Friday, October 17, 2014

The New Topping Formations: The Changing Technical Patterns Individual Traders Must Learn


The new venues and orders of Dark Pools, High Frequency Traders HFTs, Algorithms, Automated Orders, and Twilight Pools are changing the technical patterns that many traders and investors learned 10-20 years ago, and have come to rely upon. The alarming reality is that most technical traders are now falling further behind what the charts are actually telling them due to fact that they do not know these new patterns, and are utterly unprepared for how price will behave when these patterns show up on their charts.


Below is an example of the new types of patterns that traders are caught up in, and why more and more of them are losing money trading.




The candlestick pattern appears to be a strong reversal, and if only price indicators are used this appears to be a momentum move. The stock has broken through strong resistance, and is now moving higher with no resistance to hold it back. The price is well below the 100 whole number resistance level that often thwarts these runs, and gained 7+ points on its last run. Most swing traders would jump in at this point.


However studying the Hybrid Indicators warns there are problems within the run, that are not visible with just the candlesticks and price. First, the gap up was due to HFTs. This means that the subsequent run up was due to Volume Weighted Average Price VWAP smaller funds automated orders firing off, and individual traders chasing them. These groups weaken rapidly due to their lower capital resources, while volume confirms that their buying is fading. The most important indicator is the Volume Oscillator, which is the first indicator below the price chart.


The TechniTrader Volume Accumulation TTVA is showing a very weak pattern. TTVA tracks the consistency at which volume is moving into this stock, and how many large lots are buying consistently over time. This indicator exposes where Dark Pools are accumulating. However this indicator shows clearly that Dark Pools have been rotating out to lower held shares, rather than accumulating more. Also TechniTrader Flow of Funds TTFF shows the extreme risk pattern of a top.


The next few days the stock forms the New TOP formation that most traders are not expecting. This is called an Inverted U Shape Top. It forms on the short term trend and is caused by HFTs driving price up into the sell zone of the Dark Pools, who are quietly rotating out of this stock as it moves up. At some point the large lots selling overwhelm the smaller lots buying, and the stock runs down vertically faster than it moved up.




Many traders were buying stocks that were moving up to new highs prior to the recent correction, because they were unaware that all of the big blue chip stocks were showing similar patterns of Dark Pools rotating out or lowering their held positions. This is why so many individual traders are finding it harder and harder to make good profits regularly for monthly income.


Learning to incorporate the new Leading Hybrid Indicators that track the Dark and Twilight Pools is important for all individual traders. Dark Pools have highly sophisticated new orders that do not disturb price as they begin moving in or out. What that means is that any individual trader who is using the outdated older style price and time indicators, has no way of knowing that the Dark Pools are either buying in or selling out without disturbing the trend underway at that time.



Trade Wisely,

Martha Stokes CMT

Master Rated Technical Analyst for Decisions Unlimited, Inc.
Instructor & Developer of TechniTrader Stock Market Courses

©2014 Decisions Unlimited, Inc. dba TechniTrader.  All rights reserved.
TechniTrader is also a registered Trademark of Decisions Unlimited, Inc.


Disclaimer: All statements are the opinions of TechniTrader, its instructors and/or employees, and are not to be construed as anything more than an opinion. TechniTrader is not a broker or an investment advisor; it is strictly an educational service. There is risk in trading financial assets and derivatives. Due diligence is required for any investment. It should not be assumed that the methods or techniques presented cannot result in losses. Examples presented are for educational purposes only.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Trading Problems Caused by Range-bound Price Patterns in Stocks


Trading Range Stock Market Condition
By Martha Stokes CMT

Trading Problems Caused by Range-bound Price Patterns in Stocks
We’re seeing many trading ranges developing in stock charts lately. What is a “trading range?”  It is a sideways pattern where a stock’s price moves up and down in a very wide range.  Usually any sideways pattern that is more than 7 to 10 points (dollars) wide constitutes a trading range.  Some ranges may be as wide as 50+ points for very pricey stocks. The typical range is 10-30 points.  
A trading range lopes up and down within a wide price range, moving sideways overall, due to the resistance at the highs of the range and the support at the lows of the range. We talked about Support in a recent stock review.
Resistance is like a ceiling for a stock price. It is a price level at which the market had been in agreement about the stock’s price for a time before a shift of sentiment occurred. As a stock moves up to that price level, depending on how long the price remained at that level, it will take a lot of sustained buying for the price to move up through it.
Often day traders, swing traders, and other short-term traders who are looking at micro-scale price analysis miss the fact that a stock is in a trading range because this particular sideways price pattern tends to last for a while.
A trading range can cause some nasty surprises in terms of whipsaws that appear to be random and totally unexpected when, in fact, the trading range resistance is the true culprit for that whipsaw.
Here is an example.
This is a daily chart of QR Energy (NYSE: QRE). It trucked on up and up until suddenly it reversed and fell steeply. Why?


Below is a weekly chart of the same stock. When you zoom out for a bigger picture of what is truly occurring with QRE, it is very apparent that this is a trading range bound stock, stuck in a wide sideways loping pattern. Within the wide trading range, there are intra-range resistance and support levels that catch the stock’s price movement and cause often unexpected turns within the range.


The chart above has far more price history and is telling you much more about what is going on with this stock.  As a swing or day trader, you are bound by the resistance and support levels within the range as well as the lows and highs of the range. This limits your point gain potential even on an intraday trade.
If you are unaware of these intra-levels of support and resistance, you could easily be in a trade, even intraday, that APPEARS to be low risk when it is truly very high risk and fraught with whipsaw potential.
Always study charts on many time frames so you can see the limitations of a stock’s price movement for better planning of trades. Then determine your strategy for trading that stock.  Do not go into a trade assuming that how YOU want to trade is the way the stock will behave.

Trade wisely,
Martha Stokes, CMT

Member of the Market Technicians Association
Master Rated Technical Analyst: Decisions Unlimited, Inc.
Instructor and Developer of TechniTrader® Stock Market Courses
MetaStock® Partner

Stock charts courtesy of MetaStock® with our thanks.

© 2014 Decisions Unlimited, Inc. dba TechniTrader®. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: All statements, whether expressed verbally or in writing, are the opinions of TechniTrader®, its instructors and/or employees, and are not to be construed as anything more than an opinion. There is risk in trading financial assets and derivatives. Due diligence must be done before trading any issue. Students/ subscribers are responsible for making their own choices and decisions regarding all purchases or sales of stocks or issues. At no time is any stock or issue on any list written or sent to a student/subscriber by TechniTrader® and its employees to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any stock or issue. TechniTrader® is not a broker or an investment advisor. It is strictly an educational service.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Accumulation/ Distribution Indicators for Tracking Dark Pool Activity

The quest to find where the largest institutional investors are investing vast sums of mutual fund and pension fund money leads many traders to search for accumulation/ distribution indicators.  


When choosing an accumulation/ distribution indicator it is important to determine what data is used in the formula.  Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do in your MetaStock charting program, which provides the formulas for many indicators. The problem with most of the accumulation/ distribution indicators, often called A/D indicators, not be confused with Advance/Decline indicators, is that the market structure has changed dramatically in just the past few years.  Before 2005, no retail side trader had ever heard of High Frequency Trading, aka HFT, or Dark Pools. These massive market structure changes are evolving rapidly and so too must the indicators you use.


The Williams Accumulation/Distribution indicator is an example of one of the indicators that traditionally fall under the Accumulation/ Distribution category. However, this indicator uses only price and time in its formula. It was written on the premise that price action revealed where large lots and giant lots were buying or selling. And in the 1990s that was the case.


But in today’s market, tracking price surges only reveals HFT action and does not reveal Dark Pools, which are significantly more important Market Participants with massive capital resources.  Chasing HFTs is never going to make you a happy prosperous trader.  Getting in with the Dark Pools will help you succeed.  Williams’ Accumulation/ Distribution indicator does not use the data needed to track the Dark Pools because they buy and sell without moving price. So this indicator alone will not give you the information you seek in terms of true accumulation/ distribution signals.


Tracking Dark Pool activity is where you must focus your attention, regardless of your trading style.  Knowing where the largest funds are buying or selling gives you ample time to enter and prepare for huge HFT moves later on.  Unfortunately, there are extremely few true accumulation/ distribution indicators, which must include volume in the formula to be a true accumulation/ distribution indicator in today’s market structure.


One true accumulation/ distribution indicator is the one we have created for the MetaStock Charting Program: TechniTrader Quiet Accumulation, aka TTQA.



With its ability to detect large-lot activity even when a stock’s price is not moving up or down, it is ideal for applying a Relational Analysis™, which reveals the active Market Participant groups in a stock through the patterns created due to how and when they buy or sell. The TechniTrader Quiet Accumulation indicator is one of the most powerful you can learn to use for identifying Dark Pool activity.


Relational Analysis using TTQA can expose contrarian patterns, Shift of Sentiment, Divergence or Convergence Patterns, just a few that help guide traders to when Dark Pools are moving in or out.  It is useful for all trading styles and provides information that is not available to retail traders otherwise.


Institutions that use Dark Pools do not move price, so using Accumulation/ Distribution indicators that do not include volume are of no true value for this type of study. With the market structure changes and so much of the giant lots using off-the-exchange transactions during the day, TTQA and Relational Analysis are now more important than ever to learn.


Check out TechniTrader Quiet Accumulation in this video.


Trade Wisely,


Martha Stokes CMT


Chartered Market Technician
Master Rated Technical Analyst: Decisions Unlimited, Inc.
Instructor & Developer of TechniTrader® Stock Market Courses
MetaStock® Partner


© 2014 Decisions Unlimited, Inc. DBA TechniTrader®. All rights reserved.


Disclaimer: All statements are the opinions of TechniTrader, its instructors and/or employees, and are not to be construed as anything more than an opinion. TechniTrader is not a broker or an investment advisor; it is strictly an educational service. There is risk in trading financial assets and derivatives. Due diligence is required for any investment. It should not be assumed that the methods or techniques presented cannot result in losses. Examples presented are for educational purposes only.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Employee Spotlight: Jeffrey G


This month's employee spotlight is on Jeff Gibby, the Manager of Business Development.
Time with Company:  17 Years
Area of company works in: Business Development
Do you trade in your spare time: Yes
Favorite part of your job: Doing webinars and developing strong profitable relationships.  
Favorite Quote: "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."  Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

STOPS and their impact on your bottom line.

In one of my regular webinars we discuss how to determine a strategy for trading.

In the webinars we discuss how to find a strategy that works well considering the variables that will be at play for them.  Different traders have different risk tolerances, differing abilities to sustain open position draw downs, and differing amount of time available to trades.  MetaStock has one of the best collections of available systems for customers looking to find a strategy that works for you.

What a lot of new customers do not realize is that it is very easy to customize the built in Systems to test different stop strategies.  What's more important is to be able to quantify the effect using stops.

To illustrate this, lets take a look at the Pattern Trading System in MetaStock.  Performing a system test in MetaStock over the last year of trading on this system would yield the following equity curve.


This is a pretty good equity curve.

So it is definitely a system I would consider trading.

Looking at the chart and commentary in the software, it specifically states

"While [This System] can be very good at capturing profits on a large number of trades, no real protection mechanism has been put into place if the trade immediately moves against you. Stop-loss orders should be used to prevent the few failing trades from removing all acquired profits."


So, it might be a good assumption to take Apple and take the next available signal on the stock.  How do we decide on what stop is going to work for us.  If we place our stops too close to the current price, we get whip sawed out of the market during normal market maneuvers.   If we place our stocks to far from price activity, then we are taking more of a loss than we need to.  As a trader, I want to know what impact adding a stock is going to have to my overall performance on that security.

Luckily, with MetaStock its very easy to add a Stop to any system, whether it is only of the 40 in MetaStock or one you've created.  To do this open up your Power Console and go to the system you want to change.  From here click on the Stops tab.


From here you can add trailing, inactivity, maximum loss, and breakeven stops.  You can also test your strategies with a Profit Target if you'd like.  

Adding a 5 pt stop loss to the system test with Apple, provides a much different equity curve:

Here's a comparison with a 1 Percent stop loss.  


I actually thought 1% would be to tight of a stop before I tested it.  In the historical test it actually outperformed the 5% stop by almost 3% over our test period.  

On a final Note, if you are adding any type of Stop to your trading plan--Test it before you add it.s and the results of the stop will most likely surprise you.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Technical Analysis: The Changing Landscape


Most Technical Analysis books were written in the 1970s -1990s which, by technology standards, is a very long time ago.  As technology has reshaped the Market Participant Cycle and how different groups access and trade or invest in the financial markets, this invariably has altered technical patterns.

Unfortunately most retail traders are still using the older books and reference manuals when they first start learning technical analysis.  Years later, often 20 years or more, these retail traders are oblivious to the technical pattern changes as they are simply not aware of them, or are so focused on searching for the patterns they were accustomed to finding in abundance, that they skip over the new technical patterns that expose pre-momentum and pre-velocity action before big price moves.

This can cause late entries, whipsaw trades, and lower profitability. Many retail traders grumble about lower profits and more difficulty finding great stocks to trade. They blame it on what they have been told is happening in the markets: volumes are declining for the big exchanges, Dark Pools are taking all the liquidity, and HFTs are causing all the volatility.  Most of this information has been inaccurately reported and leads to misinformation.

Retail traders, especially those who have been in the market for decades and learned the older style of technical analysis, are now at an extreme disadvantage.  They have spent a lot of money and time learning technical patterns that are slowly but steadily disappearing or are altering sufficiently to be unrecognizable.

A prime example is the huge decline in true Head and Shoulders and Inverse Head and Shoulders Patterns.

H&S tops and Inverse H&S bottoms used to be so common that everyone knew these patterns and could quickly act on them. This created sufficient liquidity for strong momentum runs up and down, depending upon the pattern.

Unfortunately, these have been replaced by platforms, stairsteps, and velocity tops and velocity bottoms.  Rarely do you find a true H&S pattern and often these are either distorted and harder to recognize or fail to complete. Instead of indicating a top, Head and Shoulders topping patterns now mostly indicate a smaller-magnitude correction that adjusts out before the pattern can break though the neckline.  Or the head is so minor that there is insufficient downside point gain potential to create a true down-trend.  Mostly what would have developed into an H&S pattern ends up becoming a trading range.  


Why have the older-style technical patterns changed or slowly disappeared?

The Market Participant Groups have expanded. Where once there were only 3 Market Participant Groups to create the Dow Theory Cycle, there are now 9 Market Participant Groups. This massive market structure change inevitably shows up in charts and technical patterns.

With each new group, and their own unique technical footprint, the landscape of technical patterns is changing. What once was will not return.  Learning these newer patterns is critical to improving trading success in today’s market.

The market structure is continuing to change at an unprecedented pace and this will continue to alter known technical patterns and create new patterns as technology alters how the institutions, Buy Side, Sell Side, HFTs, Hedge Funds, Small Funds, retail crowd, and others trade stocks, options, and derivatives.

Check out this video on Relational Analysis for understanding the modern market structure at play in trading activity today.

Trade Wisely,

Martha Stokes CMT

Chartered Market Technician
Master Rated Technical Analyst: Decisions Unlimited, Inc.
Instructor & Developer of TechniTrader Stock Market Courses
MetaStock® Partner

© 2014 Decisions Unlimited, Inc. DBA TechniTrader®. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: All statements are the opinions of TechniTrader, its instructors and/or employees, and are not to be construed as anything more than an opinion. TechniTrader is not a broker or an investment advisor; it is strictly an educational service. There is risk in trading financial assets and derivatives. Due diligence is required for any investment. It should not be assumed that the methods or techniques presented cannot result in losses. Examples presented are for educational purposes only.