Reading the Market with OHLC Indicators: What You Need to Know

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In financial markets, OHLC charts and indicators are important in helping traders and investors make informed decisions. This type of chart represents the price action of a security and the open, high, low, and close prices over a given period. Traders or investors use this data to identify patterns and trends, which they use to make trading decisions. In this, you need to know everything about OHLC charts and indicators and how to interpret them.

What are OHLC Charts? 

An OHLC chart, or an Open-High-Low-Close chart, shows the opening, high, low, and closing prices of a security or other financial instrument for a specific period. These charts are easy to read and understand, making them popular among traders and investors. 

There are a few key points to keep in mind when reading OHLC charts:

  • The Open, High, Low, and Close (OHLC) values are the four main prices used in the chart.
  • The open price is the price at the start of the period, while the close price is the price at the end of the period. 
  • The high price is the highest price reached during the period, while the low price is the lowest price reached during the period.
  • Traders decide on the length of each period to fit their needs and timeframe.

How to Construct OHLC Charts 

Expert traders can construct an OHLC chart by plotting the open, high, low, and closing prices for some time. 

However, there are several steps to take when constructing an OHLC chart, which include the following; 

Determine the Time Frame

When interpreting an OHLC chart, the first step is determining the time frame used to construct the chart. Time frames vary widely, from a few minutes to weeks, months, or even years. Each time frame can provide different insights into the price action of a security. 

Collect the Data

The data used to construct an OHLC chart is collected from various sources, such as a broker’s trading platform or a financial data provider. This data is typically organized in a table or spreadsheet, with columns for the open, high, low, and close prices.

Calculate the Intraday Range

The high price is subtracted from the low price for each period to calculate the intraday range. The result is the intraday range, which is the difference between the highest and lowest prices recorded during that period. This range is visualized as the vertical line on the OHLC chart. 

Determine the Open and Close Prices

When determining the open and close prices, the price at the beginning and end of the period is recorded. The open price is usually the first price recorded at the start of the period, while the close price is usually the last at the end. These prices are represented by the horizontal lines that connect the vertical bars in the OHLC chart.

Plot the Data

Traders can plot on the chart once the data has been collected and organized. They represent each period with a single vertical bar, which includes the open, high, low, and close prices. The vertical line in the middle of the bar represents the intraday range. The left and right ends of the bar represent the open and closed prices, respectively.

Add Additional Chart Types

Usually, traders combine it with other chart types to gain more insight from an OHLC chart. Range areas, such as Bollinger Bands, can be added to an OHLC chart to show areas of support and resistance. 

Chart Patterns to Look for in OHLC Charts

OHLC charts are powerful tools for investors to analyze market data and make informed trading decisions. By visually presenting the open, high, low, and close prices, OHLC charts make it easier to identify trends, market sentiment, and opportunities to buy or sell. 

When making profitable investment decisions, there are some patterns to look out for in OHLC charts. These patterns are as follows: 

Bullish and Bearish Trends

Bullish and bearish trends describe the market’s overall direction based on the patterns formed in an OHLC chart. A bullish trend occurs when the price of a security moves higher, indicated by higher highs and higher lows on the chart. A bearish trend occurs when the price of a security moves lower, indicated by lower highs and lower lows on the chart. 

Support and Resistance Levels

Support and resistance levels are another key component of an OHLC chart. A support level is a price level where buying interest is strong enough to prevent the price from falling further. A resistance level is a price level where selling interest is strong enough to prevent the price from rising further. 

Reversal Patterns

Reversal patterns occur when a trend is about to reverse direction. When traders can identify these patterns, they can use them to predict a trend reversal and capitalize on that change in direction. While not all reversal patterns are predictive, they can provide valuable information to help guide a trader’s decision-making process.

Continuation Patterns

In addition to reversal patterns, traders can find continuation patterns on OHLC charts. These patterns indicate that a trend will likely continue in the same direction. 

Candlestick Patterns

Like OHLC charts, candlestick charts also use price data to help traders identify market trends and trading opportunities. The difference is that candlestick charts use candlesticks, which are rectangular shapes with a body and wicks, to represent the price data. 

How to Interpret OHLC Charts 

When interpreting an OHLC chart, traders typically focus on three things:

  • The open, high, low, and close prices.
  • The direction of the trend.
  • Any patterns that may be forming.

The open and close prices can provide information about the current trend’s strength, while the high and low prices can give clues about potential trend reversals. If you’re clueless, here are a few ways to interpret OHLC charts:

Identify the Time Frame

When analyzing an OHLC chart, it’s important to consider the time frame used to create the chart. The time frame determines the amount of data included in the chart, which can affect the interpretation of the data. 

Look for Trends

Analyzing trends is an important part of using an OHLC chart. Traders identify it by looking for a series of rising or falling prices, known as a bullish or bearish trend. Trends can determine when to buy or sell a security and set stop-loss and profit targets.

Analyze the Momentum

The relationship between the open and close prices on an OHLC chart can help indicate the strength of momentum in the market. When the close price is significantly higher or lower than the open price, it indicates strong momentum in the direction of the trend. Conversely, when the close price is near the open price, it can signal a lack of momentum or a potential reversal. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the difference between OHLC charts and other types of charts?

OHLC charts differ from other types of charts, such as line charts or bar charts, in that they include four data points: open, high, low, and close.

How are OHLC charts used in technical analysis?

OHLC charts are often used in technical analysis to identify trading opportunities and predict future price movements. 

What are the pros and cons of using OHLC charts?

The main advantage of OHLC charts is that they provide more detailed information. However, one potential drawback of OHLC charts is that they can be more difficult to read and interpret than other charts. 

Bottom Line

To summarize, traders and Investors use the OHLC chart to analyze market trends. These charts display the open, high, low, and close prices for a given period, the trend’s direction, and the momentum’s strength. By analyzing the trends, traders can decide when to buy or sell securities.


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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.