Technical analysis is an essential component of an effective trading plan. It entails studying charts and statistical indicators to identify patterns and trends in the price movements of financial instruments, like stocks, currencies, metals, and commodities. Technical analysis helps traders make informed trading decisions and predict the future price movements of the assets they trade.
In this article, we will explore various technical analysis techniques and tools that traders can use to identify trends and make trading decisions.
Technical Analysis Techniques
- Moving Averages. Moving averages are popular technical analysis indicators widely used by global traders to identify the direction of trends. They do this by calculating the average price of an asset over a specific period. Some of the most common moving averages used by traders are the simple moving average (SMA) and the exponential moving average (EMA).
- Relative Strength Index. Traders use the Relative Strength Index (RSI) to identify overbought and oversold conditions in an asset. The indicator measures the strength of a security by comparing the average gains and losses of the asset over a particular timeframe. An RSI value of over 70 indicates an overbought asset. If the RSI value falls below 30, the asset is considered oversold.
- RSI divergence. When the Relative Strength Index moves in the opposite direction of the price, this indicates a probable trend weakness and decreasing bullish momentum. This refers to Divergence. RSI can also be used to identify divergence and hidden divergence signals.
- Fibonacci Retracement. The Fibonacci retracement technical indicator is based on the Fibonacci sequence. It is used by traders to identify potential support and resistance levels in an asset. Traders also use Fibonacci retracement levels to establish where to place their entry and exit points.
- Bollinger Bands. Bollinger Bands are used by global traders to measure volatility in financial markets and to identify price trends (overbought or oversold conditions). Bollinger bands are comprised of 3 lines plotted above a security's price chart. The middle line is a simple moving average (SMA) of the security's price over a particular period. The upper band serves as a resistance level, while the lower band serves as a support level. The bands measure volatility or the degree that prices vary over a specific period, adjusting automatically as market conditions fluctuate. The bands move apart when prices go up and move closer together when prices fall.
- Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD). Traders make use of the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) to trade trends. This indicator can be viewed on a trading chart as 2 lines which swing (oscillate) without boundaries. However, while the MACD is an oscillator, it is not common practice for it to be used to identify overbought or oversold conditions. Rather, it’s purpose is to show the differences between two Mas (moving averages). The MACD also helps traders to establish whether the bullish or bearish momentum in a price is getting stronger or weaker.
- Moving Average Crossover (MAC). Traders may use moving average crossover to help them identify when to enter or exit a trend. It occurs when a short-term moving average crosses above or below a long-term moving average. This technical analysis technique can assist a trader in identifying price direction, potential entry point for a trend trade, and when a trend may be concluding or reversing.
- Ichimoku Kinko Hyo. One of the more complicated technical analysis tools, the Ichimoku Kinko Hyo is used to identify current trends and/or trend reversals and displays support and resistance levels. It consists of five lines that are plotted on a chart to identify potential buy and sell signals. These are Tenkan-sen, Kijun-sen, Chikou Span, Senkou Span A, Senkou Span B and Kumo.
- Pivot Points. Traders turn to Pivot Points to identify potential support and resistance levels in an asset. They are commonly used by short-term traders seeking to take advantage of small price movements.
- Volume Analysis. Volume analysis is an important technical analysis technique used to establish trends and chart patterns. Traders use volume analysis to identify when there is a significant increase or decrease in trading volume, which can indicate a potential trend reversal or continuation.
- Average Directional Index (ADX). The Average Directional Index (ADX) is a technical analysis indicator used to determine the strength of a trend. What it doesn’t do is identify the trend’s direction. The ADX ranges from 0 – 100. A 0 value suggests that a price is just as likely to move in a positive direction as it is in a negative direction (so no overall market trend). A value of 100 suggests a price is going to move exclusively in either a positive or negative direction (indicating a very strong trend).
- Stochastic Oscillator. The Stochastic Oscillator is a momentum indicator. This technical analysis indicator can help a trader establish when the end of trend is near. It works on the notion that amid an uptrend, prices will remain equal to or above the previous closing prices, whereas in the middle of a downtrend, prices will possibly stay equal to or below the previous closing price.
- Elliott Wave Theory. Elliott Wave Theory is an intricate technical analysis tool. It is based on the idea that financial markets move in predictable patterns, and that these patterns can be used to predict future price movements. Traders use Elliot Wave’s to try and identify exact points where a price reversal is most likely to occur.
- Parabolic Stop and Reverse (SAR). The Parabolic SAR is also referred to as a momentum indicator. It is used as a technical analysis tool to identify potential trend reversals (when a price is in a strong uptrend or downtrend). Traders use the Parabolic SAR to determine when to enter and exit trades and where to place trailing stops.
- Chart Patterns. Chart patterns are technical analysis techniques used to identify potential trading opportunities by analysing prices movements of an asset over a specific period. Common chart patterns include head and shoulders, triangles, engulfing pattern, double tops, and Ichimoku Cloud Bounce.
- Candlestick Patterns. Candlestick patterns are used by traders to identify potential trends and to acquire insights into short-term price movements. The candlestick is comprised of a body (representing the price ranges between opening and closing prices) and two wicks (signifying the high and low prices). If a closing price is higher than an opening price, the candlestick is usually coloured green, and red if the closing price is lower than the opening price.
- Trend Lines. Trend lines are technical analysis tools used to identify the direction of a trend and potential support and resistance levels in an asset. They are created by connecting the high or low points on a chart. Traders use trend lines to identify potential buy and sell signals.
Technical analysis is a powerful tool for traders looking to make strategic trading decisions. By using a combination of technical analysis techniques, traders can better identify potential trend reversals, support and resistance levels, and generate buy and sell signals. It is however vital that traders remain mindful of the fact that technical analysis is not without fault.
Traders should always conduct thorough research and implement risk management tactics before making any trading decisions. Trading the financial markets comes with it high levels of volatility and unpredictability so managing risk is essential to avoid losing all your capital.
Trading with T4Trade
T4Trade is a global broker popular among traders worldwide. T4Trade offers traders fast execution of trades, flexible trading conditions, and security of funds. A multilingual client support team also delivers high-quality support to all traders, regardless of their expertise. T4Trade’s MetaTrader 4 platform offers traders key trading tools and features required to make strategic trading decisions. The T4Trade Academy also offers a diverse pool of educational resources including e-books, webinars, podcasts, and videos on demand that cover a wide range of key topics including technical analysis. This is complemented by useful blog and FAQ pages that offer insights to many of the questions traders seek answers to.