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Stock Market Investing: How to Conduct a Chart Analysis

I've been investing since I was 16 and have accumulated over 20 years of independent investing experience.

stock-market-investing-how-to-conduct-a-chart-analysis

What Is a Stock Chart?

A stock chart is the price of a stock over a set period of time. The y-axis (vertical axis) represents price scale and the x-axis (horizontal axis) represents the time.

Analysts use charts to analyze stocks and forecast future price movements.

Support and Resistance

Like everything in a free market, stock prices are driven by supply and demand. When supply outpaces demand, the price goes down and when demand exceeds supply the price goes up. When supply and demand are equal, prices move sideways.

As a stock price declines towards support levels and gets cheaper, buyers become more inclined to buy and sellers become less inclined to sell. By the time the price reaches the support level, it is believed that demand will overcome supply and prevent the price from falling below support.

The same holds true for resistance levels. As prices increase toward resistance levels, buyers are less likely to buy and sellers are more likely to sell and the price is prevented from going above the resistance level.

stock-market-investing-how-to-conduct-a-chart-analysis

Above is a chart for IBM stock. Drawn on the chart are support levels and resistance levels. As you can see, for several months IBM bounced around support levels of around $143 and hit resistance levels around $150.

Support and resistance levels do not always hold. Events may cause changes in thinking in buyers and sellers and cause stocks to bust through support levels and break out through resistance levels. Once this happens, new support and resistance levels need to be established.

stock-market-investing-how-to-conduct-a-chart-analysis

The chart above shows how Wells Fargo stock bounced around its support and resistance levels for most of 2016 and 2017 before breaking out and establishing new support and resistance levels.

Identification of key support and resistance levels is an essential ingredient to successful stock analysis. If a stock is approaching a support level it can serve as an indication that there will be increased buying pressure and that the price may reverse. The same holds with stocks approaching resistance levels. As a stock approaches these levels an investor should be on the lookout for increased selling pressure and a potential stagnation or decrease in price.

Trend Lines

A trend line is a straight line that connects two or more price points and then extends into the future to act as a line of support or resistance

An Uptrend Line is formed by connecting 3 or more low points where each succeeding low point is higher than the previous one. Uptrend lines indicate that demand is increasing even as the price rises.

A rising price combined with increasing demand is very bullish, and shows a strong determination on the part of the buyers. As long as prices remain above the trend line, the uptrend is considered solid and intact

stock-market-investing-how-to-conduct-a-chart-analysis

The chart above for Amazon shows a very well established upward trend line.

Downward trendlines have a negative slope and are formed by connecting three or more high points. They indicate that supply is increasing even as the price declines. A declining price combined with increasing supply is very bearish, and shows the strong resolve of the sellers.

stock-market-investing-how-to-conduct-a-chart-analysis

The chart above shows a confirmed downward trend line for GE stock during the early part of 2018. The stock experienced sharp and steady decline due to a variety of factors.

Trend lines can offer great insight into the enthusiasm of either the buyers or sellers of a stock. They are good tool to use with support and resistance analysis to determine how to make stock investing decisions.

Conclusion

Chart analysis is a good tool for making stock investment decisions.

By determining support and resistance levels, one can make more accurate decisions regarding buy and sell points. One should consider buying at support levels and selling at resistance levels.

Trend lines can be used to determine enthusiasm for stocks. A confirmed upward trend line indicates bullish sentiment for a stock while a confirmed downward trend line indicates bearish sentiment.

These principles should not be the final arbiter, but should serve merely as a tools to combine with other information such as financial data to make decisions. A good chart analysis is however, part of any thorough analysis of a stock and should be conducted before any buy or sell decisions are made.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 George Johnson

Comments

George Johnson (author) from San Antonio, TX on January 06, 2019:

Thank you Liz

Liz Westwood from UK on January 06, 2019:

This is a helpful guide in the use of charts as an aid to investing on the stock market.