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Recently, after the long run up in tech stocks, there has been some correction, leading to counter-trend moves in various counters.

We managed to spot and pre-empt many of these moves, using price action, patterns, and support/resistance levels.

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Short trade on CHF/JPY

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Short trade on GBP/USD

Short trade on S&P 500

 

 

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Quite often, when we dive into the financial market, we find that there is simply too much market news. When we try to trade the news, we have no idea what is important or trivial, because we are so overloaded with information. This makes news trading quite an impossible task.

To make matters worse, we often get conflicting views from experts, with some being bullish all the time, while others are bearish all the time. And because some of them have pretty convincing arguments, we easily get swayed and our own opinions tend to fluctuate from extremely bullish to extremely bearish.

So what is the way around this?

The first thing you need to know as a trade relying on market news is to be able to differentiate between FACTS and OPINIONS.

Facts are like raw data, statistics, research from credible sources, economic data, etc. These are usually unbiased and come without opinions, and provide the basis for you to form your opinion.

Opinions, on the other hand, are views formed based on the analysis of facts/data, so there is inherent bias, and the conclusions drawn from the data may or may not be correct. Hence as a trader or investor, we need to zoom in on a handful of credible sources of good analysis.

The second thing you need to know when doing news trading is to “trade what you SEE, not what you THINK”.

Opinions often give you preconceived notions or views on the market, for example you might think that the market is bullish, and hence it should go up. However, in reality, the market may not move according to your opinion.

The only reality in the market is what we see on the charts, which is the price action of the market.

No matter how bullish you think the market is, the truth is that you will not be able to make money unless the price actually moves up. So when it comes to trading, your strategies, setups and analysis of the chart should take precedence over your opinions.

And that will help you filter out all the unnecessary noise in the market to zoom in on the best trading opportunities.

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This article is going to be a little longer than usual, as I endeavor to make a balanced view about exactly why price action is preferred in the marketplace.

If you’re keen to expand your mind, deepen your knowledge, or simply learn something new about the financial markets, then please read on.

Throughout the centuries, traders around the world have tried to find every method possible to exploit the market for profits. The search for a trading edge has led to countless hours of research, hard work, and dedication. More recently, programming has become the rage as hedge funds, institutions, and large traders seek to find the optimal way to extract profits from the market.

While the internet is rife with methods, formulas, and patterns that claim to bring in profits, through my years of trading, I’ve found that trading plan or strategies fall into these 3 simple categories.

Most Trading Strategies Fall into 3 Categories

 

1. Trend-following

Many beginners make the mistake of asking these 2 questions: “When should I buy? When should I sell?”

Beneath these two questions, are actually several important questions to ask before deciding when to buy and sell. You see, trend-following is the act of buying in an uptrend, and selling in a downtrend. It sounds simple, but several questions come to mind when a trader attempts to follow a trend:

  • Has the trend started? When did it start?
  • When will the trend end?
  • Where should I get in on the trend?
  • Is it a volatile trend, or a gentle trend?
  • Is it a strong trend, or a weak trend?

All of this has to be taken into account as the market unfolds before a trader’s eyes. The confluence of answers to these questions would allow a price action trader to buy or to sell. While it is impossible to predict what would happen, the better a trader can answer the above questions, the better he or she is positioned to make some money.

Why is price action preferred by professional traders?

Price action involves reading clean price charts, and understanding the motivation of buyers and sellers when taking trades. With proper training, a trader can answer all the above questions, and make the most efficient trade during a trending market situation.

Traders have to process large quantities of information at a go. Making the price chart as clean as possible allows the trader to clearly see what is happening, and simplifies his analysis. For example, in the above chart, buyers are committed during the most recent 10 bars, and a reasonable trade would be to buy on a pullback to the EMA or trendline.

 

2. Mean-reversion

Mean-reversion is simply doing the opposite of a trend-follower. In essence, a mean-reversion trader would be asking the following questions:

  • Has the trend ended?
  • Where might the trend end?
  • Are the traders taking profits, or are they initiating new positions?
  • What price levels are mean-reversion traders looking at?

Based on my experience, beginners should not look to be mean-reversion traders until they are profitable trend-followers. It is much harder than it looks when taking a trade in the opposite direction of the trend.

In my trading foundation workshops, I emphasize time and again that a trade setup must occur in the opposite direction before taking a reversal trade. In fact, instead of going against the trend, I would much prefer that the trend has already changed direction, and then I hop on to that new trend for a lower-risk trade.

Price action traders consider many more options and ask more questions than indicator-based or value-based traders.

The financial marketplace is filled with professional traders seeking to make a quick buck out of unsuspecting, ill-disciplined, or even lazy traders. It is just like in the Olympics; at the highest level of sporting excellence, sportsmen that miscalculate their aim or fail to squeeze out that last ounce of energy could miss finishing in the top 3.

In a bull market, going against the trend is much harder than you think. That is why price action is so important; it helps you decipher when the trend is going to end, and whether it is wise to enter or not.

 

3. Spread-Betting (Betting during volatility)

Spread-betting is used by institutional traders and proprietary funds to make short-term bets during times of volatility. The software and execution technology required is often expensive, and is not suitable for a retail trader. The strategy is complex, because bets are placed on both sides during a volatile event, and it requires strict discipline when trading. I won’t go into great detail on how this is done, but you can read up about it.

 

Why Then, is Price Action Preferred by Professional Traders?

 

1. CLARITY

Price action trading is trading with clean charts. The only information you need is the current price, and these are displayed using candlestick charts. In the charts below, we see that the blank chart is far clearer and easier to read than the complicated one with many indicators.

 

2. SPEED

When trading intra-day, traders need to quickly make a decision when the price action unfolds before them. While checklists and criteria do help, having a solid price action foundation would allow the trader to make a decision quickly. How would you make a trading decision, if you had to look at 12 screens at once?

Image Source: LifeHacker.com

In contrast, I can make my trades on a single laptop computer, or even on my mobile devices. Something like this is more than sufficient:

Image Source: MyCompas.com

 

3. UNIVERSALITY

Perhaps the biggest reason why price action is preferred, is that price action is universal. You can trade commodities, currencies, stocks, bonds, ETFs, REITs, futures on just about anything, and even options, because every product has a price chart. You can be just as sure that Coffee Futures have the same price action mechanics as Apple stock, and you wouldn’t have a problem transiting between products.

Trading is very much like selecting from a diverse menu in a fancy restaurant; while there are many products to trade, many traders settle on trading a few products and get proficient at them.

Price action works on just about anything with a price chart and a liquid secondary marketplace.
Image Source: TheActuary.com

 

How Can I Get Started On Price Action Trading?

For a start, I recommend using the old-school way by getting your hands on a few solid price action books. Many of these are available in public libraries, and if you have some spare cash, you can consider buying them on amazon.

Next, is to practice! While reading books and watching others trade is a great way to learn, nothing beats learning to trade by actually making trades yourself.

If you currently use many indicators and are not profitable, perhaps the question to ask yourself is whether you would like to understand what is behind the price chart and the indicators. It is not enough to use a formula, because market conditions change over time.

Here’s to wishing you all the best on your trading journey, and I hope this article has expanded your mind just a little more!

One of the simple yet powerful techniques I use to allow me to quickly identify trading opportunities with minimal time and effort (typically 15 minutes a day), is to use this Excel table which combines price action with multiple timeframes.

To create this table, I observe the daily and weekly charts of various products (forex, stocks, cryptocurrencies, commodities, etc), and list down whether I think it is bullish or bearish on each timeframe. For the weekly chart, I only need to update it once a week, and for the daily chart, this takes me a few minutes a day.

Here are some chart examples:

This is the daily chart of the EUR/USD, and you can see that it just completed a pullback and is looking bullish. So under EUR, I mark it as bullish. For most products, I always benchmark them against the USD for easy comparison.

 

This is the weekly chart of the EUR/USD, and you can see that it is also very bullish, and rebounding off a large trendline. With the alignment of both the daily and weekly trends, this make the EUR/USD a very good long trade to be in. And since the GBP is also weak, going long on the EUR/GBP is also a good idea.

 

For the S&P 500, the long-term trend is bullish, but the short-term trend is bearish. In such a scenario, we will pass and wait for more price action. The goal is to take the best trades, not take as many trades as possible. Quality over quantity.

Jesse Livermore is known to be the most prolific stock trader. Several books have been written about him and his trading track record is legendary. His profits were so great that he was reported to have owned mansions in various places around the world, each fully staffed, complete with limousines and steel-hulled yacht for his holidays.

Some of you might have read that Livermore was worth $100 million after shorting the 1929 great market crash.

Above: Some of the books about Jesse Livermore, available in major bookstores.

What Guidelines Did Jesse Livermore Follow As A Trader?

Among the many quips he had about trading and investing, I’ve picked out some of the key ones that could make or break your trading account.

While many complain about the difficulties in trading forex, stocks, or commodities, there is a good minority that makes consistent profits in the markets.

What sets Jesse Livermore apart from his peers?

 

  1. Buy rising stocks and sell falling stocks.

The above seems obvious, but many people fail to adhere to this rule. Many people like to ‘pick tops’ and ‘pick bottoms’. Now, professional traders do occasionally try to pick tops and bottoms, but they do so with very strict risk management, and always have a contingency plan for when the trade doesn’t work out.

Beginners often makes the mistake of trying to trade against the trend. While this can be profitable for some, talk to anyone in the trading industry and they will tell you that trend-following is the major money-making strategy that every trader uses. It’s simple, easy to add positions on, and it’s stress free. The problems come when beginners make a buck from trading with the trend, and start to explore ‘new ways’ to trade and invest.

 

2. Keep trades that show a profit, end trades that show a loss.

Jesse Livermore is famous for his humongous profits, but behind every profitable trader is the admirable ability to deal with a string of losses. It’s one thing to know that you need to cut losses, but it’s another to actually cut your losses when you are wrong. George Soros famously quips that it is not how many times you win or lose, it’s how much you make when you win, and how much you lose when you are wrong.

Cutting losses is a psychologically hard thing to do in modern society. We’re ingrained to be always correct, and never admit that you messed up, because it reflects badly on you as a person. However, with investing, no one is marking you for the number of losses; the profit that you make is the final report card that matters, and that’s where we want to be focusing on.

 

3. Never average losses by buying more when your stock has fallen.

Too many people refuse to be wrong on their investments or trades.

I have heard of people say this statement: “Even if the stock drops a lot, I’ll just keep it because I’m buying for ownership and dividend cashflow, not just for capital gains.” Sure, but what happens if the stock you hold drops by 70%? 80%? You’ll buy more?

Buying more when the stock has fallen is a sure-way to get your trading account to zero. It’s taking more risk when the odds are against you.

 

Think About This: Which of These 3 Guidelines Have Brought You Losses in the Past?

Many traders soon realize early in their career, that their trading accounts could have been profitable if not for silly mistakes. Avoiding these silly mistakes requires experience, maturity, the correct knowledge, and of course, proper mentoring.

I was lucky to be mentored by veteran traders early on in my trading career. Their advice, based upon thousands of hours of market experience, contributed greatly to who I am today, and I never fail to mention, during trading seminars or public events, that by tapping on their experience, I was able to quickly attain a level of success that kept me profitable.

If you’re currently struggling as a trader, ask yourself this question: “Which mistakes have I been making?”

Acknowledging trading mistakes is a continuous process of learning and growing.