1. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Introduction
  2. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Why Charts?
  3. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Head And Shoulders
  4. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Cup And Handle
  5. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Double Top And Double Bottom
  6. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Triangles
  7. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Flags And Pennants
  8. Analyzing Chart Patterns: The Wedge
  9. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Gaps
  10. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Triple Tops And Bottoms
  11. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Round Bottoms
  12. Analyzing Chart Patterns: Conclusion


By Chad Langager and Casey Murphy, senior analyst of ChartAdvisor.com

As you may have noticed, chart pattern names don't leave much to the imagination. This is no different for the triangle patterns, which clearly form the shape of a triangle. The basic construct of this chart pattern is the convergence of two trendlines - flat, ascending or descending - with the price of the security moving between the two trendlines.

There are three types of triangles, which vary in construct and significance: the symmetrical triangle, the descending triangle and the ascending triangle.

Symmetrical triangle
The symmetrical triangle is mainly considered to be a continuation pattern that signals a period of consolidation in a trend followed by a resumption of the prior trend. It is formed by the convergence of a descending resistance line and an ascending support line. The two trendlines in the formation of this triangle should have a similar slope converging at a point known as the apex. The price of the security will bounce between these trendlines, towards the apex, and typically breakout in the direction of the prior trend.

If preceded by a downward trend, the focus should be on a break below the ascending support line. If preceded by an upward trend, look for a break above the descending resistance line. However, this pattern doesn't always lead to a continuation of the previous trend. A break in the opposite direction of the prior trend should signal the formation of a new trend.

Figure 1: Symmetrical triangle

Above is an example of a symmetrical triangle that is preceded by an upward trend. The first part of this pattern is the creation of a high in the upward trend, which is followed by a sell-off to a low. The price then moves to another high that is lower than the first high and again sells off to a low, which is higher than the previous low. At this point the trendlines can be drawn, which creates the apex. The price will continue to move between these lines until breakout.

The pattern is complete when the price breaks out of the triangle - look for an increase in volume in the direction of the breakout. This pattern is also susceptible to a return to the previous support or resistance line that it just broke through, so make sure to watch for this level to hold if it does indeed break out.

Ascending Triangle
The ascending triangle is a bullish pattern, which gives an indication that the price of the security is headed higher upon completion. The pattern is formed by two trendlines: a flat trendline being a point of resistance and an ascending trendline acting as a price support.

The price of the security moves between these trendlines until it eventually breaks out to the upside. This pattern will typically be preceded by an upward trend, which makes it a continuation pattern; however, it can be found during a downtrend.

Figure 2: Ascending triangle

As seen above, the price moves to a high that faces resistance leading to a sell-off to a low. This follows another move higher, which tests the previous level of resistance. Upon failing to move past this level of resistance, the security again sells off - but to a higher low. This continues until the price moves above the level of resistance or the pattern fails.

The most telling part of this pattern is the ascending support line, which gives an indication that sellers are starting to leave the security. After the sellers are knocked out of the market, the buyers can take the price past the resistance level and resume the upward trend.

The pattern is complete upon breakout above the resistance level, but it can fall below the support line (thus breaking the pattern), so be careful when entering prior to breakout.



Descending triangle
The descending triangle is the opposite of the ascending triangle in that it gives a bearish signal to chartists, suggesting that the price will trend downward upon completion of the pattern. The descending triangle is constructed with a flat support line and a downward-sloping resistance line.

Similar to the ascending triangle, this pattern is generally considered to be a continuation pattern, as it is preceded by a downward trendline. But again, it can be found in an uptrend.

Figure 3: Descending triangle

The first part of this pattern is the fall to a low that then finds a level of support, which sends the price to a high. The next move is a second test of the previous support level, which again sends the stock higher - but this time to a lower level than the previous move higher. This is repeated until the price is unable to hold the support level and falls below, resuming the downtrend.

This pattern indicates that buyers are trying to take the security higher, but continue to face resistance. After several attempts to push the stock higher, the buyers fade and the sellers overpower them, which sends the price lower.


Analyzing Chart Patterns: Flags And Pennants
Related Articles
  1. Trading

    Triangles: A Short Study In Continuation Patterns

    Learn how to read these formations of horizontal trading patterns.
  2. Trading

    Continuation Patterns: An Introduction

    Those random movements in the charts actually form patterns. Learn the basics of what these patterns are.
  3. Trading

    4 Triangle Breakouts Close At Hand

    Triangle breakouts are close at hand in these four stocks. Here's how to trade them.
  4. Trading

    Continuation Patterns: In-Depth Look At Triangles

    We take a closer look at ascending and descending triangles to help traders predict the ultimate breakout direction.
  5. Trading

    Upside Breakout Coming? Examine The Chart Patterns

    These four stocks are trending higher and present possible near-term entry points based on chart patterns.
  6. Trading

    Watch for These Triangle Breakouts (WY, SU)

    Watch for triangle breakouts in these stocks, which could indicate the trend direction over the next several months.
  7. Investing

    Stock Breakouts Happening Now or Imminent (XRAY, AMX)

    These stock are breaking out--or close to breaking out--of chart patterns, likely signaling the direction of the next trending move.
  8. Trading

    Fours Stocks Breaking Out to the Upside (IBN, WDC)

    These stocks are breaking through chart pattern resistance, signaling another move to the upside.
  9. Trading

    Drilling Stocks Breaking Out on Oil Strength

    Oil and gas drilling companies are breaking out to the upside on recent crude oil strength. Here's where to get in.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Where else can I save for retirement after I max out my Roth IRA?

    The first option to explore is to determine if you can contribute to a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan at work. If your employer ...
  2. How did George Soros "break the Bank of England"?

    In Britain, Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992) is known as the day that speculators broke the pound. They didn't actually ...
  3. What counts as "debts" and "income" when calculating my debt-to-income (DTI) ratio?

    It's important to know your debt-to-income ratio because it's the figure lenders use to measure your ability to repay the ...
  4. Who are Monsanto's main competitors?

    Learn about Monsanto Company's two main operating divisions and its main competitors within each sector, including The Mosaic ...
Trading Center