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Market Basics: Understanding Trend vs. Range Market State Transitions

This is an essential skill required by every aspiring trader. All professional traders definitely know this, for it forms the basis of many setups, and can mean the difference between breezing on the right side of the market, or clenching your fists in anger as the market goes against you.

I am referring to the ability to tell the state of the market.

Besides behavioral analysis, there are some simple price action guidelines that we can use to accurately determine the state of the market. This is important for obvious reasons.

There are 2 basic states of the market – trend or range. As the market shifts between these 2 states, it creates many trading opportunities in the form of setups.

Newbies who attempt to trade by memorising setups while ignoring the underlying structure of the market are heading for the proverbial iceberg. That said, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

This video should provide you an idea of how prices move, and if I have a chance to share more in upcoming seminars next year, I will show how these transitions give rise to the different trading setups that we teach during our training programs.

The Quest for the Holy Grail: Secrets, Gurus & Software

To many, the holy grail of trading is deemed to be the ultimate solution to all their trading problems, the magic bullet that will allow them to profit without effort, the secret trading method or tool that will allow them to predict the market and win on every trade. However, far from being the solution, this mentality often acts as a stumbling block to all traders, if not a brick wall.

Many people hop from tip to tip, from guru to guru, from one software to another, attending every seminar and learning from every guru, but they will never be contented, and they will never become good traders, because they are too busy finding the holy grail to put their knowledge into practice. So what is the holy grail?

The Quest for the Holy Grail: Trading Secrets, Gurus & Software

The Quest for the Holy Grail: Trading Secrets, Gurus & Software

If you want to learn to trade, it make sense to learn from someone who is trading in the current markets. Not someone who was successful trading 20 years ago and now teaches for a living. Will their strategies that worked 20 years ago still be relevant now? It is unlikely in this current dynamic market.

Many people in trading start off with the wrong ideas, and after sacrificing a lot of time and spending a lot of money, they wonder why they still cannot get the results they desire. Others think that hard work can solve everything, and given enough time, they will naturally pick up the skills themselves. Not many succeed in re-inventing the wheel. As a world-class tennis coach used to say, “Practise makes perfect, so make sure you are not practising the wrong thing.”

“It’s not the method or system, it’s the trader.”

Warning to Beginners: Avoid the Indicator Trap

It is easy to see why retail traders find indicators appealing because of their ease of use and clear-cut signals. In fact, many new traders think they know all about trading because they have learnt a few basic indicators that generate simplistic buy/sell signals. This kind of thinking is dangerous because it shuts them off from learning real trading skills like price action and behavioral analysis.

Warning to Beginners: Avoid the Indicator Trap

Warning to Beginners: Avoid the Indicator Trap

 

What are indicators and how are they derived?

There are only five pieces of information we can get from charts: the open, high, low, close and volume. A skilled trader can interpret this in terms of market behaviour of psychology instead of processing it as a bunch of numbers. Indicators, on the other hand, attempt to use shortcut calculations to give meaning to these numbers. As a result, they can never be faster than reading the actual raw data. Manipulating data may also mask its information quality and granularity, causing you to miss out essential essential details.

Do professionals use them?

The answer is minimally. If you go to any bank/fund or professional trading arcade, and observe the traders who trade there, you will notice that their charts are mostly blank. This is not coincidence, because such a chart setup is optimised for reading price action, with as little distractions as possible. If you don’t believe me, go check it out yourself. As said by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

The dangers of using indicators without real trading skills

Are indicators really needed for your decision-making?

Some pundits recommend a combination of time frames, indicators, wave counting, and Fibonacci retracements and extensions, but when it comes time to place the trade, they will only do it if there is a good price action setup. Also, when they see a good price action setup, they start looking for indicators that show divergences or different time frames for moving average tests or wave counts or Fibonacci setups to confirm what is in front of them.

In reality, they are price action traders who are trading exclusively off price action but don’t feel comfortable admitting it. They are complicating their trading to the point that they certainly are missing many, many trades because their over-analysis takes too much time, and they are forced to wait for the next setup. The logic just isn’t there for making the simple so complicated.

So… Should I be using indicators at all?

The best solution for the retail investor would be to first master a firm foundation of price action and behavioral analysis, and subsequently, should he choose to use indicators, should remember that as their name suggests, they are not “entry/exit signallers”, but merely “indicators”.

Therefore, it is a matter of how you use indicators, and one should always keep in mind that indicators are there to aid you in reading the price action, and not act as a substitute for it. You can think of indicators as the training wheels of a bicycle – you will want to remove them once you learn how to ride properly.

Trading always involves uncertainty, and trying to find comfort in the certainty of indicators will lead to constant indecision, second-guessing and parameters-tweaking.

The Time Element – Choosing the Correct Timeframe

Every trader knows that using multiple timeframes can provide different perspectives on the market, and provide key information on the lead-lag relationship. Small timeframes lead larger ones, and larger ones drive the smaller ones. Understanding the inter-play is crucial.

The Time Element - Choosing the Correct Timeframe

The Time Element – Choosing the Correct Timeframe

Since trends exist on different timeframes, it makes sense to analyse at least two timeframes. For example, if one’s main timeframe is the daily chart, one can consult the weekly chart to see the big picture. This allows investors to analyze a particular trend against the perspective of the next higher timeframe.

If one is using swing counts, a lower/higher high/low in the weekly and monthly charts can provide perspectives not seen in daily charts. Long-term trendlines may be clearer, and more obvious/easily visible. Certain price patterns are more visible on long-term charts (key reversals, triangles on weekly), as well as long -term support and resistance levels.

A trend change signal on the short-term (daily) may only be a retracement in the long-term (weekly) chart. On the other hand, a trend change signal in the long-term chart may be a substantial move in the short-term even though a short-term move may seem overdone. Hence, an overdone breakout on the short-term trend may actually be the start of a major breakout if the long-term chart is still on an uptrend.

Divergence signals are also more obvious when timeframe is compressed, for example a price-volume divergence is more obvious on the weekly compared to the daily. Divergences on the larger timeframes also point to larger moves, and could herald major reversals.

In conclusion, using multiple timeframes allows one to better identify trends, and more precisely pinpoint entries and exits by zooming in and zooming out from the initial point of reference. This also allows one to better manage risk in line with one’s time horizon and investment timeframe.

The Dual Timeframe Technique (NEW!)

The Only Two Things that Move Stock Prices

Despite what people may otherwise tell you or any preconceived ideas you may have, there are only two things that move stock prices. They are supply and demand – nothing more and nothing less. This is the foundation of basic economics as shown in the graph below. Since quantity remains the same, price is what fluctuates as a results of supply and demand.

If there is more demand than supply for a stock, then the price shall rise. Conversely, if there is more supply than demand for something, then the price shall fall. This is absolutely true in any market.

The next question is what affects the supply and demand for a particular security or traded instrument. Is it the profits in the financial statements? The upcoming expansion plans? The new product? Is it dividend payments? No one can be absolutely sure at any point why people may be buying and selling shares. That’s where technical analysis comes into play.

The Only Two Things that Move Stock Prices

The Only Two Things that Move Stock Prices

The next big revelation is that the bulk of supply and demand does not come from retail traders or retail investors. They come from the big boys (BB) and smart money (SM) like traders and fund managers in banks, funds and other institutions. They are the ones who move the market. Learning to interpret price action and volume is our window to tap into their psyche and profit from their actions.