The Cup and Handle Pattern

Cup and Handle
The Cup and Handle Pattern

The Cup and Handle pattern is a bullish continuation pattern that was first identified by William O'Neil and introduced in his bestselling book, How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad, which is currently in its fourth edition. Interestingly, this pattern appears on line, bar and candlestick charts, as well as Point-and-Figure charts. It is a long-term pattern and more suited to longer time-frames, such as the daily and weekly charts. It is rarely seen on shorter, intra-day charts.

The Cup and Handle pattern appears in an uptrend and consists of two parts: the cup and the handle:

  • The Cup is formed when a series of gentle declines in prices interrupts the uptrend and is followed by an advance to more or less that same level that was reached prior to the decline. This may take the shape of a bowl or a rounding bottom but should not be a V-shape as it should form a consolidation area or a significant support area. Ideally, this decline should retrace about 1/3 of the previous advance and no more than 2/3 of the advance.
  • The Handle is a trading range or a consolidation area that develops after the Cup is completed. This may be a bullish flag or pennant pattern, or a short pullback. Ideally, the handle should retrace no more than 1/3 into the cup's depth. The shorter the retracement in terms of both time and distance, the more bullish the pattern.

The pattern is completed when the price action breaks the resistance level formed by the peaks that form the rim of the Cup.

Entry Signal

The Cup and Handle pattern gives a long entry signal, i.e., a buy, when the price breaks above the resistance formed at the top of the cup. As with any situation where support or resistance is broken, the break out should ideally be accompanied by a significant increase in volume. If the volume does not increase, the probability of a false break out increases. Fortunately, the price should not move into the lower 1/3 of the cup, which makes it a good level to place a protective stop.

Price Projection

The price projection for the cup and handle pattern can be calculated by measuring the depth of the cup, i.e., from the peaks at the top of the cup to the bottom of hte cup. This depth can then be added to the breakout point to find the projected price that should be reached as a minimum price target for this pattern.



Continuation Patterns

Continuation Patterns
Flag Pattern

Continuation patterns indicate that there is a greater probability of the continuation of a trend than a trend reversal.. These patterns are generally formed when the price action enters a consolidation phase during a pre-existing trend. During the consolidation phase, the trend appears to change; however, the continuation of the preceding trend is more probable.

Some of the common continuation patterns include the cup and handle pattern, flags and pennants, symmetrical triangles, ascending triangle and desc...


Support and Resistance

Support and Resistance
Support and Resistance

Support and Resistance lines are often confused with trend lines but they are horizontal lines under the lows and above the highs respectively. They indicate where a previous rally met resistance and where a previous decline met support. These are two important levels in terms of trend identification since an uptrend will tend to break previous resistance levels above the market while a down trend will break the previous support levels below the market.

When the support line below the recent minor low in broken in an uptrend, it indicates that ...