What Is The Cup & Handle Pattern & How To Trade With It

The Cup and Handle is a chart pattern that identifies a continuation or reversal of a trend. William J. O’ Neil in his book, “How to Make Money in Stocks” presented the Cup and Handle pattern. He gave detailed descriptions of rounded lows, which makes the formation of the pattern like a teacup. Because the pattern resembles a U-shaped Cup and a slight downward shifted Handle.

What is the Cup and Handle Pattern?

The Cup and Handle is a bullish pattern that signals an uptrend. The pattern establishes when the price goes in an uptrend, followed by a significant pullback that forms a rounding bottom. This signifies a Cup. Next, the subsequent pullback occurs at the resistance level that creates a small rounding bottom. This marks the Handle.

This is how the pattern looks like on the chart:

Cup and Handle pattern on a chart
Cup and Handle pattern on a chart

The right-hand side of the pattern experienced a low trading volume. It can take a minimum of 7 weeks or a maximum of 65 weeks for the pattern to appear on the chart fully.

For precise identification of the pattern, a trade should consider the following points:

  • Typically, cups with U-shaped bottoms provide more reliable signals than V-shaped bottoms.
  • The depth of the Handle shouldn’t be too deeper. Ideally, it should stay at the upper-third.
  • The volume of the trade should decrease with the price decline and should be lower than that of the U-shaped bottom.
  • In some cases, the Handle consolidates sideways.

Traditionally, the cup has a pause, or stabilizing period, at the bottom of the cup, where the price moves sideways or forms a rounded bottom. It shows the price found a support level and couldn’t drop below it. It helps improve the odds of the price moving higher after the breakout.

A V-bottom, where the price drops and then sharply rallies, may also form a cup. Some traders like these types of cups, while others avoid them. Those that like them see the V-bottom as a sharp reversal of the downtrend, which shows buyers stepped in aggressively on the right side of the pattern.

How to use the Cup and Handle pattern?

As mentioned earlier, the Cup and Handle signals a continuation or reversal of a trend. The Reversal pattern emerges when the price is in a long-term downtrend. With the appearance of Cup and Handle, this downward momentum starts rising. The continuation pattern surfaces in an uptrend, and when the Cup and Handle forms, the price continues to move in the same direction.

Traders enter after the formation of the Handle. However, an aggressive trader may take a position at the Handle. Traders take their long positions when the price breaks the resistance level. When the price breaks-free from the Handle, the price is expected to go higher.

But, the price wouldn’t go higher in all circumstances. The price may fall or move sideways. For this reason, the use of other technical indicators along with the Cup and Handle is recommended. Moving Averages is mostly combined with the Cup and Handle because it would help traders recognize support and resistance levels.

As for stop-losses, they should be placed below the lowest point of the Handle. Traders can utilize the Fibonacci extension tool to identify profit-targets when trading the Cup and Handle.

Cup and Handle trading strategy

The cup and handle formation is created when the price of an asset falls but then makes its way back up to the point where the fall started. Cup and handle patterns are found on all timeframes, from intraday charts up to weekly and monthly charts.

William O’Neil’s Cup with Handle is a bullish continuation pattern that marks a consolidation period followed by a breakout. There are two parts to the pattern: the cup and the handle. The cup forms after an advance and looks like a bowl or rounding bottom.

In the version presented by William J. O’ Neil, the Cup and Handle only appear on higher timeframes. Later, when the pattern was deconstructed, there emerge new ways to find it. Now, modern Cup and Handle can occur on smaller timeframes like one-minute charts and on longer timeframes.

One idea to trade the Cup and Handle is by using a 1H chart with a 20-day EMA and 50-day EMA.

Cup and Handle buy strategy

  • Locate the pattern in an uptrend.
  • Wait for the price bar to go bullish before entering.
  • Enter after the formation of the Handle.
  • Set a stop-loss near the recent swing low from the Handle.
  • Exit the trade when the price reverses.

Cup and Handle pattern conclusion

A Cup and Handle pattern is a chart pattern that takes the shape of a cup with a handle. It is a trend continuation chart pattern and can be bullish or bearish, depending on the trend where it is formed. In an uptrend, it is bullish, while in a downtrend, it is bearish. Inverted cup and handle patterns are also possible during downtrends and signal bearish continuations. In this case, the cup shape is inverted such that it represents a resurgence in price after a downtrend followed by a downward movement.

The Cup and Handle outlines possible entry and exit points and signals a potential reversal and continuation of the trend. The major drawback of Cup and Handle is that it takes a long time to appear on the chart. The Cup & Handle 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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