The scale of changes in price over some unit of time is called the volatility. The scale of change, or volatility, depends on the length of the time unit to a power a bit more than 1/2. Large changes up or down are more likely than what one would calculate using a Gaussian distribution with an estimated standard deviation.
A new area of concern is the proper analysis of international market effects. As connected as today's global financial markets are, it is important to realize that there are both benefits and consequences to a global financial network. As new opportunities appear due to integration, so do the possibilities of contagion. This presents unique issues when attempting to analyze markets, as a problem can ripple through the entire connected global network very quickly. For example, a bank failure in one country can spread quickly to others, which makes proper analysis more difficult.
When the objective of the analysis is to determine what stock to buy and at what price, there are two basic methodologies:
Fundamental analysis maintains that markets may misprice a security in the short run but that the "correct" price will eventually be reached. Profits can be made by trading the mispriced security and then waiting for the market to recognize its "mistake" and reprice the security.
Technical analysis maintains that all information is reflected already in the stock price. Trends 'are your friend' and sentiment changes predate and predict trend changes. Investors' emotional responses to price movements lead to recognizable price chart patterns. Technical analysis does not care what the 'value' of a stock is. Their price predictions are only extrapolations from historical price patterns.
Investors can use any or all of these different but somewhat complementary methods for stock picking. For example many fundamental investors use technicals for deciding entry and exit points. Many technical investors use fundamentals to limit their universe of possible stock to 'good' companies.
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