There are two main types of analysis used in trading. When deciding to buy bitcoin or any alt-coin for that matter, traders get their information in one of two different ways. The first method used is to look at the bigger picture; does the coin have a good team behind it? Does the coin solve a problem that needs to be solved? What is happening on the world stage that might influence the coin? This type of analysis is known as Fundamental Analysis.
The second type of analysis that traders use when deciding to invest in an asset is Technical Analysis. Technical Analysis concerns price charts, these charts allow traders to view the current price of an asset alongside historic trading patterns. This is the type of analysis you have likely seen if you watched the movie The Wolf Of Wall Street.
In this lesson, we will examine a bitcoin price chart, by the end of this lesson you will be able to read a price chart and understand the information that it displays.
How to read a Bitcoin price chart
At first sight, a price chart looks complicated, but don't be put off by this. Once you know what you are looking at the charts are very easy to understand.
Here is a bitcoin price chart for the year to date:
Plotted at the bottom of the chart horizontally are the months of the year and on the right-hand side of the chart plotted on the vertical axis you will see the price of bitcoin in USD.
The red and green blocks are known as candlesticks. A candlestick is a great way of visualizing how well a coin performed over any given period of time. In the above chart, each candlestick corresponds to a particular day.
Candlesticks have a very long history, in fact, candlesticks were invented in China about 400 years ago, back then they were used to analyze rice markets during times of war. Today they are used all over the world to analyze stocks, shares, and of course coin performance.
The name candlestick derives from the way the visual tool represents a candle, you will see why if we zoom in on the chart:
In the above graphic there are thirteen candlesticks. The block of each candlestick is known as the real body. If you look closely you will notice that the blocks have vertical lines extending from them in both directions up and down. The line that extends below the real body is termed the lower wick and the line that extends up from the real body is known as the upper wick.
You can see the various parts of the candlestick labelled below:
Candlesticks are usually red or green. A red candlestick indicates that the price closed lower than it opened at (so the coin lost value over that trading period), conversely a green candlestick represents an increase in value, the coin closed higher than it opened at. Sometimes the candlestick that represents an increase in price is coloured white instead of green, but both mean exactly the same thing.
The wicks show the highest and lowest prices the coin achieved during the given trading period.
As you can see the candlestick packs a wealth of information into a very useful succinct format. At a glance, you can very easily see if the coin lost or gained value, what the highest and lowest price points were and where the price opened and closed at.
If the coin you are looking at has a large number of red candlesticks in close proximity, this is known as a bearish trend. It indicates that the coin is currently losing value. If on the other hand, the coin you are looking at has more green candlesticks than red in close proximity, this is known as a bullish trend and is an indicator that the coin is currently gaining in value.
Price charts are very useful for anyone that is interested in cryptocurrency. Not only can you see the current price of a coin, but now you know how to read candlesticks you can easily spot trends in performance.
If you are thinking of investing in a coin it's a smart idea to check the price charts out before you do so to find a good point of entry. There are certain candlestick patterns that come up time and again on price charts; the patterns candlesticks fall into on a price chart allow traders to predict (within probabilistic likelihood) what will happen with a coin in the future.
If you would like to learn more about candlestick patterns, you might want to explore this article on Investopedia which examines common candlestick patterns and discusses what each pattern signifies.
Where to access cryptographic price charts
Different services provide access to different types of charts, some charts are basic while others have more advanced features.
A good service for accessing basic price charts is coinmarketcap.com, Coinmarketcap has price data on 895 coins (at the time of writing).
Coinmarketcap is great for getting a feel for how a coin is performing over time. However, if you are deciding to invest in a coin, you likely want more information than is displayed on the Coinmarketcap charts.
For more advanced charts we recommend Trading View. Trading View is a site that provides free stock charts on just about any asset you can imagine. The free version of Trading View is packed with various charts and analytical tools and will give you more than enough data to get up and running with bitcoin price analysis.
To access the charts open a free account using the link above and click on the chart icon from the main webpage.