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Trading Patterns Introduction


Trading patterns refer to distinctive formations that appear on trading charts of individual stocks. Such patterns show up as transitions between rising and falling trends caused by price swings.

Pattern recognition is at the core of technical analysis, which focuses on trying to predict prices based on patterns that happen as stocks move up and down. The pattern recognition process involves tested methods that have proven to lead to profitable trades over the years.

Trading patterns can occur at any point while trading stocks. Spotting the various types of patterns requires learning to identify them, then practicing on smaller trades. There are three basic types of trading patterns.

Types of Trading Patterns

Continuation Trading Patterns

Continuation trading patterns are a set of chart patterns that affirm a prevailing trend, be it bullish or bearish. Often referred to as consolidation patterns, they indicate a consolidation period prior to sellers or buyers resuming control and pushing the price in a given direction.

Common continuation patterns include Pennants, which are formed using two converging lines, where flags are drawn using two apparel trend lines. Then there are wedges, which are constructed using two converging trend lines, angled either up or down.

Bullish Continuation Patterns

Bullish continuation patterns indicate that the price of the underlying stock is likely to continue moving higher once the consolidation phase comes to an end.

Bearish Continuation Patterns

Bearish continuation patterns occur when prices are running lower, followed by a period of consolidation. After some time, sellers resume control, pushing prices lower.

Bilateral Trading Patterns

Unlike continuation trading patterns that indicate price would ultimately move in one direction along a prevailing trend, bilateral chart patterns signal that price might move in any direction.

When the above-listed chart patterns occur in a chart, then the price could break in either direction, be it on the upside or downside. Technical analysts leverage these trading patterns by placing orders on top and at the bottom of the formation so as not to miss whichever direction the price decides to break. Once one price order is triggered, then cancellation of the other order usually comes into play.

Reversal Chart Patterns

Occasionally the price will reverse from a dominant trend and start going in the opposite direction. For instance, if the price was moving upwards in a chart, it might hit a point of resistance, then start retreating on huge volume, indicating a sharp reversal.

Should a reversal trading pattern form during an uptrend, that would indicate that the price will likely starting retreating lower. Likewise, when a reversal chart pattern forms during a downtrend, the price is likely to start moving up.

Double-top chart patterns are some of the best examples of reversal patterns. Such trading patterns represent short-term swings higher, followed by a failure to break out. A head and shoulders pattern also signals a reversal, with two smaller price movements surrounding a larger movement in the shape of a head and shoulders.

Below are some of the patterns commonly used to signal a possible reversal in the direction of trade.

By Harry Atkins
Harry joined us in 2019 to lead our Editorial Team. Drawing on more than a decade writing, editing and managing high-profile content for blue chip companies, Harry’s considerable experience in the finance sector encompasses work for high street and investment banks, insurance companies and trading platforms.

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