Investing 101: Reading Price Graphs and Candlestick Charts

Reading stock and cryptocurrency price charts is one of the most basic fundamentals of research you can do when looking at what to invest in. Doing this simple task can help you understand a little bit of the history behind a company or asset that you’re looking at investing in. Stock and crypto charts simply show the price of the asset over time. I want to go over some of the basics behind reading price graphs and especially candlestick charts.

The most common type of chart you will see when looking at stock and crypto prices is a line chart. The horizontal axis of line charts represents time and it can be adjusted to show time in minutes, days, months, or years. The vertical axis represents price, generally in US dollars. The points on the chart represent the price of the asset at the end of the selected time frame, for example the prices on stock charts usually show the price at the closing bell or end of the trading day. If you’re looking at an hourly chart, the price shown is the price at the end of the hour. The points are then simply connected with a line which provides an easy way to visualize price changes over time.

Directly underneath these line charts, you will often see bar charts that display the asset’s trading volume. These bar charts represent the total number of shares bought and sold during the specific time intervals. This volume shows you the trading activity going on with the stock or crypto. Green bars generally show more buying was occurring during the time, while red bars mean there was more selling happening.

Like line charts, candlestick charts show the price of an asset over time, but they also show some extra information. Candlestick charts show the high, low, opening, and closing price for the given time intervals. The main part of the candlestick is called the “real body”, and the lines above and below the real body are called the “shadows” or “wicks”. If the open price is higher than the close price, the candlestick is red or filled black. If the close price is higher than the open price, the candlestick is green or shaded white.

Traders often prefer candlestick charts because it shows more of the market sentiment regarding the price of an asset. Traders try to predict the direction a price is going based on different candlestick shapes, especially when the wick is long on either end. This strategy looks for a bullish pinbar, which has a long bottom wick underneath the candlestick and is often thought to indicate the price will go up in the short term. The opposite of that is a bearish pinbar, which has a long top wick above the candlestick and is thought to indicate the price will go down.

I personally like using candlestick charts when trying to determine the ideal time to invest and buy in. The strategies used for reading charts aren’t exact, but they can definitely help. What are your thoughts on strategies for reading charts? What type of chart do you prefer? Leave me a comment and let me know. Follow me on Twitter @vancealm where I’m constantly sharing information and articles about investing and finances.

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Fed’s Stance On Inflation, Interest Rates, And What It Means For You

Everyone has been waiting to hear the Federal Reserve’s thoughts regarding inflation and their plans to counter it. The biggest question on everyone’s mind was whether or not the Fed is planning on raising interest rates. On Wednesday, 6/16/21, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made a very important announcement regarding the central bank’s thoughts regarding inflation and how they will address it.

Many people feel that the Fed has been downplaying inflation and the affects it is having on the economy. Today was a little different because Chairman Powell discussed how the Fed’s new inflation expectations are higher than they previously were. The Federal Reserve raised its headline inflation expectation to 3.4%, which is a full percentage point higher than the projection from March. This new expectation is thought to be more realistic than their previous projection.

The biggest news from Chairman Powel was that the Federal Open Market Committee will keep benchmark short-term borrowing interest rates near zero percent. This is important to know because generally when interest rates rise, stock prices fall. Interest rates obviously can’t stay near zero forever and officials indicated that rate hikes could come as soon as 2023, which is a year soon than the Fed’s previous statement in March that it saw no increases until at least 2024. Powell also said the Fed will not cut back on its aggressive bond-buying program but did mention this issue was discussed at their meeting.

Powell mentioned many positive trends in the economy that the Fed has been tracking. Household spending is up. Average pay is up. Unemployment is down to 5.8%. Unemployment is expected to be down to 4.5% by the end of this year, and down to 3.5% at the end of 2023. Powell also noted that excessive spending from the excitement of reopening the country is helping to drive up consumer prices, which adds to inflation concerns but this extra consumer spending is expected to come down in the near future.

Fed Chairman Powell reiterated the fact that the central bank will do everything they can to help the economy recover from the impacts of the pandemic. He also reaffirmed that interest rates will not rise until certain goals are met regarding unemployment, inflation, and other factors. Powell discussed how the increased inflation currently being experienced by the market is temporary and the long-term goal is still 2%.

That was all the highlights from today’s news conference from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. I think it was nice to see the Fed raise their inflation expectation because it’s more realistic to what we are seeing in the markets, especially with the prices of real estate, commodities, and raw materials being so high. What are your thoughts about today’s announcements from the Fed? Leave me a comment and let’s have a conversation. Don’t forget to follow my Twitter @vancealm where I post about investing and finances every weekday. Invest wisely!

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Stocks Versus ETFs: Which is Better to Invest In?

Well first off, what is an ETF? ETF stands for exchange traded fund and they are assets typically comprised of stocks from multiple companies bundled together. ETFs can also be made up of commodities, bonds, or a mixture of investment types. ETFs are traded on exchanges just like stocks are. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, or S&P 500, by far the most famous ETF. The S&P 500 represents the 500 largest companies and is often used as a measure for how the U.S. economy is doing.

What is the best ETF? There is no right answer for that. There are numerous different types of ETFs that you could potentially invest in such as bond (might include government, corporate, or state bonds), industry (track a particular industry such as technology, banking, or the oil sector.), commodity (gold, oil, etc.), and currency (Euro, Yen, etc.) ETFs. There are even inverse ETFs comprised of stocks you’re shorting.

So what exactly is a stock? Stocks are shares of a publicly traded company that people can buy and sell on exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq. Companies that want to sell stocks go through an IPO process where they are valuated and establish a number of shares they want to allow the public to purchase. Once a target IPO price is established and they can start being traded, then it’s up to the supply and demand of shares that drives stock prices up or down.

Now that we’ve clarified exactly what the difference is between the two, which is better? That depends on your strategy. Purchasing stocks gives you the opportunity to focus on the companies that stand out within their given industries or that you feel are undervalued. ETFs are good for the longer term and a good way to diversify your portfolio because they can give you access to many stocks across various industries.

I currently don’t have any ETFs in my portfolio but I am going to start researching them more. I’ve been keeping an eye on ARKK and ARKF, both are popular tech ETFs managed by famous investor Cathie Wood. What are your thoughts on ETFs vs. stocks? Leave me a comment and let me know. Follow my Twitter @VanceAlm where I’m constantly posting articles and blogs about news in the financial word.

Photo by Patrick Weissenberger on Unsplash