What it is:
How it works/Example:
The stock market's value is always rising and falling. Sometimes, the market will experience short-term gains when nothing has really changed. These increases in value are usually caused by mass optimism on the part of investors anticipating gains. As more investors buy into the trend, the price increases. Once the price is high enough, buying slows, and some investors begin to sell to lock in their gains. This decrease in price, following a short-term increase, is called a correction.
For example, suppose there is a stock XYZ that is currently valued at $80. Anticipating gains, investors continue to purchase XYZ, and the price of the stock goes up to $100 over the next month. At the end of this month, some investors stop buying the stock at the higher price, and others start selling the stock to lock in their gains. Consequently, the market readjusts and the price of XYZ stock falls to $90 per share. Therefore, XYZ stock has experienced a correction of roughly 10%.
Why it matters:
Corrections are usually tracked once an upswing in market prices has come and gone. A correction in a stock's price following an upswing is indicative of a stock's true market value and may not indicate a loss in value so much as a market's return to stability.
Corrections are a big part of technical analysis. Many investors use indicators to try to determine when the correction will begin and end so that they can buy when prices are lower.