Since the dawn of the digital marketplace, the popularity of technical analysis has grown exponentially. Crafting decisions in reference to price action is one of the staples of modern trading. If you’re an aspiring market technician, designing, building, and studying pricing charts is going to be an important part of your job.
The E-mini S&P 500 (ES) is among the most heavily traded derivatives contracts in the world. Listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the ES offers traders a way of engaging the S&P 500 with unparalleled depth and liquidity. For those interested in trading from a technical perspective, crafting an ES futures chart will be necessary. Let’s take a look at how to build an ES futures chart quickly and easily.
Selecting the Proper Chart Type
The first step in constructing a pricing chart is to select an appropriate type. A strong chart must add strategic value to your comprehensive trading plan. If it doesn’t, then you’ll want to use another type of chart.
In order to be effective, a pricing chart must be both user-friendly and instructive. You should be able to ascertain all the relevant data you need at a simple glance, without extensive mental gymnastics. Here are a few popular ES futures chart types and their functions:
- Japanese candlesticks: Candlesticks are an exceedingly popular charting type among market technicians. They’re especially useful in pattern trading strategies and on intraday and multi-session time frames.
- Open high low close (OHLC): OHLC charts are a tried-and-true method of visualizing pricing data. OHLC charts are useful in that they clearly indicate market direction and the periodic trading range of a security.
- Line: Line charts are a basic representation of price data. They show the general direction of price action and are used to quickly reference the market state of a security.
- Market profile: Market profile charts combine price, volume, and time frame on a single chart. This is accomplished by establishing value areas in reference to price levels that have attracted significant participation over a finite period of time.
Each of these chart types is designed to serve a specific purpose and complement a unique strategy. For instance, a line chart simply won’t be enough for a pattern trader; Japanese candlesticks are a far superior choice. For volume analysis, an OHLC chart doesn’t supply the quality of information that a market profile layout does. At the end of the day, your ES futures chart type must harmonize with your trading strategy for the presentation to be effective.
Designing Your Chart
After selecting the proper type of chart for your trading strategy, it’s time to customize the chart’s layout to your specifications. To do so competently, you should address these elements:
- Duration: The duration of the price chart dictates the scale or granularity of the technical study. By assigning a duration, you clearly define the periodicity of the chart. It may be specified in terms of minutes, hours, days, volume, or tick increments.
- Technical indicators: Applying technical tools and indicators is a key element of studying price action. Typically, indicators are integrated into the chart as an overlay or in a linked window. The use of tools—such as moving averages, stochastics, or Bollinger Bands—can help to place evolving price action into a manageable context.
- Aesthetics: A chart’s appearance is important to its overall usability. After eliminating all extraneous information and unnecessary tools, creating a desirable visual presentation can help streamline the appearance of the chart. This factor varies according to personal preference, but the goal is to maximize your comfort and the chart’s overall utility.
One of the great things about trading in the modern marketplace is the ease of chart construction. Software trading platforms make building a robust ES futures chart relatively straightforward. Gone are the days of graphing paper, pencils, and protractors. Now, designing and building a chart is a largely automated process―simply point, click, and begin your analysis.
Learn How to Build an ES Futures Chart from the Pros
If you’re an aspiring market technician interested in advanced charting, then check out the educational materials available online courtesy of Daniels Trading. From the 10 Rules for Technical Futures Trading e-book to the dt Pro webinar series, the resources at Daniels have everything you need to become a skilled chart-maker in no time at all.