Technical analysis (TA) is a popular approach to predicting market behavior by analyzing historical price action and volume data. It is used to identify patterns and opportunities for profitable trades. TA indicators can provide traders with insights into potential entry and exit points. While TA is widely used, critics view it as unreliable and controversial. Fundamental analysis (FA), on the other hand, considers various micro and macroeconomic conditions to estimate the intrinsic value of a company or asset. A combination of both approaches has been suggested as a reasonable approach.
When it comes to predicting market behavior, Technical analysis is a popular approach. TA, also known as charting, involves analyzing historical price action and volume data to forecast future market trends. This method is commonly used in traditional financial markets, such as stocks, as well as the cryptocurrency market.
In comparison to Fundamental analysis, which looks at various factors that may affect an asset's price, TA is solely concerned with an asset's past price action. As a result, TA is frequently used to examine an asset's price fluctuations and volume data. Many traders rely on this approach to identify patterns and opportunities for profitable trades.
During the 17th century in Amsterdam and the 18th century in Japan, rudimentary forms of technical analysis emerged. However, the modern version of TA is often attributed to the work of Charles Dow. As a financial journalist and the founder of The Wall Street Journal, Dow noticed that individual assets and markets often move in predictable trends that could be examined and segmented. His observations paved the way for the Dow Theory and further developments in technical analysis.
Initially, technical analysis was a primitive approach that relied on hand-made sheets and manual calculations. However, with the advancement of technology and modern computing, TA became more widespread and is now a crucial tool for many traders and investors.
How Does TA Work?
Technical analysis is an analysis method that aims to predict future market behavior by analyzing previous price action and volume data. The approach is commonly applied to stocks and other assets in traditional financial markets, but it is also utilized in the cryptocurrency market.
In contrast to fundamental analysis, which considers multiple factors around the price of an asset, TA is strictly focused on historical price action. Therefore, it is used to examine an asset's price fluctuations and volume data. Many traders use it to identify trends and favorable trading opportunities.
TA has a rich history that can be traced back to the work of Charles Dow. Dow was a financial journalist and founder of The Wall Street Journal. He observed that individual assets and markets often move in trends that could be segmented and examined. His work later gave birth to the Dow Theory, which encouraged further developments in technical analysis.
Initially, technical analysis was based on handmade sheets and manual calculations. However, with the advancement of technology and modern computing, TA became widespread and is now an important tool for many investors and traders.
To examine prices and eventually spot favorable opportunities, traders use charting tools called indicators. Technical analysis indicators can help traders identify existing trends and provide insightful information about trends that may emerge in the future. Since TA indicators are fallible, some traders use multiple indicators to reduce risks.
Notably, TA is considered more reliable and effective in markets that operate under normal conditions, with high volume and liquidity. High-volume markets are less susceptible to price manipulation and abnormal external influences that could create false signals and render TA useless.
Popular TA Indicators
- Simple moving averages (SMA) - calculated based on the closing prices of an asset within a set time.
- Exponential moving average (EMA) - a modified version of the SMA that weighs recent closing prices more heavily than the older ones.
- Relative strength index (RSI) - an oscillator that produces readings between 0 and 100.
- Bollinger Bands (BB) - an oscillator that consists of two lateral bands that flow around a moving average line. It is used to spot potential overbought and oversold market conditions and to measure market volatility.
- Stochastic RSI - calculated by applying a mathematical formula to the regular RSI.
- Moving average convergence divergence (MACD) - is generated by subtracting two EMAs to create the MACD line. The first line is then used to generate another EMA, resulting in a second line (known as the signal line).
- MACD histogram - calculated based on the differences between the two lines generated by the MACD indicator.
Traders use these indicators and metrics to analyze charts and historical price action to determine market trends. While some indicators like SMA and EMA simply track price changes over time, others like RSI and BB apply mathematical formulas to pricing data and produce readings within predefined ranges. Additionally, some indicators like Stochastic RSI and MACD rely on other indicators to generate data.
TA indicators can provide traders with insights into potential entry and exit points, also known as buy or sell signals. These signals are generated when specific events occur within an indicator's chart. For example, if the RSI produces a reading of 70 or more, it could indicate that the market is overbought. Conversely, when the RSI declines to 30 or less, it suggests that the market is oversold.
However, traders should be aware that TA indicators can produce false signals or noise, which can lead to inaccurate predictions. This is especially true in cryptocurrency markets, which are more volatile due to their smaller size when compared to traditional markets.
TA is a widely used method in various markets, but many specialists view it as unreliable and controversial, often labeled as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” This term refers to events that occur only because many people believed they would. Critics argue that if many traders and investors rely on the same indicators, like support or resistance lines, the chances of these indicators working increase.
However, supporters of TA argue that each chartist has a unique approach to analyzing charts and utilizing indicators. Therefore, a large number of traders can't use the same specific strategy.
Differences Between FA and TA
Fundamental analysis and technical analysis are two methods used in financial markets to analyze and predict asset prices. While technical analysis is focused on historical price data and volume, fundamental analysis takes a broader investigation strategy that emphasizes qualitative factors.
Fundamental analysis considers various micro and macroeconomic conditions, such as company management, market competition, growth rates, and industry health, to estimate the intrinsic value of a company or asset. This method is used to determine whether an asset is overvalued or undervalued based on its context and potential. It is mostly employed by fund managers and long-term investors.
On the other hand, technical analysis is mainly used as a prediction tool for price action and market behavior. It is mostly employed by short-term traders. One notable advantage of technical analysis is that it relies on quantitative data, which provides an objective investigation of price history.
However, technical analysis can still be influenced by personal bias and subjectivity. Traders who are predisposed to reach a certain conclusion about an asset may manipulate their TA tools to support their bias without awareness. Technical analysis can also fail during periods in which markets don’t present a clear pattern or trend.
Critics of technical analysis argue that it is a controversial and unreliable method that is often referred to as a "self-fulfilling prophecy." This term describes events that happen because a large number of people assumed they would happen. Critics argue that if a large number of traders and investors rely on the same types of indicators, such as support or resistance lines, the chances of these indicators working increase.
On the other hand, supporters of technical analysis argue that each chartist has a particular way of analyzing charts and using indicators, making it virtually impossible for a large number of traders to use the same strategy.
A combination of technical analysis and fundamental analysis has been suggested as a more reasonable approach, despite the long-standing debate over which method is superior. While FA is typically utilized for long-term investment strategies, TA may provide valuable information on short-term market conditions, which can be beneficial to traders and investors when determining favorable entry and exit points.