The beginnings of technical analysis is usually dated to the Dow theory, and to the early part of the 20th century. Over the years, many contributors have created indicators, oscillators and moving averages of all sorts to increase the arsenal which the trader can utilize to understand the forex market. But the basic principles of technical analysis have remained the same:
- Prices discount all available information
- Prices trend (in other words, price movements are not random)
- Historical data is useful for predicting future developments
As noted previously, technical analysis is useful for analyzing price patterns that emerge as a result of global economic activity. Thus, it’s different from fundamental analysis: Its effectiveness is greatest when market participants are the most emotive; the total turnaround in the market is constant with little new money entering or exiting; and economic fundamentals are of short-term value only.
This may perhaps appear counterintuitive to what many have come to believe over the years. But in fact, those who are most successful in using technical analysis are those who follow the long-term trend, and the long-term trend is merely another name for what is called the “big picture”, as painted by fundamental analysis.
Technical studies are useful for determining entry and exit points, because the information provided by fundamental analysis is too vague when it comes to price and quotes. While not precise, technical analysis does provide the trader with a number of tools for determining points of action, and the trader can use any method that he feels comfortable with, provided he knows what he’s doing.
On a final note, although the new forex trader may perhaps be overwhelmed by the vast number of indicators and such that are available for his use, the good news is that only one from a each type of indicator will usually provide all the data necessary for trading. Later, we will examine indicators in detail. For further reading: see our extensive section on technical analysis.