The Wedge Reversal Pattern

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How to Trade Wedge Chart Patterns

Wedges signal a pause in the current trend. When you encounter this formation, it signals that forex traders are still deciding where to take the pair next.

Wedges could serve as either continuation or reversal patterns.

Rising Wedge

A rising wedge is formed when price consolidates between upward sloping support and resistance lines.

This indicates that higher lows are being formed faster than higher highs. This leads to a wedge-like formation, which is exactly where the chart pattern gets its name from!

With prices consolidating, we know that a big splash is coming, so we can expect a breakout to either the top or bottom.

If the rising wedge forms after an uptrend, it’s usually a bearish reversal pattern.

Either way, the important thing is that, when you spot this forex trading chart pattern, you’re ready with your entry orders!

In this first example, a rising wedge formed at the end of an uptrend. Notice how price action is forming new highs, but at a much slower pace than when price makes higher lows.

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See how price broke down to the downside? That means there are more forex traders desperate to be short than be long!

They pushed the price down to break the trend line, indicating that a downtrend may be in the cards.

Just like in the other forex trading chart patterns we discussed earlier, the price movement after the breakout is approximately the same magnitude as the height of the formation.

Now let’s take a look at another example of a rising wedge formation. Only this time it acts as a bearish continuation signal.

As you can see, the price came from a downtrend before consolidating and sketching higher highs and even higher lows.

In this case, the price broke to the down side and the downtrend continued. That’s why it’s called a continuation signal yo!

See how the price made a nice move down that’s the same height as the wedge?

A rising wedge formed after an uptrend usually leads to a REVERSAL (downtrend) while a rising wedge formed during a downtrend typically results in a CONTINUATION (downtrend).

Simply put, a rising wedge leads to a downtrend, which means that it’s a bearish chart pattern!

Falling Wedge

Just like the rising wedge, the falling wedge can either be a reversal or continuation signal.

As a reversal signal, it is formed at a bottom of a downtrend, indicating that an uptrend would come next.

As a continuation signal, it is formed during an uptrend, implying that the upward price action would resume. Unlike the rising wedge, the falling wedge is a bullish chart pattern.

In this example, the falling wedge serves as a reversal signal. After a downtrend, the price made lower highs and lower lows.

Notice how the falling trend line connecting the highs is steeper than the trend line connecting the lows.

Upon breaking above the top of the wedge, the pair made a nice move upwards that’s approximately equal to the height of the formation. In this case, the price rally went a few more pips beyond that target!

Let’s take a look at an example where the falling wedge serves as a continuation signal.

Like we mentioned earlier, when the falling wedge forms during an uptrend, it usually signals that the trend will resume later on.

In this case, the price consolidated for a bit after a strong rally. This could mean that buyers simply paused to catch their breath and probably recruited more people to join the bull camp.

Hmm, it looks like the pair is revving up for a strong move. Which way would it go?

See how the price broke to the top side and went on to climb higher?

A good upside target would be the height of the wedge formation.

If you want to go for more pips, you can lock in some profits at the target by closing down a portion of your position, then letting the rest of your position ride.

Falling Wedge

The Falling Wedge is a bullish pattern that begins wide at the top and contracts as prices move lower. This price action forms a cone that slopes down as the reaction highs and reaction lows converge. In contrast to symmetrical triangles, which have no definitive slope and no bias, falling wedges definitely slope down and have a bullish bias. However, this bullish bias cannot be realized until a resistance breakout occurs.

While this article will focus on the falling wedge as a reversal pattern, it can also fit into the continuation category. As a continuation pattern, the falling wedge will still slope down, but the slope will be against the prevailing uptrend. As a reversal pattern, the falling wedge slopes down and with the prevailing trend. Regardless of the type (reversal or continuation), falling wedges are regarded as bullish patterns.

Prior Trend: To qualify as a reversal pattern, there must be a prior trend to reverse. Ideally, the falling wedge will form after an extended downtrend and mark the final low. The pattern usually forms over a 3-6 month period and the preceding downtrend should be at least 3 months old.

Upper Resistance Line: It takes at least two reaction highs to form the upper resistance line, ideally three. Each reaction high should be lower than the previous highs.

Lower Support Line: At least two reaction lows are required to form the lower support line. Each reaction low should be lower than the previous lows.

Contraction: The upper resistance line and lower support line converge to form a cone as the pattern matures. The reaction lows still penetrate the previous lows, but this penetration becomes shallower. Shallower lows indicate a decrease in selling pressure and create a lower support line with less negative slope than the upper resistance line.

Resistance Break: Bullish confirmation of the pattern does not come until the resistance line is broken in convincing fashion. It is sometimes prudent to wait for a break above the previous reaction high for further confirmation. Once resistance is broken, there can sometimes be a correction to test the newfound support level.

Volume: While volume is not particularly important on rising wedges, it is an essential ingredient to confirm a falling wedge breakout. Without an expansion of volume, the breakout will lack conviction and be vulnerable to failure.

As with rising wedges, the falling wedge can be one of the most difficult chart patterns to accurately recognize and trade. When lower highs and lower lows form, as in a falling wedge, a security remains in a downtrend. The falling wedge is designed to spot a decrease in downside momentum and alert technicians to a potential trend reversal. Even though selling pressure may be diminishing, demand does not win out until resistance is broken. As with most patterns, it is important to wait for a breakout and combine other aspects of technical analysis to confirm signals.

FCX provides a textbook example of a falling wedge at the end of a long downtrend.

Prior Trend: The downtrend for FCX began in the third quarter of 1997. There was a brief advance in Mar-98, but the downtrend resumed and the stock was trading at new lows by Feb-99.

Upper Resistance Line: The upper resistance line formed with four successively lower peaks.

Lower Support Line: The lower support line formed with four successive lower lows.

Contraction: The upper resistance line and lower support line converged as the pattern matured. Even though each low is lower than the previous low, these lows are only slightly lower. The shallowness of the new lows indicates that demand is stepping almost immediately after a new low is recorded. The supply overhang remains, but slope of the upper resistance line is more negative than the lower support line.

Resistance Break: In contrast to the three previous lows, the late February low was flat and consolidated just above 9 for a few weeks. The subsequent breakout in March occurred with a series of strong advances. In addition, there was a positive divergence in the PPO.

Volume: After the large volume decline on 24-Feb (red arrow), upside volume began to increase. Above-average volume continued on advancing days and when the stock broke trend line resistance. Money flows confirmed the strength by surpassing their Nov-98 high and moving to their highest level since Apr-98.

After the trend line breakout, there was a brief pullback to support from the trend line extension. The stock consolidated for a few weeks and then advanced further on increased volume again.

Wedge

What Is a Wedge?

A wedge is a price pattern marked by converging trend lines on a price chart. The two trend lines are drawn to connect the respective highs and lows of a price series over the course of 10 to 50 periods. The lines show that the highs and the lows are either rising or falling and differing rates, giving the appearance of a wedge as the lines approach a convergence. Wedge shaped trend lines are considered useful indicators of a potential reversal in price action by technical analysts.

Key Takeaways

  • Wedge patterns are usually characterized by converging trend lines over 10 to 50 trading periods.
  • The patterns may be considered rising or falling wedges.
  • The patterns have an unusually good track record for forecasting price reversals.

Understanding the Wedge Pattern

A wedge pattern can signal either bullish or bearish price reversals. In either case, this pattern holds three common characteristics: first, the converging trend lines; second, a pattern of declining volume as the price progresses through the pattern; third, a breakout from one of the trend lines. The two forms of the wedge pattern are a rising wedge (which signals a bearish reversal) or a falling wedge (which signals a bullish reversal).

Rising Wedge

This usually occurs when a security’s price has been rising over time, but it can also occur in the midst of a downward trend as well.

The trend lines drawn above and below the price chart pattern can converge to help a trader or analyst anticipate a breakout reversal. While price can be out of either trend line, wedge patterns have a tendency to break in the opposite direction from the trend lines.

Therefore, rising wedge patterns indicate the more likely potential of falling prices after a breakout of the lower trend line. Traders can make bearish trades after the breakout by selling the security short or using derivatives such as futures or options, depending on the security being charted. These trades would seek to profit on the potential that prices will fall.

Falling Wedge

When a security’s price has been falling over time, a wedge pattern can occur just as the trend makes its final downward move. The trend lines drawn above the highs and below the lows on the price chart pattern can converge as the price slide loses momentum and buyers step in to slow the rate of decline. Before the lines converge, price may breakout above the upper trend line.

When price breaks the upper trend line the security is expected to reverse and trend higher. Traders identifying bullish reversal signals would want to look for trades that benefit from the security’s rise in price.

Trading Advantages for Wedge Patterns

As a general rule price, pattern strategies for trading systems rarely yield returns that outperform buy-and-hold strategies over time, but some patterns do appear to be useful in forecasting general price trends nonetheless. Some studies suggest that a wedge pattern will breakout towards a reversal (a bullish breakout for falling wedges and a bearish breakout for rising wedges) more often than two-thirds of the time, with a falling wedge being a more reliable indicator than a rising wedge.

Because wedge patterns converge to a smaller price channel, the distance between the price on entry of the trade and the price for a stop loss, is relatively smaller than the start of the pattern. This means that a stop loss can be placed close by at the time the trade begins, and if the trade is successful, the outcome can yield a greater return than the amount risked on the trade to begin with.

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