What Are Charts?
A price chart is a sequence of prices plotted over a specific time frame. In statistical terms, charts are referred to as time series plots.
On the chart, the y-axis (vertical axis) represents the price scale and the x-axis (horizontal axis) represents the time scale. Prices are plotted from left to right across the x-axis with the most recent plot being the furthest right. The price plot for IBM extends from January 1, 1999 to March 13, 2000.
Technicians, technical analysts and chartists use charts to analyze a wide array of securities and forecast future price movements. The word "securities" refers to any tradable financial instrument or quantifiable index such as stocks, bonds, commodities, futures or market indices. Any security with price data over a period of time can be used to form a chart for analysis.
While technical analysts use charts almost exclusively, the use of charts is not limited to just technical analysis. Because charts provide an easy-to-read graphical representation of a security's price movement over a specific period of time, they can also be of great benefit to fundamental analysts. A graphical historical record makes it easy to spot the effect of key events on a security's price, its performance over a period of time and whether it's trading near its highs, near its lows, or in between.
How to Pick a Time Frame
The time frame used for forming a chart depends on the compression of the data: intraday, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual data. The less compressed the data is, the more detail is displayed.
Daily data is made up of intraday data that has been compressed to show each day as a single data point, or period. Weekly data is made up of daily data that has been compressed to show each week as a single data point. The difference in detail can be seen with the daily and weekly chart comparison above. 100 data points (or periods) on the daily chart is equal to the last 5...