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Lesson 5

5.1 Channeling 

 

Wave Equality

 

One of the guidelines of the Wave Principle is that two of the motive waves in a five-wave sequence will tend toward equality in time and magnitude. This is generally true of the two non-extended waves when one wave is an extension, and it is especially true if the third wave is the extension. If perfect equality is lacking, a .618 multiple is the next likely relationship.

 

When waves are larger than Intermediate degree, the price relationships usually must be stated in percentage terms. Thus, within the entire extended Cycle wave advance from 1942 to 1966, we find that Primary wave [1] traveled 120 points, a gain of 129%, in 49 months, while Primary wave [5] traveled 438 points, a gain of 80% (.618 times the 129% gain), in 40 months (see Figure 5-3), far different from the 324% gain of the third Primary wave, which lasted 126 months.

 

When waves are larger than Intermediate degree, the price relationships usually must be stated in percentage terms. Thus, within the entire extended Cycle wave advance from 1942 to 1966, we find that Primary wave [1] traveled 120 points, a gain of 129%, in 49 months, while Primary wave [5] traveled 438 points, a gain of 80% (.618 times the 129% gain), in 40 months (see Figure 5-3), far different from the 324% gain of the third Primary wave, which lasted 126 months. 

Charting the Waves

 

A. Hamilton Bolton always kept an "hourly close" chart, i.e., one showing the end-of-hour prices, as do the authors. Elliott himself certainly followed the same practice, since in The Wave Principle he presents an hourly chart of stock prices from February 23 to March 31, 1938. Every Elliott wave practitioner, or anyone interested in the Wave Principle, will find it instructive and useful to plot the hourly fluctuations of the DJIA, which are published by The Wall Street Journal and Barron's. It is a simple task that requires only a few minutes' work a week. Bar charts are fine but can be misleading by revealing fluctuations that occur near the time changes for each bar but not those that occur within the time for the bar. Actual print figures must be used on all plots. The so-called "opening" and "theoretical intraday" figures published for the Dow averages are statistical inventions that do not reflect the averages at any particular moment. Respectively, these figures represent a sum of the opening prices, which can occur at different times, and of the daily highs or lows of each individual stock in the average regardless of the time of day each extreme occurs.

 

The foremost aim of wave classification is to determine where prices are in the stock market's progression. This exercise is easy as long as the wave counts are clear, as in fast-moving, emotional markets, particularly in impulse waves, when minor movements generally unfold in an uncomplicated manner. In these cases, short term charting is necessary to view all subdivisions. However, in lethargic or choppy markets, particularly in corrections, wave structures are more likely to be complex and slow to develop. In these cases, longer term charts often effectively condense the action into a form that clarifies the pattern in progress. With a proper reading of the Wave Principle, there are times when sideways trends can be forecasted (for instance, for a fourth wave when wave two is a zigzag). Even when anticipated, though, complexity and lethargy are two of the most frustrating occurrences for the analyst. Nevertheless, they are part of the reality of the market and must be taken into account. The authors highly recommend that during such periods you take some time off from the market to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. You can't "wish" the market into action; it isn't listening. When the market rests, do the same.

 

The correct method for tracking the stock market is to use semilogarithmic chart paper, since the market's history is sensibly related only on a percentage basis. The investor is concerned with percentage gain or loss, not the number of points traveled in a market average. For instance, ten points in the DJIA in 1980 meant nothing, a one percent move. In the early 1920s, ten points meant a ten percent move, quite a bit more important. For ease of charting, however, we suggest using semilog scale only for long term plots, where the difference is especially noticeable. Arithmetic scale is quite acceptable for tracking hourly waves since a 300 point rally with the DJIA at 5000 is not much different in percentage terms from a 300 point rally with the DJIA at 6000. Thus, channeling techniques work acceptably well on arithmetic scale with shorter term moves. 

5.2 Channeling Technique

 

 

Elliott noted that parallel trend channels typically mark the upper and lower boundaries of impulse waves, often with dramatic precision. The analyst should draw them in advance to assist in determining wave targets and provide clues to the future development of trends.

 

The initial channeling technique for an impulse requires at least three reference points. When wave three ends, connect the points labeled "1" and "3," then draw a parallel line touching the point labeled "2," as shown in Figure 2-8. This construction provides an estimated boundary for wave four. (In most cases, third waves travel far enough that the starting point is excluded from the final channel's touch points.) 

Figure 2-8

If the fourth wave ends at a point not touching the parallel, you must reconstruct the channel in order to estimate the boundary for wave five. First connect the ends of waves two and four. If waves one and three are normal, the upper parallel most accurately forecasts the end of wave five when drawn touching the peak of wave three, as in Figure 2-9. If wave three is abnormally strong, almost vertical, then a parallel drawn from its top may be too high. Experience has shown that a parallel to the baseline that touches the top of wave one is then more useful, as in the illustration of the rise in the price of gold bullion from August 1976 to March 1977 (Figure 6.12). In some cases, it may be useful to draw both potential upper boundary lines to alert you to be especially attentive to the wave count and volume characteristics at those levels and then take appropriate action as the wave count warrants.

Figure 2-9

Figure 6-12

Throw-over

 

Within parallel channels and the converging lines of diagonal triangles, if a fifth wave approaches its upper trendline on declining volume, it is an indication that the end of the wave will meet or fall short of it. If volume is heavy as the fifth wave approaches its upper trendline, it indicates a possible penetration of the upper line, which Elliott called "throw-over." Near the point of throw-over, a fourth wave of small degree may trend sideways immediately below the parallel, allowing the fifth then to break it in a final gust of volume. 

 

Throw-overs are occasionally telegraphed by a preceding "throw-under," either by wave 4 or by wave two of 5, as suggested by the drawing shown as Figure 2-10, from Elliott's book, The Wave Principle. They are confirmed by an immediate reversal back below the line. Throw-overs also occur, with the same characteristics, in declining markets. Elliott correctly warned that throw-overs at large degrees cause difficulty in identifying the waves of smaller degree during the throw-over, as smaller degree channels are sometimes penetrated on the upside by the final fifth wave. Examples of throw-overs shown earlier in this course can be found in Figures 1-17 and 1-19.

Figure 2-10

5.3 More Guidelines

 

Scale

 

The larger the degree, the more necessary a semilog scale usually becomes. On the other hand, the virtually perfect channels that were formed by the 1921-1929 market on semilog scale (see Figure 2-11) and the 1932-1937 market on arithmetic scale (see Figure 2-12) indicate that waves of the same degree will form the correct Elliott trend channel only when plotted selectively on the appropriate scale. On arithmetic scale, the 1920s bull market accelerates beyond the upper boundary, while on semilog scale the 1930s bull market falls far short of the upper boundary. Aside from this difference in channeling, these two waves of Cycle dimension are surprisingly similar: they create nearly the same multiples in price (six times and five times respectively), they both contain extended fifth waves, and the peak of the third wave is the same percentage gain above the bottom in each case. The essential difference between the two bull markets is the shape and time length of each individual subwave. 

                                                              Figure 2-11                                                                                                                                        Figure 2-12

At most, we can state that the necessity for semilog scale indicates a wave that is in the process of acceleration, for whatever mass psychological reasons. Given a single price objective and a specific length of time allotted, anyone can draw a satisfactory hypothetical Elliott wave channel from the same point of origin on both arithmetic and semilog scale by adjusting the slope of the waves to fit. Thus, the question of whether to expect a parallel channel on arithmetic or semilog scale is still unresolved as far as developing a definite tenet on the subject. If the price development at any point does not fall neatly within two parallel lines on the scale (either arithmetic or semilog) you are using, switch to the other scale in order to observe the channel in correct perspective. To stay on top of all developments, the analyst should always use both.

5.4 Volume

 

Elliott used volume as a tool for verifying wave counts and in projecting extensions. He recognized that in any bull market, volume has a natural tendency to expand and contract with the speed of price change. Late in a corrective phase, a decline in volume often indicates a decline in selling pressure. A low point in volume often coincides with a turning point in the market. In normal fifth waves below Primary degree, volume tends to be less than in third waves. If volume in an advancing fifth wave of less than Primary degree is equal to or greater than that in the third wave, an extension of the fifth is in force. While this outcome is often to be expected anyway if the first and third waves are about equal in length, it is an excellent warning of those rare times when both a third and a fifth wave are extended.

 

At Primary degree and greater, volume tends to be higher in an advancing fifth wave merely because of the natural long term growth in the number of participants in bull markets. Elliott noted, in fact, that volume at the terminal point of a bull market above Primary degree tends to run at an all-time high. Finally, as discussed earlier, volume often spikes briefly at points of throw-over at the peak of fifth waves, whether at a trend channel line or the terminus of a diagonal triangle. (Upon occasion, such points can occur simultaneously, as when a diagonal triangle fifth wave terminates right at the upper parallel of the channel containing the price action of one larger degree.) In addition to these few valuable observations, we have expanded upon the importance of volume in various sections of this course. 

The "Right Look"

 

The overall appearance of a wave must conform to the appropriate illustration. Although any five-wave sequence can be forced into a three-wave count by labeling the first three subdivisions as one wave "A" as shown in Figure 2-13, it is incorrect to do so. The Elliott system would break down if such contortions were allowed. A long wave three with the end of wave four terminating well above the top of wave one must be classified as a five-wave sequence. Since wave A in this hypothetical case is composed of three waves, wave B would be expected to drop to about the start of wave A, as in a flat correction, which it clearly does not. While the internal count of a wave is a guide to its classification, the right overall shape is, in turn, often a guide to its correct internal count.

Figure 2-13