DEFINITION of 'Ripple'

A term used by "The Dow Theory" author, Robert Rhea, to describe the day-to-day fluctuations in stock market price activity. Rhea wrote that three simultaneous movements of stock prices occur that can be compared to tides, waves and ripples. The Dow Theory, published in 1932, indicated that speculators attempt to ride the tides and the occasional big waves, and that only reckless investors would ever attempt to profit by the day-to-day price changes or ripples.

BREAKING DOWN 'Ripple'

Many of today's technical and fundamental analysts encourage investors to ignore market ripples -the small changes in daily price movement -and instead focus on the longer-term tides and waves. Active traders, and in particular day traders and scalpers, try to exploit these short-term ripples for profit, often opening and closing a position within a matter of hours, minutes or even seconds. Despite Rhea's belief that this type of investing was reckless, it has become an established type of market participation.

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