* Dow Theory
The oldest theory in technical analysis states that prices fully reflect all existing information. Knowledge available to participants (traders, analysts, portfolio managers, market strategists and investors) is already discounted in the price action. Movements caused by unpredictable events such as acts of god will be contained within the overall trend. Technical analysis aims at studying price action to draw conclusions on future moves.
Developed primarily around stock market averages, the Dow Theory holds that prices progressed into wave patterns, which consisted of three types of magnitude—primary, secondary and minor. The time involved ranged from less than three weeks to over a year. The theory also identified retracement patterns, which are common levels by which trends pare their moves. Such retracements are 33%, 50% and 66%.
* Fibonacci Retracement
This is a popular retracement series based on mathematical ratios arising from natural and man-made phenomena. It is used to determine how far a price has rebounded or backtracked from its underlying trend. The most important retracement levels are: 38.2%, 50% and 61.8%.
* Elliott Wave
Ellioticians classify price movements in patterned waves that can indicate future targets and reversals. Waves moving with the trend are called impulse waves, whereas waves moving against the trend are called corrective waves. Elliott Wave Theory breaks down impulse waves and corrective waves into five primary and three secondary movement respectively. The eight movements comprise a complete wave cycle. Time frames can range from 15 minutes to decades.
The challenging part of Elliott Wave Theory is figuring out the relativity of the wave structure. A corrective wave, for instance, could be composed of sub impulsive and corrective waves. It is therefore crucial to determine the role of a wave in relation to the greater wave structure. Thus, the key to Elliot Waves is to be able to identify the wave context in question. Ellioticians also use Fibonacci retracements to predict the tops and bottoms of future waves.
What to Look For in Technicals?
* Find the Trend
One of the first things you'll ever hear in technical analysis is the following motto: "the trend is your friend." Finding the prevailing trend will help you become aware of the overall market direction and offer you better visibility—especially when shorter-term movements tend to clutter the picture. Weekly and monthly charts are more ideally suited for identifying longer-term trends. Once you have found the overall trend, you could select the trend of the time horizon in which you wish to trade. Thus, you could effectively buy on the dips during rising trends, and sell the rallies during downward trends.
* Support & Resistance
Support and resistance levels are points where a chart experiences recurring upward or downward pressure. A support level is usually the low point in any chart pattern (hourly, weekly or annually), whereas a resistance level is the high or the peak point of the pattern. These points are identified as support and resistance when they show a tendency to reappear. It is best to buy/sell near support/resistance levels that are unlikely to be broken.
Once these levels are broken, they tend to become the opposite obstacle. Thus, in a rising market, a resistance level that is broken, could serve as a support for the upward trend; whereas in a falling market, once a support level is broken, it could turn into a resistance.
* Lines & Channels
Trend lines are simple, yet helpful tools in confirming the direction of market trends. An upward straight line is drawn by connecting at least two successive lows. Naturally, the second point must be higher than the first. The continuation of the line helps determine the path along which the market will move. An upward trend is a concrete method to identify support lines/levels. Conversely, downward lines are charted by connecting two points or more. The validity of a trading line is partly related to the number of connection points. Yet it's worth mentioning that points must not be too close together. A channel is defined as the price path drawn by two parallel trend lines. The lines serve as an upward, downward or straight corridor for the price. A familiar property of a channel for a connecting point of a trend line is to lie between the two connecting point of its opposite line.
If you believe in the "trend-is-your-friend" tenet of technical analysis, moving averages are very helpful. Moving averages tell the average price in a given point of time over a defined period of time. They are called moving because they reflect the latest average, while adhering to the same time measure.
A weakness of moving averages is that they lag the market, so they do not necessarily signal a change in trends. To address this issue, using a shorter period, such as 5 or 10 day moving average, would be more reflective of the recent price action than the 40 or 200-day moving averages.
Alternatively, moving averages may be used by combining two averages of distinct time-frames. Whether using 5 and 20-day MA, or 40 and 200-day MA, buy signals are usually detected when the shorter-term average crosses above the longer-term average. Conversely, sell signals are suggested when the shorter average falls below the longer one.
There are three kinds of mathematically distinct moving averages: Simple MA; Linearly Weighted MA; and Exponentially Smoothed. The latter choice is the preferred one because it assigns greater weight for the most recent data, and considers data in the entire life of the instrument.
Fundamentals Affecting the US Dollar
* Interest Rates
Fed Funds Rate: Clearly the most important interest rate. It is the rate that depositary institutions charge each other for overnight loans. The Fed announces changes in the Fed Funds rate when it wishes to send clear monetary policy signals. These announcements normally have large impact on all stock, bond and currency markets.
* Discount Rate
The interest rate at which the Fed charges commercial banks for emergency liquidity purposes. Although this is more of a symbolic rate, changes in it imply clear policy signals. The Discount Rate is almost always less than the Fed Funds Rate.
* 30-year Treasury Bond
The 30-year US Treasury Bond, also known as the long bond, or bellwether treasury. It is the most important indicator of markets' expectations on inflation. Markets most commonly use the yield (rather than price) when referring to the level of the bond. As in all bonds, the yield on the 30-year treasury is inversely related to the price. There is no clear-cut relation between the long bond and the US dollar. But the following relation usually holds: A fall in the value of the bond (rise in the yield) due to inflationary concerns may pressure the dollar. These concerns could arise from strong economic data.
Depending on the stage of the economic cycle, strong economic data could have varying impacts on the dollar. In an environment where inflation is not a threat, strong economic data may boost the dollar. But at times when the threat of inflation (higher interest rates) is most urgent, strong data normally hurt the dollar, by means of the resulting sell-off in bonds.
Nonetheless, as the supply of 30-year bonds began to shrink following the US Treasury's refunding operations (buy back its debt), the 30-year bond's role as a benchmark had gradually given way to its 10-year counterpart.
Being a benchmark asset-class, the long bond is normally impacted by shifting capital flows triggered by global considerations. Financial/political turmoil in emerging markets could be a possible booster for US treasuries due to their safe nature, thereby, helping the dollar.
* 3-month Eurodollar Deposits
The interest rate on 3-month dollar-denominated deposits held in banks outside the US. It serves as a valuable benchmark for determining interest rate differentials to help estimate exchange rates. To illustrate USD/JPY as a theoretical example, the greater the interest rate differential in favor of the eurodollar against the euroyen deposit, the more likely USD/JPY will receive a boost. Sometimes, this relation does not hold due to the confluence of other factors.
* 10-year Treasury Note
FX markets usually refer to the 10-year note when comparing its yield with that on similar bonds overseas, namely the Euro (German 10-year bund), Japan (10-year JGB) and the UK (10-year gilt). The spread differential (difference in yields) between the yield on 10-year US Treasury note and that on non US bonds, impacts the exchange rate. A higher US yield usually benefits the US dollar against foreign currencies.
* Federal Reserve Bank (Fed)
The U.S Central Bank has full independence in setting monetary policy to achieve maximum non-inflationary growth. The Fed's chief policy signals are: open market operations, the Discount Rate and the Fed Funds rate.
* Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)
The FOMC is responsible for making decisions on monetary policy, including the crucial interest rate announcements it makes 8 times a year. The 12-member committee is made up of 7 members of the Board of Governors; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; while the remaining four seats carry one-year term each, in a rotating selection of the presidents of the 11 other Reserve Banks.
The US Treasury is responsible for issuing government debt and for making decisions on the fiscal budget. The Treasury has no say in monetary policy, but its statements on the dollar have an major influence on the currency.
* Economic Data
The most important economic data items released in the US are: labor report (payrolls, unemployment rate and average hourly earnings), CPI, PPI, GDP, international trade, ECI, NAPM, productivity, industrial production, housing starts, housing permits and consumer confidence.
* Stock Market
The three major stock indices are the Dow Jones Industrials Index (Dow), S&P 500, and NASDAQ. The Dow is the most influential index on the dollar. Since the mid-1990s, the index has shown a strong positive correlation with the greenback as foreign investors purchased US equities. Three major forces affect the Dow: 1) Corporate earnings, forecast and actual; 2) Interest rate expectations and; 3) Global considerations. Consequently, these factors channel their way through the dollar
* Cross Rate Effect
The dollar's value against one currency is sometimes impacted by another currency pair (exchange rate) that may not involve the dollar. To illustrate, a sharp rise in the yen against the euro (falling EUR/JPY) could cause a general decline in the euro, including a fall in EUR/USD.
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