Study the basics of technical analysis and look at price charts—thousands of them—in all time frames. You may think fundamental analysis offers a better path to profits because it tracks growth curves and revenue streams, but traders live and die by price action that diverges sharply from underlying fundamentals. Do not stop reading company spreadsheets because they offer a trading edge over those who ignore them. However, they won’t help you survive your first year as a trader.
Your experience with charts and technical analysis now brings you into the magical realm of price prediction. Theoretically, securities can only go higher or lower, encouraging a long-side trade or a short sale. In reality, prices can do many other things, including chopping sideways for weeks at a time or whipsawing violently in both directions, shaking out buyers and sellers.
The time horizon becomes extremely important at this juncture. Financial markets grind out trends and trading ranges with fractal properties that generate independent price movements at short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term intervals. This means a security or index can carve out a long-term uptrend, intermediate downtrend, and a short-term trading range, all at the same time. Rather than complicate prediction, most trading opportunities will unfold through interactions between these time intervals.
Buying the dip offers a classic example, with traders jumping into a strong uptrend when it sells off in a lower period. The best way to examine this three-dimensional playing field is to look at each security in three time frames, starting with 60-minute, daily and weekly charts.