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Michael C. Thomsett is a widely published options author. His "Getting Started in Options" (Wiley, 9th edition) has sold over 300,000 copies. He also is author of "Options Trading for the Conservative Investor" and "The Options Trading Body of Knowledge" (both FT Press); and "Options for... More
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  • Invisible Gaps - Hard To Spot, But Valuable Signals 0 comments
    May 4, 2013 2:07 PM

    Technical analysts appreciate the importance of price gaps and, in fact, may base entry and exit decisions on strong momentum that often is characterized by gapping price movement.

    However, not all gaps are visible. The elusive invisible gap occurs more often than you might realize. While many of these invisible gaps are defined as "common" gaps and lack any specific reversal or continuation significance, others may act as part of important changes in the current trend. When this is the case, invisible gaps should be tracked and analyzed in context to make sure you do not miss an important early warning sign of coming change.

    Candlestick charting is popular because each session's real body and its shadows tell you all you need to know - open and close, trading range, and direction of price movement. It is also quite easy to spot gaps between sessions. The distance between one rectangle and another is clearly visible on every chart. Even so, invisible gaps may easily outnumber the easier to find visible gaps,

    When is this important? There are three instances when invisible gaps have to be spotted and acted on:

    1. The price moves through resistance or support in a breakaway pattern. When the gap occurs at the beginning of a strong new trend, the invisible gap is possibly the most important session of the change. This is especially true when price moves above resistance or below support and does not then reverse to fill the gap.

    2. The invisible gap is a part of recurring gapping sessions. A lot of momentum is not spotted right away because traders are aware only of visible gaps. Those interim "non-gapping" sessions could consist of invisible gaps, making the new momentum much stronger than it appeared at first glance.

    3. The momentum shift is confirmed by other signals. Candlesticks work best when the indicated meaning of a pattern is confirmed by independent indicators. So when invisible gaps occur along with volume spikes, changes in momentum oscillators, or within recognized technical patterns (like double top and bottom movement or head and shoulders, for example), those gapping sessions strengthen the initial indicators.

    Gaps may be visible or invisible, but all gapping action points to greater volatility. When that action is part of a trend reversal or test of a trading range, it is a strong indicator requiring fast action. Being aware of the invisible gap vastly improves your analytical skills and shows you reversal trends before most others see them.

    To gain more perspective on insights to trading observations and specific strategies, I hope you will join me at where I publish many additional articles. I also enter a regular series of daily trades and updates. For new trades, I usually include a stock chart marked up with reversal and confirmation, and provide detailed explanations of my rationale. Link to the site at to learn more. As a new member, if you buy a one-year subscription, you also get a free copy of one of my books, including this new one just released.

    I also offer a weekly newsletter subscription if you are interested in a periodic update of news and information and a summary of performance in the virtual portfolio that I manage. All it requires is your e-mail address. Join at Weekly Newsletter I look forward to having you as a subscriber.

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