A Complete Guide to Bitcoin Technical Analysis
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What is Technical Analysis?
Technical analysis (TA) is a methodology for forecasting future price movements by studying past market data for price and volume, and seeking patterns within that data.
A technical analyst will look for continuing patterns, or trends, which indicate the general direction of price movement. They will also look for repeating patterns, which are used to gauge whether a trend is likely to continue or reverse, and to indicate the point at which a reversal may take place. In addition to visually recognizable patterns, various mathematical models are used to indicate trend reversals or confirm continuing trends. These mathematical ‘indicators’ are often visually represented on charts using an ‘overlay’. Indicators can be used to select entry points for longer term positions determined via fundamental analysis, or for day trading strategies such as swing trading.
Many of these visual and mathematical patterns, which tend to repeat over and over again in various different financial markets, have been identified over the course of centuries. Analysts will seek to identify these patterns forming within current market data in order to find indicators for forecasting, and multiple indicators will usually be combined together to provide buy or sell signals of varying strengths.
A typical chart has been embedded at the top of this page which includes two common indicators – Bollinger bands and moving average lines – and one more interesting and unusual indicator: the phases of the moon. You can modify the chart to look for other indicators by clicking the button which looks like a bar chart with a zig-zag arrow above it.
Does it Work for Bitcoin & Altcoins?
The patterns studied by TA are generally caused by the actions of market participants themselves, rather than any changes to the underlying value of what is being traded (although of course the underlying value changes are ‘priced in’ by the market participants). They represent common psychological traits, the actions of people making decisions based on knowledge which comes into their possession, and so on. As such, these techniques can be applied to most financial markets.
It is generally thought, however, that these techniques do tend to break down in smaller markets with low volume and liquidity.
So it is probably safe to say that if technical analysis works at all, then it should work for Bitcoin. But is also true to say that it will be unreliable for smaller altcoin markets. This is not a hard rule, but a general guide. The most popular altcoins, or coins going through periods of high volume, may prove to be valid exceptions. It is down to the individual trader to make a judgement as to what extent these tools can be trusted for any specific market.
Top Resources for Bitcoin Technical Analysis by Experts
If you are new to this topic then perhaps the best thing that you can do is follow the analysis provided by established experts, both for making more educated investment decisions and for learning how to become a better analyst yourself. You can view some great articles published on news websites in the left hand column of this page, but for more detailed and timely information here are some of the best sources for professional analysts’ opinions on the Bitcoin price:
- XBT Social: For a monthly membership fee this site give you access to a daily analysis by professional traders, email alerts for sudden price movements, exclusive news stories, and access to an ‘exclusive community’ of other traders.
- BullBearAnalytics: A team of professional analysts provide paying members of this site with complete, actionable trade signals for both BTC and altcoins, a daily market update, and a more in-depth weekly report.
- BraveNewCoin Reports: This is a well-known information site which publishes regular reports covering sentiment, fundamental and technical analysis extended across a wide range of altcoin markets as well as BTC.
- TradingView: In addition to providing a range of charting tools you may find useful, TradingView allows its users to share their analysis with others. This is the only source in this section where you an view content for free, but please beware that not all of the authors are professional traders.
Analyst Opinion Summary
The widget you can see below displays the latest opinion of analysts on Investing.com with simple signals of ‘Strong Buy’, ‘Buy’, ‘Neutral’, ‘Sell’ and ‘Strong Sell’. It is automatically set to a 1 minute time Frame which probably won’t be very useful for most traders, but you can change that to display a longer period without leaving the page:
Bitcoin Technical Analysis Software: Charts and Tools
A handy charting tool created by TradingView is provided at the top of this page, and I wholeheartedly recommend you have a play with it if you haven’t already. But of course there are also many other useful charts and tools that you may like to use. Here are some of the best ones:
- Cryptowatch – This site allows you to view price data chart from a range of different exchanges for BTC/USD, BTC/EUR and BTC/CNY. They offer a range of different chart types including Heikin-Ashi, bar, line, mountain or candlestick, and access to a wide range of customizable indicators and overlays. If you create an account you can also connect it to the Bitfinex exchange API and use it as a complete trading platform.
- BTC-E – One of the most popular tools on the traditional financial markets is MetaTrader 4. This exchange allows you to use MT4 for Bitcoin trading.
- Bitcoin Charts – This site has a clean design and is easy to use, and offers a wide range of charts including candlestick, OHLC, closing, median, or typical price, and weighted close. You can view data from pretty much every BTC/fiat exchange with up to four indicators at a time.
- Quandl – If you want to go beyond price and volume data to look at things like the transaction and mining data then this is a great source of information with lots of different charts and the option to export data via API or download as CSV files.
- TradingView – You can see and use the charting tool from TradingView at the top of this page.
- BitcoinChain – An interesting combination of TA charting tools and block explorer for general network stats and transactions, which also pulls order books and latest trades from several top exchanges.
Best Free Sites to Start Learning Technical Analysis
There are loads of great resources available on the internet that you can access for free, to start your journey and learn all about TA. Here is a small selection of the best ones:
- Investopedia: The Basic of Technical Analysis – If you are a complete beginner then this is a great place to start. It will introduce you to the basic principles and terminology that you need to know, as well as some of the most popular chart types and indicators.
- Chart School – This free resource provided by the StockCharts.com website includes a huge amount of information on every aspect of TA.
- InvestTools – There are some really excellent paid courses here, but there are also several free classes which are well worth it for beginners.
- ProBitcoinTrading – Although not specifically related to just TA, this site offers some excellent general trading tips, including a free ebook as well as premium ebooks and consultancy services.