Candlestick charts were derived over 200 years ago by the Japanese, who used them for the purpose of doing analysis of the rice markets. The technique evolved over time into what is now the candlestick technique used in Japan and indeed by millions of technical traders around the world. They are visually more attractive than standard bar and line charts and they make for a clearer market reading, once understood.
The major component of a candlestick is the body, i.e. the part that forms the rectangular shape between the open and close points. While traditional Japanese candlesticks use black and white bodies, we use green and red in our representations as we believe the colours better define the market direction and we find them to be visually more striking. A green body means that the close is higher than the open and thus the price has increased over the period, whereas in a red body the closing price is lower than the opening price and the value has decreased over the period.
The extension lines at the top and lower end of the candlestick bodies are called the shadows. The pinnacle point on the upper shadow is the high price of the period, while the lowest point on the lower shadow represents the low price of the period. If there is no shadow on the upper end of the candlestick body, it means that the close price (in the case of a green period) or the open price (in the case of a red period) = the high price. Conversely, if there is no shadow at the lower end of the candlestick body, it means that the open price (in the case of a green period) or the close price (in the case of a red period) = the low price of the trading period.
Note: A trading period can be a week, a day, an hour or even less. What period is most appropriate depends on the market and the nature of the trade. In our experience, trading periods under an hour are not good measures for currency markets.
There are 21 principal Candlestick types, each of which we explain in the next section. We do ask that when using candlestick indicators, you should always use them in combination with some other trend indicators, such as the slow stochastic indicator, RSI and Bollinger bands. Also, be aware that technical analysis on its own is not enough as economic indicators are often the triggers for price action, so fundamentals are also critical to active trading.
For all of the candlesticks we discuss, we are talking about a default trading period. It is entirely up to the trader to determine the length of the period they which to analyse. For stock markets this might be using a daily chart, whereas for currency markets, it could be an 8 hour, 4 hour or 1 hour chart. Using anything less than an hour is not recommended.