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Why does technical analysis work?

By Zoran Kolundzic

Technical analysis describes different ways of predicting the future of the stock/futures market based on its history. Unfortunately, technical analysis is not an exact science. Many prominent scientists label it as "voodoo science". They claim that due to market efficiency, if you use TA to find your entry positions, you're no better off than someone who chooses those positions randomly. Market efficiency means that all the available information is already calculated in the stock prices, and that you can only guess how the price will behave in the future.

 The "voodoo science" theory would make sense if it wasn't for the fact that there is a significant number of traders who are able to consistently make profits in the stock/futures market. These traders use technical analysis as their main tool. Since any trader has or can have access to the same TA tools we have to ask how can a small group of traders consistently win and the other larger group, more or less consistently lose in the stock market game. What is it that winning traders know about technical analysis that gives them the upper hand?

No TA tool by itself will give you reliable buy or sell signals. There is no Holy Grail or magic black box that will give you the perfect, accurate signal. However, the combining of the right group of TA indicators with discipline and adequate trading capital has been the road to fortune for many traders. There is no reason why you cannot emulate their success. Let's take a look at an example.

Understanding Pivot Points

Pivot Points are those price levels that are most likely to act as levels of support and resistance on any given trading day. As we already know, Technical Analysis works because many people use it. For the same reason, the most influential pivot points are those that are used by majority of traders. The most widely used formula for calculating pivot points is as follows:

H = previous day's high

L = previous day's low

C = previous day's close

Pivot Point = (H + L + C)/3

Resistance = 2*PP - L

Support = 2*PP - H

Previous day's last two hour high = L2HrHigh

Previous day's last two hour low = L2HrLow

When the price moves through the known pivot point on increased volume it is most likely to continue current trend, and if the price hits the known pivot point but is unable to move through it is most likely to reverse the current trend.