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Japanese Candlestick Charts Tutorial


Candlestick charts provide the same information as a bar chart - open, high, low and close prices - but do so in a way that is a more visual depiction of price action during a single time period or series of time periods.

One candlestick itself can provide important information about the strength or weakness of the market during a given day or other time period, visually portraying where the close is relative to the open. Although one candle can be significant, depending upon its location on a chart, a candlestick pattern usually takes several candlesticks to produce chart formations that give the best signals. Candlesticks may look identical but have an entirely different meaning after an uptrend than they do after a downtrend.

Because they can be used in analysis in much the same way as bar charts, candlestick charts have quickly become a favorite of traders and analysts since being introduced to the West in 1990. Candlestick analysts have also added a little mystique to candlestick charts by giving various patterns clever names and providing more descriptive characteristics for these patterns than is the case in typical bar chart analysis. Both types of charts have their double tops, inside days, gaps and other formations. But candlestick analysis ascribes more meaning to the candlestick "bodies" - price action between the open and close - and to the "shadows" or "tails" - price action that takes place outside of the open-close range for a period.

Because of their popularity in recent years, you should become acquainted with the nuances and terms of candlestick charts if you aren't already.


Candlestick Chart Basics

Japanese traders had been using candlestick charts and categorizing various candlestick chart patterns for centuries before the concept began to draw a lot of attention in the West after several books were published in the English language on candlesticks in the early 1990s.

Steve Nison published the first book, Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques: A Contemporary Guide to the Ancient Investment Techniques of the Far East, in 1991 and added another book a few years later, Beyond Candlesticks: More Japanese Charting Techniques Revealed. Greg Morris' book, Candlestick Charting Explained, in 1992 thoroughly described and quantitatively tested candlestick patterns, reporting that many were highly reliable. Since then, a number of other authors have written books on candlestick chart analysis.

Quick Guide to Main Patterns

Candlestick charts give a more visual presentation of price action than traditional bar charts and have become the chart of choice for many technical analysts.

One candle itself can provide important information about the strength or weakness of the market during a given day or other time period, depending where the close is relative to the open. However, a candlestick pattern usually takes several candles to produce chart formations that give the best signals.

The key in candlestick chart analysis is where a given candle or candle formation occurs during the market action. Candlesticks may look identical but have an entirely different meaning after an uptrend than they do after a downtrend.

The diagrams and descriptions below cover only some of the main candlestick patterns, showing the bullish version on the left and bearish version on the right. There are many other candlestick patterns with clever names that chart analysts use.


Bullish Description Bearish

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"Doji stars" - Prices at the open and close of the period are at the same level, indicating indecisiveness about price direction. The signal tends to be more dependable when it appears at a top than at a bottom.

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"Stars" - Stars are reversal patterns and come in several different forms. The pattern consists of three candles, the first usually a large candle at the end of an extended trend followed by a smaller candle that leaves a gap or window and then another large body candle in the direction of the new trend. Large volume would help to confirm the reversal signal.

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"Piercing line" and "dark cloud cover" - These reversal patterns are mirror images of one another and are close relatives of the engulfing patterns except that the current candle's body does not engulf the previous candle. Instead, the market has a gap opening, then moves sharply in the opposite direction and closes more than halfway through the previous candle's body.
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"Hammer" and "Hanging Man" - These two reversal patterns look very much alike, but their name and impact on prices depend on whether they occur at the end of a downtrend or an uptrend. The signal candlestick has a small real body and a long lower shadow, suggesting the previous trend is losing momentum. This pattern also requires confirmation by the next candle.
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"Harami" - The harami is a reversal pattern following a trend. Rather than engulfing the previous candle, price action for the current candle is entirely within the range of the previous candle body. This pattern requires immediate follow-through for confirmation.
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"Engulfing patterns" - Prices open below the previous close (bullish) or above the previous close (bearish) and then stage a strong turnaround, producing a candle body that totally engulfs the previous candle and suggesting a change in trend direction.
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"Tweezers" - Tweezers are minor reversal signals that are more important if they are part of a larger pattern. A tweezer bottom has two or more candles with matching bottoms; a tweezer top has two or more candles with matching tops. They do not have to be consecutive candles. They do require follow-through for confirmation.
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Candlestick Reversal Tops

Candlesticks with similar appearances can signal much different outcomes, depending on whether the individual candle or candlestick formation occurs after an extended downtrend or uptrend or in the middle of a trend. Here are some candlestick signals at tops that suggest the previous uptrend may be ready to reverse into a bearish downtrend.

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Hanging Man
The hanging man is a bearish reversal pattern occurring within an established uptrend. It has a small real body (white or black) at or near the high; therefore, it has little or no upper shadow. Although the color of the real body is not critical, black is more bearish than white. Also, it has a long lower shadow, like legs dangling down from the body. The hanging man's small real body implies the previous uptrend is losing momentum. The next period's action would confirm the bearish implications of the hanging man if there is a downward window (gap) or a long black candlestick.

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Bearish Engulfing Pattern
The bearish engulfing pattern is defined as a current large real body enveloping a smaller white real body formed by price action during the previous period. Supply overwhelms demand. The bulls are immobilized.

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Dark Cloud Cover
The dark cloud cover is a decisive black candlestick following a strong white candlestick with an opening gap up to a new high, a reversal and weak close well into the previous white real body. The weaker the second black candlestick's close, the more meaningful and bearish it is. For example, a close near the low of the current black candlestick and below the midpoint (or lower) of the previous white real body would be significant. This candlestick indicates bulls led a charge up the mountain to new price highs but could not hold the ground. Now the bears are pushing them back down the mountain. Dark cloud cover is the opposite of the piercing line.

Stars
Stars are reversal patterns. There are four main bearish stars that follow and reverse an uptrend.
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The shooting star has a long upper shadow, a small real body at the lower end of the price range and little or no lower shadow. After an upward move in previous sessions, a strong rally from the open occurs, but the market rejects the high prices and prices collapse back down to close near the open. This means that after early buying enthusiasm on the open, the rally attempt proved unsustainable, an obvious failure of demand. It is more significant if the current open gaps up from the previous real body.

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More significant is the more complex evening star, which comprises three candlesticks: First, a long white candle; second, a gap-higher open and a small real body (black or white), which should be completely above but not touching the real body of the first candle; and third, a black real body that closes well into the white body of the first candlestick. The longer this third black real body, the more meaningful it is. A volume surge on this third black real body would add power to the reversal signal.

If the middle candle is a doji, the pattern is called an evening doji star, which is more significant than an ordinary evening star.
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If the middle doji's shadows are completely above and do not touch the shadows of the first and third candlesticks, the pattern is called an abandoned baby top and is even more significant.

Tri-Star is a rare but significant reversal pattern formed by three dojis, the middle one a doji star that gaps up and away from the previous period's candlestick. Tri-star often follows a trend of long duration that has run its course. The three dojis clearly indicate a loss of momentum and an exhaustion of the trend.

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Bearish Harami
The bearish harami is a reversal pattern following an uptrend, formed a long white real body during the previous period and a short black real body during the current period where the current close is relatively near the open, and both close and open are contained completely within the previous period's long white real body. There should be immediate downside follow-through in the next period for confirmation.

candle39.gif Bearish harami cross is a major reversal pattern. In an uptrend, a long white real body is followed by a doji, and that doji is contained within the previous large white body.
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Two Crows
Two crows reverse an existing uptrend. First, there appears a relatively small black candlestick that signals a loss of upside momentum. That small black candlestick is immediately followed by a much more substantial black candlestick, which confirms a bearish change in momentum.

candle40.gif Three Black Crows
Three black crows more decisively reverse an existing uptrend. Look for three relatively large, consecutive black candlesticks that close near or at their lows of the period. If the three candlesticks are identical, the pattern is called identical three black crows.
candle31.gif Belt Hold
Belt hold, in an uptrend, forms when prices open much higher on a large window (gap) but close substantially lower, giving up most of the early gain.
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Bearish Counterattack Line
In an uptrending market, a large white candlestick is following by a large black candlestick that opens on a big gap higher and then slumps back during the period to close at the same price as the previous close. The bearish black candlestick needs followup action to the downside to confirm the turn to a downtrend.

Three Inside Down
Three inside down is composed of three candles. Following a prevailing uptrend, first look for a large white candlestick. This is followed by a short black candlestick, which is entirely contained within the real body of the previous big white candlestick. This suggests some loss of upward price momentum. The third candlestick is a large black candlestick that closes below the lows of the previous two candlesticks, thus confirming a bearish change in trend direction.

Three Outside Down
Three outside down is also composed of three candlesticks. Following a prevailing uptrend, first look for a white candlestick. This is followed by a larger black candlestick, which is an engulfing line - that is, its real body contains the entire previous period's price range. This alone suggests a change in upward price momentum. The third candlestick is a large black candlestick that closes below the lows of the previous two candlesticks, thus confirming a bearish change in trend direction.

Kicking
Kicking can also be a two-day bull trap. Following a decisive day of buying where prices open on their lows and close on their highs, thus forming a substantial white candle with no shadows, the very next day prices totally reverse on the open, forming a falling window on a large downside opening price gap. Prices close that day on their lows, forming a substantial black candle with no shadows. The bulls can't help but suffer big losses, and they are likely to be punished by further price weakness in the days ahead, with the market showing no mercy. The bulls suffer a severe kicking.

Deliberation
Deliberation occurs in an uptrend with a three white candlestick pattern where the first two are substantial but the third is small. This indicates a loss of upward momentum, as if the market is preparing for a trend change from up to down.

Advance Block
Advance block occurs in an uptrend when there are three consecutive white candlesticks with the second and the third both exhibiting a smaller price range and real body than the previous one, thus indicating diminishing upward price momentum.

Ladder Top
Ladder top reverses a bullish uptrend. After three consecutive and decisive buying sessions forming three substantial white candlesticks, there may be a noticeable slowing of upward momentum in the fourth period. The trend change from bull to bear is confirmed in the fifth period by a relatively large black candlestick that closes on its low and at a new low relative to the most recent past three periods.

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Tweezer Tops
Tweezer tops are two or more candlesticks with matching tops. The tops do not have to be consecutive, and size and color are irrelevant. It is a minor reversal signal that becomes more important when part of a larger pattern. A sell signal is confirmed when the price falls below the intervening two minor pullback lows, preferably on a large black candlestick or a falling window (breakaway gap) and a rise in trading volume to indicate serious selling.

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Source: VantagePoint Intermarket Analysis Software


Three Buddha Top
Three Buddha top is a longer-term pattern similar to a Western head-and-shoulders top. A sell signal is confirmed when the price falls below the intervening two minor pullback lows, preferably on a large black candlestick or a falling window (breakaway gap) and a rise in trading volume to indicate serious selling.

Three Mountains Top
Three mountains top is a longer-term pattern similar to a Western triple top. A sell signal is confirmed when the price falls below the intervening two minor pullback lows, preferably on a large black candlestick or a falling window (breakaway gap) and a rise in trading volume to indicate serious selling.

candle34.gif Dumping Top
Dumping top is a longer-term pattern similar to a Western rounding top, where a sell signal is validated by a falling window (breakaway gap) to indicate overwhelming supply.

Eight New Price Lines

Eight new price lines is a chart pattern consisting of eight new price highs. This implies an overbought market where profit-taking would be appropriate.


Indecision and Continuation Patterns

Individual candlesticks or candlestick patterns tend to be most useful in helping to spot market reversal tops or bottoms, but they can also provide information as a trend is unfolding. Some candlesticks suggest that bullish and bearish traders may have achieved some kind of balance and the market can't decide which way to go next, or the candlestick pattern may just be setting up to continue the trend that is already in place. "Windows" (gaps to Westerners) could indicate either.

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Indecisive Candlesticks
Perhaps the best-known candlesticks reflecting an indecisive market are a group of individual candlesticks known as doji. A doji has no real body - that is, the open and the close are equal. A doji indicates no net price movement from the first price to the last price recorded during the predefined time interval that formed the candlestick. A doji indicates a lack of progress, a standoff, and an equal balance between the forces of supply and demand. A doji also implies uncertainty about the trend.

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Bullish Doji

Bearish Doji

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Dragonfly doji has a long lower shadow and no upper shadow. Following an uptrend, it indicates a bearish trend reversal.

Four price doji has only one price for the period - that is, the open, high, low and close prices are all the same. It indicates an unusually quiet market.

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Gravestone doji has a long upper shadow and no lower shadow - that is, the open and close are at the low of the period. Following an uptrend, the longer the upper shadow, the more bearish the indication. Following a downtrend, the gravestone doji can indicate an upside reversal, but that requires a bullish confirmation in the following period.

Tri-Star is a rare but significant reversal pattern formed by three dojis, the middle one a doji star that gaps away from the previous period's doji. Tri-Star often follows a trend of long duration that has run its course. The three dojis clearly indicate a loss of momentum and an exhaustion of the existing trend.

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Spinning Top
A spinning top is similar to a doji, but it has a real body - that is, the open and close are not the same - and shadows that are longer than its real body. The shade (white or black) of the real body is unimportant. Spinning tops indicate indecision, a standoff of bullish and bearish forces. Several spinning tops together often mark a point of price trend change.


Continuation Patterns

A continuation pattern suggests that the trend in place should stay in place or resume. Flag formations and triangles in Western analysis are pauses or consolidation areas where the market seems to take a little breather to let prices adjust to conditions. Candlestick charts also feature similar patterns.

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Rising Three Methods
The rising three methods pattern occurs in an uptrend and is composed of five candlesticks. The first is a long white candle. The next three periods produce three small real bodies, two of which are black and all of which are contained within the range of the first long white body. The fifth candlestick is another long white candlestick that closes at a new high and confirms resumption of the uptrend.

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Falling Three Methods
The falling three methods pattern occurs in a downtrend and is composed of five candlesticks. The first is a long black candle. The next three periods produce three small real bodies, two of which are white, and all of which are contained within the range of the first long black body. The fifth candlestick is another long black candlestick that closes at a new low and confirms resumption of the downtrend.

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Separating lines bullish

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Separating lines bearish

Separating Lines
Separating lines are a continuation pattern in either an uptrend or downtrend. In an uptrend, a black candlestick is followed by a white candlestick with the same opening price. In a downtrend, a white candlestick is followed by a black candlestick with the same opening price. In either case, the existing trend continues.

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Bullish on Neck Line and in Neck Line
Bullish on neck line and in neck line candlesticks are small one-day contratrend reversals that do not amount to much. In an uptrend, there is a gap up open followed by some continuation up to a new high. A mild reversal by the close produces a black candlestick, but the downward movement is not enough to produce a negative net price change close to close. The uptrend resumes the next session.


Bearish on Neck Line and in Neck Line
Similarly, bearish on neck line and in neck line candlesticks are small one-day contratrend reversals that do not amount to much. In a downtrend, there is a gap down open followed by some continuation down to a new low. A mild reversal by the close produces a white candlestick, but the upward movement is not enough to produce a positive net price change close to close. The downtrend resumes the next session.

Side-by-Side White Lines
Side-by-side white lines occur after a window (gap) within an existing trend, up or down. The second line is an inside day, with a lower high and higher low. This marks consolidation, and the existing trend quickly resumes.

Windows
The window, known as a gap in the West, occurs anytime when the current price range does not overlap the previous period's price range. Windows are usually continuation patterns indicating the existing trend before the window is likely to continue after the window. For the trend to continue, the window should function as a support in an uptrend or as resistance in a downtrend. The window should not be closed, or filled in, on a closing price basis. If the window is closed on a closing price basis, the trend is over.

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Windows are very powerful and important indications of demand and supply. Windows following congestion patterns validate the new trend direction, giving the same signal as Western breakaway gaps.

Rising Window
For a rising window, the current period's low is higher than the previous period's high, leaving an upside gap on the chart. A downward reaction or correction against the uptrend is likely to find support within the window - that is, the previous period's high should offer support to any downward reaction against the uptrend.

Falling Window
For a falling window, the current period's high is lower than the previous period's low, leaving a downside gap on the chart. An upward reaction or correction against the downtrend is likely to find resistance within the window - that is, the previous period's low should offer resistance to any upward reaction against the downtrend.

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Tasuki gap bottom

Tasuki Gap
Tasuki gap is the name of a brief, contratrend retracement that may enter the area of a recent window but does not close the window on a closing price basis.

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Tasuki gap top

Meeting Line
Meeting line is defined by a window (gap) in the direction of the prevailing trend on the open, but the close reverses to meet the previous period's close. This should not happen if the trend is to continue, so the trend is likely to reverse.

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Source: VantagePoint Intermarket Analysis Software

Three Windows
Three windows often signal the end of a move. The first gap is the breakaway gap that initiates a move. The second gap is a continuation gap or measuring gap that often occurs halfway into a move. The third gap is an exhaustion gap that occurs at the end of a move. Three falling windows are three downside gaps followed by a bullish white candlestick to indicate selling pressure is exhausted. Three rising windows are three upside gaps followed by a bearish black candlestick to indicate buying pressure is exhausted.

The bulls and bears are said to be in a "tug of war" that has reached a standstill. The implication is that whatever trend that existed before the doji now has lost momentum and is vulnerable to correction or reversal so it may be either a bullish or bearish candlestick, depending on its location on the chart. Doji are frequently seen as part of a larger pattern.

Long-legged doji has very long upper and lower shadows and indicates a trend reversal.

Rickshaw man is a specific type of long-legged doji where the open and close are in the middle of the price range.

Candlestick Reversal Bottoms

In addition to depicting the trading action during a given time period more visually, candlestick charts also provide a more visual picture of price reversal patterns signaling the market may be ready to start a new trend.

One candlestick itself can provide important information about the strength or weakness of the market during a given day or other time period and can suggest a price turn. However, it typically takes several candlesticks to produce chart formations that give the best candlestick signals. Of course, much depends on where a given candle or candlestick formation occurs during the market action, a point that cannot be emphasized too much, as candlesticks may look identical but have a different meaning after an uptrend than they do after a downtrend.

Here are some candle signals at a bottom suggesting the previous downtrend should reverse into a bullish uptrend.

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Hammer or Shaven Head
The hammer (takuri) is a bullish reversal pattern occurring within an established downtrend. It has a small real body (white or black) at or near the high (thus, little or no upper shadow), and it has a long lower shadow, which implies that extreme low prices were rejected by the market. The hammer's small real body implies the previous downtrend is losing momentum. The market can be said to be hammering out a base. Another name applied to a candlestick (white or black) with no upper shadow is shaven head.

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Inverted Hammer or Shaven Bottom
The inverted hammer is a bullish reversal pattern that follows a downtrend. It has a small real body (white or black), long upper shadow (longer than the body) and little or no lower shadow. This pattern is confirmed the next day by a strong upside gap on the open followed by further substantial upside movement to form a large white real body. Another name applied to a candlestick (white or black) with no lower shadow is shaven bottom.

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Bullish Engulfing Pattern
The bullish engulfing pattern is a major bottom reversal signal pinpointing a trend change from bearish to bullish. It is a two-candlestick pattern where a small black body for the previous period is followed by and contained within a large white body for the current period, which engulfs one or more previous candlesticks.

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Piercing Pattern
The piercing pattern (or piercing line) is similar to the engulfing pattern, but the signal candlestick does not engulf the previous candlestick. Following a long black candlestick for the previous period, the price gaps lower on the open for the current period, below the previous low. Later, the price reverses strongly upward to close above the midpoint of the previous period's black real body. The higher the current close relative to the previous period's black real body, the more meaningful is the piercing pattern. The strong price reversal demonstrates that the extreme low price on the open was rejected by the market and implies that the balance of power has shifted to the bulls.

Stars
Stars are reversal patterns that can signal either a top or bottom, depending on the previous price trend. There are three main bullish stars that follow and reverse a downtrend.

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The morning star is a major bottom reversal signal following a decline. It is comprised of three candlesticks: (1) a long black candle; (2) a gap-lower open and a small real body (black or white) that should be entirely below and not touching the real body of the first candlestick, and (3) a large white real body that closes well into the long black body of the first candlestick. The longer this third white real body, the more meaningful it is. Also, a volume surge on this white real body would add power to the reversal signal. If the middle candle is a doji, the pattern is called a morning doji star and is said to be more meaningful than an ordinary morning star.

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If the middle doji's shadows are completely below without touching the shadows of the first and third candlesticks, the pattern is called an abandoned baby bottom and is considered to be even more significant.

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Bullish Harami
The bullish harami, like the star, is a reversal pattern that can occur at either a top or bottom. The bullish version follows a downtrend with a long black real body for the previous period. The current period produces a short white real body, where the current close is relatively near the open, and both close and open are contained completely within the previous period's long black real body. There should be immediate upside follow-through the next period for confirmation.

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Bullish Harami Cross
The bullish harami cross is a major reversal pattern similar to the bullish harami, but in a downtrend, a long black real body is followed by a doji (open and close at the same price giving a cross-like appearance) that is contained within the large black body.

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Three White Soldiers
Three white soldiers reverse an existing downtrend. Look for three relatively large, consecutive white candles that close near or at their highs of the period.

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Belt Hold
The belt hold appears in a downtrend when prices open much lower on a large window (gap) but then close substantially higher, recovering most of the early loss.

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Bullish Counterattack Line
In a downtrending market, a large black candlestick is following by a large white candlestick that opens on a big gap lower and then rallies during the period to close at the same price as the previous close. The bullish white candlestick needs followup action to the upside to confirm the turn to an uptrend.


Three Inside Up

Three inside up is composed of three candlesticks. Following a prevailing downtrend, the first is a large black candle. This is followed by a short white candle that is contained entirely within the real body of the previous big black candle. This suggests some loss of downward price momentum. The third candlestick is a large white candlestick that closes above the highs of the previous two candlesticks, thus confirming a bullish change in trend direction.

Three Outside Up
Three outside up is also composed of three candlesticks following a prevailing downtrend. First look for a black candlestick. This is followed by a larger white candlestick that is an engulfing line - that is, its real body contains the entire first period's price range. This alone suggests a change in downward price momentum. The third candlestick is a large white candle that closes above the highs of the previous two candlesticks, thus confirming a bullish change in trend direction.

Ladder Bottom
Ladder bottom reverses a bearish downtrend. After three consecutive and decisive selling sessions forming three substantial black candles, there may be some slowing of downward momentum in the fourth period. The trend change from bear to bull is confirmed in the fifth period by a relatively large white candlestick that closes on its high and at a new high relative to the most recent past three periods.

Kicking
Kicking is a two-day bear trap. Following a decisive day of selling where prices open on their highs and close on their lows, forming a substantial black candlestick with no shadows, prices totally reverse on the open the very next day, forming a rising window on a large upside opening price gap. Prices close that day on their highs, forming a substantial white candlestick with no shadows. The bears can't help but suffer big losses, and they are likely to be squeezed further in the days ahead, with the market showing no mercy. The bears suffer a severe kicking.

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Tweezer Bottoms
Tweezer bottoms are two or more candlesticks with matching bottoms. The bottoms do not have to be consecutive, and size and color are irrelevant. It is a minor reversal signal that becomes more important when part of a larger pattern.


Three Valleys and Three Rivers

Three valleys bottom and three rivers bottom are longer-term patterns similar to the western world's triple bottom. A buy signal is confirmed when the price rises above the intervening two rally tops, preferably on a strong, large white candlestick or a rising window (breakaway gap) and a rise in trading volume to indicate strong buying.

Inverted Three Buddha Bottom
Inverted three Buddha bottom is a longer-term pattern similar to a western inverted head-and-shoulders bottom. A buy signal is confirmed when the price rises above the intervening two rally tops, preferably on a strong, large white candlestick or a rising window (breakaway gap) and a rise in trading volume to indicate strong buying.

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Fry Pan Bottom
Fry pan bottom is a western rounding bottom, where a buy signal is validated by a rising window (breakaway gap) to indicate strong buying.

2 Comments

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Visitor - pitman: a good site but some of the information for candlestick patterns doe not match the illustrations.
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Visitor - Zenux: I have read Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques by Steve Nison. The book inspired me to come out with an Android app for Japanese candlestick recognition - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shinobi.stocksense

“Consider the past and you will know the future.” - Japanese proverb
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