resistance before resuming their moves in the direction of the breakout.
However, the prices should not reenter the triangle and move outside the opposite line of the breakout line.

When Breakout Should Occur:
The breakout from a triangle pattern should occur well before the pattern reaches the apex of the triangle (i.e. should be somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the horizontal width of the triangle).
If breakout does not occur beyond the three-quarter point, it might mean that prices would continue to drift out to the apex and beyond. In other words, the pattern may no longer valid.

False Breakout:
Premature / false breakouts or "shakeouts" often happen to this pattern as well.

The following are a few points to take note in order to try to avoid false breakout:

* A minimum penetration criteria for a breakout should be price closes outside the upper line (for breakout to the upside) or lower line (for breakout to the downside), not just an intraday penetration.
Some investors / traders may apply certain price criteria (e.g. 3% - 5% break from the upper / lower line depending on the stock’s volatility) or time criteria (e.g. the breakout is sustained for 3 days) to confirm the validity of the breakout.

* Normally, a breakout from a triangle pattern occurs due to an “event” or new development that is able to provide enough conviction to the investors / traders to move strongly one way or the other.
Therefore, some possible confirmation for a valid breakout could be price gaps or accelerated price movements, which are accompanied by a significant increase in volume.

* When a breakout is not accomplished by high volume, investors / traders should be cautious. Because a good breakout from a triangle formation should occur with a surge in volume. However, not all breakouts with high volume are reliable either. A false breakout may also occur with high volume.
Therefore, the price action on the following days should be watched carefully. It is wise to wait a few days to determine whether the breakout is a valid one. Hence, some investors / traders prefer to take positions when the prices return to the breakout level to test the new support / resistance before resuming their moves to the breakout direction (although this return does not always happen), because this may offer an opportunity to participate in the breakout with a better reward to risk ratio.

* When the breakout occurs very near to the apex, investors / traders should be extra cautious. Because the chances of a false breakout are very high as the volume is thin at this point. Hence, it would only take very little activity to cause an erratic and false movement that takes the price outside of the upper or lower lines.

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
* FREE Trading Educational Videos You Should Not Miss