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You don't get to be "America's Pattern Trader" without knowing a few things about stock charts...
But are stock charts really required to be a successful trader? Or are they just a waste of your time and money?
Here's the truth: You can chuck most of 'em in the garbage.
Sure, there are some charts out there that certainly look fancy, like they "have something to say." But trust me, they don't actually provide the useful information you need to set up trades. Heck, some of them don't provide any useful information, period.
With that said, there are a few charts that are absolutely crucial to timing your entries and exits correctly.
There are just three in fact. They're the only charts I need - and they're all you need, too.
Reading them correctly isn't hard at all once you know what you're looking at. Let me show you...
Get to Know the "Big Three" Charts
First, let's start with the three basic types of charts - line, OHLC, and candlestick. While these charts may all look different, each shows all-important price action.
Even though they're all showing the same thing, each of these chart styles has their own strengths and weaknesses that make them better suited for different kinds of analysis. Here's everything you need to know about the three basic types of price charts...
The Line Chart
This is the most straightforward of the three. It usually plots only the closing price for each period and then connects those points with a simple line. I've included an example below.
Line charts are great for uncovering support/resistance levels along with the current trend. Because they only show closing prices, they reduce noise. That's important because, while too little information can leave you high and dry, too much can sometimes lead to "analysis paralysis" or, worse, confusing and incorrect signals. A simple line chart can be especially helpful to new traders still honing their chart-reading skills and learning to draw consistent indicators.
However, more advanced traders may prefer a price chart that offers more information, like the opening price, as well as the day's high and low... which is exactly what the next two charts provide.
The OHLC Chart
This chart shows the four major data points - open, high, low, and close ("OHLC") - for each period. On a daily chart, each bar represents one day of trading activity.
Reading this style of chart is not quite as obvious as reading a line chart, but it only takes a little bit of practice. The left "arm" represents the opening price, and the right "arm" shows the closing price. (Although, sometimes chart software will make it easier to quickly tell up days from down days by making each bar either black/green or red, with black/green bars representing up days and red bars representing down days.)
OHLC charts are especially helpful for depicting momentum and volatility. For example, whe…
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About the Author
Tom Gentile, options trading specialist for Money Map Press, is widely known as America's No. 1 Pattern Trader thanks to his nearly 30 years of experience spotting lucrative patterns in options trading. Tom has taught over 300,000 traders his option trading secrets in a variety of settings, including seminars and workshops. He's also a bestselling author of eight books and training courses.