- Author: Jimmy Young
How to Read a Chart & Act Effectively
This is a guide that tells you, in simple understandable language, how to choose the right charts, read them correctly, and act effectively in the market from what you see on them. Probably most of you have taken a course or studied the use of charts in the past. This should add to that knowledge.
There are several good charting packages available free. Netdania is what I use.
Using charts effectively
The default number of periods on these charts is 300. This is a good starting point;
What to look at first
1. Glance at hourly chart to see the big picture. Note significant support and resistance levels within 2% of today’s opening rate.
2. Study the 15 minute chart in great detail noting the following:
How to use the information gathered so far
1. Determine the big picture (for intraday trading).
Glancing at the hourly chart will give you the big picture – up or down. If it’s not clear immediately then you’re in a trading range. Lets assume the trend is down.
2. Determine if the 15 minute chart confirms the downtrend indicated by big picture:
Current price on 15-minute chart should be below 60 period moving average and the moving average line should be sloping down. If this is so then you have established the direction of the prevailing trend to be down.
There are always two trends – a prevailing (major) trend and a minor trend. The minor trend is a reversal of the main trend, which lasts for a short period of time. Minor trends are clearly spotted on 5-minute charts.
3. Determine the current trend (major or minor) from the 5 minute chart:
Current price on 5-minute chart is below 60 period moving average and the moving average line is sloping downward – major trend.
Current price on 5-minute chart is above 60 period moving average and the moving average line is sloping upward – minor trend.
How to trade the information gathered so far
At this point you know the following:
Possible trade scenarios:
1) Lets assume prevailing (major) trend is down and we are in a minor up-trend. Strategy would be to sell when the current price on 5-minute chart falls below the 60 period moving average and the 60 period moving average line is sloping downward. Why? Because the prevailing trend is reasserting itself and the next move is likely to be down. Is there more we can do? Yes. Look for further confirmation. For example, if the minor trend had stalled for a while and the lows of the past half hour or hour are very close to the 5 minute moving average then selling just below the lows of the past half hour is a better place to enter the market then just below the moving average line.
2) Lets assume prevailing (major) trend is down and 5-minute chart confirms downtrend. Strategy would be to wait for a minor (up trend) trend to appear and reverse before entering the market. The reason for this is that the move is too “mature” at this point and a correction is likely. Since you trade with tight stops you will be stopped out on a reaction. Exception: If market trades through today’s low and/ or low of past three days (these levels will be apparent on the 15 minute chart) further quick downward price action is likely and a short position would be correct.
3) A better strategy assuming prevailing trend down, 5-minute chart down, and just above days lows is to BUY with a tight stop below the day’s low. Your risk is limited and defined and the technical condition (overdone?) is in your favor. Confirmation would be if today’s low was a bit higher than yesterday’s low and the price action indicated a very short-term trading range (1 minute chart) just above today’s low. The thinking here is that buyers are not waiting for a break of today’s or yesterday’s low to buy cheaper; they are concerned they may not see the level.
4) Generally speaking, the safest place to buy is after a sustained significant decline when the bottoms are getting higher. Preferably these bottoms will be hours apart. By the third or forth higher bottom it is clear a bottom is in place and an up-move is coming. As in the example above your risk is limited and defined – a low lower than the last low.
5) The reverse is true in major up-trends.
Other chart ideas
Limitations of charts
Scheduled economic announcements that are complete surprises render nearby short-term support and resistance levels meaningless because the basis (all available information) has changed significantly, requiring a price adjustment to reflect the new information. Other support and resistance levels within the normal daily trading range remain valid. For example, on Friday the unemployment number missed the mark by roughly 120,000 jobs. That’s a huge disparity and rendered all nearby resistance levels in the EURUSD meaningless. However, resistance level 200 points or more from the day’s opening were still meaningful because they represented resistance to a big up move on a given day.
Unscheduled or unexpected statements by government officials may render all charts points on a short-term chart meaningless, depending upon the severity of what was said or implied. For example, when Treasury Secretary John Snow hinted that the U.S. had abandoned its strong U.S. dollar policy.
By Jimmy Young