DEFINITION of ‘Retracement’ A temporary reversal in the direction of a stock’s price that goes against the prevailing trend. A retracement does not signify a change in the larger trend. On a chart where a stock’s price is generally headed upward, retracements are the small dips in price that the stock experiences during its overall upward trend. Whether an investor identifies a change in a stock’s direction as a retracement or a reversal will impact how he responds to it.

Technical analysts make an important distinction between retracements and reversals. Retracements are short-term changes within a longer-term trend, while reversals indicate the end of a larger trend and the beginning of a new trend. When a retracement first begins, it is difficult to tell whether it is a retracement or a reversal. Technical analysts try to distinguish between the two using Fibonacci retracements, pivot point support and resistance levels, and trendline support and resistance levels.

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