4 market stages you should know to understand price action

4 market stagesThe prices of the underlying financial instruments are in constant motion. Markets can change in a second and sometimes it may seem a difficult task to look at the bigger picture. Even during the uptrend the price sometimes goes down and in the downtrend, there are some upwards movements. Being able to read price action is important for traders. And in fact, we can distinguish some stages that markets take in their courses.

Key TakeawaysπŸ”‘

β†’Markets go through distinct stages: accumulation, advancing, distribution, and declining.
β†’Accumulation and distribution stages are characterized by ranging markets, while advancing and declining stages represent trends.
β†’Understanding market stages helps traders make informed trading decisions based on price action strategies.


Stages of the markets

Markets tend to behave in a certain way. Of course, they can change unpredictably, however, there are 4 main stages they take. These are the accumulation stage, the advancing stage, the distribution and the declining phase. Let’s talk about them one by one.

The accumulation stage

This phase is taking place after a long fall in the price. When you look at a daily timeframe, this fall can last more than 5 months. The price chart reminds ranging market in a downtrend. You can mark support and resistance levels at this stage. When you add the moving average with the period of 200 it will flatten out and the price will fluctuate around it. The accumulation stage ends at the moment the price breaks out the resistance.

You can see how the EURCHF market looks like in the accumulation stage in our example below.

Accumulation phase on EURCHF
Accumulation phase on EURCHF

The advancing stage

So the price has broken out through the resistance line. You can observe higher highs and higher lows on the price chart. The MA200 moves up and the candlesticks appear above it.

This stage finishes when the uptrend gets exhausted and then, the market moves to the next phase.

Advancing phase
Advancing phase

The distribution stage

This phase is taking place after a long (5 months or more on a daily timeframe) rise in the price. The market resembles the ranging market in the uptrend. You should be able to draw the support and resistance lines. The moving average is again flattening out and the price moves around it.

The bulls and bears are still fighting. When the support is broken, the distribution phase comes to an end.

Distribution phase
Distribution phase

The declining stage

The fourth phase happens after the price crosses through the support level. The price plots beneath the 200-day moving average which begins to decline. During the declining stage, the price forms lower highs and lower lows.Β The market moves downwards.

Declining phase
Declining phase

Pros and Cons of Recognizing Market Stages πŸ“ˆπŸ“‰


  • Provides a framework for understanding market behavior and dynamics
  • Helps identify potential trading opportunities based on different stages
  • Enables the use of appropriate price action strategies for each stage


  • Market stages may change unpredictably, requiring continuous analysis and adaptation
  • Accuracy in identifying stages can be challenging, requiring experience and skill
  • Market stages alone do not guarantee profitable trades and should be used in conjunction with other analysis techniques.

Market Stage Characteristics
Accumulation Ranging market after a downtrend, support/resistance levels, breakout potential
Advancing Uptrend, higher highs/lows, moving averages trending up
Distribution Ranging market after an uptrend, support/resistance levels, breakout potential
Declining Downtrend, lower highs/lows, moving averages trending down

The importance of 4 market stages

Although the price changes constantly, we are able to recognise 4 market stages. It is important for traders to learn to detect them as they indicate what positions traders should open.

In the advancing stage, you should look for opportunities to open transactions for the price increase. You can trade breakouts or pullbacks. And in the declining stage, you will want to enter short trades.

You are now aware of the fact that the distribution stage finishes when the price breaks through the support. That is why you should wait to go short at that precise moment or when the price pulls back after the breakout happens. Similarly, during the accumulation stage, you will seek the opportunity to buy when the price breaks through the resistance or later on the pullbacks.

Knowing what stage the market is in helps you to make trading decisions. You will be able to apply a proper price action strategy and earn some profits.

Remember about the Olymp Trade demo account where you can practice recognising and trading during different market stages. This account is offered completely for free and provides a risk-free environment. So go there now and check whether you are able to recognise the 4 stages of the market explained in today’s article.

Wish you success!

Frequently Asked Questions about Market Stages 🧐

  • Q: What are the main stages of market behavior?
  • A: Markets typically go through the accumulation, advancing, distribution, and declining stages.
  • Q: How can recognizing market stages benefit traders?
  • A: Understanding market stages helps traders identify potential opportunities and apply suitable price action strategies.
  • Q: Can market stages change unpredictably?
  • A: Yes, market stages can change unexpectedly, requiring continuous analysis and adaptation.
  • Q: Do market stages guarantee profitable trades?
  • A: No, market stages alone do not guarantee profits. They should be used in conjunction with other analysis techniques.
  • Q: Are there any challenges in accurately identifying market stages?
  • A: Yes, accurately identifying market stages can be challenging and requires experience and skill in analyzing price action.

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Bart Bregman

Full time day trading, and helping out with Olymp Trade wiki in my spare time to create an awesome platform for beginners. I'm a digital nomad that travels the world while working from everywhere!

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