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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Bulkowski's Last Engulfing Top

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

In my book, Encyclopedia of Candlestick ChartsEncyclopedia of Candlestick Charts book., pictured on the right, I explore the entire range of candlestick patterns from abandoned babies to windows (not exactly A to Z, but you get the idea), in both bull and bear markets, using almost 5 million candle lines in the tests.

The book takes an in-depth look at 103 candlestick patterns and reports on behavior and rank (3 types: reversal rate, frequency, and overall performance), identification guidelines, performance statistics (tables of general statistics, height, and volume), trading tactics (tables of statistics on reversal rates and performance indicators), and wraps each chapter with a sample trade. I share a sliver of that information below. If you like what you read here, then you will love the book. Help support this website and buy a copy by clicking on the above link.

The last engulfing top is a two line candlestick pattern that enthusiasts would recognize as an outside day if you ignore the shadows. The first day is a black candle in an upward price trend followed by a taller white candle whose body is above the top and below the bottom of the black candle. The white candle engulfs the body of the black candle.

As the last engulfing top name suggests, this candle is supposed to be a bearish reversal of the up trend but isn't. Testing shows that the candle pattern acts as a bullish continuation 68% of the time, ranking 9th out of 103 candle types where 1 is best. Unfortunately, the overall performance rank suggests the price trend after the breakout is weak.

Last Engulfing Top Important Results

Theoretical performance: Bearish reversal
Tested performance: Bullish continuation 68% of the time
Frequency rank: 14
Overall performance rank: 79
Best percentage meeting price target: 67% (bull market, up breakout)
Best average move in 10 days: -4.42% (bear market, down breakout)
Best 10-day performance rank: 38 (bull market, down breakout)

All ranks are out of 103 candlestick patterns with the top performer ranking 1. "Best" means the highest rated of the four combinations of bull/bear market, up/down breakouts.

The above numbers are based on hundreds of perfect trades. See the glossary for definitions.

The ideal last engulfing top candlestick
Last Engulfing Top
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Last Engulfing Top Discussion

The last engulfing top is supposed to be a bearish reversal, but it acts as a bullish continuation 86% of the time. That is because price ends the candlestick pattern near the top of the two-line pattern. An upward breakout, which would confirm a bullish continuation, would be a close above the top of the candle, so that is easy to achieve. However, with an overall performance rank of 79, the post breakout trend is brief.

The best average move 10 days after the breakout is a drop of 4.42% in a bear market. A good move would be 6% or more. The best 10-day performance rank that the last engulfing top can muster is 38, where 1 is best. That is not bad, but it does leave lots of room for improvement. Looking at the statistics, the best performance from this candle comes when the breakout is downward. That suggests reversals outperform continuations for this candle pattern.

Last Engulfing Top Identification Guidelines

CharacteristicDiscussion
Number of candle linesTwo.
Price trend leading to the patternUpward.
ConfigurationLook for a black candle followed by a white candle that overlaps the prior black candle's body. The white candle should have a body above the prior candle's top and below the prior candle's bottom.
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Three Trading Tidbits for Last Engulfing Top

If you want a few bones from my Encyclopedia of candlestick charts book, here are three to chew on. The pages refer to the book where the tips appear.

  1. Last engulfing top candles that appear within a third of the yearly low perform best -- page 482.
  2. For best performance, trade the last engulfing top in an upward retracement of a downward price trend -- page 484.
  3. The last engulfing top breaks out upward most often -- page 484.

Last Engulfing Top Example

The last engulfing top candlestick on the daily scale

With a frequency rank of 14, where 1 is most plentiful, you can see why the last engulfing top appears often in a historical price trend. I show the candle pattern circled in red on the daily chart. All of the last engulfing tops in this example appear in an upward price trend, but sometimes you have to use your imagination.

Each of the last engulfing top candles begins with a black candle. In this case, they are small, sometimes doji shaped. The following day, a tall white candle appears that towers over the prior black body, engulfing it and giving the candle pattern its name.

Notice that each of these last engulfing tops breaks out upward when price first closes above the top of the pattern. That means they act as continuations of the upward price trend. The candle at A shows price shooting upward, breaking out of the congestion region and scoring nearly a 5 point gain in fewer days.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Good friends are like good bras: hard to find, comfortable, supports and always close to the heart.