A candlestick with a long lower shadow and small real body. The shadow should be at least twice the length of the real body, and there should be no or very little upper shadow. The body may be either black or white, but the key is that this candlestick must occur within the context of a downtrend to be considered a hammer. The market may be "hammering" out a bottom.
The hammer is a bullish reversal pattern that forms after a decline. In addition to a potential trend reversal, hammers can mark bottoms or support levels. After a decline, hammers signal a bullish revival. The low of the long lower shadow implies that sellers drove prices lower during the session. However, the strong finish indicates that buyers regained their footing to end the session on a strong note. While this may seem enough to act on, hammers require further bullish confirmation. The low of the hammer shows that plenty of sellers remain. Further buying pressure, and preferably on expanding volume, is needed before acting. Such confirmation could come from a gap up or long white candlestick. Hammers are similar to selling climaxes and heavy volume can serve to reinforce the validity of the reversal.
a. Hanging man
Identical in appearance to the hammer, but appears within the context of an uptrend.
The hanging man is a bearish reversal pattern that can also mark a top or resistance level. Forming after an advance, a hanging man signals that selling pressure is starting to increase. The low of the long lower shadow confirms that sellers pushed prices lower during the session. Even though the bulls regained their footing and drove prices higher by the finish, the appearance of selling pressure raises the yellow flag. As with the hammer, a hanging man requires bearish confirmation before action. Such confirmation can come as a gap down or long black candlestick on heavy volume.
b. Inverted hammer and shooting star
The inverted hammer and shooting star look exactly alike, but have different implications based on previous price action. Both candlesticks have small real bodies (black or white), long upper shadows and small or non-existent lower shadows. These candlesticks mark potential trend reversals, but require confirmation before action.
The shooting star is a bearish reversal pattern that forms after an advance and in the star position, hence its name. A shooting star can mark a potential trend reversal or resistance level. The candlestick forms when prices gap higher on the open, advance during the session and close well off their highs. The resulting candlestick has a long upper shadow and small black or white body. After a large advance (the upper shadow), the ability of the bears to force prices down raises the yellow flag. To indicate a substantial reversal, the upper shadow should relatively long and at least 2 times the length of the body. Bearish confirmation is required after the shooting star and can take the form of a gap down or long black candlestick on heavy volume.
The inverted hammer looks exactly like a shooting star, but forms after a decline or downtrend. Inverted hammers represent a potential trend reversal or support levels. After a decline, the long upper shadow indicates buying pressure during the session. However, the bulls were not able to sustain this buying pressure and prices closed well off of their highs to create the long upper shadow. Because of this failure, bullish confirmation is required before action. An inverted hammer followed by a gap up or long white candlestick with heavy volume could act as bullish confirmation.