Have you ever heard the saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”? This is a very apt saying that simply means getting caught up in the small things and not seeing the bigger picture. This can happen all to often when trading and is especially common among newer traders. This can happen in a number of ways such as too many indicators, paying too much attention to minor day to day fluctuations or in the case of today’s discussion, paying to much attention to your Japanese Candlesticks. Candlesticks, and candlestick charting, are one of the top methods of analyzing financial charts but like all indicators can provide just as many bad or false signals as it does good ones. For that reason alone it is a good idea to filter any candle signal with some other indicator or analysis.
I’m going to assume that you already know something about candles and not go into what they are. I like them because they offer so much more insight into price action. Switching from a line chart to an O-H-L-C chart to a candlestick chart is like bringing the market into focus. The candles jump off the chart and scream things like Doji, Harami and other basic price patterns that can alter the course of the market. The thing is, these patterns can happen everyday. Which ones are the ones you want to use for your signals? That is the question on the mind of any one who has tried and failed to trade with this technique. Look at the chart below; a new candle forms every day. Some day a bullish candle, some days a bearish one, some times two or more days combine to form a larger pattern. Not all of them result in the “expected” movement. Look at the chart below. I have marked 8 candle patterns widely used by traders that failed to perform as expected.
Why is this you may ask yourself? It all comes down to where the signals occur relative to past price action. When I start to add other indicators to the charts it may become clearer. The first and foremost reason is that the candle patterns I have marked do not take any other technical or fundamental factors into account. I know that as binary traders we do not use much fundamental analysis but any trader worth his salt has at least a minor grip on the underlying market conditions. After that some simple additions to the chart can help to give some perspective and allow you to see the forest, and not just the trees.
Time frame is one important factor when analyzing candlesticks. The very first thing I like to do is to literally take a step back from my standard chart for a better view of the market. I use charts of daily prices with 6 months or one year of data. To get the broadest view I can I use a chart with 5 or 10 years of data. The 5 year chart is where I draw support, resistance and trend lines that will have the most importance in my later analysis. Having an idea of where price action, and the candlesticks, are in relation to the long term trend and areas of support/resistance is crucial to interpretation. A candle signal occurring at or near a long term line is of far more value than one that is near a shorter term line. You can use weekly bars or daily, it doesn’t matter, but sometimes a really strong candle signal will appear on the weekly charts too.
Moving averages are another good way to help weed out bad candlestick signals. There are many types of moving averages but I like to use the exponential moving average because it tracks prices more closely than the simple moving average. I use the 30 bar and 150 bar moving averages but you can use any duration that works for you. The point is to use the EMA’s to help confirm or deny potential candle signals. In theory, each moving average represents a group of traders; the 30 day EMA short term traders and the 150 day EMA longer term traders. A candlestick signal that fires along on of the moving averages is a sign that that group of traders is behind the move. A signal along the 30 bar EMA would not be as strong as a signal along the 150 bar EMA while a signal that fired while the two EMA’s were tracking alongside each other would be the strongest of all.
Volume is a third factor that I like to take into consideration when analyzing candle charts. Volume is one of the most important drivers of an assets price. The more people that want to buy an asset the higher and quicker prices will move up. The more people that want to sell an asset the lower and quicker prices will drop. This can also be applied to candlesticks, the more volume during a given candle signal the more important of a signal it will be. Further, if volume rises on the second or third day of a signal that is additional sign that the signal is a good one.
Take a look at the chart below. I have redrawn support, resistance, trend lines and moving averages. Then I looked for candle signals along those lines and correlated volume spike to them. Using the additional analysis techniques the 8 losses on the chart above could have been avoided and instead been turned into these dozen or so winning trades. The volume does not spike on every signal but there are a few significant spikes to see.