Technical Analysis

Technical analysis is a trading discipline employed to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities by analyzing statistical trends gathered from trading activity, such as price movement and volume. Unlike fundamental analysts, who attempt to evaluate a security’s intrinsic value, technical analysts focus on patterns of price movements, trading signals and various other analytical charting tools to evaluate a security’s strength or weakness.

Technical analysis can be used on any security with historical trading data. This includes stocks, futures, commodities, fixed-income, currencies, and other securities. In this tutorial, we’ll usually analyze stocks in our examples, but keep in mind that these concepts can be applied to any type of security. In fact, technical analysis is far more prevalent in commodities and forex markets where traders focus on short-term price movements.

The Basics of Technical Analysis

Technical analysis as we know it today was first introduced by Charles Dow and the Dow Theory in the late 1800s. Several noteworthy researchers including William P. Hamilton, Robert Rhea, Edson Gould and John Magee further contributed to Dow Theory concepts helping to form its basis. In modern day, technical analysis has evolved to included hundreds of patterns and signals developed through years of research.

Technical analysts believe past trading activity and price changes of a security can be valuable indicators of the security’s future price movements. They may use technical analysis independent of other research efforts or in combination with some concepts of intrinsic value considerations but most often their convictions are based solely on the statistical charts of a security. The Market Technicians Association (MTA) is one of the most popular groups supporting technical analysts in their investments with the Chartered Market Technicians (CMT) designation a popular certification for many advanced technical analysts.

The Underlying Assumptions of Technical Analysis

There are two primary methods used to analyze securities and make investment decisions: fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis involves analyzing a company’s financial statements to determine the fair value of the business, while technical analysis assumes that a security’s price already reflects all publicly-available information and instead focuses on the statistical analysis of price movements. Technical analysis attempts to understand the market sentiment behind price trends by looking for patterns and trends rather than analyzing a security’s fundamental attributes.

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