The head and shoulders pattern is generally regarded as a reversal pattern and it is most often seen in uptrends. It is also most reliable when found in an uptrend as well. Eventually, the market begins to slow down and the forces of supply and demand are generally considered in balance. Sellers come in at the highs (left shoulder) and the downside is probed (beginning neckline.) Buyers soon return to the market and ultimately push through to new highs (head.) However, the new highs are quickly turned back and the downside is tested again (continuing neckline.) Tentative buying re-emerges and the market rallies once more, but fails to take out the previous high. (This last top is considered the right shoulder.) Buying dries up and the market tests the downside yet again. Your trendline for this pattern should be drawn from the beginning neckline to the continuing neckline. (Volume has a greater importance in the head and shoulders pattern in comparison to other patterns. Volume generally follows the price higher on the left shoulder. However, the head is formed on diminished volume indicating the buyers aren't as aggressive as they once were. And on the last rallying attempt-the left shoulder-volume is even lighter than on the head, signaling that the buyers may have exhausted themselves.) New selling comes in and previous buyers get out. The pattern is complete when the market breaks the neckline. (Volume should increase on the breakout.) (Chart examples of head and shoulders patterns using commodity charts.) (Stock charts.)
The head and shoulders pattern can sometimes be inverted. The inverted head and shoulders is typically seen in downtrends. (What's noteworthy about the inverted head and shoulders is the volume aspect. The inverted left shoulder should be accompanied by an increase in volume. The inverted head should be made on lighter volume. The rally from the head however, should show greater volume than the rally from the left shoulder. Ultimately, the inverted right shoulder should register the lightest volume of all. When the market then rallies through the neckline, a big increase in volume should be seen.) (Chart examples of inverted head and shoulders patterns using commodity charts.) (Stock charts.)
Futures and options trading carries significant risk and you can lose some, all or even more than your investment.
Stock trading involves high risks and you can lose a significant amount of money.
The information contained here was gathered from sources deemed reliable, however, no claim is made as to its accuracy or content. This does not contain specific recommendations to buy or sell at particular prices or times, nor should any of the examples presented be deemed as such. There is a risk of loss in trading futures and futures options and stocks and stocks options and you should carefully consider your financial position before making any trades. The reference to statistical probabilities does not pertain to profitability, but rather to the direction of the market. The size and the duration of the markets move, as well as entry and exit prices ultimately determines success or failure in a trade and is in no way represented in these statistics. This is not, nor is it intended to be, a complete study of chart patterns or technical analysis and should not be deemed as such.