Wyckoff's chart-based methodology rests on three fundamental “laws,” which affect many aspects of analysis, including: determining the market's and individual stocks' current and potential future directional bias, selecting the best stocks to trade long or short, identifying the readiness of a stock to leave a trading range, and projecting price targets in a trend from a stock’s behavior in a trading range. These laws inform the analysis of every chart and the selection of every stock to trade.
1. The law of determines the price direction. This principle is central to Wyckoff's method of trading and investing. When demand is greater than supply, prices rise, and when supply is greater than demand, prices fall. The trader/analyst can study the balance between by comparing price and bars over time. This law is deceptively simple, but learning to accurately evaluate on bar charts and to understand the implications of patterns takes considerable practice.
2. The law of cause and effect helps the trader and investor set price objectives by gauging the potential extent of a trend emerging from a trading range. Wyckoff's “cause” can be measured by the horizontal point count in a point-and-figure chart, while the “effect” is the distance price moves corresponding to the point count. This law's operation can be seen as the force of accumulation or distribution within a trading range—and how this force works itself out in a subsequent trend or movement up or down. Point-and-figure chart counts are used to measure a cause and to project the extent of its effect. (See “Point and Figure Count Guide” below for an illustration of this law.)
3. The law of effort versus result provides an early warning of a possible change in trend in the near future. Divergences between and price often signal a change in the direction of a price trend. For example, when there are several high-volume (large effort) but narrow-range price bars after a substantial rally, with the price failing to make a new high (little or no result), this suggests that big interests are unloading shares in anticipation of a change in trend.