Trade Entry Techniques
Most traders tend to concentrate on pinpointing the perfect entry for a trade. However, in reality the entry price is just one part of the equation. The common entry techniques are:
A trend trader will tend to use channel breakouts to enter trades in order to catch a trend when it is beginning. The general rule is to pick a period length, which could be 20 days for a long term trader or 15 minutes for a daytrader and buy if the high in that period is broken or sell if the low is broken.
Visual Entry based on patterns
The art of technical analysis focuses on the many types of chart patterns that markets tend to form. Such as gaps, spikes, inside days, outside days, triangles, flags and double tops to name a few. These entries are rather more subjective than channel breakouts.
Prediction techniques include Elliott Wave, Gann and Dow Theory. Again the actual entry price based on such theories is very subjective. Predictive techniques usually try to pin point major turning points in markets and are therefore attempting to go against the current trend rather than with it.
The theory behind a volatility breakout is that if the market makes a sudden move in a particular direction then it is likely to continue in that direction. The general rule is to add/subtract a pre-determined percentage of the recent average true range to the opening price thus giving buy and sell points.
Take the average price of the last x periods (minutes, hours or days) and buy if the price crosses above and sell if it crosses below. This technique works well in purely trending markets but will be badly whipsawed in a range bound market. Variations include using 2 or more moving averages and using the cross of those as a signal. The moving averages themselves could be simple or weighted (more emphasise on the latest prices).
Oscillators and Stochastics
I.e. RSI, stochastics, Williams %R etc. Generally these tools are used to determine whether the market is 'overbought' and ready to drop or 'oversold' and ready to rise. They work best in range bound markets by picking tops and bottoms but fail in a trending market.
Tim Wreford runs Online Futures Trading, a website that provides information and resources for traders. Tim also provides a free day trading system, the results of which are updated daily on the site.
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