Trading Opportunities at Recently Created Levels of Support and Resistance

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Trading Opportunities at Recently Created Levels of Support and Resistance

Last Friday’s trading of the EUR/USD didn’t amount to much in the way of trading opportunities setting up at pivot points. Naturally, when the gap between them is large, it carries with it the reality that set-ups along them will be in less abundance. Daily pivot points are truly a favorite method of mine in finding where the turning points in the market may lie. But if the previous day offered a large trading range, then the next day’s pivot points will naturally be spaced wide apart being where they are placed is mathematically determined by yesterday’s open, low, high, and closing price. So you may have to resort to other means to find suitable areas to trade. And that was basically the story of today’s trading.

1. To begin the morning, price fellow below the pivot level before a series of wicks started to test down toward 1.3381. This first occurred on the 3:30 candle, and tests occurred toward 1.3381 on four consecutive candles just before the start of the 4AM (EST) hour. The 4:00 candle broke below, but finished as a doji right along the level.

At this point, I still wasn’t entirely sure whether it would be a worthwhile set-up to consider. The false break below 1.3381 could entail that the market might eventually wish to go there. But there is also something to be said that buyers keep bringing it at or above that level despite all the consecutive tests down there. To me, it seemed like 1.3381 was a balancing point for the EUR/USD before possibly reversing.

When I got a green 4:05 candle, it helped in evidencing the opinion that 1.3381 could hold. So on the 4:10, I let price get down to 1.33808 (where the white line is drawn in the image below) before taking a call option, expecting it to hold at least briefly. It got the hop I was looking for on the 4:15 and I wound up with a good winning trade off a recently created price level.

2. A touch of the pivot level occurred on the 4:35 candle. It held and suggested the pivot could hold for put options and perhaps a channel formation. An immediate re-touch did not happen and fell back down to the 1.3381 level, before a charge back up and above the pivot. This is not an instance where I take the re-touch, especially when it’s covering a good range of distance in one direction in a short period of time. Granted, it had only moved about six pips north in less than ten minutes, but relative to time of day and the fact that it was a Friday, that was actually a notable move. So I decided to pass on this trade.

3. After the break of pivot, the market finally seemed to want to break in the upward direction. It did stall, but the false break on the 4:55 candle suggested more upward movement to come.

A formation of a resistance level did technically form right around 5AM, but given that the market did not return to the pivot point, I didn’t feel there was significant selling pressure to justify a put option there.

A potential trading opportunity did form, however, along the 1.3395 level after the rejection on the 5:50 candle. However, this turned out very similar to the pivot trading set-up that didn’t materialize in discussion point #2. Price fell down from 1.3395 by 4-5 pips, before making a move back up. I was looking for one further rejection of 1.3395 to help validate it as a reasonable area for put options, but that didn’t happen.

The 6:05 candle formed a false break of 1.3395. At this point, I felt it was best to stay out of anything at the white line due to the uptrend and the fact that the 1.3400 whole number and resistance 1 were directly overhead and more realistic targets.

4. The market did touch resistance 1, but no re-touch was in store. The whole number of 1.3400 held quite well as you can tell from the image, but given the test of resistance 1, I felt it was too risky to settle for the whole number as a point of entry for a put option.

Support and Resistance Basics

The concepts of support and resistance are undoubtedly two of the most highly discussed attributes of technical analysis. Part of analyzing chart patterns, these terms are used by traders to refer to price levels on charts that tend to act as barriers, preventing the price of an asset from getting pushed in a certain direction. At first, the explanation and idea behind identifying these levels seem easy, but as you’ll find out, support and resistance can come in various forms, and the concept is more difficult to master than it first appears.

Trading With Support And Resistance

Key Takeaways

  • Technical analysts use support and resistance levels to identify price points on a chart where the probabilities favor a pause or reversal of a prevailing trend.
  • Support occurs where a downtrend is expected to pause due to a concentration of demand.
  • Resistance occurs where an uptrend is expected to pause temporarily, due to a concentration of supply.
  • Market psychology plays a major role as traders and investors remember the past and react to changing conditions to anticipate future market movement.
  • Support and resistance areas can be identified on charts using trendlines and moving averages.

Support and Resistance Defined

Support is a price level where a downtrend can be expected to pause due to a concentration of demand or buying interest. As the price of assets or securities drops, demand for the shares increases, thus forming the support line.   Meanwhile, resistance zones arise due to selling interest when prices have increased.

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Once an area or “zone” of support or resistance has been identified, those price levels can serve as potential entry or exit points because, as a price reaches a point of support or resistance, it will do one of two things—bounce back away from the support or resistance level, or violate the price level and continue in its direction—until it hits the next support or resistance level.

The timing of some trades is based on the belief that support and resistance zones will not be broken. Whether the price is halted by the support or resistance level, or it breaks through, traders can “bet” on the direction and can quickly determine if they are correct. If the price moves in the wrong direction, the position can be closed at a small loss. If the price moves in the right direction, however, the move may be substantial.

The Basics

Most experienced traders can share stories about how certain price levels tend to prevent traders from pushing the price of an underlying asset in a certain direction. For example, assume that Jim was holding a position in stock between March and November and that he was expecting the value of the shares to increase.

Let’s imagine that Jim notices that the price fails to get above $39 several times over several months, even though it has gotten very close to moving above that level. In this case, traders would call the price level near $39 a level of resistance. As you can see from the chart below, resistance levels are also regarded as a ceiling because these price levels represent areas where a rally runs out of gas.

Support levels are on the other side of the coin. Support refers to prices on a chart that tend to act as a floor by preventing the price of an asset from being pushed downward. As you can see from the chart below, the ability to identify a level of support can also coincide with a buying opportunity because this is generally the area where market participants see value and start to push prices higher again.

Trendlines

The examples above show a constant level prevents an asset’s price from moving higher or lower. This static barrier is one of the most popular forms of support/resistance, but the price of financial assets generally trends upward or downward, so it is not uncommon to see these price barriers change over time. This is why the concepts of trending and trendlines are important when learning about support and resistance.

When the market is trending to the upside, resistance levels are formed as the price action slows and starts to move back toward the trendline. This occurs as a result of profit-taking or near-term uncertainty for a particular issue or sector. The resulting price action undergoes a “plateau” effect, or a slight drop-off in stock price, creating a short-term top.

Many traders will pay close attention to the price of a security as it falls toward the broader support of the trendline because, historically, this has been an area that has prevented the price of the asset from moving substantially lower. For example, as you can see from the Newmont Mining Corp (NEM) chart below, a trendline can provide support for an asset for several years. In this case, notice how the trendline propped up the price of Newmont’s shares for an extended period of time.

On the other hand, when the market is trending to the downside, traders will watch for a series of declining peaks and will attempt to connect these peaks together with a trendline. When the price approaches the trendline, most traders will watch for the asset to encounter selling pressure and may consider entering a short position because this is an area that has pushed the price downward in the past.

The support/resistance of an identified level, whether discovered with a trendline or through any other method, is deemed to be stronger the more times that the price has historically been unable to move beyond it. Many technical traders will use their identified support and resistance levels to choose strategic entry/exit points because these areas often represent the prices that are the most influential to an asset’s direction. Most traders are confident at these levels in the underlying value of the asset, so the volume generally increases more than usual, making it much more difficult for traders to continue driving the price higher or lower.

Unlike the rational economic actors portrayed by financial models, real human traders and investors are emotional, make cognitive errors, and fall back on heuristics or shortcuts. If people were rational, support and resistance levels wouldn’t work in practice!

Round Numbers

Another common characteristic of support/resistance is that an asset’s price may have a difficult time moving beyond a round number, such as $50 or $100 per share. Most inexperienced traders tend to buy or sell assets when the price is at a whole number because they are more likely to feel that a stock is fairly valued at such levels. Most target prices or stop orders set by either retail investors or large investment banks are placed at round price levels rather than at prices such as $50.06. Because so many orders are placed at the same level, these round numbers tend to act as strong price barriers. If all the clients of an investment bank put in sell orders at a suggested target of, for example, $55, it would take an extreme number of purchases to absorb these sales and, therefore, a level of resistance would be created.

Moving Averages

Most technical traders incorporate the power of various technical indicators, such as moving averages, to aid in predicting future short-term momentum, but these traders never fully realize the ability these tools have for identifying levels of support and resistance. As you can see from the chart below, a moving average is a constantly changing line that smooths out past price data while also allowing the trader to identify support and resistance. Notice how the price of the asset finds support at the moving average when the trend is up, and how it acts as resistance when the trend is down.

Traders can use moving averages in a variety of ways, such as to anticipate moves to the upside when price lines cross above a key moving average, or to exit trades when the price drops below a moving average. Regardless of how the moving average is used, it often creates “automatic” support and resistance levels. Most traders will experiment with different time periods in their moving averages so that they can find the one that works best for this specific task.

Other Indicators

In technical analysis, many indicators have been developed to identify barriers to future price action. These indicators seem complicated at first, and it often takes practice and experience to use them effectively. Regardless of an indicator’s complexity, however, the interpretation of the identified barrier should be consistent to those achieved through simpler methods.

The “golden ratio” used in the Fibonacci sequence, and also observed repeatedly in nature and social structure.

For example, the Fibonacci retracement tool is a favorite among many short-term traders because it clearly identifies levels of potential support/resistance. The reasoning behind how this indicator calculates the various levels of support and resistance is beyond the scope of this article, but notice in Figure 5 how the identified levels (dotted lines) are barriers to the short-term direction of the price.

Measuring the Significance of Zones

Remember how we used the terms “floor” for support and “ceiling” for resistance? Continuing the house analogy, the security can be viewed as a rubber ball that bounces in a room will hit the floor (support) and then rebound off the ceiling (resistance). A ball that continues to bounce between the floor and the ceiling is similar to a trading instrument that is experiencing price consolidation between support and resistance zones.

Now imagine that the ball, in mid-flight, changes to a bowling ball. This extra force, if applied on the way up, will push the ball through the resistance level; on the way down, it will push the ball through the support level. Either way, extra force, or enthusiasm from either the bulls or bears, is needed to break through the support or resistance.

A previous support level will sometimes become a resistance level when the price attempts to move back up, and conversely, a resistance level will become a support level as the price temporarily falls back.

Price charts allow traders and investors to visually identify areas of support and resistance, and they give clues regarding the significance of these price levels. More specifically, they look at:

Number of Touches

The more times the price tests a support or resistance area, the more significant the level becomes. When prices keep bouncing off a support or resistance level, more buyers and sellers notice and will base trading decisions on these levels.

Preceding Price Move

Support and resistance zones are likely to be more significant when they are preceded by steep advances or declines. For example, a fast, steep advance or uptrend will be met with more competition and enthusiasm and may be halted by a more significant resistance level than a slow, steady advance. A slow advance may not attract as much attention. This is a good example of how market psychology drives technical indicators.

Volume at Certain Price Levels

The more buying and selling that has occurred at a particular price level, the stronger the support or resistance level is likely to be. This is because traders and investors remember these price levels and are apt to use them again. When strong activity occurs on high volume and the price drops, a lot of selling will likely occur when price returns to that level, since people are far more comfortable closing out a trade at the breakeven point rather than at a loss.

Support and resistance zones become more significant if the levels have been tested regularly over an extended period of time.

The Bottom Line

Support and resistance levels are one of the key concepts used by technical analysts and form the basis of a wide variety of technical analysis tools. The basics of support and resistance consist of a support level, which can be thought of as the floor under trading prices, and a resistance level, which can be thought of as the ceiling. Prices fall and test the support level, which will either “hold,” and the price will bounce back up, or the support level will be violated, and the price will drop through the support and likely continue lower to the next support level.

While spotting support and resistance levels on a chart is relatively straightforward, some investors dismiss them entirely because the levels are based on past price moves, offering no real information about what will happen in the future.

Determining future levels of support can drastically improve the returns of a short-term investing strategy because it gives traders an accurate picture of what price levels should prop up the price of a given security in the event of a correction. Conversely, foreseeing a level of resistance can be advantageous because this is a price level that could potentially harm a long position, signifying an area where investors have a high willingness to sell the security. As mentioned above, there are several different methods to choose when looking to identify support/resistance, but regardless of the method, the interpretation remains the same—it prevents the price of an underlying asset from moving in a certain direction.

Summary: Trading Support and Resistance

When the market moves up and then pulls back, the highest point reached before it pulls back is now resistance.

As the market continues up again, the lowest point reached before it climbs back up is now support.

To help you filter out these false breakouts, you should think of support and resistance more of as “zones” rather than concrete numbers.

One way to help you find these zones is to plot support and resistance on a line chart rather than a candlestick chart.

The same could also happen with a support level. If a support level is broken, it could potentially become a resistance level

Trend Lines

In their most basic form, an uptrend line is drawn along the bottom of easily identifiable support areas (valleys).

In a downtrend, the trend line is drawn along the top of easily identifiable resistance areas (peaks).

There are three types of trends:

  1. Uptrend (higher lows)
  2. Downtrend (lower highs)
  3. Sideways trends (ranging)

Channels

To create an up (ascending) channel, simply draw a parallel line at the same angle as an uptrend line and then move that line to a position where it touches the most recent peak.

To create a down (descending) channel, simply draw a parallel line at the same angle as the downtrend line and then move that line to a position where it touches the most recent valley.

  1. Ascending channel (higher highs and higher lows)
  2. Descending channel (lower highers and lower lows)
  3. Horizontal channel (ranging)

Trading support and resistance levels can be divided into two methods: the bounce and the break.

Instead of simply buying or selling right off the bat, wait for it to bounce first before entering.

By doing this, you avoid those moments where price moves so fast that it slices through support and resistance levels like a knife slicing through warm butter.

As for trading the break, there is the aggressive way and there is the conservative way.

In the aggressive way, you simply buy or sell whenever the price passes through a support or resistance zone with ease.

In the conservative way, you wait for price to make a “pullback” to the broken support or resistance level and enter after price bounces.

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