What Is a Wedge?

A wedge is a price pattern marked by converging trend lines on a price chart. The two trend lines are drawn to connect the respective highs and lows of a price series over the course of 10 to 50 periods. The lines show that the highs and the lows are either rising or falling and differing rates, giving the appearance of a wedge as the lines approach a convergence. Wedge shaped trend lines are considered useful indicators of a potential reversal in price action by technical analysts.

Key Takeaways

  • Wedge patterns are usually characterized by converging trend lines over 10 to 50 trading periods.
  • The patterns may be considered rising or falling wedges.
  • The patterns have an unusually good track record for forecasting price reversals.

Understanding the Wedge Pattern

A wedge pattern can signal either bullish or bearish price reversals. In either case, this pattern holds three common characteristics: first, the converging trend lines; second, a pattern of declining volume as the price progresses through the pattern; third, a breakout from one of the trend lines. The two forms of the wedge pattern are a rising wedge (which signals a bearish reversal) or a falling wedge (which signals a bullish reversal).

Rising Wedge

This usually occurs when a security’s price has been rising over time, but it can also occur in the midst of a downward trend as well.

Rising Wedge
Rising Wedge.

The trend lines drawn above and below the price chart pattern can converge to help a trader or analyst anticipate a breakout reversal. While price can be out of either trend line, wedge patterns have a tendency to break in the opposite direction from the trend lines.

Therefore, rising wedge patterns indicate the more likely potential of falling prices after a breakout of the lower trend line. Traders can make bearish trades after the breakout by selling the security short or using derivatives such as futures or options, depending on the security being charted. These trades would seek to profit on the potential that prices will fall.

Falling Wedge

When a security's price has been falling over time, a wedge pattern can occur just as the trend makes its final downward move. The trend lines drawn above the highs and below the lows on the price chart pattern can converge as the price slide loses momentum and buyers step in to slow the rate of decline. Before the lines converge, price may breakout above the upper trend line.

Falling Wedge
Falling Wedge.

When price breaks the upper trend line the security is expected to reverse and trend higher. Traders identifying bullish reversal signals would want to look for trades that benefit from the security’s rise in price.

Trading Advantages for Wedge Patterns

As a general rule price, pattern strategies for trading systems rarely yield returns that outperform buy-and-hold strategies over time, but some patterns do appear to be useful in forecasting general price trends nonetheless. Some studies suggest that a wedge pattern will breakout towards a reversal (a bullish breakout for falling wedges and a bearish breakout for rising wedges) more often than two-thirds of the time, with a falling wedge being a more reliable indicator than a rising wedge.

Because wedge patterns converge to a smaller price channel, the distance between the price on entry of the trade and the price for a stop loss, is relatively smaller than the start of the pattern. This means that a stop loss can be placed close by at the time the trade begins, and if the trade is successful, the outcome can yield a greater return than the amount risked on the trade to begin with.