The wide part of the candlestick is called the "real body" and tells investors whether the closing price was higher or lower than the opening price (black/red if the stock closed lower, white/green if the stock closed higher). The candlestick's shadows show the day's high and low and how they compare to the open and close. A candlestick's shape varies based on the relationship between the day's high, low, opening and closing prices.

Candlesticks reflect the impact of investor sentiment on asset prices and are used by technical analysts to determine entry and exit points. Traders can use candlestick signals to analyze any and all periods of trading including daily or hourly cycles—even for minute-long cycles of the trading day. Candlesticks are suitable for trading in any liquid financial asset such as stocks, foreign exchange and futures.