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Reversal patterns are used for charting analysis, some key reversal patterns: head and shoulders, double tops, double bottoms, triple tops and triple bottoms.
If a market has been falling for a while it can be very tempting to look for opportunities to buy it. After all, if a market has already fallen then psychologically buying it at this lower level feels as if we’re getting a bargain. But who’s to say that it can’t fall further? In fact, traders are often warned not to try to catch falling knives. The problem with a market that’s selling off is that downside moves can quickly pick up momentum and result in severe losses for would-be “bottom pickers”. So, when consolidation is taking place after a downturn we would like to have a pattern showing us that either the market looks likely to fall further (continuation) or that a reversal is on the cards by giving us a strong “buy” signal.
By the same token it’s always tempting to try and time the market and sell at the top. But as we’ve seen over the past eight years with US stock indices, this is easier said than done. Many traders had had their fingers burnt trying to call the top of this long equity market rally. So once again, it’s useful to look out for specific patterns which can help us identify when a market may be “topping out.” That is, when the upside momentum has been exhausted and a corrective sell-off is on the cards.
Here’s an example of a market that has been trending higher but then puts in a double top before declining sharply. This is a chart of the EURUSD and the double top occurred during the summer of 2014.
This shows a head-and-shoulders top. The neckline is formed by drawing a line linking up the lows formed after the first shoulder and the subsequent head. Once the second (right hand) shoulder is formed, the neckline becomes a significant area of support. If the price breaks below here then there’s a strong possibility that prices will continue to decline. In other words, the head-and-shoulders pattern signals that the price action has reversed and is now heading downwards after previously trending up before forming the pattern. Now, it’s also important to measure the distance between the neckline and the top of the “head”. This is the pattern height and typically traders then anticipate prices falling by a similar amount below the neckline. If they do then this can be a place to buy back and book profits. However, it could be worth moving a stop down to just above the neckline in the hope of capitalising on an additional move downwards.
Here’s an inverse head and shoulders that was formed on the UK100 between August 2015 and June 2016. Typically, technical traders would look to place a buy order in once the price breaks above the neckline after forming the right shoulder. Traders generally look for a rally which would be the same size as the distance between the “head” and the neckline.
So what we’re looking out for are signs that a move may be about to reverse direction. Here we’ve seen some chart patterns indicating that a reversal may be on the cards. But before taking action it’s important to get confirmation. Experienced traders look for additional evidence often by employing momentum and volume indicators and maybe some candlestick analysis. Please refer to our guides under the “News & Education” tab on our website which cover these topics in more detail.
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