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

How to Use Robinhood, Webull and Other Trading Apps

I’ve touched on this topic a little in a previous blog, “How to Invest Your Stimulus: Investing for Beginners“, but I want to go more in detail so you can fully utilize your trading app to get the best experience. There are numerous trading platforms and apps you can use to trade stocks, each has there own unique twist. There’s some older more traditional names like Fidelity and E*Trade and newer names like Robinhood and Webull. I have personally used Robinhood, Webull, and Stash for stock trading and out of those three I prefer Webull.

In my opinion, Webull is the best trading app because it gives you the most options to choose from among graphs, such as a simple line graph, candlestick graphs, and multiple others. It also has a “Community” section where people can ask questions and post comments. Theres also “Top News” area with the “Community” section. One of the biggest features that sets Webull apart from the others is that it lets you set the price that you want to buy or sell at. I haven’t seen this option in any other apps.

Speaking of other apps, I do like how Robinhood and Stash give you the ability to buy partial shares. This essentially makes so you can create your own mini ETFs where you can be better diversified. On the home page for both apps it will show you your portfolio total dollar amount. Robinhood is a little better than Stash here because it shows you how your portfolio performed for the day. In Robinhood, when you scroll down the homepage, it shows you the stocks that make up your portfolio, the number of shares you have in each, and how they performed. Below your portfolio is your watchlists where you can keep an eye on companies you might potentially add to your portfolio, you can add or delete whatever companies you want to your list.

The Wallet tab to the right of the homepage tab shows you your cash balance along with recent history of transactions, whether you deposited money or bought/sold stocks. The Search tab is the magnifying glass icon in the middle. You can search for information on different companies here and this is also where Robinhood shows recent news articles related to investing. The Messages tab is to the right of the Search tab and this is where Robinhood will send messages related to updates, announcements, and your purchases. The last tab on the right is your profile with areas for help, settings, and a history of statements.

Those apps are all nice and simple for when you first start investing but once you’re ready to play with some more features and see some more details, that’s when Webull or Fidelity would be a better choice. The first tab on the left for Webull shows your Watchlist and your positions along with how they performed for the day with a line graph, percentage change, and dollar change. The tab to the right of that shows a ton of information such as the performance of the entire stock market, how many stocks advanced or declined, the top gainers and losers, an IPO center displaying information about upcoming IPOs, and a calendar showing when different companies will release earnings statements, dividends, and splits. The middle icon in Webull shows your portfolio total dollar amount, the companies and number of shares within your portfolio, and how well each stock has performed since your purchase price. The icon to the right of the middle is the Community tab where you can see investing news and where people can ask questions and leave comments. Like the other trading platforms, the very right icon is your personal profile where you can find the help center and settings.

When buying or selling on Webull, you can simply click the stock from your Watchlist and that will open up the stock page. Here is the graph showing the price movement for the day, 5 days, 1 month, 3 month, 1 year, 5 year, or Max. Next to the time range is the graph options where you have a variety of different graphs to choose from. Under the chart is the Order Book section where you can see both the dollar price and quantity of shares being asked or bid on. I love this section because it can give you a sense of which direction the price will go before it actually does it, like when you see a bid for 1,000+ shares at a certain price, it will probably move the price in that direction.

When you’re ready to initiate the trade, you can select the price you want to buy or sell at along with the number of shares you want to buy/sell. This feature is HUGE for me because I get frustrated when I try buying during the intraday dip and then the purchase doesn’t go through until the price has gone back up. Let me know what trading platform you use or prefer in the comments below.

Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash