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What Is Technical Analysis of Stocks?

Technical analysis relies on price, volume and time to measure supply and demand for stocks. Here’s how it works.

Technical Analysis Stock Graph Abstract Blue

When selecting stocks, fundamental analysis is important, but technical analysis of stocks is also important. Stocks trade based on what the future holds (or is expected to hold), not on last quarter’s financial results. A stock’s share price reflects the future prospects of and expectations for the company.

But stocks also have memories. The stock market is simply a collection of investors who buy and sell stocks. These investors remember a stock’s past, which influences their buying and selling behavior.

This is where the technical analysis of stock trends comes into play. It can be a powerful tool to identify trend reversals and entry and exit points. The best way to analyze the trading pattern of a stock is to look at its chart.

As you read Cabot newsletters and listen to investing news, you will probably hear terms like “head-and-shoulders pattern,” “trendline,” “support and resistance,” “double top” or “double bottom,” “triangle,” and “gap.”

Understanding these basic patterns and how to read stock charts will make you a better, more profitable investor. Timing is everything, and even a basic understanding of technical analysis will greatly improve the timing of your entry and exit points. And that can be the difference between a successful and a failed investment.

No technical indicator or system is perfect. There will be times when the signal that is given by the charts turns out to be wrong. But often, when technical analysis leads you to a certain conclusion, the stock will behave accordingly.


2 Terms to Know for Technical Analysis

Momentum is a common term used in technical analysis and is one of the most basic ways of tracking the performance of a stock. Momentum is determined by comparing the Relative Performance (RP) line of a stock to a major market index. If the RP line of a stock is trending higher than the index, then it is performing better than the overall market. And if the RP line of the stock were to trend lower than the index, that means the stock is performing worse than the overall market. An RP line that aligns with that of the index means that the stock is basically performing at the same rate as the market.

Moving averages are another common technical analysis tool. A moving average simply determines the average price of a stock over a specific period of time. Calculating a simple moving average is straightforward. All you have to do is add up the closing prices of a stock over a certain period of time and then divide by that period of time. For example, if you wanted to find the moving average of a stock over a period of 30 days, you would just add the closing prices of the stock for each day and then divide by 30.

Moving averages are commonly seen as support and resistance levels, meaning stocks in a downtrend may pause or reverse that downtrend when they hit “support” at moving averages below the share price, and stocks in an uptrend might do the same when they bump their heads against moving averages serving as overhead “resistance.”

A Guide to Technical Analysis of Stocks

If you want to learn more about technical analysis, consider reading “Technical Analysis of Stocks” by Mike Cintolo, chief analyst of Cabot Growth Investor and Cabot Top Ten Trader.


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