Introduction to Technical Analysis

The methods used to analyze securities and make investment decisions fall into two very broad categories: fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis involves analyzing the characteristics of a company in order to estimate its value. Technical analysis takes a completely different approach; it doesn’t care one bit about the "value" of a company or a commodity. Technicians (sometimes called chartists) are only interested in the price movements in the market.

During the 2000-2003 Bear Market many investors endured devastating losses of 50% or more. The sad thing is that a significant amount of those losses could have been avoided simply by using the most basic technical analysis tools.

Technical analysis is research of market dynamics that is done mainly with the help of charts and with the purpose of forecasting future price development. Technical analysis comprises several approaches to the study of price movement which are interconnected in the framework of one harmonious theory. This type of analysis studies the price movement on the market by means of analyzing three market factors: price, volumes, and, in case of study of futures contracts’ market, of an open interest (number of open positions). Of these three factors the primary one for technical analysis is the prices, while the alterations in other factors are studies mainly in order to confirm the correctness of the identified price trend. This technical theory, just like any theory, has its core postulates.

Technical analysts base their research on the following three axioms:

* Market movement considers everything

This is the most important postulate of technical analysis. It is crucial to understand it in order to grasp rightly the procedures of analysis. The gist of it is that any factor that influences the price of securities, whether economic, political, or psychological, has already been taken into account and reflected in the price chart. In other words, every price change is accompanied by a change in external factors. The main inference of this premise is the necessity to follow closely the price movements and analyze them. By means of analyzing price charts and multiple other indicators, a technical analyst comes to the point that the market itself shows to her/him the trend it will most likely follow.

This premise is in conflict with fundamental analysis where the attention is primarily paid to the study of factors, and later on, after the analysis of the factors, to conclusions as to the market trends are made. Thus, if the demand is higher than the supply, a fundamental analyst will come to the conclusion that the price will grow. Technical analyst, however, makes her/his conclusions in the opposite sequence: since the price has grown, it means the demand is higher than the supply.

* The prices move with the trend

This assumption is the basis for all methods of technical analysis, as a market that moves in accordance with trends can be analyzed, unlike a chaotic market. The postulate that the price movement is a result of a trend has two effects. The first one implies that the current trend will most likely continue and will not reverse itself, thus, excluding disorderly chaotic movement of the market. The second one implies that the current trend will go on until the opposite trend sets in.

* The history repeats itself

Technical analysis and studies of market dynamics are closely related to the studies of human psychology. Thus, the graphical price models identified and classified within the last hundred years depict core characteristics of the psychological state of the market. First of all, they show the moods currently prevailing in the market, whether bullish or bearish. Since these models worked in the past, we have reasons to suppose that they will work in the future, for they are based on human psychology which remains almost unchaged over years. We can reword the last postulate - the story repeats itself - in a slightly different way: the key to understanding the future lies in the studies of the past.


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