Technical Analysis vs. Fundamental Analysis

In Forex trading, there are two main types of analysis – fundamental analysis and technical analysis. There is no answer to which technique is any better as it depends on trader’s personality.  Both need patience and discipline on the part of the investor.

That said, each has distinct differences and advantages and disadvantages. There are big differences between the two approaches that dictate how traders approach their work.

What is Fundamental Analysis?

Fundamental analysis is the art of measuring value and studying the economics of a country. Fundamental analysis examines the underlying economic conditions of a currency. Following the macroeconomic environment can be an exhausting approach if you are not up-to-date on economic news. For traders who have a good knowledge of the news, and understand macroeconomics this could be a very profitable approach.

Generally speaking, traders buy currencies with stronger economies at a low price and sell currencies with underperforming economies. Then traders hold these currencies in the hope that prices will move back up to their fair value. It can take years for undervaluing currencies to rebound and the exchange rate to rise.

As a fundamental trader, be smart in the trades that you choose. If you fail to do so and get caught in a sideways ranging market, you could go without getting paid for some time.

Where fundamental traders can profit is around major news events. As a trader with knowledge of an upcoming event, you should research the potential outcome of the event and buy into your position. The market will become volatile during this event and the prices before and after will have changed.

Fundamental trading is also better for position traders who keep trades open for longer periods. This form of trading is also better for those who can not spend time managing trades. This is more normal if you have a day job or other obligations that are often prioritized.

In this regard, fundamental trading is most appropriate for two types of traders. Either those up-to-date on major news events and can research well, or position traders.

If you have time to spend in front of a computer and enjoy chart analysis, then technical analysis could be a better approach for you.

How to get started with Fundamental Analysis?

Fundamental analysis is mostly about being aware of upcoming news events, and reacting quickly to the unplanned ones.   Here are some articles to get you going.

  • The Economic Calendar:  This calendar is going to be central to your trading strategy.  A fundamental trader will always know when big events are about to happen.  There is no such thing as an unprepared fundamentals trader.
  • The US Non-farm Payroll Report:  The US economy is a big part of Forex trading.  The major currency pairs all include the US Dollar (USD), so any news that might affect its value will be big news.  This jobs report is released at 08:30 (New York, USA) on the first Friday of the month and this is usually a big focus for fundamental traders.
  • EURUSD Analysis – Know the history of the pairs you trade, as you will see the same seasonal trends and repeat performances.

Fundamental Analysis Trade Example

Here is an example of how the release of positive NFP (non-farm payroll) reports can affect the market.  Should a trader expect this report to show strong job creation, we open a trade before the report is released and go long.

Traders have options of how long to keep the trade open for, as this will affect profitability.  Traders either set a take profit so that the trade closes automatically when set profit target has been realized. Or a trader will continue to monitor the data and try to extend the profit, and close the trade manaully.

While Fundamental analysis is not chart based, it important to understand how to read charts to confirm that the trade is going in the direction we had expected.  In the case below, we can see from the chart, that the trader would have made 100 pips of profit in 5 minutes, and should they have kept the trade open longer, they would have made 200 pips of profit.  This would have been a very profitable trade.

What is Technical Analysis?

If fundamental traders focus on news events, technical traders focus on reading a price chart. Technical traders use a variety of tools and indicators to help them identify trends and patterns. This allows traders to identify high probability situations. These are ones in which the currency pair has a good chance of moving in a certain direction.

Experienced traders know how to turn a high probability trade into short-term profits. This is regardless of whether the market is moving up, down or sideways. In fact, the ability to make money in any market is one of the greatest benefits CFD and Forex trading.

A common excuse people have for not learning about technical analysis is the notion that you need to spend all day in front of the computer to be successful. The advantage of technical trading is the ability to make good consistent gains in any market without feeling like you have a second job.

How to get started with Technical Analysis?

Here is some further reading to get you going with the basics.

  • Down Theory:  Dow Theory is the basis of all technical analysis, so this is a good start for you.
  • Charts:  This is the first part of a two-part series we have on charts.  It will give you an introduction to chart types and how to compare time periods.  The second part is here when you are ready.
  • Directional Bias:  One of the principles in Down theory states that a market will continue moving in a direction until something happens to affect the momentum.  Here you can learn how to identify which way the market is going.
  • Momentum:  Markets change direction because of a decrease in momentum.  A technical trader needs to know how to watch for changes in momentum.

Technical Analysis Trade Example

In this example, we are using the charts and momentum indicator to time the exit of a trade.  Because markets will maintain a trend until there is a change in momentum, we can watch for a change in momentum to indicate that the market could reverse.  There is an example of exactly that.  As a trader, we would close the trade when we see this change as we know we have not maximized our potential profits.

EUR/USD Chart w/ Momentum Indicator

Technical Analysis vs. Fundamental Analysis

Both the technical analysis and fundamental analysis have their own limitations. This is the main reason why some professional traders choose to combine the two. If a trade is based on both technical and fundamental data the probabilities of success can increase considerably.

There is another school of thought that believes that all fundamental factors are already priced in the data. This means that you only have to read the technical data to best predict the markets. If you adhere to this school of thought than technical analysis is a superior form of trading.

The validity of technical analysis is also questioned. The efficient market hypothesis claims that all past price information is already reflected in the current price. If this is the case, since all data in the charts is old information, there is no exploitable data to beat the markets. And in this way, fundamental trading is the only way to speculate on future pricing.

Conclusion

Every successful trader knows that it takes study, practice, and dedication to get to the point where you can achieve consistent monthly profits. Whichever way you choose to trade you have to trade with knowledge and discipline.

You don’t have to worry which one of the two approaches is better. Instead, you can take advantage of both of them. This will help you make better-informed trading decisions, and help you find more trading opportunities.

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.