The Dark Cloud Cover is a Japanese candlestick pattern that crypto traders use to spot bearish reversals within the market. The pattern is fairly easy to spot and read. When traders see it, they use the pattern as a signal to enter short positions or possibly to exit long positions.
However, the pattern should not be viewed in isolation. It’s best to get confirmation from other technical signals, like divergence on oscillators, or to see the pattern developing at an area of resistance before taking action.
When enough evidence is present, placing a bearish trade from the pattern is simple.
What Is a Dark Cloud Cover?
The Dark Cloud Cover is a bearish two-candlestick pattern in which the first candle is a large bullish range. It is followed by a bearish second candle with gaps higher on the open but closes in the lower half of the first candle’s price range.
Technical traders use the Dark Cloud Cover pattern to signal the start of a potential correction. If identified correctly, crypto traders can use the signal to exit long trades or possibly enter short positions.
The Dark Cloud Cover pattern looks like two opposing candlesticks, a large green bullish candle followed by a large red stick. Most of the price action undertaken by the green candle is unwound when the red candle is completed.
This price action indicates a developing bearish reversal in the market. Buyers appear to hold control initially, but then sellers step in and retrace a lot of the progress made.
The net effect of these two candles is that much buying power is utilized, but only to drive the price a little higher. Buyers are losing momentum, and the market is at risk of further consolidation — or outright reversal.
The Dark Cloud Cover candlestick pattern can be found in all markets, but it’s especially useful in identifying reversals on crypto charts. In addition, this candlestick formation can be spotted on all chart time frames.
How to Identify a Dark Cloud Cover Pattern
The structure of the two-candle Dark Cloud Cover pattern is fairly simple.
1 — Larger than an average bullish green candle
2 — The gap higher on the open of the second candle
3 — Large bearish red candle that retraces at least 50% of the first candle
The first candle is a bullish green candle with a larger price range than the average candle on the chart. This is important to the setup of the pattern, as it indicates a large amount of buying interest in the market.
The second candle will gap higher on its open, then work lower, finishing in the lower half of the first candle’s body (previous candle). This price action suggests an exhaustive bullish move, as the price is quickly retraced lower.
More aggressive traders may consider opening a short trade on the open of the next candle. For traders who opened an existing long position in the market, this bearish Dark Cloud Cover pattern signals the possibility of exiting all or part of the long trade.
When looking for the Dark Cloud Cover pattern in crypto charts, it’s important to note that gaps within the candlestick charts are a rare occurrence. This is due to the 24-hour trading that’s available for crypto. In essence, there is no open or close trading in crypto, which is the most common reason price gaps appear on charts.
To accommodate this nuance within crypto, you want to see a large-bodied red candle that retraces more than 50% of the large-bodied green candle which comes right before it.
Aside from the three critical elements of the Dark Cloud Cover pattern noted above, other criteria strengthen the signal.
First of all, the candlestick pattern is bearish, so it works best at the end of an uptrend. If the market is moving lower, then this pattern occurs doesn’t provide a good risk-to-reward ratio opportunity.
Secondly, you may find oscillators and other technical indicators displaying overbought values, as the trend has been strongly planted to the upside. As these oscillators turn lower, they’re likely to diverge from the price action, creating a lower high on the oscillator but a higher high on price.
At this stage, the uptrend is still in force but has weakened substantially. This could be due to a wave relationship or resistance level looming overhead. Either way, the market tries to rally one last time, but that rally is met with strong resistance — and a big red candle carving the Dark Cloud Cover pattern.
The Dark Cloud Cover pattern above suggests the market is changing from an uptrend to a downtrend. A break of support will confirm the trend has changed, opening the door for a deeper correction.
Crypto traders use the pattern with other technical signals to enter into new short positions or exit signals to close out long positions.
The Dark Cloud Cover pattern by itself is a simple two-candle pattern. However, identifying it correctly on a crypto chart requires careful consideration of other criteria.
Here is an example of an 8-hour Ether chart. ETH was in a strong uptrend with nearly 100% gains, but those gains started to slow down in early May 2021.
During this uptrend, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) oscillator was consistently in overbought territory. However, the rally lost momentum as RSI began showing lower highs while Ether’s price continued to all-time highs.
Shortly thereafter, the Dark Cloud Cover candlestick pattern appears. The first green candle shoots higher to new all-time highs. Then the second candle of the pattern, the red candle, closes in the lower half of the range of the first green candle.
This indicates that the uptrend is losing its momentum, signaling a downturn. However, the market is at all-time highs, so it is difficult to tell for sure that a bearish reversal pattern would show or be sure trend reversal is approaching.
A trader will want to add a trend line that encompasses the uptrend to gain an additional sense of when the market’s mood is changing from uptrend to downtrend. Where the trend line breaks, the trader will have confirmation that a correction is at hand.
You can also look to horizontal levels of support and wait for price action to break it. Then you can initiate a short position or use the opportunity to exit long positions.
Once the trend line is broken, ETH begins a sharp correction that drains about 55% of the value out of Ethereum. This correction was forecast with the combination of the Dark Cloud Cover candlestick pattern, RSI divergence, and a support trend line break.
How to Trade the Dark Cloud Cover Pattern
Once you’ve spotted a Dark Cloud Cover pattern, trading it is fairly simple. There are multiple ways to trade, based on whether you’re a more conservative or aggressive trader.
The more conservative approach allows you to witness additional trend confirmations before entering short. The more aggressive approach puts you in the short trade quicker but with greater potential to act on a false signal and get stopped out of the trade.
Let’s explore each of these approaches on a recent Dark Cloud Cover for Bitcoin.
Before the pattern manifests, we need to see a prior uptrend. From July 16 to August 17, 2020, the price of Bitcoin rallies 38%.
Next, we need to see a larger-than-average bullish candle driving higher to form the first candle of the pattern. The second candle of the pattern needs to retrace at least 50% of the price range of the first candle.
In the example above, the second candle of the pattern finishes near the lower portion of the range of the first candle. Both candles are carved with larger-than-average bodies.
At this point, the market is giving us clues about a potential turn lower or perhaps a pause in the uptrend. We can look to other classic technical analysis indicators for confirmation.
The glaring clue above is the formation of the Dark Cloud Cover pattern at a strong level of horizontal resistance. On August 6, 2019, Bitcoin’s price rallies were reversed at $12,342.50, creating a horizontal resistance level.
Astute market participants are watching as this bearish Japanese candlestick pattern occurs near this important level of resistance.
Additionally, we can see the RSI oscillator diverging against Bitcoin’s price. This is yet another bearish symptom, suggesting the market may turn lower.
At this point, the opportunity appears strong, so an aggressive trader can initiate a short position on the open of the next candle. The stop loss would be placed just above the recent swing high, which is likely to be the high of the pattern.
Traders look to target at least twice the distance to their stop loss. This gives the trader a 1:2 risk-to-reward ratio.
There are times when clues to a turn lower aren’t as strong, and the trader may want to be more conservative in their setup. Conservative traders can look for a break of a support trend line to provide the confirmation needed to initiate a short trade.
The trade setup would be similar to the aggressive approach, where the stop loss is placed just above the swing high in the same place. However, the entry price will be lower as we await additional levels of confirmation. This means our target price also needs to be lowered to maintain the 1:2 risk-to-reward ratio.
Dark Cloud Cover vs. Bearish Engulfing: The Differences
To a newer trader, the Dark Cloud Cover may resemble the Bearish Engulfing candlestick pattern. Indeed, they possess some similarities, but there are a couple of differences.
The similarities are that both candlestick patterns are two-candle formations created after an uptrend. However, there are two general differences between them.
First, the Dark Cloud Cover requires the candle price ranges to be larger than average. Within the Bearish Engulfing pattern, the first candle has no size specifications.
Additionally, the second candle of the Dark Cloud Cover pattern needs to cover only 50% of the first candle. In the Bearish Engulfing, the second candle must completely engulf the body of the first candle. Therefore, the Bearish Engulfing pattern has to overlap 100% of the first candle, which could be small, but the size of the candles in the Dark Cloud Cover will be larger than average.
Is the Dark Cloud Cover Pattern Reliable?
By itself, the pattern only suggests the potential for consolidation or a lower turn. Therefore, the trader needs to seek out confirmation signals from other technical analysis tools.
For example, not all Dark Cloud Cover patterns will form near resistance. But if they do, it provides a strong signal. All forms of resistance apply, whether trend line resistance, horizontal resistance, or a Fibonacci retracement level.
Additionally, this pattern tends to appear after an uptrend. Therefore, the indicators and oscillators will signify overbought. If the pattern appears while your indicators are flashing a sell signal, then that combination of confirmations strengthens the signal.
Again, the Dark Cloud Cover pattern can appear on all time frames of crypto charts. The longer time frame charts tend to offer more reliability than shorter, minute charts because the former’s risk-to-reward ratios tend to be better.
The Bottom Line
The Dark Cloud Cover is a Japanese candlestick pattern that is easy to spot on all time frames of crypto price charts. When correctly identified, this pattern can easily be used to set up your entry and exit signals.
However, taken in isolation, the pattern can generate false signals. It is best for you to confirm the signals with technical indicators and further confirm the trend with fundamental analysis. Whether you’re a novice trader, always trade responsibly and do your due diligence to assess the market sentiment before jumping into the crypto bandwagon. That is especially extreme price fluctuations do happen in the crypto market.