What Is The ABCD Pattern & How To Trade With It

The ABCD is a Harmonic pattern that describes a potential reversal. The pattern was discovered by H.M. Gartley and presented in the book “Profits in the Stock Market.” Later, Scott Carney further developed the ABCD pattern. It reflects the common, rhythmic style in which the market moves. A visual, geometric price/time pattern comprised of 3 consecutive price swings, or trends—it looks like a lightning bolt on price chart. A leading indicator that helps determine where & when to enter and exit a trade.

What is the ABCD pattern?

The structure of the ABCD pattern is based on formation, like any other type of Gartley pattern. The pattern develops when the line AB is equal to the line CD. The lines AB and CD are known as legs, while the line BC is called correction or retracement.

Each part of the pattern is like Fibonacci numbers and represents short-term consolidation against the trend. Traders utilize the Fibonacci tool to find the pattern on the chart.

This is how the pattern appears on the chart.

ABCD pattern on a chart
ABCD pattern on a chart

As one can observe, the pattern establishes by connecting highs and lows between points A, B, C, and D.

Three rules determine the validity of the ABCD pattern. These are:

  • For the pattern to emerge, the price travels from A to B and then C to D. The distance between A to B and C to D should be equal.
  • The line BC must show a retracement of 61.8% to 78.6% of AB. Also, the CD should show an extension of 127.2% to 161.8%.
  • The CD leg should be an extension of AB between 127.2% to 161.8%.

Trades often confuse the ABCD pattern with the Three-Drive pattern. The structure of both patterns looks similar, but the Three-Drive has three legs (A, B, and C) known as drives.

How to use the ABCD pattern?

To implement the ABCD, traders use a bullish and bearish version of the pattern.

Bullish ABCD pattern

The bullish pattern surfaces in a downtrend and signals a potential reversal.

Bullish ABCD pattern
Bullish ABCD pattern

Bearish ABCD pattern

The bearish ABCD pattern appears in an uptrend and identifies a downward price move.

Bearish ABCD pattern
Bearish ABCD pattern

To take positions, traders wait for the pattern to complete, then go long or short at point D. In the bullish version, traders buy at D, while in the bearish version, traders sell at D. The stop-losses are set above or below the point D. However, a conservative trader may take positions after point D.

Due to its overall structure, traders look for the highs and lows when trading the ABCD pattern. Moreover, a useful way to trade the pattern is to combine it with the zig-zag indicator. The indicator can draw price highs and lows, so traders can easily spot the ABCD pattern.

The ABCD pattern works in the trending markets, but it can give false signals in the ranging markets. Traders often mistook the price highs and lows with the ABCD pattern without determining its validity. Therefore, in the ranging markets, the use of momentum oscillators comes in handy.

ABCD pattern trading strategy

Users can manually draw and maneuver the four separate points (ABCD). The ABCD points create three separate legs which combine to form chart patterns. The three legs are referred to as AB, BC, and CD. Each of the four points (ABCD) represent a significant high or low in terms of price on the chart.

The ABCD works on every timeframe. Short-term traders view the pattern on daily or weekly charts to find the potential reversal and then apply it in their trading strategies.

The longer the timeframe, the better would be the formation of the ABCD pattern.

ABCD pattern trading is the simplest of all market patterns to recognize, and it’s the basis for other patterns. The reason is that it’s rooted in the Fibonacci sequence – a process that involves dividing one number by another in sequence as part of a pattern.

ABCD buy strategy

  • Identify the pattern in a downtrend.
  • Wait for the price bar to go bullish before entering.
  • Enter the trade at point D.
  • Place a stop-loss near the recent low from point D.
  • Exit the trade when the price starts to decline.

ABCD sell strategy

  • Locate the pattern in an uptrend.
  • Wait for the price bar to go bearish before entering.
  • Enter the trade at point D.
  • Set a stop-loss near the recent high from point D.
  • Exit the trade when the price starts to rise.

ABCD pattern conclusion

The ABCD is a simple Harmonic pattern that can usually be identified easily. Traders should consider the rules for confirming the pattern and not confuse it with price highs and lows.

This harmonic pattern that helps traders predict when the price of a stock is about to change direction. The pattern can be used to predict either a bullish or bearish reversal depending on the orientation. The ABCD Pattern can be used on your trading platform charts to help filter potential trading signals as part of an overall trading strategy.

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Harmonic patterns have gained a lot of momentum lately. Since their appearance in 1935, many patterns have undergone some refinement. The inclusion of Fibonacci ratios and projections have added more detail to the specifications. This was one of the primary goals of this article — to shed some light on the perfect ABCD pattern.

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