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[sharechat] LEARNING TO INVEST >>>>>> TRENDS

From: Phaedrus <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 22:28:08 -0700 (PDT)

   A trend is simply the direction of the market, the way it is moving. Up, 
down or sideways.  As we all know, markets do not generally move in a straight 
line, but progress by making a series of zig-zags. It is, therefore, the 
direction of these peaks and troughs that constitute market trend. Thus an 
uptrend is a succession of higher highs and higher lows. A
downtrend is a succession of lower highs and lower lows. A flat, sideways 
market is usually described as trendless. There are many old sayings like 
"always trade with the trend", "never buck the trend" and "the trend is your 
friend". We want to monitor the market action, with the object of participating 
in uptrends whenever possible. 

   Monitoring the market for evidence of any trends can be done in many ways. 
You could have all the price data in a spreadsheet, and examine the columns of 
figures for evidence of any sustained trends. Possible, but very difficult. 
Trends are much more evident if the data is presented in the form of a graph. A 
simple visual inspection will reveal them. Graphs also give some idea of the 
rate of change of prices - very difficult to see from a column of figures. 
Graphs make it very easy to see if peaks and troughs are rising or falling, if 
the trend is up
or down. 

   Trends start, continue for an indeterminate period of time, and end. Some 
trends are sustained for years, but nothing goes on forever, so we need to 
define the point at which we will consider the trend is over. The end of an 
uptrend could be defined as when we get a lower low after a lower high (a new 
downtrend). We could use a very complex mathematical construct such as 
polarized fractal efficiency. We could use a trendline break. I favour 
trendlines because of their simplicity, ease of use, and the fact that they are 
not subjective, and can not be fudged. 
  A stocks price movement is simply the process of the markets continual 
re-assessment of its true worth. It would have been very obvious to any trader 
using fundamental analysis that the issue price of Telstra was way below its 
true value. Over the course of about 15 months, the market price of TLS rose 
steadily but rapidly at an average rate of about 8% per month. This very high 
rate was sustained (or exceeded) for month after month after month. This was 
not random movement - the stock was steadily, rapidly and inexorably climbing, 
as it was continually re-rated by the market. It looked as though it was going 
to the moon, but no trend lasts forever. Quite suddenly (at 920) it hit strong 
resistance (selling pressure) and fell. This was the maximum value the market 
was prepared to assign to this stock, at this time. The theoretical fundamental 
value of TLS at this point was merely academic. (Fairly valued? Over valued? 
Still Undervalued?) The market had spoken. 920 and not a cent more. The price 
continued to fall, until, at 730 it found support. Buyers appeared in 
significant strength, and the price rose again. These support and resistance 
levels defined what is known as a Trading Range, and price action oscillated 
between these 2 limits for about 15 months. This was followed by a downtrend, 
not shown on the chart.

    The basic trendline is one of the simplest technical tools used by the 
chartist, but is one of the most valuable. In order to plot a trendline we need 
to have a trend. For an Uptrend this is defined as a series of higher highs and 
higher lows. A rising trendline is plotted by linking successive swing lows 
with a straight line. (Falling trendlines are drawn through successive swing 
highs). As soon as we have two clear swing lows, with the second higher than 
the first, we can draw in a tentative trendline. For a trendline to be 
considered valid, it needs to be confirmed by prices "respecting" it by 
bouncing off it at a third point. In the TLS bar chart below, this happened mid 
October, 1998. We now had a valid, confirmed trendline representing the 
steadily rising support for TLS, and the average rate at which it was rising. 
We know our exit strategy. We will sell when the price breaks through the 
confirmed trendline by closing beneath it. We do not know when this will be. We 
do not know at what level it will be. But we do know that one day it will 
happen, and we are out at that point. Just over 6 months later, the trendline 
support is broken and we sell at 780. 

    The chart below has a logarithmic price scale. This should always be used 
when the price action covers a very large range, so that price movements of a 
given percentage are the same relative size at both ends of the scale.  


This post was prepared by order of Gerry Stolwyk, for incorporation in the 
"Learning to Invest" series.


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