Comparison: Web-Based Technical Analysis Services
by Wayne A. Thorp
Over the last several years, Computerized Investing has traced the evolution of the Internet and its impact on investing and investment analysis. Today, individual investors have an abundance of data and tools at their disposal as the Internet can assist investors with both retrieving financial information and analyzing securities. Web-based tools have moved well beyond simple browsing and have entered the realm once reserved for stand-alone software packages. Many sites now boast powerful portfolio tracking and analysis along with mutual fund and stock screening.
Technical analysischarting a stocks price and volume data to identify trendsis another area where Web-based analysis is closing the gap with its software-based counterparts. Only a few years ago, the landscape was dominated by a few well-known sites such as BigCharts.com. Today, many unique and respectable sites offer charting, technical indicators, and technical screening.
In this article
- Web Versus Software
- Services Features
- Data Intervals
- Historical Data Availability
- Export Formats
- Chart Types
- User-Defined Chart Settings
- Linear and Log Scalin
- Technical Screening/Scanning
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As the number of sites offering technical analysis grows, individuals are confronted with a diverse collection of choices, and knowing what each site offers becomes increasingly difficult. To help educate readers on the various sites available and the services and features they provide, 15 Web-based technical analysis and charting services are reviewed herea decline of two sites since our last review in the November/December 2000 issue of Computerized Investing. The sites range from those that offer charting and technical analysis as part of their collection of investment analysis tools to sites exclusively devoted to technical analysis and charting.
Web Versus Software
The first question to answer is whether you should go the software or on-line route for technical analysis and charting tools. For Mac users, there is often the frustration of being limited in the choice of investment analysis software due to the smaller market. The Web alleviates much (but not all) of this frustration because the Internet, for the large part, is platform-neutral. This means both Mac and Windows users alike can use the modules available via the Web. This holds true with the Web-based services examined here, although Mac users will find that some sites do not offer the same level of functionality for the Mac that they do for Windows.
When looking at the features and functionality found with Web sites and software, the most striking differences you will find is in the level of features each has to offer. While the functionality of Web-based services has grown significantly over the years, it is still largely dwarfed by that of technical analysis software. Most of the services covered in this comparison offer the most basic technical analysis featuresmainly charting and the ability to overlay technical indicators and drawing tools. Even here, however, the libraries of technical indicators tend to be smaller than what you would find with technical analysis software. Table 1 lists some of the technical indicators found with the services covered here. On average, these sites offer 30 technical indicators and studies, an increase from just over 16 in our last comparison. However, compare this to the number found in end-of-day technical analysis software programs (as reported in the May/June 2000 issue of Computerized Investing). The 16 programs averaged close to 63 indicators and studies. As a rule, software-based programs offer a more in-depth collection of technical indicators at this point in time.
Beyond offering more technical indicators, some of the more advanced technical analysis programs on the market today allow users to create and save their own technical indicators. This level of flexibility has not yet made its way to any Web-based technical analysis service.
Technical analysis programs, at least those at the higher-end, are also ahead of Web-based services in terms of offering trading systems. With this functionality, users are able to select a technical indicator or collection of indicators to generate buy and sell signals for a security, as well as backtest these systems to gauge their historical profitability. Furthermore, most of these same programs allow you to create your own technical trading systems. In contrast, there are only a few Web sites that provide what could loosely be called trading systems. These sites, such as Wall Street City, indicate buy and sell points based upon a plotted technical indicator. As of yet, however, none of them allow users to create their own systems or perform significant historical backtesting. Only TradeSignals.com Xcharts service offers true system trading, albeit only for S&P and Nasdaq E-Mini futures contracts.
While many of the differences between technical analysis software and their Web-based counterparts may lead you to believe that software is superior at all levels, Web-based services do hold some distinct advantages over software. The most significant area in which they excel is in the delivery and pricing of data.
When looking for a technical analysis program, there are typically two purchase decisions you must makea fact lost on many. The first is choosing the program itself; the second is selecting a data vendor. With on-line services, dataat least end-of-day datais provided at no charge. Therefore, you can begin your analysis without having to download data or subscribe to a historical data service.
Most technical analysis software carries a charge that can range in cost from $400 for the most advanced end-of-day program to over $1,500 for a high-end, real-time program. However, there is the additional cost of data, which can range from $20 a month for historical end-of-day data to $60 per month and higher for real-time data delivery. With many free of charge, Web-based technical analysis services offer much in the way of cost savings when compared to software programs.
So the question then becomes, which to use?
If you are new to technical analysis or are looking for simple charting and technical analysis on an end-of-day, intraday, or real-time basis, a Web-based service should suffice. For technical analysis neophytes, there are enough high-quality Web-based services available at no cost that will allow you to get your feet wet without having to make a financial commitment to software and data. In addition, a few sites offer an extensive collection of educational content that will allow you to expand your knowledge of technical analysis. In the end, if you have no desire to create your own indicators or create and backtest trading systems, a Web-based service should offer everything you need.
On the other hand, if you need robust technical analysis capabilities, including custom indicators and trading systems, your needs would be better served by a software-based application.
The comparison grid examines the standard features and functions that many of the Web-based technical analysis services have in common. Additionally, as mentioned, Table 1 outlines some of the more popular technical indicators and charting features each has to offer. Keep in mind that this list is not intended to be all-inclusive. The information in these tables has either been provided directly by the respective service or taken from its Web site.
Databoth price and volumeforms the cornerstone of technical analysis. For this reason, we lead off our discussion with some of the more important data elements you need to consider.
Most of the services included in this comparison deal with stocks, mutual funds, and indexes. Two deal exclusively with futures analysisFutureSource and TradeSignals.comwhile Lycos Finance LiveCharts and Prophet Financial Services offer futures and options only with their premium subscriptions. TradingCharts.com offers commodity charting for free.
Technical analysis can be conducted using end-of-day, intraday delayed, or intraday real-time data. End-of-day charts are updated once the data has been collected for the completed trading day. All of the services listed here offer data on an end-of-day basis and all but oneMarketCluboffer end-of-day data for free.
With intraday delayed data, charts can plot data during the trading day using time increments such as one minute, five minutes, 15 minutes or longer, but the most recent price information is delayed (usually by 15 or 20 minutes) from the actual last trade. This delay allows the data to be offered at no cost, since exchanges sell real-time access to their data. All 15 services provide intraday delayed data.
Lastly, real-time data is the timeliest data available. This represents an attempt to capture the latest price at which a security has traded. Nine of the 15 services highlighted here offer real-time data and charting, and all but oneCNBC at MSN Moneydo so for a fee. The only drawbacks to the free real-time charts provided by MSN Money is that they are not streaming, meaning users have to refresh a chart themselves in order to view the most current data; furthermore, technical indicators are not plotted in real-time.
Note that even with real-time data feeds, some delays will exist as trades are executed and flow from the exchange to your computer. However, with a real-time feed, no artificial delay is introduced into the feed.
Historical Data Availability
One advantage Web-based technical analysis services hold over software is that there is no need to accumulate a historical database in order to plot stocks, funds, indexes, or futures. The amount of historical data these services provide, however, varies greatly. While some, such as Lycos Finance LiveCharts, offer five years of historical data, others such as BigCharts, CNBC at MSN Money, Prophet Financial Systems, and Wall Street City provide over 30 years of data on their chartsprovided the security has been traded that long.
More and more, people are looking for free sources of price and volume data that can be used in spreadsheets and other programs. One way to obtain this data is by exporting it from an on-line charting service. Five of these services allow users to export data in a variety of formats, including Excel spreadsheet and ASCII text format.
The services here offer a wide range of charting options. Most of the technical analysis you will perform will deal in some way with a chart. Whether it is only a price chart or a chart with indicators, the chart is the primary tool of the technical analyst.
The most common types of charts are line and bar charts, and all 15 services listed here provide both. Line charts normally plot the close over time, while bar charts show the open, high, low, and closing prices for a given period. Candlestick charts, another popular chart type, are available with 11 of the services.
For those interested in point and figure charts, two new sites to this comparison offer these unique chartsStockCharts.com and MarketScreen both at no charge.
User-Defined Chart Settings
The ability to specify and save certain settings is an extremely useful feature found with more and more Web sites. Ten of the services compared here allow users to specify such information as the time period, periodicity (daily, weekly, etc.), chart type, as well as any applied indicators; and the service saves your choices so you can view charts with the same settings on subsequent visits. All you need to do is choose the security, and the template automatically displays it in the desired manner.
Linear and Log Scalin
When viewing price data, there are two general scales usedlinear and log. Most of the charts you see are probably on a linear scale, where there is an equal distance between price pointsthe space between $1 and $2 is the same as the space between $100 and $101.
With log scaling, an equal amount of space is found between equal percent changes in price. In other words, the space between $1 and $2 is the same as the distance between $100 and $200, since in both cases the percentage change is 100%. Log scales are most useful when viewing data over a long historical period and among a number of securities. Ten of the 15 services offer log scaling for their charts.
One of the main functions of technical analysis is to identify trends in price and volume in the hopes of forecasting future price movement. Trendlines, which are lines used to connect two or more points on a chart, are a useful tool to this end.
Many sites go beyond static Web display pages to load actual programs within your browser that can manipulate data. Suns Java and Microsofts ActiveX are the two most popular Web-distributed programming languages. Java and ActiveX technology have enabled charts to become more interactive, such as allowing users to draw their own trendlines on charts. Ten of the technical analysis services discussed in this comparison offer interactive chart features.
While Java and ActiveX technology have expanded the capabilities of many Web sites, they also exclude many Mac users. As a Mac user, keep this in mind when visiting sites that make use of these programming languages.
A technical indicator is the mathematical manipulation of price or volume displayed in a graphical manner, such as stochastics and moving average convergence/divergence (MACD).
The number and type of indicators provided are important factors to consider when deciding upon a Web-based service. You should make sure that any service you are considering includes the indicators important to your analysis. Taking a moment to consider your needs will be helpful in assessing the number of indicators you will require from a service.
Beyond a set of predefined indicators, the ability to modify indicators to fit your individual trading needs is a useful feature. Modifications allow you to adjust factors such as the number of time periods used in a calculation. For example, the Wilders RSI (relative strength index) is usually constructed using 14 periods, but you may want to vary the period depending on the security or market condition.
Finally, many users of technical analysis follow more than one indicator. They track the behavior of multiple indicators in conjunction with one another to make buy and sell decisions. For this reason, it is convenient to have the ability to plot multiple indicators on the same screen. This may entail either plotting indicators on the same price chart, or having them plotted in their own window below the primary price chart. All but one of the technical analysis services included here allow you to plot multiple indicators. Table 1 details the mainstream indicators each service offers as well as the overall number of indicators they provide.
To keep you from constantly having to monitor your positions or favorite securities, some services provide alerts and charts via E-mail.
CNBC at MSN Money, for example, allows users to specify price targets and will send out an instant message alert through the MSN messenger service when the price target is reached.
Likewise, the BigCharts site can E-mail charts, complete with technical indicators, on an end-of-day basis. In all, nine of the services offer E-mail alerts and five either deliver charts via E-mail or allow users to E-mail charts.
Finally, for those who seek out securities exhibiting specific technical behavior, seven of the 15 services included here allow users to screen for stocks based on technical criteria. The depth of screening ranges from identifying stocks reaching 52-week highs or lows, or those securities breaking above or below 50- or 200-day moving averages, to screening for particular values of technical indicators, such as stochastics or the MACD.
Another feature that is becoming popular among Web-based technical analysis services are scans, which are pre-defined searches for securities reaching some technical condition or exhibiting various chart patterns, such as a double-top or head and shoulders, candlestick patterns, or even point and figure chart patterns.
|TECHNICAL ANALYSIS WEB SITES|
The ASK Research Web site is devoted to technical analysis and market data covering over 18,000 U.S. and Canadian stocks and indexes. The site promotes three types of charts: daily, intraday, and streaming, although the streaming charts Java applet was not functioning on several visits. Access to end-of-day and delayed intraday charts is free. For a fee of $25 per month, subscribers have access to real-time price data for all of the tools available at the Web site, including dynamically updated charts.
The site offers open, high, low, and close charts with 50-day simple moving averages for over 14 major market and sector indexesincluding the Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq composite and 100 indexes, S&P 100 and 500 indexes, and the Russell 1000, 2000, and 3000 indexes.
The daily charts allow you to plot stock data over one-, three-, and six-month periods, as well as one- to five-year periods. You can choose from bar, line, or candlestick charts and overlay either exponential moving averages (up to three) or Bollinger bands. For technical indicators, you can plot one from a list of eight that includes volume, Williams %R, price rate of change, and money flow index.
The charts offer some degree of flexibilityusers can specify the size, type, and time frame of the chart as well as overlay up to nine different price and volume indicators. Chart settings can be saved for future use. An improvement in recent years is the ability to fully customize the various indicators, meaning you can specify the parameters used in calculating the indicators.
BigCharts, which is owned by CBS MarketWatch, is a well-established presence in the realm of on-line charting services. This free service offers users one of the largest databases of securitiesover 50,000along with interactive charts, Java charting, market and company news, historical quotes, and industry analysis.
In recent years, BigCharts has expanded its collection of charts to include Java charting to go along with its quick charts and interactive charts. With quick charts you enter a ticker symbol, specify the time frame, and are presented with the chart. Quick charts do not support the plotting of multiple securities simultaneously and the indicators and studies that are automatically drawn with the chart are those saved in the chart settings.
The interactive charts provide additional features. You have the option of selecting a predefined time period or specifying a custom time period. Intraday dataone-, five-, 15-, and 60-minuteas well as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly frequencies are available. With each chart you can overlay up to five indicators from a library of over 20 popular indicatorsincluding stochastics, relative strength index (RSI), Bollinger bands, and the MACD (moving average convergence/divergence). Unfortunately, you are only able to modify the calculation parameters for moving averages. There are also nine display options including: open, high, low, close; high, low, close; candlesticks; and bar charts. Depending on the security or index you choose, data is available going back to 1970 and earlier. Once you have made your setting choices, you can save them for future use.
With the sites Java charts, you can plot a variety of time frames, although you do not have the ability to plot a custom time frame as with the interactive charts. You have the same collection of indicators from which to choose and, again, you are only able to modify the moving averages. The most useful feature of the Java charts is the ability to draw custom trendlines.
For historical quotes, you specify a ticker and date, and BigCharts provides the open, high, low, and closing price, as well as the volume for that date. However, you are not able to view data for a range of dates or export historical data.
BigCharts has the ability to deliver custom charts to users via E-mail on a daily or weekly basis, or when viewing a chart through your browser. Both options require that the recipient of the charts have HTML-enabled E-mail software.
ClearStation, a wholly owned subsidiary of E*Trade Group, advocates what they call a three-point investment approach built upon fundamental analysis, technical analysis, and community. On the technical analysis end, ClearStation offers daily graphs and an interactive graphing tool. The daily graph is a template showing up to one year of daily prices for a stock along with volume, MACD, MACD histogram, and stochastics. Users can customize the daily graph page to specify the size (six, nine, or 12 months) and indicators (MACD, MACD histogram, and/or stochastics). At the daily graph page, you are also given key technical and fundamental information on the plotted stock, such as the percentage above or below the 13- and 50-day exponential moving average, date of next earnings announcement, and latest analyst rating. Clicking on a chart on the daily graph page will provide you with a table of daily high/low/close prices and daily volume for up to one year.
The interactive graphing tool of the site provides users with greater flexibility. You can specify the time period of the graphcovering days, months, and yearsoverlay up to eight technical indicators and moving averages, as well as plot up to five different stocks or indexes on a single chart for easy comparison. Data is available going back 10 years. However, one drawback to the site is that you are not able to customize the technical indicators and overlays to your specifications.
A unique section of the ClearStation Web site is the Tag & Bag area. Here users will find lists of stocks, updated throughout the day, which are entering price action trends or experiencing fundamental events such as earnings surprises. A complement to this area is the A-List, which lists the top-performing Tag & Bag stocks.
In the Recommend area, users can monitor the portfolios and buying and selling activities of other members. An extensive collection of educational articles discussing technical analysis, trading strategies, and portfolio and risk management is also available.
CNBC at MSN Money
The CNBC at MSN Money site is one of the most complete investment sites around offering portfolio tracking, market news and data, extensive stock and mutual fund research, investment education, and charting.
The charting module is a Windows-based applet that is automatically downloaded into your Web browser the first time you try to access charts. Once downloaded, you are ready to begin plotting stocks, funds, and indexes. Mac users can create charts, but are limited to plotting 50- and 200-day moving averages. The charting module supports multiple time periods including intraday (both delayed and real-time), monthly, and yearly. You can select a specific time frame as well. If you take advantage of the sites free registration, you can access up to 50 free real-time charts per day. However, these charts are not streaming and you are not able to plot technical indicators in real-time. Beyond plotting daily, weekly, and monthly price history, you are also able to plot price performance and investment growth of a given security or index. You have a decent selection of technical studies and overlays from which to chooseover 10 in all. You can also opt to display corporate events such as dividends and splits. CNBC at MSN Money allows you to save multiple chart styles that you can apply during future visits. This site also allows Windows users to export data into spreadsheet format. After specifying the security and the time period you wish to have charted, you are able to export the high, low, and closing prices as well as volume.
Another useful feature available is a stock screening function. Beyond being able to screen for stocks that meet various fundamental criteria, you can locate those exhibiting certain trading volume behaviortrading above or below 50-day and 200-day moving averages, for example.
FutureSource is one of the few Web sites catering to futures and commodities traders. Here you will find free commodity and single stock futures quotes, charts, and news. Windows users interested in real-time futures data can subscribe to the fsXtra real-time service starting at $79.95 a month.
When creating a chart at FutureSource, you either specify the contract explicitly or select the commodity symbol, month, and year from the menus. You dictate the chart type and the time increments in which data is displayed (tick, intraday, daily, weekly, or monthly). There are also 32 different technical studies and indicators from which to choose, all of which are fully customizable. You are also able to overlay up to five indicators per chart. Chart settings can be saved for future use.
Added features that are available with the fsXtra subscription-based service include user-drawn trendlines and data exporting in Excel or text formats.
Lycos Finance LiveCharts
Lycos Finance, which was once the Quote.com Web site, offers visitors free access to its LiveCharts applet, which provides streaming, intraday delayed charting for stocks and indexes. Beginning at $9.95 a month, subscribers can access real-time LiveCharts for stocks, futures, and options The LiveCharts applet allows users to plot a single security and technical indicator per chart. All of the 19 indicators and studies available are charted intraday and are fully customizable. Data can be displayed on a one-, five-, 10-, 15-, 30-, and 60-minute basis as well as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Users are also given streaming time and sales data for the security being charted on either an intraday delayed or real-time basis, depending on your membership status.
Other features of the site include quotes and news, portfolio tracking, company profiles, analyst projections, insider trading data, SEC filings, and options chains.
MarketClub is predominantly a subscription-based service offering Web-based charting, analysis, and data for stocks, mutual funds, futures, and indexes. The service offers intraday delayed, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly line, bar, and candlestick charting for free on over 100,000 symbols (mainly North American quotations) and real-time data for foreign exchange and precious metals beginning at $9.95 per month. Users have 16 technical indicators and studies at their disposal, including Bollinger Bands and Fibonacci retracements, and can modify their parameters. Subscribers can also draw their own trendlines.
MarketClubs most interesting feature is its Smart Scan technology, which scans markets for individual stocks, futures, foreign exchange and precious metals that are either in a strong uptrend or downtrend. When you enter an individual ticker symbol, you are given a price chart as well as a breakdown of the elements used in deriving its Smart Scan score: last-hour close versus five-hour moving average, new high/low within last three days, last price relative to the 20-day moving average, recent three-week high or low, and recent three-month high. The cumulative score is between 100 (strong sell) and +100 (strong buy); a score closer to +100 indicates a strong positive long-term trend and a score closer to 100 correlates to a strong negative long-term trend.
MarketClub members also enjoy unlimited access to historical intraday and end-of-day data. Simply enter in a ticker at the Data Central area of the MarketClub Web site, specify the data interval (one, five, 15, and 60 minute and daily) and you are given comma-delimited open, high, low, close, volume, and open interest data. Intraday data is available for the last three trading days and daily data is available going back to the beginning of 1995.
The MarketScreen Web site offers a mix of stock charting, comprehensive screening, and market alerts. The cornerstone of the site, as its name indicates, is screens for a variety of technical and fundamental conditions as well as chart patterns. These screens are broken down into intraday, custom, quick picks, and backtested. Intraday screens are generated every hour of each trading day and encompass price and volume action, moving averages, chart patterns, trend indicators, oscillators, support and resistance, technicals, fundamentals, and industries/sectors. Each of these sub-categories is further divided into report groups, which you can select from a pull-down menu. In all there are literally hundreds of screens for you to use.
Once you have selected a report group, you are presented with a table listing the scans that are run for that particular report and the number of large-, mid-, and small-cap stocks passing that screen for the Nasdaq, New York Stock Exchange, and American Stock Exchange. Clicking on a number in this table delivers you to the actual listing of stocks with quote data as well as links to charts, company profiles, news, and SEC filings. The latest screening results, as well as those as of the close of the previous trading day are only accessible to subscribers. Reports from two to four trading days ago are free. Custom screens allow users to create their own screens based upon fundamental or technical criteria and save them for future use. With quick screens, you can choose from pre-defined screening criteria, while with power screens you have additional flexibility in selecting the values of the screening elements you choose. You can also have reports that are generated from a saved screen E-mailed to you at the close of each trading day.
The quick picks report lists top-performing stocks for specific technical events. Using MarketScreens backtesting technology, these events are backtested and their results are shown on the report. Each trading signal is tested among various optimization strategies and the stock with the largest profit is displayed. For each stock you can see the details of the simulation.
For charting, MarketScreen provides bar, line, candlestick, equivolume, and point & figure charts, the most comprehensive collection available among the sites in this comparison. Data is charted on an end-of-day or intraday delayed basis only (not real-time) and can be shown over a variety of intervals, from one minute to daily. For technical indicators and studies, MarketScreen offers one of the most extensive collections on the Internet with 63, all of which can be modified by the user.
Prophet Financial Systems, Inc.
The Prophet.net Web site offers three charting options depending on your needsSnapCharts, Java charts, and streaming charts. All three choices offer free end-of-day charting, while streaming charts also provides free streaming intraday delayed charts.
Java charts, as implied by the name, requires a Java-enabled browser. The system charts stocks, mutual funds, and indexes on an end-of-day basis at no cost, while real-time futures and options charting is available with the Gold subscription for $34.95 a month. With the free service you can add any of 25 technical indicators to a chart, while subscribers have access to an impressive 136 indicators and studies. Users are able to draw custom trendlines by either clicking on two points on the chart or selecting the Add Trendline function from the Tools menu and clicking and dragging to draw the trendline. Other features include the ability to chart specific time periods and a zoom function that is activated by dragging the cursor over a section of the chart.
SnapCharts is Prophets most flexible offering, with many of the same features and functionality found with Java charts. However, you are limited to plotting five indicators per chart and cannot draw trendlines as you can with the Java charts. But you do have a larger library of 59 indicators to choose from. Also, you have the added ability to plot futures contracts on an end-of-day basis. With both Java charts and SnapCharts, you can save your chart settings.
ChartStream delivers live, streaming equities, options, and futures charts for $19.95 per month (the Silver membership).
Silicon Investor, perhaps best-known for its message boards, has grown beyond this original focus to provide one-stop shopping for investment news, information, and analysis. The free charting mechanism covers stocks, funds, and indexes and allows for a relatively high level of user customization. Users can specify the number of periods the chart covers, choose the data frequency, select up to four technical indicators from a collection of 13, and overlay additional securities for comparison. You can also create and save multiple chart templates as well as E-mail charts.
The SmartMoney site offers its users free stock charting. Price data can be plotted over predefined or custom time periods going back five years, and up to five additional stocks can be overlaid on a single chart, along with an industry chart and one of six different technical indicators. The site only provides line and bar charting and lacks some of the flexibility found in other services discussed here; users are not able to customize the indicators to meet their specific needs, nor can they save their chart settings.
Another one of the newcomers to this comparison, StockCharts.com is one of the best all-round technical analysis and charting sites because of its charting and scanning capabilities, as well as its rich collection of technical analysis educational content.
For charting, StockCharts.com offers one of the best collections of charts available on the Internet. The site features line and candlestick charting, as well as three options for point & figure charting. For point & figure charts, pattern alerts are automatically displayed on all of the charts. The site offers over 30 technical indicators and line studies, and up to four indicators can be plotted per chart for non-subscribers. Subscribers and non-subscribers alike can modify the parameters of the technical indicators. Users can save charts to a favorites list for future analysis and subscribers can save their chart settings. With the sites free charting service, data can be displayed on a daily or weekly basis going back only six months. A subscription is required to chart on an intraday or real-time basis.
StockCharts.com offers a collection of stock scans that allows users to apply technical formulas to a stock universe to receive a listing of stocks that meet those criteria. Non-subscribers can run predefined scans on an end-of-day basis based upon technical indicators as well as candlestick and point & figure patterns. The site screens stocks traded on the Nasdaq, NYSE, Amex, and Canadian exchanges, as well as mutual funds. Subscribers can create and save their own screens and the Extra! Membership ($19.95/mo.) allows for scanning using intraday data.
For those looking to learn more about technical analysis, there is extensive educational content available in the Chart School section of the Web site. Articles cover the basics of investing and technical analysis, as well as trading strategies and technical indicators and how to use them. There is also a discussion of charts, the common patterns that appear on them, and how to interpret them.
TradeSignals.com Java Charts
TradeSignals.com is the other site discussed here devoted exclusively to futures trading. Visitors to the site have free access to intraday and end-of-day Java charting. You can chart futures contracts on a one-, five-, 15-, 30-, and 60-minute basis, as well as daily going back 20 years. There are 29 fully customizable technical indicators and studies availablethree of which can be plotted on a chart at one time. You can also manually draw in your own trendlines. Other free services include line quotes, options strips data, and a listing of all current open positions generated by TradeSignals.com trading systems.
The site also offers its Xcharts package, which provides real-time Java charts and streaming quotes for the S&P and Nasdaq E-Mini contracts; real-time snapshot quotes for the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME); end-of-day and intraday delayed Java charts for all U.S. futures markets; and trend analysis and daily commentary on 32 U.S. contracts. An Xcharts subscription costs $45 per month or $395 a year.
For those looking for trading systems using the S&P E-Mini and Nasdaq E-Mini futures contracts, there is the Explorer Trading System, which is available for $200 a month or $995 a year. Subscribers receive live 30-minute trading signals for S&P and Nasdaq E-Mini contracts; instant message trade recommendation alerts; real-time snapshot quotes for the CBOT, NYBOT, and CME, and historical backtest analysis.
TradingCharts.com is a no-frills site devoted to providing free quotes and charts for over 30,000 stocks and futures contracts. Java charts cover prices on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis with up to 12 years of data available (on a monthly basis). From the chart pull-down menu, you can select from 18 different technical studies and indicators, which can be customized by the user.
TradingCharts.com also provides sell signals based on the various indicators. These signals appear as red down arrows (sell or short) or green up arrows (buy or go long). These signals can be toggled on and off by selecting the Signals button on the chart page. In addition, long and short stops are provided for buy and sell signals. These are drawn by selecting the Target button on the chart window.
Wall Street City
The Wall Street City site offers a broad range of news, data, analysis, and investing tools, along with charting and technical analysis. The charting mechanism at WallStreetCity.com, which is free, allows users to plot U.S. stocks, mutual funds, and indexes going back to the 1970s. There are 12 technical indicators available, as well as insider trading statistics, all of which can be displayed at once if you desire. Many of the technical indicators provide buy and sell arrows on a chart. In addition, you are given the return that the signals generated for each of the indicators.
Wall Street City also offers some of the most extensive screening capabilities on the Internet. The site offers varying levels of screening, some of which require a subscription to WallStreetCity.com. The free Stock Search module allows users to screen for stocks experiencing daily range gaps, as well as 50- and 200-day moving average breakouts. For $9.95 a month, subscribers can access Power ProSearch, which provides screening on a number of technical indicators including Bollinger bands, MACD, and stochastics. One criticism of the sites custom screening mechanism is that custom screens cannot be saved in the traditional sense. In order to preserve a screen you created, you have to bookmark the page in your Web browser and reference it each time you wish to see the latest screening results.
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is associate editor of Computerized Investing and AAIIs financial analyst.