What is Essential to the Successful Trader

By: Donald Saunders

Although fundamental analysis formed the basis of trading decisions for many years, today most traders rely far more heavily on technical analysis and this means that they must also have the ability to read Forex charts.

There are several different price charts available to traders but they all essentially convey information about Forex prices for a specific time period which can range from just a matter of minutes to many years. Charts can be plotted in different formats ranging from simple line charts to more complex candlestick charts, plotting price variations for particular time intervals.

Most traders will be familiar with line charts as this is a very common format for plotting a range of financial data and most of us have grown up with line graphs. Here closing prices are normally plotted for a particular time period and such charts give a very clear and easy to read picture of movements in prices over that time period.

Bar charts are generally more difficult to read, but have the advantage of being able to convey much more information. For example, the length of a bar can indicate the price spread for a given period of time, so that the longer the bar the greater the difference between the high and low price. Bars can also be annotated to show the opening price on the left of the bar and the closing price to the right, enabling you to see at a glance whether the price has risen or fallen. One disadvantage with many bar charts is that they often put so much information onto a chart that it can be difficult to read, although modern software enables you to adjust a chart to focus in on the specific information you require.

A very popular charting technique today is known as candlestick charting, which was originally invented by the Japanese for analyzing rice contracts and is essentially a color coded variation of standard bar charting, with red candlestick bars indicating falling prices and green candlestick bars representing rising prices.

Reading candlestick charts takes a bit of getting used to but the various candlestick shapes when viewed in relation to neighboring shapes form a number of classical patterns. Nor surprisingly, many of the patterns have acquired names over the years and these include such delights as 'Dark Cloud Cover' and 'Morning Star'. Although it takes a bit of time to master the art of reading candlestick charts, once you become familiar with the different patterns it is fairly easy to see just what is happening in the market and to pick out particular market trends.

Of course charts by themselves, while extremely helpful, do not tell the whole picture and so it is necessary to supplement the information provided by the various different charts with a combination of different technical indicators such as relative strength indicators (RSI), Bollinger bands, average directional movement (ADM) to name just three. Nevertheless, there are fewer and fewer traders today who do not rely to a very large degree on charting for their trading decisions.

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