11 Rules for Chart Watchers

LOOKING-CHARTRule 1 – If you cannot see trends and patterns almost instantly when you look at a chart then they are not there. The longer you stare, the more your brain will try to apply order where there is none.

If you have to justify exceptions, stray data points and conflicting evidence then it is safe to say the market is not showing you what you think it is.

Rule 2 – If you cannot figure out if something is bullish or bearish after three indicators then move on. The more studies you apply to any chart the more likely one of them will say “something.” That something is probably not correct.

When I look at a chart and cannot form an opinion after applying three or four different types of indicators – volume, momentum, trend, even Fibonacci – I  must conclude that the market has not decided what it wants to do at that time. Who am I to tell it what it thinks?

Rule 3 – You can torture a chart to say anything you want. Don’t do it.

This is very similar to Rule 2 but it there is an important point to drive home. You can cherry pick indicators to justify whatever biases you bring to the table and that attempts to impose your will on the market. You cannot tell the market what to do – ever.

Rule 4 – Be sure you check out one time frame larger than the one in which you are operating (a weekly chart for a swing trader, a monthly chart for a position trader).

It is very easy to get caught up in your own world and miss the bigger picture getting ready to smack you. It can mean the difference between buying the dip in a rising trend and selling a breakdown in a falling trend.

Rule 5 – Look at both bars (or candles) and close-only line charts to see if they agree. And look at both linear and semi-logarithmic scaled charts when price movements are large. (more…)

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