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LESSON : 2

 

Motive Waves

 

Motive waves subdivide into five waves with certain characteristics and always move in the same direction as the trend of one larger degree. They are straightforward and relatively easy to recognize and interpret.

Within motive waves, wave 2 never retraces more than 100% of wave 1, and wave 4 never retraces more than 100% of wave 3. Wave 3, moreover, always travels beyond the end of wave 1. The goal of a motive wave is to make progress, and these rules of formation assure that it will.

 

Elliott further discovered that in price terms, wave 3 is often the longest and never the shortest among the three actionary waves (1, 3 and 5) of a motive wave. As long as wave 3 undergoes a greater percentage movement than either wave 1 or 5, this rule is satisfied. It almost always holds on an arithmetic basis as well. There are two types of motive waves: impulses and diagonal triangles.

 

Impulse

 

The most common motive wave is an impulse. In an impulse, wave 4 does not enter the territory of (i.e., "overlap") wave 1. This rule holds for all non-leveraged "cash" markets. Futures markets, with their extreme leverage, can induce short term price extremes that would not occur in cash markets. Even so, overlapping is usually confined to daily and intraday price fluctuations and even then is extremely rare. In addition, the actionary subwaves (1, 3 and 5) of an impulse are themselves motive, and subwave 3 is specifically an impulse. Figures 1-2 and 1-3 in Lesson 2 and 1-4 in Lesson 3 all depict impulses in the 1, 3, 5, A and C wave positions.

 

As detailed in the preceding three paragraphs, there are only a few simple rules for interpreting impulses properly. A rule is so called because it governs all waves to which it applies. Typical, yet not inevitable, characteristics of waves are called guidelines. Guidelines of impulse formation, including extension, truncation, alternation, equality, channeling, personality and ratio relationships are discussed below and through Lesson 24 of this course. A rule should never be disregarded. In many years of practice with countless patterns, the authors have found but one instance above Subminuette degree when all other rules and guidelines combined to suggest that a rule was broken. Analysts who routinely break any of the rules detailed in this section are practicing some form of analysis other than that guided by the Wave Principle. These rules have great practical utility in correct counting, which we will explore further in discussing extensions.

 

Most impulses contain what Elliott called an extension. Extensions are elongated impulses with exaggerated subdivisions. The vast majority of impulse waves do contain an extension in one and only one of their three actionary subwaves. At times, the subdivisions of an extended wave are nearly the same amplitude and duration as the other four waves of the larger impulse, giving a total count of nine waves of similar size rather than the normal count of "five" for the sequence. In a nine-wave sequence, it is occasionally difficult to say which wave extended. However, it is usually irrelevant anyway, since under the Elliott system, a count of nine and a count of five have the same technical significance. The diagrams in Figure 1-5, illustrating extensions, will clarify this point.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37531&stc=1&d=1388499133

 

Figure 5

 

The fact that extensions typically occur in only one actionary subwave provides a useful guide to the expected lengths of upcoming waves. For instance, if the first and third waves are of about equal length, the fifth wave will likely be a protracted surge. (In waves below Primary degree, a developing fifth wave extension will be confirmed by new high volume, as described in Lesson 13 under "Volume.") Conversely, if wave three extends, the fifth should be simply constructed and resemble wave one.

 

In the stock market, the most commonly extended wave is wave 3. This fact is of particular importance to real time wave interpretation when considered in conjunction with two of the rules of impulse waves: that wave 3 is never the shortest actionary wave, and that wave 4 may not overlap wave 1. To clarify, let us assume two situations involving an improper middle wave, as illustrated in Figures 1-6 and 1-7.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37532&stc=1&d=1388499133

 

Figure 1-6 Figure 1-7 Figure 1-8

 

In Figure 1-6, wave 4 overlaps the top of wave 1. In Figure 1-7, wave 3 is shorter than wave 1 and shorter than wave 5. According to the rules, neither is an acceptable labeling. Once the apparent wave 3 is proved unacceptable, it must be relabeled in some way that is acceptable. In fact, it is almost always to be labeled as shown in Figure 1-8, implying an extended wave (3) in the making. Do not hesitate to get into the habit of labeling the early stages of a third wave extension. The exercise will prove highly rewarding, as you will understand from the discussion under Wave Personality in Lesson 14. Figure 1-8 is perhaps the single most useful guide to real time impulse wave counting in this course.

 

Extensions may also occur within extensions. In the stock market, the third wave of an extended third wave is typically an extension as well, producing a profile such as shown in Figure 1-9. Figure 1-10 illustrates a fifth wave extension of a fifth wave extension. Extended fifths are fairly uncommon except in bull markets in commodities covered in Lesson 28.

.

attachment.php?attachmentid=37533&stc=1&d=1388499133

 

Figure 1-9 Figure 1-10

 

 

Truncation

 

Elliott used the word "failure" to describe a situation in which the fifth wave does not move beyond the end of the third. We prefer the less connotative term, "truncation," or "truncated fifth." A truncation can usually be verified by noting that the presumed fifth wave contains the necessary five subwaves, as illustrated in Figures 1-11 and 1-12. Truncation often occurs following an extensively strong third wave.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37537&stc=1&d=1388499423

Figure 1-11

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37534&stc=1&d=1388499423

Figure 1-12

 

The U.S. stock market provides two examples of major degree truncated fifths since 1932. The first occurred in October 1962 at the time of the Cuban crisis (see Figure 1-13). It followed the crash that occurred as wave 3. The second occurred at year-end in 1976 (see Figure 1-14). It followed the soaring and broad wave (3) that took place from October 1975 to March 1976.

 

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Figure 1-13

 

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Figure 1-14

 

 

LESSON 3

 

Diagonal

 

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

 

An ending diagonal is a special type of wave that 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 ending diagonals appear in the C wave position of A-B-C formations. In double or triple threes (to be covered in Lesson 9), 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.

 

Ending diagonals take a wedge shape within two converging lines, with each subwave, including waves 1, 3 and 5, subdividing into a "three," which is otherwise a corrective wave phenomenon. The ending diagonal is illustrated in Figures 1-15 and 1-16 and shown in its typical position in larger impulse waves.

 

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Figure 1-15

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37539&stc=1&d=1388499989

 

Figure 1-16

 

We have found one case in which the pattern's boundary lines diverged, creating an expanding wedge rather than a contracting one. However, it is unsatisfying analytically in that its third wave was the shortest actionary wave, the entire formation was larger than normal, and another interpretation was possible, if not attractive. For these reasons, we do not include it as a valid variation.

 

Diagonals

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.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37540&stc=1&d=1388500228

Figure 1-17

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37541&stc=1&d=1388500229

Figure 1-18

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37542&stc=1&d=1388500229

Figure 1-19

 

Although not so illustrated in Figures 1-15 and 1-16, fifth waves of diagonals often end in a "throw-over," i.e., a brief break of the trendline connecting the end points of waves one and three. Figures 1-17 and 1-19 show real life examples. 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 will fall short of its resistance trendline.

 

A rising diagonal is bearish and is usually followed by a sharp decline retracing at least back to the level where it began. A falling diagonal by the same token is bullish, usually giving rise to an upward thrust.

 

Fifth wave extensions, truncated fifths and ending diagonal 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.

 

Leading Diagonals

 

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.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37543&stc=1&d=1388500448

Figure 1-21

 

Figure 1-21 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. 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.

 

Corrective Waves

 

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. 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, the Elliott analyst must exercise more caution in his analysis when the market is in a meandering corrective mood than when prices are in a persistently motive trend.

 

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 that follow through Lesson 9 of this course should serve to illustrate this point.

 

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 Lesson 10 will explain the reason for noting these two styles.

 

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.

 

Zigzags

 

A single zigzag in a bull market is a simple three-wave declining pattern labeled A-B-C. The subwave sequence is 5-3-5, and the top of wave B is noticeably lower than the start of wave A, as illustrated in Figures 1-22 and 1-23.

 

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37544&stc=1&d=1388500927

Figure 1-22 Figure 1-23

 

In a bear market, a zigzag correction takes place in the opposite direction, as shown in Figures 1-24 and 1-25. For this reason, a zigzag in a bear market is often referred to as an inverted zigzag.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37545&stc=1&d=1388500931

Figure 1-24 Figure 1-25

 

Occasionally zigzags will occur twice, or at most, three times in succession, particularly when the first zigzag falls short of a normal target. In these cases, each zigzag is separated by an intervening "three," producing what is called a double zigzag (see Figure 1-26) or triple zigzag. These formations are analogous to the extension of an impulse wave but are less common.

 

The correction in the Standard and Poor's 500 stock index from

 

January 1977 to March 1978 (see Figure 1-27) can be labeled as a double zigzag, as can the correction in the Dow from July to October 1975 (see Figure 1-28). Within impulses, second waves frequently sport zigzags, while fourth waves rarely do.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37546&stc=1&d=1388500931

Figure 1-26

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37547&stc=1&d=1388500931

Figure 1-27

 

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=37548&stc=1&d=1388500931

Figure 1-28

 

R.N. Elliott's original labeling of double and triple zigzags and double and triple threes (see later section) was a quick shorthand. He denoted the intervening movements as wave X, so that double corrections were labeled A-B-C-X-A-B-C. Unfortunately, this notation improperly indicated the degree of the actionary subwaves of each simple pattern. They were labeled as being only one degree less than the entire correction when in fact, they are two degrees smaller. We have eliminated this problem by introducing a useful notational device: labeling the successive actionary components of double and triple corrections as waves W, Y, and Z, so that the entire pattern is counted "W-X-Y (-X-Z)." The letter "W" now denotes the first corrective pattern in a double or triple correction, Y the second, and Z the third of a triple. Each subwave thereof (A, B or C, as well as D or E of a triangle — see later section) is now properly seen as two degrees smaller than the entire correction. Each wave X is a reactionary wave and thus always a corrective wave, typically another zigzag.

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