Table of Contents
Table of Contents

How to Recognize and Interpret Rising Wedge Patterns

A rising wedge is a technical indicator, suggesting a reversal pattern frequently seen in bear markets. This pattern shows up in charts when the price moves upward with pivot highs and lows converging toward a single point known as the apex. When it is accompanied by declining volume, it can signal a trend reversal and a continuation of the bear market.

In this article, we go over the rising wedge pattern and apply it to a historical case to illustrate its use. While the example is taken from the past, the mechanics of how to identify and trade this pattern remain the same today.

Key Takeaways

  • The rising wedge is a technical chart pattern used to identify possible trend reversals.
  • The pattern appears as an upward-sloping price chart featuring two converging trendlines.
  • It is usually accompanied by decreasing trading volume.
  • Wedges can either form in the rising or falling direction.
  • A rising wedge is often considered a bearish chart pattern that indicates a potential breakout to the downside.

The Rising Wedge Pattern

Using two trend lines—one for drawing across two or more pivot highs and one connecting two or more pivot lows—convergence is apparent toward the upper right part of the chart (see Figure 1).

Figure 2.
Figure 2. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021 

This pattern has a familiar look to a bear flag (Figure 2). Figure 1 shows a rising wedge on a 60-minute chart, while a bear chart pattern is evident in the daily chart.

Figure 1.
Figure 1. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

During the pattern's formation, there are a few indicators that can be used to determine whether the pattern is a real pattern or a disguise.

As this formation progresses, it is a favorable signal if the volume is decreasing. That’s because it would show a divergence between price and volume, adding evidence that a reversal may be imminent.

The second indication is to look for how far the retrace has advanced from the beginning of the downtrend. If the move has advanced well above the 50% Fibonacci level, this pattern might not be a valid pattern. If it's still under that level, the pattern is still valid.

A Historical Case of the Rising Wedge

In the days following the big market crash that began on Feb. 27, 2007, the market continued to move down until it found the bottom on March 5, 2007. From that day onward, a general market recovery began, which continued for the next several days.

The e-mini futures on the Russell 2000 index stood out, showing a pattern that many technical analysts would immediately recognize as a bear flag or a rising wedge.

Figure 3.
Figure 3. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

The Breakdown

One thing experienced traders love about this pattern is that once the breakdown happens, the target is reached very quickly. Unlike other patterns, where confirmation must be shown before a trade is taken, wedges often do not need confirmations; they normally break and drop fast to their targets.

Targets are usually located at the beginning of the upper trendline, or the first pivot high where the trendline is connected. In our example, the target was set at 773.69.

Figure 4 shows the short entry was made when the price broke the lower trendline at 786.0, on the close of the bar that broke the trendline. It only took six hours to reach the target, compared to the several days that it took for the pattern to form before the breakdown.

Figure 4.
Figure 4. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

In this case, correctly identifying a rising wedge put the probability on our side and, luckily for us, the trade reached the target, shown in Figure 5, below.

Figure 5.
Figure 5. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

The Outcome

Figure 6 shows the final result after the target is reached. Although the index continued to move lower, we exited the position and started looking for other rising wedge patterns.

Figure 6.
Figure 6. Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

Is a Rising Wedge Bullish or Bearish?

A rising wedge is generally a bearish signal as it indicates a possible reversal during an up-trend. Rising wedge patterns indicate the likelihood of falling prices after a breakout through the lower trend line.

How Reliable Are Rising Wedges?

There remains debate over the long-run usefulness of technical patterns like wedges. Research does suggest that wedge patterns reveal consistent indicators, though there is no single guaranteed signal for entry or exit.

What Does a Rising Wedge Mean?

A rising wedge is often considered a bearish chart pattern that points to a reversal after a bull trend. A rising wedge is believed to signal an imminent breakout to the downside. Like other wedges, the pattern begins wide towards the bottom and contracts as the price moves higher and the trading range narrows. However, the indicator is the opposite of a falling wedge that indicates potential upside.

The Bottom Line

Rising wedges have a relatively low risk/high reward ratio and, as a result, they are a favorite among professional technical traders. There are many false patterns or patterns in disguise that may come off as rising wedges that investors be wary of. The only way to differentiate a true rising wedge from a false one is by finding price/volume divergences and to make sure that the failure is still under the 50% Fibonacci retrace.

As this historical example shows, when the breakdown does happen, the subsequent target is generally achieved very quickly.

Article Sources
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  1. The Pattern Site. "Bulkowski on Pattern Pairs: Falling Wedges."