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Stock Trading by Chart Patterns

Updated on March 20, 2013

Stock Trading by Chart Patterns: A Form of Technical Analysis

Stock trading by chart patterns is a learned skill, and it takes time to develop the “instincts” necessary to recognize a potentially profitable chart pattern. Many people debate whether or not trading by price charts even works, but I can tell you from personal experience that it works, and it works well. Trading by chart patterns falls within the field of “technical analysis”, which is a style of stock trading. What I mean by “chart patterns” is that every stock that’s currently traded on the open markets (NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, etc.) has a history of price activity. This price activity is simply the amount of dollars (or cents) per share a stock is fluctuating up or down on a given trading day. Any time a stock’s price doesn’t stay still, it’s a good thing for a stock trader. Those who are more well-versed in the stock market can tell you that you can make money in the stock market whether the price is going up OR down. All you really need is good price movement, and this can best be discovered by looking at a stock’s price chart.

GOOG chart image courtesy of
GOOG chart image courtesy of

Why Study Price Charts and Chart Patterns?

The whole point of observing price charts is to recognize common price movements that have a tendency to reoccur. Once you get good at recognizing these reoccurring patterns, you can somewhat “predict” what direction the stock’s price will move next. I say the word “predict” very cautiously, because nobody will ever know the future in advance, but just like the weather man uses averages from past data to develop a forecast, there are certain trends that you can see happening over and over again with price movement that can “foreshadow” a move in price that can be potentially profitable. These price movements take certain visual shapes on a price chart, and after some decent time and study you can identify those patterns with pretty much no problem, and know how to position yourself to profit based on the pattern that you detect.

Some Common Chart Patterns Defined

The Sideways Channel

There are several different types of chart patterns, and each one has its own “personality”. One of the most common is the “sideways channel”, also known as the “box” formation, or the “rectangle” as some call it. It looks like this…

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

The sideways channel is basically a time of hesitation in the middle of a price trend. It’s also known as a “continuation pattern”, because once prices break out of the channel, they normally tend to continue in the direction of the overall trend.


The Flat Top Triangle

The flat top triangle, also known as an ascending triangle, can be one of the most explosive price patterns, especially when the triangle is elongated and drawn out over a period of weeks (or even months). Check it out here…

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Basically, a flat top triangle takes place when prices keep hitting a “barrier” on the upside, known as “resistance”, and the highs pretty much stay the same, but the lows continue to get higher. This is also a continuation pattern, and it will normally break out at its apex in the same direction as the overall trend.

The Symmetrical Triangle

Yet another continuation pattern that shows its strength particularly well in an uptrend. The symmetrical triangle differs from the flat top triangle in that with the flat top triangle, the highs stay the same. With a symmetrical triangle, the highs get lower and the lows get higher until they meet at a “tipping point” in the apex of the triangle. Normally when prices are congested in this type of pattern, prices explode out of the apex in the direction of the overall trend. Here’s a pic of a symmetrical triangle:

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Normally the rise of the price will be in relation to the overall height of the triangle at its widest point. This is somewhat subjective, but it’s a decent rule of thumb to measure potential breakouts.

The Breakout

Speaking of which, I guess it would be a good idea to explain what a “breakout” is. Basically, any time that prices spike up and “break out” from one of the patterns mentioned above, it’s known as a…well…breakout. Hence the name. The cool thing about price breakouts from chart patterns is the fact that they tend to follow Newton’s law of physics (well, one of Newton’s laws) that objects in motion tend to stay in motion. The sheer momentum of the overall trend combined with the breakout of prices from a pattern such as the ones listed above are great environments for significant price moves to develop.

Stock Trading by Chart Patterns on YouTube

Chart Patterns: Not Infallible

Many critics of stock trading by chart patterns will say that this borders on the fringe of trying to “predict” the markets, and they say that it’s a sophisticated form of “fortune telling”, so to speak. One thing is for sure: Chart patterns have a high probability of indicating price moves, but nothing—and I mean NOTHING—is 100% guaranteed. Chart patterns are simply a way for the average investor to properly position himself for a greater probability of making a profit in this dog-eat-dog world of stock trading.


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    • SteadyHubs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      @Dee: What's amazing to me is how someone can't see that there are obvious and very apparent price patterns that happen in markets all the time. These patterns can be plainly observed by observing the price charts of a given stock. Markets are suckers for momentum, and price charts can easily and plainly show you which way the momentum bias is swinging at the time. No system is perfect, but proper chart reading can set you up to make trading decisions that will produce outcomes that have a higher probability of success. That's all...I do appreciate the humor, though. Left footedness in chickens has helped me on occasion.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hi matt i shouldnt give it out but here is there site

      and details , they have a wealth of knowledge ,say martella newins gift him out

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What's amazing to me is that this BS has been touted for over 70 years - and there seems to be a never-ending parade of dopes who believe it.

      Now the only really scientific way to beat the stock market is to examine the correlation of tidal anomalies in the Bay of Fundy with the prevalence of left footedness in chickens raised on my uncle's farm in Fargo which can be shown to be inversely proportional to the LIBOR index . . .

    • profile image

      Stock Market 

      8 years ago

      very good post, i was really searching for this topic as i wanted this topic to understand completely and it is also very rare in internet that is why it was very difficult to understand

      thank you for sharing this.


      Stock Market

    • SteadyHubs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      @ scheng1: In my mind, technical analysis can be used across the board. I do appreciate the comment, though.

      @ ChartShark: Yes, blue chips do move several dollars a day at times, but if we're talking about Google or Berkshire Hathaway, a three-dollar move in either direction won't mean squat, percentage-wise. Yes, penny stocks move pennies, but when a one-cent move up is 10% of the entire stock's share price (i.e., 10 cents per share), we're talking some serious leverage. I do agree that tech analysis should be used on liquid stocks. There are tons of penny stocks that trade in the hundreds of millions of shares per day--I don't mess with illiquid penny stocks.

      @ TradinCash: I haven't looked into equityfeedreview, but I am willing to give it a quick "look-see".

      @ hot dog: Sometimes there's nothing I appreciate more than a random comment. Thank you for filling that role.

      @ Chart Patterns: have to tailor and tweak your approach based on each market's "personality". This takes time and lots of study.

    • profile image

      Chart Patterns 

      8 years ago

      I've found that chart analysis can work on any market, penny or big board, but for me one method doesn't usually work the same in both markets.

    • profile image

      hot dog 

      8 years ago

      hey! my name is Jerry, how are you ? well I am just smoking time & how about you ? Oh yes Elvis Presley rocks but you knew that right ? Today is Friday 25 of the year 2011. Lets see what else can I share ? How about those imacs.. pretty cool you think ? me to.. I have one myself :) Hey! you have a great day & may the force be with you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've love trading chart patterns with a good trading platform. is a good place to start.

    • SteadyHubs profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks, stock trading newsletter. Technical analysis is the way to go...when it all boils down to it, price action is king.

    • profile image

      stock trading newsletter 

      9 years ago

      good article. I feel that more and more people are starting to appreciate the use of technical analysis.

    • ChartShark profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Is that a serious statement? Blue Chips move several dollars every day. Penny stocks move... well... pennies. It's all about position sizing.

      Also, technical analysis works best on liquid stocks. Blue Chips are just about always quite liquid, while penny stocks can be absolutely static at times.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Technical analysis is better for penny stock. Blue chips seldom have drastic up and down. Penny stock can go up and down a few times within a day.


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