Price Channel

What Is a Price Channel?

The term price channel refers to a signal that appears on a chart when a security's price becomes bounded between two parallel lines. The price channel may be termed horizontal, ascending, or descending depending on the direction of the trend. Price channels are often used by traders who practice the art of technical analysis to gauge the momentum and direction of a security's price action and to identify trading channels.

Key Takeaways

  • A price channel occurs when a security's price oscillates between two parallel lines that are either horizontal, ascending, or descending.
  • The channel is formed when a security's price is buffeted by supply and demand.
  • Price channels are quite useful in identifying breakouts, which is when a security's price breaches either the upper or lower channel trendline.
  • Traders can sell when the price approaches the price channel's upper trendline and buy when it tests the lower trendline.
  • Maximize your gains when the security follows a delineated price channel path by using long and short positions.

Understanding a Price Channel

A price channel forms when a security's price is buffeted by the forces of supply and demand. This movement can be upward, downward, or sideways trending. These forces affect the price of a security and can cause it to create a prolonged price channel. The dominance of one force determines the price channel’s trending direction. Price channels can occur over various time frames.

Traders are always on the lookout for chart patterns that can aid them in their trading decisions. This is especially true for individuals who are disciples of technical analysis. Once a security's price action carves out a set of highs and lows that follow a discernible pattern and can be connected by two parallel lines, a price channel has been formed. You can see this visualized in the chart below.

Price Channel
Image by Julie Bang © Investopedia 2019

The lower trendline is drawn when the price pivots higher while the upper trendline is drawn when the price pivots lower. The steepness of inclines and declines determine the direction of the price channel's trend. An upward or ascending price channel is bounded by trendlines with a positive slope. It indicates that the price is trending higher with each price change.

Likewise, a downward, or descending price channel has trendlines with a negative slope. This indicates that the price trends lower with each price change. The two lines of a price channel represent support and resistance. Support and resistance lines can provide signals for profitable investment trades.

Special Considerations

Price channels are quite useful in identifying breakouts, which is when a security's price breaches either the upper or lower channel trendline. Traders can also trade within the channel. This means selling the security when the price approaches the channel's upper trendline and buying when it tests the channel's lower trendline.

Price channels can be created by all types of vehicles, instruments, and securities. They include futures, stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) among others.

Price Channel Analysis

There are a few ways to benefit from correctly identifying price channels. The best chance to maximize your gains happens when the security follows a delineated price channel path by using both long and short positions. Furthermore, consider the following:

  • During an uptrend: A bullish investor may want to keep their holdings at the upward bound in anticipation of a breakout, which would lead to a surge in price. Investors may want to consider selling the asset or taking a short position when it hits the upper trendline as long as it looks like the security will remain within the price channel.
  • During a downtrend: Investors may want to short the stock at the upper bound and take an even deeper short position they confirm a breakout. If an investor expects the price action to stay within the boundaries of the price channel, they could go against the trend and take a long position to maximize their profits.
Take the Next Step to Invest
×
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Service
Name
Description