candle graph

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Understanding Basic Candlestick Charts

Candlestick charts originated in Japan over 100 years before the West developed the bar and point-and-figure charts. In the 1700s, a Japanese man named Homma discovered that, while there was a link between price and the supply and demand of rice, the markets were strongly influenced by the emotions of traders. 

Candlesticks show that emotion by visually representing the size of price moves with different colors. Traders use the candlesticks to make trading decisions based on regularly occurring patterns that help forecast the short-term direction of the price.

Key Takeaways

  • Candlestick charts are used by traders to determine possible price movement based on past patterns.
  • Candlesticks are useful when trading as they show four price points (open, close, high, and low) throughout the period of time the trader specifies.
  • Many algorithms are based on the same price information shown in candlestick charts.
  • Trading is often dictated by emotion, which can be read in candlestick charts.

Candlestick Components

Just like a bar chart, a daily candlestick shows the market’s open, high, low, and close price for the day. The candlestick has a wide part, which is called the „real body.“

This real body represents the price range between the open and close of that day’s trading. When the real body is filled in or black, it means the close was lower than the open. If the real body is empty, it means the close was higher than the open.

Traders can alter these colors in their trading platform. For example, a down candle is often shaded red instead of black, and up candles are often shaded green instead of white.

Candlestick vs. Bar Charts

Just above and below the real body are the „shadows“ or „wicks.“ The shadows show the high and low prices of that day’s trading. If the upper shadow on a down candle is short, it indicates that the open that day was near the high of the day.

A short upper shadow on an up day dictates that the close was near the high. The relationship between the days open, high, low, and close determines the look of the daily candlestick. Real bodies can be long or short and black or white. Shadows can be long or short.

Bar charts and candlestick charts show the same information, just in a different way. Candlestick charts are more visual, due to the color coding of the price bars and thicker real bodies, which are better at highlighting the difference between the open and the close.

The above chart shows the same exchange-traded fund (ETF) over the same time period. The lower chart uses colored bars, while the upper uses colored candlesticks. Some traders prefer to see the thickness of the real bodies, while others prefer the clean look of bar charts.

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Basic Candlestick Patterns

Candlesticks are created by up and down movements in the price. While these price movements sometimes appear random, at other times they form patterns that traders use for analysis or trading purposes. There are many candlestick patterns. Here a sampling to get you started.

Patterns are separated into bullish and bearish. Bullish patterns indicate that the price is likely to rise, while bearish patterns indicate that the price is likely to fall. No pattern works all the time, as candlestick patterns represent tendencies in price movement, not guarantees.

Bearish Engulfing Pattern

A bearish engulfing pattern develops in an uptrend when sellers outnumber buyers. This action is reflected by a long red real body engulfing a small green real body. The pattern indicates that sellers are back in control and that the price could continue to decline.

Bullish Engulfing Pattern

An engulfing pattern on the bullish side of the market takes place when buyers outpace sellers. This is reflected in the chart by a long green real body engulfing a small red real body. With bulls having established some control, the price could head higher.

Bearish Evening Star

An evening star is a topping pattern. It is identified by the last candle in the pattern opening below the previous day’s small real body. The small real body can be either red or green. The last candle closes deep into the real body of the candle two days prior. The pattern shows a stalling of the buyers and then the sellers taking control. More selling could develop.

Bearish Harami

A bearish harami is a small real body (red) completely inside the previous day’s real body. This is not so much a pattern to act on, but it could be one to watch. The pattern shows indecision on the part of the buyers. If the price continues higher afterward, all may still be well with the uptrend, but a down candle following this pattern indicates a further slide.

Bullish Harami

The bullish harami is the opposite or the upside down bearish harami. A downtrend is in play, and a small real body (green) occurs inside the large real body (red) of the previous day. This tells the technician that the trend is pausing. If it is followed by another up day, more upside could be forthcoming.

Bearish Harami Cross

A bearish harami cross occurs in an uptrend, where an up candle is followed by a doji—the session where the candlestick has a virtually equal open and close. The doji is within the real body of the prior session. The implications are the same as the bearish harami.

Bullish Harami Cross

A bullish harami cross occurs in a downtrend, where a down candle is followed by a doji. The doji is within the real body of the prior session. The implications are the same as the bullish harami.

Let’s look at a few more patterns in black and white, which are also common colors for candlestick charts.

Bullish Rising Three

This pattern starts out with what is called a „long white day.“ Then, on the second, third, and fourth trading sessions, small real bodies move the price lower, but they still stay within the price range of the long white day (day one in the pattern). The fifth and last day of the pattern is another long white day.

Even though the pattern shows us that the price is falling for three straight days, a new low is not seen, and the bull traders prepare for the next move up.

A slight variation of this pattern is when the second day gaps up slightly following the first long up day. Everything else about the pattern is the same; it just looks a little different. When that variation occurs, it’s called a „bullish mat hold.“

Bearish Falling Three

The pattern starts out with a strong down day. This is followed by three small real bodies that make upward progress but stay within the range of the first big down day. The pattern completes when the fifth day makes another large downward move. It shows that sellers are back in control and that the price could head lower.

The Bottom Line

As Japanese rice traders discovered centuries ago, investors‘ emotions surrounding the trading of an asset have a major impact on that asset’s movement. Candlesticks help traders to gauge the emotions surrounding a stock, or other assets, helping them make better predictions about where that stock might be headed.

candle

candle is updated to accept data input as a matrix, timetable , or table .

Syntax

Description

candle( Data ) plots a candlestick chart from a series of opening, high, low, and closing prices of a security. If the closing price is greater than the opening price, the body (the region between the open and close price) is unfilled; otherwise the body is filled.

candle( Data , Color ) adds an optional argument for Color .

h = candle( ax ___ ) adds an optional argument for ax .

Examples

Generate a Candlestick Chart for a Data Series for a Stock

Load the file SimulatedStock.mat , which provides a timetable ( TMW ) for financial data for TMW stock. This is a candlestick chart with blue candles, for the most recent 21 days in SimulatedStock .mat .

Input Arguments

Data — Data for opening, high, low, and closing prices
matrix | table | timetable

Data for opening, high, low, and closing prices, specified as a matrix, table, or timetable. For matrix input, Data is an M -by- 4 matrix of opening, high, low, and closing prices stored in the corresponding columns. Timetables and tables with M rows must contain variables named ‚Open‘ , ‚High‘ , ‚Low‘ , and ‚Close‘ (case insensitive).

Data Types: double | table | timetable

Color — (Optional) Three element color vector
background color of figure window (default) | color vector [R G B] | string

Three element color vector, specified as a [R G B] color vector or a string specifying the color name. The default color differs depending on the background color of the figure window. For more information, see colorspec .

Data Types: double | string

ax — Valid axis object
current axes ( ax = gca ) (default) | axes object

(Optional) Valid axis object, specified as an axes object. The candle plot is created in the axes specified by ax instead of in the current axes ( ax = gca ). The option ax can precede any of the input argument combinations.

How to Read a Candlestick Chart

Reading candlestick charts – Talking points:

  • Candlestick charts differ greatly from the traditional bar chart
  • Traders generally prefer using candlestick charts for day-trading because they offer an enjoyable visual perception of price
  • It’s important to understand the key components of a candle, and what they indicate, to apply candlestick chart analysis to a trading strategy

What is a candlestick chart?

A candlestick chart is simply a chart composed of individual candles, which traders use to understand price action. Candlestick price action involves pinpointing where the price opened for a period, where the price closed for a period, as well as the price highs and lows for a specific period.

Price action can give traders of all financial markets clues to trend and reversals. For example, groups of candlesticks can form patterns which occur throughout forex charts that could indicate reversals or continuation of trends. Candlesticks can also form individual formations which could indicate buy or sell entries in the market.

The period that each candle depicts depends on the time-frame chosen by the trader. A popular time-frame is the daily time-frame, so the candle will depict the open, close, and high and low for the day. The different components of a candle can help you forecast where the price might go, for instance if a candle closes far below its open it may indicate further price declines.

Boost your chart patterns expertise with our interactive quiz!

Our Forex Trading Patterns Quiz will test your knowledge of some of the most important trading patterns. Take the test today by clicking on the link and raise your technical analysis game!

Interpreting a candle on a candlestick chart

The image below represents the design of a typical candlestick. There are three specific points (open, close, wicks) used in the creation of a price candle. The first points to consider are the candles’ open and close prices. These points identify where the price of an asset begins and concludes for a selected period and will construct the body of a candle. Each candle depicts the price movement for a certain period that you choose when you look at the chart. If you are looking at a daily chart each individual candle will display the open, close, upper and lower wick of that day.

The open price depicts the first price traded during the formation of the new candle. If the price starts to trend upwards the candle will turn green/blue (colors vary depending on chart settings). If the price declines the candle will turn red.

The top of the upper wick/shadow indicates the highest price traded during the period. If there is no upper wick/shadow it means that the open price or the close price was the highest price traded.

The lowest price traded is the either the price at the bottom of the lower wick/shadow and if there is no lower wick/shadow then the lowest price traded is the same as the close price or open price in a bullish candle.

The close price is the last price traded during the period of the candle formation. If the close price is below the open price the candle will turn red as a default in most charting packages. If the close price is above the open price the candle will be green/blue (also depends on the chart settings).

The next important element of a candlestick is the wick, which is also referred to as a ‘shadow’. These points are vital as they show the extremes in price for a specific charting period. The wicks are quickly identifiable as they are visually thinner than the body of the candlestick. This is where the strength of candlesticks becomes apparent. Candlesticks can help traders keep our eye on market momentum and away from the static of price extremes.

The direction of the price is indicated by the color of the candlestick. If the price of the candle is closing above the opening price of the candle, then the price is moving upwards and the candle would be green (the color of the candle depends on the chart settings). If the candle is red, then the price closed below the open.

The difference between the highest and lowest price of a candle is its range. You can calculate this by taking the price at the top of the upper wick and subtracting it from the price at the bottom of the lower wick. (Range = highest point – lowest point).

Having this knowledge of a candle, and what the points indicate, means traders using a candlestick chart have a clear advantage when it comes to distinguishing trendlines , price patterns and Elliot waves .

Bar Chart vs Candlestick Chart

As you can see from the image below, candlestick charts offer a distinct advantage over bar charts. Bar charts are not as visual as candle charts and nor are the candle formations or price patterns. Also, the bars on the bar chart make it difficult to visualize which direction the price moved.

How to read a candlestick chart

There are various ways to use and read a candlestick chart. Candlestick chart analysis depends on your preferred trading strategy and time-frame. Some strategies attempt to take advantage of candle formations while others attempt to recognize price patterns.

Interpreting single candle formations

Individual candlesticks can offer a lot of insight into current market sentiment. Candlesticks like the Hammer , shooting star , and hanging man , offer clues as to changing momentum and potentially where the market prices maytrend.

As you can see from the image below the Hammer candlestick formation sometimes indicates a reversal in trend. The hammer candle formation has a long lower wick with a small body. Its closing pricing is above its opening price. The intuition behind the hammer formation is simple, price tried to decline but buyers entered the market pushing the price up. It is a bullish signal to enter the market, tighten stop-losses or close out a short position.

Traders can take advantage of hammer formations by executing a long trade once the hammer candle has closed. Hammer candles are advantageous because traders can implement ‘tight’ stop-losses (stop-losses that risk a small amount of pips ). Take-profits should be placed in such a way as to ensure a positive risk-reward ratio. So, the take-profit is larger than the stop-loss.

Recognizing price patterns in multiple candles

Candlestick charts help traders recognize price patterns that occur in the charts. By recognizing these price patterns, like the bullish engulfing pattern or triangle patterns you can take advantage of them by using them as entries into or exit signals out the market.

For example, in the image below we have the bullish engulfing price pattern. The bullish engulfing is a combination of a red candle and a blue candle that ‘engulfs’ the entire red candle. It is an indication that it could be the end of a currency pairs established weakness. A trader would take advantage of this by entering a long position after the blue candle closes. Remember, the price pattern only forms once the second candle closes.

As with the hammer formation, a trader would place a stop loss below the bullish engulfing pattern, ensuring a tight stop loss. The trader would then set a take-profit. For more forex candlestick charts check our forex candlesticks guide where we go in depth into the advantages of candlestick charts as well as the strategies that can be implemented using them.

Further tips for reading candlestick charts

When reading candlestick charts, be mindful of:

At DailyFX we offer a range of forecasts on currencies, oil, equities and gold that can aide you in your trading. It is also worth following our webinars where we present on a variety of topics from price-action to fundamentals that may affect the market.

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.

Candlestick Definition

What Is A Candlestick?

A candlestick is a type of price chart used that displays the high, low, open, and closing prices of a security for a specific period. It originated from Japanese rice merchants and traders to track market prices and daily momentum hundreds of years before becoming popularized in the United States. The wide part of the candlestick is called the „real body“ and tells investors whether the closing price was higher or lower than the opening price (black/red if the stock closed lower, white/green if the stock closed higher).

Key Takeaways

  • Candlestick charts display the high, low, open, and closing prices of a security for a specific period.
  • Candlesticks originated from Japanese rice merchants and traders to track market prices and daily momentum hundreds of years before becoming popularized in the United States.
  • Candlesticks can be used by traders looking for chart patterns.

Candlestick Charts

The Basics Of A Candlestick

The candlestick’s shadows show the day’s high and low and how they compare to the open and close. A candlestick’s shape varies based on the relationship between the day’s high, low, opening and closing prices.

Candlesticks reflect the impact of investor sentiment on security prices and are used by technical analysts to determine when to enter and exit trades. Candlestick charting is based on a technique developed in Japan in the 1700s for tracking the price of rice. Candlesticks are a suitable technique for trading any liquid financial asset such as stocks, foreign exchange and futures.

Long white/green candlesticks indicate there is strong buying pressure; this typically indicates price is bullish. However, they should be looked at in the context of the market structure as opposed to individually. For example, a long white candle is likely to have more significance if it forms at a major price support level. Long black/red candlesticks indicate there is significant selling pressure. This suggests the price is bearish. A common bullish candlestick reversal pattern, referred to as a hammer, forms when price moves substantially lower after the open, then rallies to close near the high. The equivalent bearish candlestick is known as a hanging man. These candlesticks have a similar appearance to a square lollipop, and are often used by traders attempting to pick a top or bottom in a market.

Traders can use candlestick signals to analyze any and all periods of trading including daily or hourly cycles—even for minute-long cycles of the trading day.

Two-Day Candlestick Trading Patterns

There are many short-term trading strategies based upon candlestick patterns. The engulfing pattern suggests a potential trend reversal; the first candlestick has a small body that is completely engulfed by the second candlestick. It is referred to as a bullish engulfing pattern when it appears at the end of a downtrend, and a bearish engulfing pattern at the conclusion of an uptrend. The harami is a reversal pattern where the second candlestick is entirely contained within the first candlestick and is opposite in color. A related pattern, the harami cross has a second candlestick that is a doji; when the open and close are effectively equal.

Three-Day Candlestick Trading Patterns

An evening star is a bearish reversal pattern where the first candlestick continues the uptrend. The second candlestick gaps up and has a narrow body. The third candlestick closes below the midpoint of the first candlestick. A morning star is a bullish reversal pattern where the first candlestick is long and black/red-bodied, followed by short candlestick that has gapped lower; it is completed by a long-bodied white/green candlestick that closes above the midpoint of the first candlestick.

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