January 17, 2007 at 1:41 pm | | Comments 0

Trend Lines Often Need Adjustments

Technical analysis offers a number or tools and indicators to apply to charts in order to better determine buy and sell areas. Some traders have hard-and-fast rules regarding their analysis tools (and I’m a big proponent of having trading rules in place), but there are parts of technical analysis which do require some ongoing flexibility.

Trend lines are the tool I use the most in my trading and charting, and they definitely require keeping an open mind. Drawing trend lines and trading effectively with them is certainly more of an art than a science, because they can morph over time. While a trend line can be defined as a straight line connecting at least two relative highs or relative lows, what’s often left off of the description is that they frequently need to be refined.

The first time I draw a trend line, I usually consider it to be a rough draft. That means I’m willing to adjust it slightly as the chart pattern begins to mature and time goes by. The more times that price bars touch a trend line, the more valid it becomes. However, not every break of a trend line leads to another meaningful move in price. Therefore, if price pierces the trend line slightly but there’s no change of character in the underlying stock (or index or futures), that’s my signal that the break is of less significance and I’ll likely need to adjust my trend lines.

My aim is not to be perfect the first time I set a trend line. What I want is to have something valid I can trade from, as that will not only increase my confidence in the trade but also my profitability over time.

Technical analysis tools exist to help us, not bind us as traders! Trend lines are usually a work in progress and therefore rarely set in stone. Keep this in mind if you use them in your trading, and try to be sure that something meaningful is occurring when you see a trend line being broken. If the volume is up or the momentum is building, you can take the trade with much greater confidence.

Jeff White
President, The Stock Bandit, Inc.

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