26 Elliott Wave and Diagonal

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26 Elliott Wave and Diagonal
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A diagonal is a motive pattern yet not an impulse, as it has two corrective characteristics. As with an impulse, no reactionary subwave fully retraces the preceding actionary subwave, and the third subwave is never the shortest. However, a diagonal is the only five-wave structure in the direction of the main trend within which wave four almost always moves into the price territory of (i.e., overlaps) wave one and within which all the waves are "threes," producing an overall count of 3-3-3-3-3. On rare occasions, a diagonal may end in a truncation, although in our experience such truncations occur only by the slimmest of margins. This pattern substitutes for an impulse at two specific locations in the wave structure.

Ending Diagonal

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An ending diagonal occurs primarily in the fifth wave position at times when the preceding move has gone "too far too fast," as Elliott put it. A very small percentage of diagonals appear in the C-wave position of A-B-C formations. In double or triple threes (see next section), they appear only as the final C wave. In all cases, they are found at the termination points of larger patterns, indicating exhaustion of the larger movement.

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A contracting diagonal takes a wedge shape within two converging lines. This most common form for an ending diagonal is illustrated in Figures 1-15 and 1-16 and shown in its typical position within a larger impulse wave.

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We have found one case in which an ending diagonal’s boundary lines diverged, creating an expanding diagonal rather than a contracting one. However, it is unsatisfying analytically in that its third wave was the shortest actionary wave.

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Ending diagonals have occurred recently in Minor degree as in early 1978, in Minute degree as in February-March 1976, and in Subminuette degree as in June 1976. Figures 1-17 and 1-18 show two of these periods, illustrating one upward and one downward "real life" formation. Figure 1-19 shows our real-life possible expanding diagonal. Notice that in each case, an important change of direction followed.

Although not so illustrated in Figures 1-15 and 1-16, the fifth wave of an ending diagonal often ends in a "throw-over," i.e., a brief break of the trendline connecting the end points of waves one and three. The real-life examples in Figures 1-17 and 1-19 show throw-overs. While volume tends to diminish as a diagonal of small degree progresses, the pattern always ends with a spike of relatively high volume when a throw-over occurs. On rare occasions, the fifth subwave falls short of its resistance trendline.

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A rising ending diagonal is usually followed by a sharp decline retracing at least back to the level where it began and typically much further. A falling ending diagonal by the same token usually gives rise to an upward thrust.

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Fifth wave extensions, truncated fifths and ending diagonals all imply the same thing: dramatic reversal ahead. At some turning points, two of these phenomena have occurred together at different degrees, compounding the violence of the next move in the opposite direction.

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Leading Diagonal

It has recently come to light that a diagonal occasionally appears in the wave 1 position of impulses and in the wave A position of zigzags. In the few examples we have, the subdivisions appear to be the same: 3-3-3-3-3, although in two cases, they can be labeled 5-3-5-3-5, so the jury is out on a strict definition. Analysts must be aware of this pattern to avoid mistaking it for a far more common development, a series of first and second waves, as illustrated in Figure 1-8. A leading diagonal in the wave one position is typically followed by a deep retracement

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Figure 1-20 shows a real-life leading diagonal. We have recently observed that a leading diagonal can also take an expanding shape. This form appears to occur primarily at the start of declines in the stock market (see Figure 1-21). These patterns were not originally discovered by R.N. Elliott but have appeared enough times and over a long enough period that the authors are convinced of their validity.

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Corrective Waves

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Markets move against the trend of one greater degree only with a seeming struggle. Resistance from the larger trend appears to prevent a correction from developing a full motive structure. This struggle between the two oppositely-trending degrees generally makes corrective waves less clearly identifiable than motive waves, which always flow with comparative ease in the direction of the one larger trend. As another result of this conflict between trends, corrective waves are quite a bit more varied than motive waves. Further, they occasionally increase or decrease in complexity as they unfold so that what are technically subwaves of the same degree can by their complexity or time length appear to be of different degree (see Figures 2-4 and 2-5). For all these reasons, it can be difficult at times to fit corrective waves into recognizable patterns until they are completed and behind us. As the terminations of corrective waves are less predictable than those for motive waves, you must exercise more patience and flexibility in your analysis when the market is in a meandering corrective mood than when prices are in a persistent motive trend.

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The single most important rule that can be gleaned from a study of the various corrective patterns is that corrections are never fives. Only motive waves are fives. For this reason, an initial five-wave movement against the larger trend is never the end of a correction, only part of it. The figures in this section should serve to illustrate this point.

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Corrective processes come in two styles. Sharp corrections angle steeply against the larger trend. Sideways corrections, while always producing a net retracement of the preceding wave, typically contain a movement that carries back to or beyond its starting level, thus producing an overall sideways appearance. The discussion of the guideline of alternation in Chapter 2 explains the reason for noting these two styles.

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Specific corrective patterns fall into three main categories: Zigzag (5-3-5; includes three types: single, double and triple);

Flat (3-3-5; includes three types: regular, expanded and running);

Triangle (3-3-3-3-3; three types: contracting, barrier and expanding; and one variation: running).

A combination of the above forms comes in two types: double three and triple three.


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