Trend Continuation Patterns

It is one of the most frequent patterns in technical analysis. The basic construct of this chart pattern is the convergence of two trendlines - flat, ascending or descending - with the price moving between the two trendlines.

There are three types of triangles:
  • The symmetrical triangle
  • The ascending triangle
  • The descending triangle
Symmetrical triangle
The symmetrical triangle, which can also be referred to as a coil, usually forms during a trend as a continuation pattern. The pattern contains at least two lower highs and two higher lows. It is formed by the convergence of a descending resistance line and an ascending support line. The two trendlines in the formation of this triangle should have a similar slope converging at a point known as the apex. The price will bounce between these trendlines, towards the apex, and typically breakout in the direction of the prior trend. If preceded by a downward trend, the focus should be on a break below the ascending support line. If preceded by an upward trend, look for a break above the descending resistance line. However, this pattern doesn't always lead to a continuation of the previous trend. A break in the opposite direction of the prior trend should signal the formation of a new trend.
line chart Fig 1

Above is an example of a symmetrical triangle that is preceded by an upward trend. The first part of this pattern is the creation of a high in the upward trend, which is followed by a sell-off to a low. The price then moves to another high that is lower than the first high and again sells off to a low, which is higher than the previous low. At this point the trendlines can be drawn, which creates the apex. The price will continue to move between these lines until breakout.

The pattern is complete when the price breaks out of the triangle - look for an increase in volume in the direction of the breakout. This pattern is also susceptible to a return to the previous support or resistance line that it just broke through, so make sure to watch for this level to hold if it does indeed break out.
Ascending triangle
The ascending triangle is a bullish pattern, which gives an indication that the price is headed higher upon completion. The pattern is formed by two trendlines: a flat trendline being a point of resistance and an ascending trendline acting as a price support.

The price moves between these trendlines until it eventually breaks out to the upside. This pattern will typically be preceded by an upward trend, which makes it a continuation pattern; however, it can be found during a downtrend.
line chart Fig 2

Descending triangle
The descending triangle is the opposite of the ascending triangle in that it gives a bearish signal to chartists, suggesting that the price will trend downward upon completion of the pattern. The descending triangle is constructed with a flat support line and a downward-sloping resistance line.

Similar to the ascending triangle, this pattern is generally considered to be a continuation pattern, as it is preceded by a downward trendline. But again, it can be found in an uptrend. line chart Fig 3

The first part of this pattern is the fall to a low that then finds a level of support, which sends the price to a high. The next move is a second test of the previous support level, which again sends the stock higher - but this time to a lower level than the previous move higher. This is repeated until the price is unable to hold the support level and falls below, resuming the downtrend.

This pattern indicates that buyers are trying to take the price higher, but continue to face resistance. After several attempts to push the stock higher, the buyers fade and the sellers overpower them, which sends the price lower.
Flag is the most reliable pattern of trend continuation and formed when there is a sharp price movement followed by generally sideways price movement, which is the flag or pennant. The pattern is complete when there is a price breakout in the same direction of the initial sharp price movement. The following move will see a similarly sharp move in the same direction as the prior sharp move. The complete move of the chart pattern - from the first sharp move to the last sharp move - is referred to as the flag pole.

The flag is considered to be flying at half-mast, as the distance of the initial price movement is thought to be roughly equal to the proceeding price move. The reason these patterns form is that after a large price movement, the market consolidates, or pauses, before resuming the initial trend. line chart Fig 4

A wedge pattern appears during a power trend after sharp, steep movement. It represents a tendency of short duration which is directed to the opposite side of the initial sharp price movement but there are no signs of consolidation. A wedge is similar to the triangles, in that the price movement bounces between the two trendlines, which are bounding the price movement. (Fig.5)

The price movement in the wedge should at minimum test both the support trendline and the resistance trendline twice during the life of the wedge. The more times it tests each level, especially on the resistance end, the higher quality the wedge pattern is thought to be.
line chart Fig 5

A rectangle is a continuation pattern that forms as a trading range during a pause in the trend. The pattern is easily identifiable by two comparable highs and two comparable lows. The highs and lows can be connected to form two parallel lines that make up the top and bottom of a rectangle. Rectangles are sometimes referred to as trading ranges, consolidation zones or congestion areas.

A rectangle pattern shows that supply and demand are in approximate balance for an extended period of time. The trading instrument moves in a narrow range, hitting resistance at the rectangle’s top and finding support at its bottom. The rectangle can occur over a protracted period of time or form quickly amid a relatively wide-ranging series of bounded fluctuations. It is a pattern which shows trader indecision, one in which the bulls and bears are approximately equally powerful.(Fig.6) line chart Fig 6