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The Law of Charts was discovered by Master Trader Joe Ross. As he likes to say, "It was there all along. It just happened to fall on my head much as the law of gravity was discovered when an apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head."

The Law of Charts defines four basic formations known as 1-2-3 lows and highs, Ross hooks, trading ranges, and ledges. These occur in all time frames because the depict human action and reaction vis-à-vis price movement.

What makes these formations unique is that they can be specifically defined. The ability to formulate a more precise definition sets these formations apart from such vague generalities as "head and shoulders," "coils," "flags," "pennants," "megaphones," and other such supposed price patterns that are frequently attached as labels to the action of prices.

A 1-2-3 high or low comes at the end of a trend or swing. It forms as the result of a change in the direction of prices. The 1-2-3 low forms as the result of buying pressure overcoming that of selling pressure. The 1-2-3 high forms as the result of selling pressure overcoming buying pressure.

A Ross hook™ always forms as the result of profit taking in an trend or swing.

A ledge forms as a result of profit taking, uncertainty about future price direction, or both. You might consider it as a pause in the overall movement of prices in a single direction.

A ledge is the smallest of a number of consolidation formations: it never consists of more than 10 or less than 4 price bars. It is denoted by containing two matching or nearly matching highs and two matching or nearly matching lows.

A consolidation consisting of eleven to 20 price bars is called a congestion, and a consolidation consisting of 21 or more price bars.

As simple as these definitions are, the have been found to constitute a "law." Any data that contains both a high and a low, will form these patterns; even data that has nothing to do with markets and trading.

Learn more about The Law of Charts, it is a free resource on our website. Study it as much as you want. And while you are visiting take a look at the Traders Trick™ entry.

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Ask most NEW traders, and they will tell you about some moving average or combination of indicators or a chart pattern that they use. This is, as the more experienced trader knows, an entry point and not a strategy.

Any trader who is more experienced will say a strategy should also include money management, risk control, perhaps stop losses and of course, an exit point. They might also say that you must let your profits run and cut your losses short. A well-read trader will also tell you that your strategy should fit with your trading personality.

BUT there is one other vital ingredient that many traders forget - and that is to fully understand the "personality" of what you trade. Some traders specialise in say, gold or Brent crude or currencies or they might specialise in a particular index such as the FTSE 100 or the Dow but many traders choose to trade shares. Indeed some traders dabble in a bit of everything. I think this is the area that causes many traders to fail or at least not reach their full potential.

In my view: You absolutely MUST specialise.

I am sure that on the surface most people would say that sounds sensible but here is why it is a MUST!

Superficially, many charts look the same. I bet if you had not seen the charts for some time and someone where to show you a chart of Brent Crude over 6 months and then a chart of Barclays PLC over the same 6 months you would be hard pushed to say which was which purely on the look of the chart.

However, I bet that if you found a trader who trades ONLY Barclays day in and day out and also found someone who trades ONLY Brent Crude day in and day out, both of them would easily identify which was which. WHY?

Because every share, index or commodity has it’s own "personality".

Some will be volatile intra-day, some will follow their sector or the main index (market followers), some will do their own thing, some will spike up and down regularly, some will stop at key moving averages and some will just plough through. Some will move by 5% on average before they retrace and some by 2%. Some will gap up or down regularly, some will not. You get the idea!

Therefore, no matter how good you are at analysing indicators, moving averages, trends and patterns, the same strategy WILL NOT work for everything. I would go so far as to say that a strategy that works well for Bovis Homes, for example, is likely NOT to work for BT Group - they have very different "personalities".

So let’s return to our question: What makes a good trading strategy? Let me answer with a series of ten questions that you need to find answers to, in order to build a REALLY GOOD strategy.

1. What do you want to trade (share, index, commodity, currency, etc)? If your answer is shares (plural) I would urge you to pick one typical share at this stage to really specialise. You can add more later.
2. What "personality" does that share, index etc have?
3. What entry system is the most reliable for that share?
4. What stop loss system is the most effective for that share?
5. What average risk will a typical trade carry?
6. What exit system works well for that share?
7. What is your trading personality (attitude to risk, losses, discipline, how much do you worry etc) and can you trade that strategy without overriding it?
8. What timescale do you want to trade? (Using intra-day or end of day data)
9. How much data do you keep on past trades to help identify strategy weaknesses?
10. How does all this fit with your trading objectives?

Once you have an answer to each question you need to do one final thing. Make sure all those things fit together and complement each other. For example, if the ideal stop loss position represents a big average risk and conflicts with your own attitude to risk, you need to start again. If you will override your exit point because greed makes you hang in for more, you need to think again. Perhaps you shouldn’t trade that stock in the first place - look for one with a different "personality" which will lead to a strategy you can trade comfortably.

It is a long and sometimes painful iterative journey. You might need to go round and round in ever decreasing circles over a long time. Testing and refining, testing and refining before you can truly have a reliable and repeatable strategy that REALLY WORKS for you.

THEN, you can look for other things to trade that have the same "personality" as your specialist stock, index, commodity or currency.

But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it right?

Good luck and enjoy your trading.

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Currencies are traded in dollar amounts called “lots”. One lot is equal to $1,000, which controls $100,000 in currency. This is what is known as the "margin". You can control $100,000 worth of currency for only 1,000 dollars. This is what is called “High Leverage”.

Currencies are always traded in pairs in the FOREX. The pairs have a unique notation that expresses what currencies are being traded. The symbol for a currency pair will always be in the form ABC/DEF. ABC/DEF is not a real currency pair, it is an example of a symbol for a currency pair. In this example ABC is the symbol for one countries currency and DEF is the symbol for another countries currency.

Here are some of the common symbols used in the Forex:

USD - The US Dollar EUR - The currency of the European Union "EURO" GBP - The British Pound JPN - The Japanese Yen CHF - The Swiss Franc AUD - The Australian Dollar CAD - The Canadian Dollar

There are symbols for other currencies as well, but these are the most commonly traded ones.

A currency can never be traded by itself. So you can not ever trade a EUR by itself. You always need to compare one currency with another currency to make a trade possible.

Some of the common PAIRS are:

EUR/USD Euro / US Dollar "Euro"

USD/JPY US Dollar / Japanese Yen "Dollar Yen"

GBP/USD British Pound / US Dollar "Cable"

USD/CAD US Dollar / Canadian Dollar "Dollar Canada"

AUD/USD Australian Dollar/US Dollar "Aussie Dollar"

USD/CHF US Dollar / Swiss Franc "Swissy"

EUR/JPY Euro / Japanese Yen "Euro Yen"

The listed currency pairs above look like a fraction. The numerator (top of the fraction or "left" of the / however you want to SEE it) is called the base currency. The denominator (bottom of the fraction or "right" of the /however you want to SEE it) is called the counter currency. When you place an order to buy the EUR/USD, for instance, you are actually buying the EUR and selling the USD. If you were to sell the pair, you would be selling the EUR and buying the USD. So if you buy or sell a currency PAIR, you are buying/selling the base currency. You are always doing the opposite of what you did with to base currency with the counter currency.

If this seems confusing then you’re in luck. You can always get by with just thinking of the entire pair as one item. Then you are just buying or selling that one item. Thinking like this will still enable you to place trades. You only need to be aware of the base/counter concept for Fundamental Analysis issues.

So why is it important to know about the base/counter currency? The base/counter currency concept illustrates what is actually taking place in a Forex transaction. Some of you reading this, know that short-selling was restricted in the stock market *(Short-selling is where you sell a stock/currency/option/commodity first and then try to buy it back at a lower price later). But in the FOREX you are always buying one currency (base) and selling another (counter). If you sell the pair you are simply flipping which one you buy and which one you sell. The transaction is essentially the same. This allows you to short-sell with no restrictions.

You want to be able to short-sell with no restrictions so you can make money when the market drops as well as when it rises. The problem with traditional stock market trading is that the market has to go up for you to make money. With FOREX trading you can make money in all directions.