What is 'Outside Reversal'

An outside reversal is a price chart pattern that reveals when a security’s high and low prices for the day exceed the high and low of the previous day’s trading session. Outside reversal is also known as a bullish engulfing or bearish engulfing pattern when using candlestick charts.

BREAKING DOWN 'Outside Reversal'

Outside reversal is a two-day chart pattern that shows when a candle or bar on a candlestick or bar chart falls “outside” of the previous day’s candle or bar. This chart pattern is commonly employed by technical analysts who seek to uncover bullish or bearish market reversals. An outside reversal pattern is typically one of the most precise candlestick patterns; however, they do not appear as often as other patterns. As such, it can be best to use outside reversal patterns in conjunction with other technical indicators or chart patterns.

On occasion, traders see volume or support and resistance levels as a way to corroborate the outside reversal. For example, a stock price that undergoes a bearish outside reversal when it approaches trend-line resistance on high bearish volume is considerably more reliable than a stock that is moving sideways and has a bearish outside reversal on lower-than-average volume.

Bullish Outside Reversal

A bullish outside reversal, also called a bullish engulfing, happens when the second candle is a move higher. For instance, a stock may make a small move lower on the first day, then open even lower than the prior day, but rally sharply higher by the end of the second day. The indication is that bears had control over the market, but then bulls took over and overwhelmed them, signifying a change in the prevailing trend.

A chart depicting a bullish outside reversal

In the chart above, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN​) shares appeared to be consolidating before a bullish outside reversal marked a renewal of the uptrend. Its stock price continued to rise the subsequent days as the trend reversal took hold.

Bearish Outside Reversal

A bearish outside reversal, also called a bearish engulfing, transpires when the second candle is a move lower. For instance, a stock may have a small move higher on the first day, climb even higher the second day, but then sharply decline by the second day’s end. This demonstrates that the bulls had control over the market before the bears took the reins in a meaningful way, signaling a shift in the overall trend.

A chart depicting an example of a bearish outside reversal

The stock price of Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO​) rose for three consecutive days before a bearish outside reversal. Share prices plunged the day after the outside reversal as the overall trend did an about-face.

The Bottom Line

Outside reversals are two-day chart patterns in which a second day’s security price lands “outside” of the prior day’s price range. These reversals can be deemed bullish or bearish depending on the direction of a chart’s second candle or bar. Traders should be mindful of these chart patterns; they are among the most reliable, although in practice they do not happen as often as other chart patterns. Thus, traders should consider outside reversals in conjunction with other technical indicators and chart patterns to increase their chances of success.

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