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Charting basics

Charts are a forex trader’s best friend. As a Forex trader, you will most likely utilize your price charts more than any other available tool. Since your charts are going to play such a large part in your trading, it is imperative you become familiar with them. The more comfortable you are with your charts, the easier it will be to become a successful forex trader.

To help you become acquainted with your charts and how you can effectively use them, we will cover the following concepts

  • Chart setup
  • Chart time frames
  • Chart types

Chart setup

Let’s start from the very beginning and take a look at how a forex price chart is set up.

Forex price charts are built on two axes—the X axis (horizontal axis) and the Y axis (vertical axis).

Settings


Graphic 1 –Chart setup

The X axis runs horizontally along the bottom of the chart providing a timeline for everything that has happened on the chart. The most recent price action is shown on the right side of the chart and the most distant price action is shown on the left side of the chart.

The Y axis runs vertically along the right side of the chart providing a price scale for the price movement on the chart. Lower prices are shown toward the bottom of the chart and higher prices are shown toward the top of the chart.

When you put the two axes together, you can see at what price a currency pair was trading at a particular time in the past. For example, you can see that the EUR/USD was trading at 1.3729 on 10 April 2014

Time and price


Graphic 2 – Time and price

Chart time frames

Forex charts give you the ability to analyze the price movement of your favorite currency pair anywhere from a minute-by-minute basis to a month-by-month basis. You have the flexibility to choose which time frame is best for you.

If you are a shorter-term trader, you will want to use shorter time frames for your charts. If you are a longer-term trader, you will want to use longer time frames for your charts. For example, a trader who is looking to quickly jump in and out of trades for 10- to 20-pip profits would most likely want to be watching a 1-minute or a 5-minute chart. A trader who is looking to hold onto trades for a longer period of time to take advantage of larger price moves would most likely want to be watching an hourly or a daily chart.

Some traders even choose to use multiple time frames so they can see how the movement of a currency pair looks from various points of view. We will discuss this concept in detail in a later section.

To change the time frame on your chart to best match your trading style, click on the button at the top of the chart. A drop-down menu will appear, and you can select your preferred time frame. (Look at 3. Graphic)

 

Time frame


Graphic 3 – Time frame

Chart types

BenchMark Finance`s forex charts give you the ability to analyze the price movement of your favorite currency pair in various formats, from line charts to candlestick charts. You have the flexibility to choose which format is best for you.

Technical analysts tend to gravitate toward the following three chart types:

  • Line charts
  • Bar charts
  • Candlestick charts

 
Line charts

Line charts are the most basic type of chart. Technical analysts often use  line charts to easily identify support and resistance levels.

You create a line chart by plotting the closing price of each trading period  on a chart and then connecting each closing price with a line (Look at 4. Graphic).

Line

Graphic 4 - Line

Bar charts

Bar charts provide more information than a line chart. Whereas line charts only plot the closing price from each trading period, bar charts plot the opening, high, low and closing prices from each period.

Technical analysts often use bar charts to gain more information about how a currency pair’s price moved up and down during each trading period (Loot at 5. Graphic). 


Graphic 5

 

Seeing where a currency pair started the trading period compared to where it ended the trading period can help you better identify trends. If the price closes higher than it opened, you know investors were bullish on the currency pair during the trading period. If the price closes lower than it opened, you know investors were bearish on the currency pair during the trading period.You can see an example of a bar chart to the right. (Look at 6. Graphic). 

Bar chart


Graphic 6 - Bar chart

Candlestick charts

Candlestick charts provide the same information as bar charts but in a slightly different format. Technical analysts often use candlestick charts instead of bar charts because it is easier to see and identify various trading patterns using candlestick charts.

You create a candlestick chart by plotting a series of candlesticks across the chart. Each candlestick represents one trading period. To create a candlestick, you plot the high and low price of a trading period and connect them with a vertical line. This line is called the wick of the candle (Look at 7. Graphic)

Next, you plot the opening price by drawing a horizontal line through the vertical line, or wick. After you have plotted the opening price, you plot the closing price by drawing another horizontal line through the vertical line. Lastly, you fill in the area between the opening price and the closing price. This area is called the body of the candlestick.


Graphic 7

Seeing where a currency pair started the trading period compared to where it ended the trading period can help you better identify trends. If the price closes higher than it opened, you know investors were bullish on the currency pair during the trading period. If the price closes lower than it opened, you know investors were bearish on the currency pair during the trading period.You can see an example of a candlestick chart to the right. (Look at 8. Graphic). 

Candlestick chart

Graphic 8 - Candlestick charts

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