Beyond the Spotlight: Highlighting This Week's Potential Breakouts

September 2012 Euro Currency

The September 2012 Euro Currency contract lows are trading along a lower trend line, touching at 1.2051 (7/24/12), 1.2140 (8/02/12), and 1.2258 (8/16/12). A close below the lower trend line will trigger a sell entry. It appears the market will need to settle at 1.2280 or lower for confirmation of a breakout. The Trend Seeker (a GBE trading tool) confirms the market is in a down trend. The 50 day moving average (1.2387) is just above recent highs which could act as resistance and a natural level for stop losses. A short term target could be the 1.2051 low from 7/24/12. The stochastic indicator crossed over to sell signal and MACD is converging. These indicators may fall in line once the breakout occurs. Continue reading "Beyond the Spotlight: Highlighting This Week's Potential Breakouts"

Fundamental Analysis or Technical Analysis

Today's guest post is from our friends at the Benzinga News Desk. Today they are going to ponder the age old question of fundamental or technical analysis and discuss the Elliot Wave Principle. Be sure to comment below with your own thoughts and learn more about the Benzinga News Desk here.

Investors and traders have been arguing for the longest time about which overarching strategy is king: fundamental analysis or technical analysis. Long-term investors believe that technical analysis is trash and nothing more than lucky betting, while short-term traders think that fundamental aspects of companies and economies do not matter for short-term price movement. Continue reading "Fundamental Analysis or Technical Analysis"

Navigating the Q's

Today I'd like to welcome Allan Harris from Over the past few months Allan's blog has become a daily reader for myself, along with many others in the office. His analysis and ability to read the markets is uncanny. Allan decided to do an experiment, on his own, following the Q's...I think you'll find the results VERY interesting. But be sure and visit Allan's website for more details.


There is no greater feeling as a trader then the feeling you get having successfully navigated an options trade in the QQQQ. This is how I do it, using Market Club Triangles.

I consider Market Club triangles as serving to alert me to breakouts in the underlying tradable, a 3-day breakout for daily charts, a 3-week breakout on the weekly charts. I only use weekly charts because there are less whipsaws and signals generated on weekly charts also serve to confirm an intermediate term trend is in place. Market Club does a great job of monitoring my portfolio as well as market indexes, etf’s and individual stocks for these 3-week breakouts.

Here is a Market Club chart for the QQQQ with the weekly Triangles going back about one year. Notice that there are whipsaws, but more importantly, note how many tradable trends are caught using the automated triangles:

Below is my Excel worktable analyzing these signals. I stated with the Buy generated in September 2007 and finished with the Sell generated on September 2, 2008.

Note that there were a total of eight signals for this 12-month period, about one signal every six weeks. There were 5 net winners and 3 net losing signals.

A Buy & Hold strategy generated a loss of about 12 QQQQ points, or about 24%. A Sell & Hold strategy gained those 12 points, or 24%.

Using the Triangles returned about double the Sell & Hold strategy.

Using the Options made this whole exercise worthwhile, generating over 500% for those eight trades.

Winning 5 out of 8 trades is only a sampling error away from four out of eight wins, or a 50% win ratio. How does something so close to a 50% win/loss generate 500%?

This is an observation that a lot of wannabe traders miss: The magic here isn’t so much pinpoint market timing, it’s that age old trading rule of letting profits run and cutting losses combined with a decent market timing model.

In the case of the Q signals and returns, I’ve used a 50% stop loss rule, meaning all trades that fall 50% based on the underlying options are closed out. All trades that do not fall 50% are held until the next signal. That is why all of the losers are 50% (worst case basis) in the table of trades.

As for the winning trades, the returns above are based on a conservative assumption of losing one month of time premium for each trade and a beta of 60% for just-out-of-the-money calls and puts. Actual real money returns may be a little better or a little worse, but these assumptions capture a fair value for the strategy over the course of the past 12 months.

Finally, considering all of the angst in the market the past few months, look at how beautifully this strategy has bypassed all the fundamental and technical analysis out there and simply went short on September 2 and held short for the entire decline since then.

Consider the ease of trading like this, following the weekly triangles in and out of the Q’s and ask yourself, what other methodology would have navigated this market with as much success and as little sweat equity as the weekly Triangles?

Trading doesn’t have to be complicated, losing proposition. As I have shown, it can be both simple and rewarding.

Allan Harris

The 4 Characteristics of Strong Breakouts

For today's Guest Blog post, I've asked Harry Boxer to come and teach us a little bit about what makes a breakout a STRONG breakout...and MUCH more! Harry's been a contributor on CNBC, CBSMarketWatch, WinningonWallStreet, Stockhouse, DecisionPoint and more. If you're eager to learn more about Harry Boxer and his methods, check out TheTechTrader. Enjoy the post.


Breakouts of long bases on strong volume are frequent harbingers of continued price appreciation. Another harbinger, after the initial up-leg, is a low-volume, orderly pullback towards support.

An analysis of the Converted Organics (COIN) chart illustrates this strategy. As the daily chart indicates, COIN in October 2007 broke out of a base pattern that extended back since its IPO in late February. Some traders who missed entering early may have given up on the stock when it rose 50% from around 2 1/2 to 3 3/4, but a closer look at the chart shows why it had more room to move.

COIN's pullbacks were orderly, coming on lower volume and holding near its moving averages, a key sign of more upside to come. Not once did its pullback break beneath the 40-day moving average, and most pullbacks hugged the 21-day moving average.

The pattern was breakout (mid-October), flag, breakout (early November), flag, breakout (late December), flag, and then breakout in mid-January, where it closed on January 15 at 12.58, more than 5 times its pre-October breakout price. Volume on each pullback was a small fraction of the level of the breakout, and a shallow decline just grazing the moving averages suggested a continuation of the uptrend.

As a stock in a rising pattern pulls back, look for several factors to portend the continuation of the pattern.

1. First, look for very low volume on the pullback between 10% and 25% of the average volume of the last 90 days. Second, watch for the decline to flatten near the 21- or 40-day moving average on the hourly charts in a quiet, narrow flag-type formation.

2. When the breakout comes, buy on the initial thrust out of this flag pattern. This means a sudden dramatic change in price accompanied by heavy volume. The price doesn't necessarily have to rise above the top of the flagpole (i.e., the previous rally high prior to the consolidation), but only needs to be a price bar that is at least several times the size of the previous several bars on the chart.

3. Wait to add to the position until the stock takes out the top of the flagpole, which is key short-term resistance. This will protect against a head fake, which is a move that starts out dramatically but quickly fizzles price- and volume-wise after just a bar or two and has no follow-through and, in particular, does not make it through the top of the flagpole.

4. Set a stop below the bottom of the lowest level reached during formation of the consolidation or flag pattern out of which it has broken. When COIN, for example, in its November upmove exceeded the top of its October flagpole around 3.75, that was one signal to get in or add to the position. Another signal came in the second week of January at around the 8 level, when we first highlighted it for our subscribers.

We saw COIN having consolidated and tested its 8.70 triple-top resistance over the previous 3-4 sessions, and noted that if it broke through that level it could initially head to 10 1/2-11, and then beyond that to our next target of 12 1/2-13, where it last resided, as mentioned, on January 15. The COIN example illustrates the potential that chart patterns like high-volume breakouts from long bases and low-volume flags can have in predicting price appreciation.

Harry Boxer is an award-winning, widely syndicated technical analyst and author of The Technical Trader, which features a real-time diary of Harry's minute-by-minute trades and market insights, plus annotated technical charts & stock picks, based on Harry's 35 years experience as a Wall Street technical analyst. You can find out more about Harry's work at