Technical Analysis

While fundamental analysts examine earnings, dividends, new products, research and the like, technical analysts examine what investors fear or think about those developments and whether or not investors have the wherewithall to back up their opinions; these two concepts are called psych (psychology) and supply/demand. In the M = P/E equation, technicians assess M, the multiple investors do/may pay - if they have the money - for the fundamentals they envision. Technicians employ many techniques, one of which is the use of charts. Using charts, technical analysts seek to identify price patterns and trends in financial markets and attempt to exploit those patterns.[5] Technicians use various methods and tools, the study of price charts is but one.

Supply/demand indicators monitor investors' liquidity; margin levels, short interest, cash in brokerage accounts, etc., in an attempt to determine whether they have any money left. Other indicators monitor the state of psych - are investors bullish or bearish? - and are they willing to spend money to back up their beliefs. A spent-out bull cannot move the market higher, and a well heeled bear won't!; investors need to know which they are facing. In the end, stock prices are only what investors think; therefore determining what they think is every bit as critical as an earnings estimate.

Technicians using charts search for archetypal price chart patterns, such as the well-known head and shoulders or double top reversal patterns, study indicators, moving averages, and look for forms such as lines of support, resistance, channels, and more obscure formations such as flags, pennants, balance days and cup and handle patterns.

Technical analysts also widely use market indicators of many sorts, some of which are mathematical transformations of price, often including up anf down volume, advance/decline data and other inputs. These indicators are used to help access whether an asset is trending, and if it is, its probability of its direction and of continuation. Technicians also look for relationships between price/volume indices and market indicators. Examples include the relative strength index, and MACD. Other avenues of study include correlations between changes in options (implied volatility) and put/call ratios with price. Also important are sentiment indicators such as Put/Call ratios, bull/bear ratios, short interest and Implied Volatility, etc.

There are many techniques in technical analysis. Adherents of different techniques (for example, candlestick charting, Dow Theory, and Elliott wave theory) may ignore the other approaches, yet many traders combine elements from more than one technique. Some technical analysts use subjective judgment to decide which pattern(s) a particular instrument reflects at a given time, and what the interpretation of that pattern should be. Others employ a strictly mechanical or systematic approach to pattern identification and interpretation.

Technical analysis is frequently contrasted with fundamental analysis, the study of economic factors that influence the way investors price financial markets. Technical analysis holds that prices already reflect all such trends before investors are aware of them. Uncovering those trends is what technical indicators are designed to do, imperfect as they may be. Fundamental indicators are subject to the same limitations, naturally. Some traders use technical or fundamental analysis exclusively, while others use both types to make trading decisions which conceivably is the most rational approach.

Users of technical analysis are often called technicians or market technicians. Some prefer the term technical market analyst or simply market analyst. An older term, chartist, is sometimes used, but as the discipline has expanded and modernized, the use of the term chartist has become less popular, as it is only one aspect of technical analysis

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