4.03.2009

Forex Trading Methods - Elliott Waves

What is Elliott Wave?

The Elliott Wave principle is a form of technical analysis that attempts to forecast trends in the financial markets and other collective activities, named after Ralph Nelson Elliott (1871–1948), an accountant who developed the concept in the 1930s, he proposed that market prices unfold in specific patterns, which practitioners today call Elliott Waves. Inspired by the Dow Theory and by observations found throughout nature, Elliott concluded that the movement of the financial market could be predicted by observing and identifying a repetitive pattern of waves. In fact, Elliott believed that all of man's activities, not just the financial market, were influenced by these identifiable series of waves.

Elliott based part of his work on the Dow Theory, which also defines price movement in terms of waves, but Elliott discovered the fractal nature of market action. Thus Elliott was able to analyze markets in greater depth, identifying the specific characteristics of wave patterns and making detailed market predictions based on the patterns he had identified.

In the 1930s, Ralph Nelson Elliott found that the markets exhibited certain repeated patterns. His primary research was with stock market data for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This research identified patterns or waves that recur in the markets. Very simply, in the direction of the trend, expect five waves. Any corrections against the trend are in three waves. Three wave corrections are lettered as "a, b, c." These patterns can be seen in long-term as well as in short-term charts. Ideally, smaller patterns can be identified within bigger patterns. In this sense, Elliott Waves are like a piece of broccoli, where the smaller piece, if broken off from the bigger piece, does, in fact, look like the big piece. This information (about smaller patterns fitting into bigger patterns), coupled with the Fibonacci relationships between the waves, offers the trader a level of anticipation and/or prediction when searching for and identifying trading opportunities with solid reward/risk ratios.

There have been many theories about the origin and the meaning of the patterns that Elliott discovered, including human behavior and harmony in nature. These rules, though, as applied to technical analysis of the markets (stocks, commodities, futures, etc.), can be very useful regardless of their meaning and origin.

Theory Interpretation

The Elliott Wave Theory is interpreted as follows:
- Every action is followed by a reaction.
- Five waves move in the direction of the main trend followed by three corrective waves (a 5-3 move).
- A 5-3 move completes a cycle.
- This 5-3 move then becomes two subdivisions of the next higher 5-3 wave.
- The underlying 5-3 pattern remains constant, though the time span of each may vary.
Let's have a look at the following chart made up of eight waves (five up and three down) labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, A, B and C.



You can see that the three waves in the direction of the trend are impulses, so these waves also have five waves within them. The waves against the trend are corrections and are composed of three waves.

Impulse Patterns



The impulse pattern consists of five waves. The five waves can be in either direction, up or down:

Wave 1 - Wave one is rarely obvious at its inception. When the first wave of a new bull market begins, the fundamental news is almost universally negative. The previous trend is considered still strongly in force. Fundamental analysts continue to revise their earnings estimates lower, the economy probably does not look strong. Sentiment surveys are decidedly bearish, put options are in vogue, and implied volatility in the options market is high. Volume might increase a bit as prices rise, but not by enough to alert many technical analysts.

Wave 2 - Wave two corrects wave one, but can never extend beyond the starting point of wave one. Typically, the news is still bad. As prices retest the prior low, bearish sentiment quickly builds, and "the crowd" haughtily reminds all that the bear market is still deeply ensconced. Still, some positive signs appear for those who are looking: volume should be lower during wave two than during wave one, prices usually do not retrace more than 61.8% of the wave one gains, and prices should fall in a three wave pattern.

Wave 3 - Wave three is usually the largest and most powerful wave in a trend (although some research suggests that in commodity markets, wave five is the largest). The news is now positive and fundamental analysts start to raise earnings estimates. Prices rise quickly, corrections are short-lived and shallow. Anyone looking to "get in on a pullback" will likely miss the boat. As wave three starts, the news is probably still bearish, and most market players remain negative; but by wave three's midpoint, "the crowd" will often join the new bullish trend. Wave three often extends wave one by a ratio of 1.618:1 (also known as The Golden Ratio).

Wave 4 - Wave four is typically clearly corrective. Prices may meander sideways for an extended period, and wave four typically retraces less than 38.2% of wave three. Volume is well below than that of wave three. This is a good place to buy a pull back if you understand the potential ahead for wave 5. Still, the most distinguishing feature of fourth waves is that they often prove very difficult to count.

Wave 5 - Wave five is the final leg in the direction of the dominant trend. The news is almost universally positive and everyone is bullish. Unfortunately, this is when many average investors finally buy in, right before the top. Volume is lower in wave five than in wave three, and many momentum indicators start to show divergences (prices reach a new high, the indicator does not reach a new peak). At the end of a major bull market, bears may very well be ridiculed.

Corrective Patterns

Corrections are very hard to master. Most Elliott traders make money during an impulse pattern and then lose it back during the corrective phase.

Wave A - Corrections are typically harder to identify than impulse moves. In wave A of a bear market, the fundamental news is usually still positive. Most analysts see the drop as a correction in a still-active bull market. Some technical indicators that accompany wave A include increased volume, rising implied volatility in the options markets and possibly a turn higher in open interest in related futures markets.

Wave B - Prices reverse higher, which many see as a resumption of the now long-gone bull market. Those familiar with classical technical analysis may see the peak as the right shoulder of a head and shoulders reversal pattern. The volume during wave B should be lower than in wave A. By this point, fundamentals are probably no longer improving, but they most likely have not yet turned negative.

Wave C - Prices move impulsively lower in five waves. Volume picks up, and by the third leg of wave C, almost everyone realizes that a bear market is firmly entrenched. Wave C is typically at least as large as wave A and often extends to 1.618 times wave A or beyond.

An impulse pattern consists of five waves. With the exception of the triangle, corrective patterns consist of 3 waves. An impulse pattern is always followed by a corrective pattern. Corrective patterns can be grouped into two different categories:

1. Simple Correction (Zig-Zag)

There is only one pattern in a simple correction. This pattern is called a Zig-Zag correction. A Zig-Zag correction is a three-wave pattern where the Wave B does not retrace more than 75 percent of Wave A. Wave C will make new lows below the end of Wave A. The Wave A of a Zig-Zag correction always has a five-wave pattern. In the other two types of corrections (Flat and Irregular), Wave A has a three-wave pattern. Thus, if you can identify a five-wave pattern inside Wave A of any correction, you can then expect the correction to turn out as a Zig-Zag formation.



2. Complex Corrections (Flat, Irregular, Triangle)

Flat Correction - In a Flat correction, the length of each wave is identical. After a five-wave impulse pattern, the market drops in Wave A. It then rallies in a Wave B to the previous high. Finally, the market drops one last time in Wave C to the previous Wave A low.



Irregular Correction - In this type of correction, Wave B makes a new high. The final Wave C may drop to the beginning of Wave A, or below it.



Triangle Correction - In addition to the three-wave correction patterns, there is another pattern that appears time and time again. It is called the Triangle pattern. Unlike other triangle studies, the Elliott Wave Triangle approach designates five sub-waves of a triangle as A, B, C, D and E in sequence. Triangles, by far, most commonly occur as fourth waves. One can sometimes see a triangle as the Wave B of a three-wave correction. Triangles are very tricky and confusing. One must study the pattern very carefully prior to taking action. Prices tend to shoot out of the triangle formation in a swift thrust. When triangles occur in the fourth wave, the market thrusts out of the triangle in the same direction as Wave 3. When triangles occur in Wave B, the market thrusts out of the triangle in the same direction as the Wave A.



Conclusion

The premise that markets unfold in recognizable patterns contradicts the efficient market hypothesis, which says that prices cannot be predicted from market data such as moving averages and volume. By this reasoning, if successful market forecasts were possible, investors would buy (or sell) when the method predicted a price increase (or decrease), to the point that prices would rise (or fall) immediately, thus destroying the profitability and predictive power of the method. In efficient markets, knowledge of the Elliott wave principle among investors would lead to the disappearance of the very patterns they tried to anticipate, rendering the method, and all forms of technical analysis, useless.

Wave prediction is a very uncertain business. It is an art to which the subjective judgment of the chartists matters more than the objective, replicable verdict of the numbers. The record of this, as of most technical analysis, is at best mixed. Critics also say the wave principle is too vague to be useful, since it cannot consistently identify when a wave begins or ends, and that Elliott wave forecasts are prone to subjective revision. Some who advocate technical analysis of markets have questioned the value of Elliott wave analysis.

The Elliott Wave Principle, as popularly practiced, is not a legitimate theory, but a story. The account is especially persuasive because Elliott Wave has the seemingly remarkable ability to fit any segment of market history down to its most minute fluctuations. I contend this is made possible by the method's loosely defined rules and the ability to postulate a large number of nested waves of varying magnitude. This gives the Elliott analyst the same freedom and flexibility that allowed pre-Copernican astronomers to explain all observed planet movements even though their underlying theory of an Earth-centered universe was wrong.
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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!