Technical analysts seek to identify price patterns and trends in financial markets and attempt to exploit those patterns. While technicians use various methods and tools, the study of charts is primary.
Technicians typically search for classic patterns, such as the head and shoulders or double top reversal patterns, study indicators such as moving averages, and look for forms such as lines of support, resistance, channels, and more obscure formations such as flags, pennants or balance days.
Technical analysts also extensively use indicators, which are typically mathematical transformations of price or volume. These indicators are used to help determine whether an asset is trending, and if it is, its price direction. Technicians also look for relationships between price, volume and, in the case of futures, open interest. Examples include the relative strength index, and MACD. Other avenues of study include correlations between changes in options (implied volatility) and put/call ratios with price. Other technicians include sentiment indicators, such as Put/Call ratios and Implied Volatility in their analysis.
Technicians seek to forecast price movements such that large gains from successful trades exceed more numerous but smaller losing trades, producing positive returns in the long run through proper risk control and money management.
Technical analysis is frequently contrasted with fundamental analysis, the study of economic factors that influence prices in financial markets. Technical analysis holds that prices already reflect all such influences before investors are aware of them, hence the study of price action alone. Some traders use technical or fundamental analysis exclusively, while others use both types to make trading decisions.