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Flag patterns – Bullish and Bearish

The information on this page is not a personal recommendation and does not take into account your personal circumstances or appetite for risk.

Introduction

Technical analysis or Charting allows investors to use a range of patterns to assist them with timing their entry to and exit from positions. Flags, essentially continuation patterns like triangles and pennants, are some of the most helpful within a trending market – rising or falling – signalling that after a short pause the prevailing trend should continue.

Flags exist in both Bullish and Bearish form and each can be split into 3 distinct sections;

Bullish flags

Bullish flag

  1. The initial rally into the flag – the flagpole – can be steep or gradual.
  2. The Flag represents a pause to consolidate, retracing a small part of the initial rally within a tight channel. A breakout from this channel is the first hint that a Bullish flag could be in the making.
  3. Once the shares break out from the flag, it is possible that another rally – the same size as the first – could be delivered.

Bullish flag Ex

The above trading example shows a 130p rally (930-800p) followed by a 70p flag decline (930-860p), followed by a repeat 130p rally (860-990p).

Bearish flags

Bearish flag

The initial sell-off into the flag – the flagpole – can be steep or gradual.

  1. The Flag represents a pause to consolidate, retracing a small part of the initial sell-off within a tight channel. A break-down from this channel is the first hint that a bearish flag could be in the making.
  2. Once the shares break down from the flag, it is possible that another sell-off – the same size as the first – could be delivered

Bearish flag Ex

The above trading example shows a 400p sell-off (3440-3040p) followed by a 160p flag rally (3040-3200p), followed by a repeat 340p sell-off (3200-2860p).

Remember! Nobody’s perfect

Whilst trade objectives are calculated by assuming and projecting a repeat of the initial up or down move, note that Bullish or Bearish flags don’t always deliver exactly the same move. Sometimes they undershoot. Sometimes they overshoot. And the flag itself is not always a neat rising or falling  channel. What is most important is that overall pattern respects the general steps mentioned above.

Caveat

Individual technical indicators should never be relied upon in isolation for trading decisions, however strong the signal may be. Ultimately they are one of many indicators, which may, in the majority, be pointing the other way. Always use look at other indicators (moving averages, trendlines, price, price patterns, volume) to assist in the final trading decision. Lastly, the current trend of a share should always be respected – preempting a change can prove costly.

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.