3.23.2009

Forex Trading Methods - Dow Theory

The Dow Theory has been around for almost 100 years, yet even in todays volatile and technology-driven markets, the basic components of Dow Theory still remain valid. Dow Theory was formulated from a series of Wall Street Journal editorials authored by Charles H. Dow from 1900 until the time of his death in 1902. These editorials reflected Dow’s beliefs on how the stock market behaved and how the market could be used to measure the health of the business environment.

Due to his death, Dow never published his complete theory on the markets, but several followers and associates have published works that have expanded on the editorials. Some of the most important contributions to Dow theory were William P. Hamilton's "The Stock Market Barometer" (1922), Robert Rhea's "The Dow Theory" (1932), E. George Schaefer's "How I Helped More Than 10,000 Investors To Profit In Stocks" (1960) and Richard Russell's "The Dow Theory Today" (1961).

Dow believed that the stock market as a whole was a reliable measure of overall business conditions within the economy and that by analyzing the overall market, one could accurately gauge those conditions and identify the direction of major market trends and the likely direction of individual stocks. Much of what we know today as technical analysis has its roots in Dow’s work. For this reason, all traders using technical analysis should get to know the six basic tenets of Dow Theory.

Six basic tenets of Dow Theory

1. The Market Discounts Everything

The first basic premise of Dow Theory suggests that all information - past, current and even future - is discounted into the markets and reflected in the prices of stocks and indexes. That information includes everything from the emotions of investors to inflation and interest-rate data, along with pending earnings announcements to be made by companies after the close. Based on this tenet, the only information excluded is that which is unknowable, such as a massive earthquake. But even then the risks of such an event are priced into the market.

The idea that the market discounts everything is not new to technical traders, as this is a major premise of many of the tools used in this field of study. Accordingly, in technical analysis one need only look at price movements, and not at other factors such as the balance sheet. Like mainstream technical analysis, Dow Theory is mainly focused on price. However, the two differ in that Dow Theory is concerned with the movements of the broad markets, rather than specific securities. It's important to note that while Dow Theory itself is focused on price movements and index trends, implementation can also incorporate elements of fundamental analysis, including value- and fundamental-oriented strategies.

2. The Three-Trend Market

An important part of Dow Theory is distinguishing the overall direction of the market. To do this, the theory uses trend analysis. Before we can get into the specifics of Dow Theory trend analysis, we need to understand trends. First, it's important to note that while the market tends to move in a general direction, or trend, it doesn't do so in a straight line. The market will rally up to a high (peak) and then sell off to a low (trough), but will generally move in one direction.

An upward trend is broken up into several rallies, where each rally has a high and a low. For a market to be considered in an uptrend, each peak in the rally must reach a higher level than the previous rally's peak, and each low in the rally must be higher than the previous rally's low.



A downward trend is broken up into several sell-offs, in which each sell-off also has a high and a low. To be considered a downtrend in Dow terms, each new low in the sell-off must be lower than the previous sell-off's low and the peak in the sell-off must be lower then the peak in the previous sell-off.



Now that we understand how Dow Theory defines a trend, we can look at the finer points of trend analysis. Dow Theory identifies three trends within the market: primary, secondary and minor. A primary trend is the largest trend lasting for more than a year, while a secondary trend is an intermediate trend that lasts three weeks to three months and is often associated with a movement against the primary trend. Finally, the minor trend often lasts less than three weeks and is associated with the movements in the intermediate trend.

Primary Trend
In Dow Theory, the primary trend is the major trend of the market, which makes it the most important one to determine. This is because the overriding trend is the one that affects the movements in stock prices. The primary trend will also impact the secondary and minor trends within the market. Dow determined that a primary trend will generally last between one and three years but could vary in some instances.
Regardless of trend length, the primary trend remains in effect until there is a confirmed reversal. For example, if in an uptrend the price closes below the low of a previously established trough, it could be a sign that the market is headed lower, and not higher. When reviewing trends, one of the most difficult things to determine is how long the price movement within a primary trend will last before it reverses. The most important aspect is to identify the direction of this trend and to trade with it, and not against it, until the weight of evidence suggests that the primary trend has reversed.

Secondary (Intermediate) Trend
In Dow Theory, a primary trend is the main direction in which the market is moving. Conversely, a secondary trend moves in the opposite direction of the primary trend, or as a correction to the primary trend. For example, an upward primary trend will be composed of secondary downward trends. This is the movement from a consecutively higher high to a consecutively lower high. In a primary downward trend the secondary trend will be an upward move, or a rally. This is the movement from a consecutively lower low to a consecutively higher low. In general, a secondary, or intermediate, trend typically lasts between three weeks and three months, while the retracement of the secondary trend generally ranges between one-third and two-thirds of the primary trend's movement. Another important characteristic of a secondary trend is that its moves are often more volatile than those of the primary move.

Minor Trend
The last of the three trend types in Dow Theory is the minor trend, which is defined as a market movement lasting less than three weeks. The minor trend is generally the corrective moves within a secondary move, or those moves that go against the direction of the secondary trend. Due to its short-term nature and the longer-term focus of Dow Theory, the minor trend is not of major concern to Dow Theory followers. But this doesn't mean it is completely irrelevant, the minor trend is watched with the large picture in mind, as these short-term price movements are a part of both the primary and secondary trends.



3. The Three Phases Of Primary Trends

Since the most vital trend to understand is the primary trend, this leads into the third tenet of Dow theory, which states that there are three phases to every primary trend – the accumulation phase (distribution phase), the public participation phase and a panic phase (excess phase).

Primary Upward Trend (Bull Market):

The Accumulation Phase
The first stage of a bull market is referred to as the accumulation phase, which is the start of the upward trend. This is also considered the point at which informed investors start to enter the market.The accumulation phase typically comes at the end of a downtrend, when everything is seemingly at its worst. But this is also the time when the price of the market is at its most attractive level because by this point most of the bad news is priced into the market, thereby limiting downside risk and offering attractive valuations. However, the accumulation phase can be the most difficult one to spot because it comes at the end of a downward move, which could be nothing more than a secondary move in a primary downward trend - instead of being the start of a new uptrend. This phase will also be characterized by persistent market pessimism, with many investors thinking things will only get worse.
From a more technical standpoint, the start of the accumulation phase will be marked by a period of price consolidation in the market. This occurs when the downtrend starts to flatten out, as selling pressure starts to dissipate. The mid-to-latter stages of the accumulation phase will see the price of the market start to move higher. A new upward trend will be confirmed when the market doesn't move to a consecutively lower low and high.

Public Participation Phase
When informed investors entered the market during the accumulation phase, they did so with the assumption that the worst was over and a recovery lay ahead. As this starts to materialize, the new primary trend moves into what is known as the public participation phase. During this phase, negative sentiment starts to dissipate as business conditions - marked by earnings growth and strong economic data - improve. As the good news starts to permeate the market, more and more investors move back in, sending prices higher. This phase tends not only to be the longest lasting, but also the one with the largest price movement. It's also the phase in which most technical and trend traders start to take long positions, as the new upward primary trend has confirmed itself - a sign these participants have waited for.

The Excess Phase
As the market has made a strong move higher on the improved business conditions and buying by market participants to move starts to age, we begin to move into the excess phase. At this point, the market is hot again for all investors.
The last stage in the upward trend, the excess phase, is the one in which the smart money starts to scale back its positions, selling them off to those now entering the market. The perception is that everything is running great and that only good things lie ahead. This is also usually the time when the last of the buyers start to enter the market - after large gains have been achieved. Like lambs to the slaughter, the late entrants hope that recent returns will continue. Unfortunately for them, they are buying near the top. During this phase, a lot of attention should be placed on signs of weakness in the trend, such as strengthening downward moves. Also, if the upward moves start to show weakness, it could be another sign that the trend may be near the start of a primary downtrend.

Primary Downward Trend (Bear Market):

The Distribution Phase
The first phase in a bear market is known as the distribution phase, the period in which informed buyers sell (distribute) their positions. This is the opposite of the accumulation phase during a bull market in that the informed buyers are now selling into an overbought market instead of buying in an oversold market.
In this phase, overall sentiment continues to be optimistic, with expectations of higher market levels. It is also the phase in which there is continued buying by the last of the investors in the market, especially those who missed the big move but are hoping for a similar one in the near future. As was the case in the accumulation phase, the distribution phase can be difficult to spot in its early stages. The reason for this is that it may be disguised as a secondary downward trend within the primary upward trend. From a technical standpoint, the distribution phase is represented by a topping of the market where the price movement starts to flatten as selling pressure increases. The mid to latter stages of the distribution phase will see prices start to fall as more and more investors, anticipating weakness, exit their positions. A new downward trend will be confirmed when the previous trend fails to make another consecutive higher high and low.

Public Participation Phase
This phase is similar to the public participation phase found in a primary upward trend in that it lasts the longest and will represent the largest part of the move - in this case downward. During this phase it is clear that the business conditions in the market are getting worse and the sentiment is becoming more negative as time goes on. The market continues to discount the worsening conditions as selling increases and buying dries up. This is also the point at which most trend followers and technical traders start to dump their positions and take short positions as the new downward trend has confirmed itself.

The Panic Phase
The last phase of the primary downward market tends to be filled with market panic and can lead to very large sell-offs in a very short period of time. In the panic phase, the market is wrought up with negative sentiment, including weak outlooks on companies, the economy and the overall market. During this phase you will see many investors selling off their stakes in panic. Usually these participants are the ones that just entered the market during the excess phase of the previous run-up in share price. But just when things start to look their worst is when the accumulation phase of a primary upward trend will begin and the cycle repeats itself.

4. Market Indexes Must Confirm Each Other

Under Dow Theory, a major reversal from a bull to a bear market (or vice versa) cannot be signaled unless both indexes (traditionally the Dow Industrial and Rail Averages) are in agreement. For example, if one index is confirming a new primary uptrend but another index remains in a primary downward trend, it is difficult to assume that a new trend has begun. The reason for this is that a primary trend, either up or down, is the overall direction of the stock market, which in Dow Theory is a reflection of business conditions in the economy. When the stock market is doing well, it is because business conditions are good, when the stock market is doing poorly, it is due to poor business conditions. If the two Dow indexes are in conflict, there is no clear trend in business conditions.

If business conditions cause the major indexes to travel in opposite directions, this disparity suggests that it will be difficult for a primary trend to develop. When trying to confirm a new primary trend, therefore, it's vital that more than one index shows similar signals within a relatively close period of time. If the indexes are in agreement, it is a sign that business conditions are moving in the indicated direction.

5. Volume Must Confirm The Trend

According to Dow Theory, the main signals for buying and selling are based on the price movements of the indexes. Volume is also used as a secondary indicator to help confirm what the price movement is suggesting.

From this tenet it follows that volume should increase when the price moves in the direction of the trend and decrease when the price moves in the opposite direction of the trend. For example, in an uptrend, volume should increase when the price rises and fall when the price falls. The reason for this is that the uptrend shows strength when volume increases because traders are more willing to buy an asset in the belief that the upward momentum will continue. Low volume during the corrective periods signals that most traders are not willing to close their positions because they believe the momentum of the primary trend will continue.

Conversely, if volume runs counter to the trend, it is a sign of weakness in the existing trend. For example, if the market is in an uptrend but volume is weak on the up move, it is a signal that buying is starting to dissipate. If buyers start to leave the market or turn into sellers, there is little chance that the market will continue its upward trend. The same is true for increased volume on down days, which is an indication that more and more participants are becoming sellers in the market. According to Dow Theory, once a trend has been confirmed by volume, the majority of money in the market should be moving with the trend and not against it.

6. Trend Remains In Effect Until Clear Reversal Occurs

The reason for identifying a trend is to determine the overall direction of the market so that trades can be made with the trends and not against them. As was illustrated in the third tenet, trends move from uptrend to downtrend, which makes it important to identify transitions between these two trend directions. In Dow Theory, the sixth and final tenet states that a trend remains in effect until the weight of evidence suggests that it has been reversed.

Traders wait for a clear picture of a trend reversal because the goal is not to confuse a true reversal in the primary trend with a secondary trend or brief correction. Remember that a secondary trend is a move in the opposite direction of the primary trend that will not continue. For example, imagine that the primary trend is up, but the indexes are currently selling off. If an investor were to take a short position, concluding that the sell-off is the start of a new primary downward trend, they could get burned when the primary trend continues.
Unless you can safely conclude, based on the weight of evidence, that the trend has changed, you will be trading against the trend. As a general rule, this is not a wise idea, as many have been hurt by trading against the market.

Conclusion

There is little doubt that Dow Theory is of major importance in the history of technical analysis. Many of its tenets and ideas are the basis of much of what we know today. Aspects of Dow Theory are also incorporated into other theories, such as Elliott Wave theory. However, since its original adaptation and subsequent updates, its relevance as a stand-alone analytical technique has weakened. The reason for this has been the advent of more advanced techniques and tools, which in part build off of Dow Theory, but greatly expand upon it.



One of the bigger problems with the theory is that followers can miss out on large gains due to the conservative nature of a trend-reversal signal. As we mentioned previously, a signal is confirmed when there is an end to successive highs (uptrend) or lows (downtrend). However, what often happens is that by the time the market has shown a clear sign of reversal, the market has already generated a large gain.
Another problem with Dow Theory is that over time, the economy - and the indexes originally used by Dow - has changed. Consequently, the link between them has weakened. For example, the industrial and transportation sectors of the economy are no longer the dominant parts. Technology, for example, now takes up a considerable portion of economic production and growth. This is important because the basis for watching the indexes is that they are the leading indicators of business conditions. The economy has clearly become more segmented, requiring the analysis of more indexes, which could greatly reduce the accuracy and timeliness of Dow Theory analysis.

Even though there are weaknesses in Dow Theory, it will always be important to technical analysis. The ideas of trending markets and peak-and-trough analysis are found constantly within technical writings and ideas. Also of importance in Dow Theory is the idea of emotions in the marketplace, which remains a characteristic of market trends. Charles Dow and Dow Theory helped investors improve their understanding of the markets and trading, making a big trace in the history of economics and trading strategies.
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What is Forex?

If you would go out on a dinner with your friends or family and you mentioned that you were trading on the Forex market most of them wouldn’t know what you were talking about. The worst thing is that most of the Forex traders that join the Forex market don’t know what they are doing. Understanding what Forex is, is the first good step to your success at Forex trading.


The foreign exchange market (Currency, Forex, or FX) is where currency trading takes place. It is where banks and other official institutions facilitate the buying and selling of foreign currencies. Forex transactions typically involve one party purchasing a quantity of one currency in exchange for paying a quantity of another. The foreign exchange market that we see today started evolving during the 1970s when world over countries gradually switched to floating exchange rate from their erstwhile exchange rate regime, which remained fixed as per the Bretton Woods system till 1971.

Today, the Forex market is one of the largest and most liquid financial markets in the world, and includes trading between large banks, central banks, currency speculators, corporations, governments, and other institutions. The average daily volume in the global foreign exchange and related markets is continuously growing. Traditional daily turnover was reported to be over US$3.2 trillion in April 2007 by the Bank for International Settlements. Since then, the market has continued to grow. According to Euromoney's annual Forex Poll, volumes grew a further 41% between 2007 and 2008.

Forex Turnover

Forex Turnover
Main foreign exchange market turnover, 1988 - 2007, measured in billions of USD.
The purpose of Forex market is to facilitate trade and investment. The need for a foreign exchange market arises because of the presence of multifarious international currencies such as US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Yen, etc., and the need for trading in such currencies. Since you aren’t buying anything physical this kind of trading can be confusing. When buying a currency think of it as buying a part in that particular country’s economy because the currency rate reflects the economical situation of the country when compared to others.

Currencies

Currencies
List of most popular currencies on the Forex market

Forex used to be a closed market because only the “big boys” because you needed between 10 and 50 million $ to open an account. But today, with the development of internet, online Forex brokers have the possibility to offer their services to “little” traders. All you need to start is a computer, fast internet connection and information which you can find on this page also.

This enormous market is like the dangerous sea where you can meet lots of sharks and dangerous waters but at the same time it is the only one where two weeks of trading can hypothetically bring you $1,000,000 out of $1,000 of initial investment.

This is certainly hypothetically because a lot of newbie traders deal with their trades as gambling, that surely bring them to having nothing in the end. You should always keep the phrase "be careful!" in your mind. This market would give you its profit possibilities only if you learn the basic things hard and make lots of demo trading.

The statistics is that as much as 95% of traders come to losing their money at Forex, 5% have profit and less than 1% of traders make large fortune at Forex. You shouldn't produce, sell or advertise anything trading at Forex. Your assets are your knowledge, experience and a small amount of cash.

This market is a platform for banks, transnational corporations and individual traders to change the currencies they possess into other ones. This is the spot Forex market. At this market you can trade with up to 1:400 leverage which means that you'll get $400 on your account for each dollar invested. So, you can trade with the $400,000 sum having invested $1,000 onto your account.

Forex is unique among other world markets because in any time of day and night, somewhere in the world, a financial centre is open for business, banks and corporations exchange currency all the time, with a little lower frequency during the weekend.

Why to trade on Forex?

1. There is no commission fee for trading at Forex.
2. There is no intermediary, you can trade directly at Forex.
3. Forex is open 24-hours a day.
4. Nobody can influence the market for a longer period.
5. High liquidity.
6. Free demo accounts, analysis and charts.
7. Small accounts that allow everyone to try out his luck.

Hope this has answered a lot of questions you were asking yourself about Forex and that you can now start trading. Also make sure that you check out other articles on this blog which can help you earn your fortune.

Good luck to everyone!