Most of what we nowadays know as a technical analysis theory has originated from ideas proposed by Charles Dow and his partner Edward Jones (Dow Jones & Company since 1882) back in the end of 19 century. Those ideas were published in the Wall Street Journal and are now assimilated by the majority of technicians even though most of them are not aware of the source. Dow Theory still dominates the far more sophisticated and equipped modern study of technical analysis.

  1. The Averages Discount Everything.

Every knowable factor that may possibly affect both demand and supply is reflected in the market price.

  1. The Market Has Three Trends.

According to Dow an uptrend are successively higher peaks and troughs. A downtrend are successively lower peaks and troughs.Dow believed that laws of action and reaction apply to the markets just as they do to the physical universe meaning that


each significant movement is followed by a certain pullback.Dow considered a trend to have three parts:

  1. Primary (compared to tide reaching further and further inland until the ultimate point is reached).
  2. Secondary (compared to waves and represents corrections in the primary trend normally retracing between one-third and two-thirds of the previous trend movement and most frequently about half of the previous move)
  3. Minor (ripples) ‘“ these are fluctuations in the secondary tren


  1. Major Trends Have Three Phases

Dow mainly paid attention to the primary (major) trends in which he distinguished three phases:

The Averages Must Confirm Each Other.

  1. Accumulation phase ‘“ the most astute investors are entering the market feeling the change in the current market direction.
  2. Public participation phase ‘“ a majority of technicians begin to join in as the price is rapidly advancing.
  3. Distribution phase ‘“ a new direction is now commonly recognized and well hiked; economic news are all confirming which all ends up in increasing speculative volume and wide public’s participation.
  1. Dow used to say that unless both Industrial and Rail Averages exceed a previous peak, there is no confirmatioof inception or continuation of a bull market. Signals did no have to occur simultaneously but the quicker one followed another ‘“ the stronger the confirmation was.
  • Volume Must Confirm the Trend.

Volume increases or diminishes according to whether the price is moving in direction of a trend or in reverse. Dow considered volume a secondary indicator. His buy or sell signals were based on closing prices.

  1. A Trend Is Assumed to Be in Effect Until It Gives Definite SignaIs That Has Reversed.

The overall technical approach in market analysis is based upon the idea that trends continue in motion until there is an external force causing it to change its direction – just like any other physical objects. And of course there are reversal signals to be looking for.

Failure Swing.
The failure of the peak at C to overcome A, followed by the violation of t he low at B, constitutes
a “sell” signal at S.

Nonfailure Swing.
Notice that C exceeds A before falling below B. Some Dow theorists  would  see a Il sell” signal at S1, while others would need to see a lower high at E before turning bearish at S2.

Dow only took in consideration closing prices. Averages had to close higher than a previous peak or lower than a previous trough to be significant. Intraday penetrations did not count.

Failure Swing Bottom.
The “buy” signal takes place
when point B is exceeded (at Bl).

Nonfailure Swing Bottom.
“Buy” signaIs occur at points Bl or B2.