6 Steps To A Rule-Based Forex Trading

A trading system is more than just having a rule or set of rules for when to enter and when to exit a trade. It is a comprehensive strategy that takes into account six very important factors, not the least of which is your own personality. In this article, we will cover the general approach to creating a rule-based trading system.

Step 1: Examine Your Mindset
(A) Know who you are: When trading the markets, your first priority is to take a look at yourself and note your own personality traits. Examine your strengths and your weaknesses, then ask yourself how you might react if you perceive an opportunity or how you might react if your position is threatened. This is also known as a personal SWOT analysis. But do not lie to yourself. If you are not sure how you would act, ask the opinion of someone who knows you well.

(B) Match your personality to your trading: Be sure that you are comfortable with the type of trading conditions you will experience in different time frames. For example, if you have determined that you are not the kind of person who likes to go to sleep with open positions in a market that is trading while you sleep, perhaps you should consider day trading so that you can close out your positions before you go home. However, you must then be the kind of person who likes the adrenalin rush of constantly watching the computer throughout the day. Do you enjoy being computer-bound? Are you an addictive or compulsive person? Will you drive yourself crazy watching your positions and become afraid to go to the bathroom in case you miss a tick? If you are not sure, go back and re-audit your personality to be certain. Unless your trading style matches your personality, you will not enjoy what you are doing and you will quickly lose your passion for trading.

(D) Be objective: Do not become emotionally involved in your trade. It does not matter whether you are wrong or right. What matters, as George Soros says, is that “you make more money when you are right than what you lose when you are wrong.” Trading is not about ego, although for most of us it can be disconcerting when we plan a trade, apply our entire logical prowess and then find out that the market does not agree. It is a matter of training yourself to accept that not every trade can be a winning trade, and that you must accept small losses gracefully and move on to the next trade.

(E) Be disciplined: This means that you have to know when to buy and sell. Base your decisions on your pre-planned strategy and stick to it. Sometimes you will cut out of a position only to find that it turns around and would have been profitable had you held on to it. But this is the basis of a very bad habit. Don’t ignore your stop losses - you can always get back into a position. You will find it more reassuring to cut out and accept a small loss than to start wishing that your large loss will be recouped when the market rebounds. This would more resemble trading your ego than trading the market.

(F) Be patient: When it comes to trading, patience truly is a virtue. Learn to sit on your hands until the market gets to the point where you have drawn your line in the sand. If it does not get to your entry point, what have you lost? There is always going to be an opportunity to make gains another day.

(G) Have realistic expectations: This means that you won’t lose your focus on reality and miraculously expect to turn $1,000 into $1 million 10 trades. What is a realistic expectation? Consider what some of the best fund managers in the world are capable of achieving - perhaps anywhere from 20-50% per annum. Most of them achieve much less than that and are well-paid to do so. Go into trading expecting a realistic rate of return on a consistent basis; if you manage to achieve a growth rate of 20% or better every year, you will be able to outperform many of the professional fund managers.

Step 2: Identify Your Mission and Set Your Goals
(A) With anything in life, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. In terms of investing, this means you must sit down with your calculator and determine what kind of returns you need to reach your financial goals.

(B) Next, you must start to understand how much you need to earn in a trade and how often you will have to trade to achieve your goals. Don’t forget to factor in losing trades. This can bring you to the realization that your trading methodology may be in conflict with your goals. Therefore, it is critical to align your methodology with your goals. If you are trading in standard 100,000 lots, your average value of a pip is around $10. So how many pips can you expect to earn per trade? Take your last 20 trades and add up the winners and losers and then determine your profits. Use this to forecast the returns on your current methodology. Once you know this information, you can figure out if you can achieve your goals and whether or not you are being realistic.

Step 3: Ensure You Have Enough Money
(A) Cash is the fuel needed to start trading and without enough cash, your trading will be hampered by a lack of liquidity. But more important, cash is a cushion against losing trades. Without a cushion, you will not be able to withstand a temporary drawdown or be able to give your position enough breathing space while the market moves back and forth with new trends.

(B) Cash cannot come from sources that you need for other important events in your life, such as your savings plan for your children’s college education. Cash in trading accounts is “risk” money. Also known as risk capital, this money is an amount that you can afford to lose without affecting your lifestyle. Consider trading money as you would vacation savings. You know that when the vacation is over the money will be spent and you are OK with that. Trading carries a high degree of risk. Treating your trading capital as vacation money does not mean that you are not serious about protecting your capital, rather it means freeing yourself psychologically from the fear of losing so that you can actually make the trades that will be necessary to grow your capital. Again, perform a personal SWOT analysis to be sure the necessary trading positions aren’t contrasting with your personality profile.

Step 4: Select a Market That Trades Harmoniously
(A) Pick a currency pair and test it over different time frames. Start with the weekly charts, then proceed to daily, four-hour, two-hour, one-hour, 30-minute, 10-minute and five-minute charts. Try to determine whether the market turns at strategic points most of the time, such as at Fibonacci levels, trendlines or moving averages. This will give you a feeling of how the currency trades in the different time frames.

(B) Set up support and resistance levels in different time frames to see if any of these levels cluster together. For example, the price at 127 Fibonacci extension on the weekly time frame may also be the price at a 1.618 extension off of a daily time frame. Such a cluster would add conviction to the support or resistance at that price point.

Repeat this exercise with different currencies until you find the currency pair that you feel is the most predictable for your methodology.

(C) Remember, passion is key to trading. The repeated testing of your set-ups requires that you love what you are doing. With enough passion you will learn to accurately gauge the market.

(D) Once you have a currency pair that you feel comfortable with, start reading the news and the comments regarding the particular pair you have selected. Try to determine if the fundamentals are supporting what you believe the chart is telling you. For example, if gold is going up, that would probably be good for the Australian dollar, since gold is a commodity that is generally positively correlated to the Australian dollar. If you think gold is going to go down, then wait for the appropriate time on the chart to short the Aussie. Look for a line of resistance to be the appropriate line in the sand to get timing confirmation before you make the trade.

Step 5: Test Your Methodology for Positive Results
(A) This step is probably what most traders really think of as the most important part of trading: A system that enters and exits trades that are only profitable. No losses - ever. Such a system, if there were one, would make a trader rich beyond his wildest dreams. But the truth is, there is no such system. There are good methodologies and better ones and even very average methods that can all be used to make money. The performance of a trading system is more about the trader than it is about the system. A good driver can get to his destination in virtually any vehicle, but an untrained driver will probably not make it, no matter how great fast the car is.

(B) Having said the above, it is necessary to pick a methodology and implement it many times in different time frames and markets to measure its success rate. Often a system is a successful predictor of the market direction only 55-60% of the time, but with proper risk management, the trader can still make a lot of money employing such a system.

(C) Personally, I like to use a system that has the highest reward to risk, which means that I tend to look for turning points at support and resistance levels because these are the points where it is easiest to identify and quantify the risk. Support is not always strong enough to stop a falling market, nor is resistance always strong enough to turn back an advance in prices. However, a system can be built around the concept of support and resistance to give a trader the edge required to be profitable.

(D) Once you have designed your system, it is important to measure its expectancy or reliability in various conditions and time frames. If it has a positive expectancy (it produces more profitable trades than losing trades) it can be used as a means to time entry and exit in the markets.

Step 6: Measure Your Risk-to-Reward Ratios and Set Your Limits
(A) The first line in the sand to draw is where you would exit your position if the market goes against you. This is where you will place your stop loss.

(B) Calculate the number of pips your stop is away from your entry point. If the stop is 20 pips away from the entry point and you are trading a standard lot, then each pip is worth approximately $10 (if the U.S. dollar is your quote currency). Use a pip calculator if you are trading in cross currencies to make it easy to get the value of a pip.

(C) Calculate the percentage your stop loss would be as a percentage of your trading capital. For example, if you have $1,000 in your trading account, 2% would be $20. Be sure your stop loss is not more than $20 away from your entry point. If 20 pips are equal to $200, then you are too leveraged for your available trading capital. To overcome this, you must reduce your trading size from a standard lot to a mini-lot. One pip in a mini-lot is equal to approximately $1. Therefore, to maintain your 2% risk-to-capital, the maximum loss should be $20, which requires that you trade only one mini-lot.

(D) Now draw a line on your chart where you would want to take profit. Be sure this is at least 40 pips away from your entry point. This will give you a 2:1 profit-to-loss ratio. Since you cannot know for sure if the market will reach this point, be sure to slide your stop to breakeven as soon as the market moves beyond your entry point. At worst, you will scratch your trade and your full capital will be intact.

(E) If you get knocked out on your first attempt, don’t despair. Often it is your second entry that will be correct. It is true that “the second mouse gets the cheese.” Often the market will bounce off your support if you are buying, or retreat from your resistance if you are selling, and you will enter the trade to test that level to see if the market will trade back to your support or resistance. You can then catch profits the second time around.

By fusing psychology, fundamentals, a trading methodology and risk management, you’ll have the tools to select an appropriate currency pair. All that is left to do is repeatedly practice trading until the strategy is ingrained in your psyche. With enough passion and determination, you will become a successful trader.

SOURCE: Investopedia

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Spread-To-Pip Potential: Which Pairs Are Worth Day Trading

Spreads play a significant factor in profitable forex trading. When we compare to the average spread to the average daily movement many interesting issues arise. Namely, some pairs are more advantageous to trade than others. Secondly, retail spreads are much harder to overcome in short-term trading than some may anticipate. Third, a "larger" spread does not necessarily mean the pair is not as good for day trading when compared to some lower spread alternatives. Same goes for a "smaller" spread - it does not mean it is better to trade than a larger spread alternative.

Establishing a Base Line
To understand what we are dealing with, and which pairs are more suited to day trading, a base line is needed. For this the spread is converted to a percentage of the daily range. This allows us to compare spreads versus what the maximum pip potential is for a day trade in that particular pair. While the numbers below reflect the values in existence at a particular period of time, the test can be applied at any time to see which currency pair is offering the best value in terms of its spread to daily pip potential. The test can also be used to cover longer or shorter periods of time.

These are the daily values and approximate spreads (will vary from broker to broker) as of April 7, 2010. As daily average movements change so will the percentage that the spread represents of the daily movement. A change in the spread will also affect the percentage. Please note that in the percentage calculation the spread has been deducted from the daily average range. This is to reflect that retail customers cannot buy at the lowest bid price of the day shown on their charts.
    Daily Average Range (12):105
    Spread: 3
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 3/102= 2.94%

    Daily Average Range (12):80
    Spread: 3
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 3/77= 3.90%

    Daily Average Range (12):128
    Spread: 4
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 4/124= 3.23%

    Daily Average Range (12):121
    Spread: 4
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 4/117= 3.42%

    Daily Average Range (12):66
    Spread: 4
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 4/62= 6.45%

    Daily Average Range (12):98
    Spread: 4
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 4/94= 4.26%

    Daily Average Range (12):151
    Spread: 6
    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 6/145= 4.14%

Which Pairs to Trade
When the spread is placed into percentage terms of the daily average move, it can be seen that the spread can be quite significant and have a large impact on day-trading strategies. This is often overlooked by traders who feel they are trading for free since there is no commission.

If a trader is actively day trading and focusing on a certain pair, making trades each day, it is most likely they will trade pairs that have the lowest spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential. The EUR/USD and GBP/USD exhibit the best ratio from the pairs analyzed above. The EUR/JPY also ranks high among the pairs examined. It should be noted that even though the GBP/USD and EUR/JPY have a four-pip spread they out rank the USD/JPY which commonly has a three pip spread.

In the case of the USD/CAD, which also has a four-pip spread, it was one of the worst pairs to day trade with the spread accounting for a significant portion of the daily average range. Pairs such as these are better suited to longer term moves, where the spread becomes less significant the further the pair moves.

Adding Some Realism
The above calculations assumed that the daily range is capturable, and this is highly unlikely. Based simply on chance and based on the average daily range of the EUR/USD, there is far less than a 1% chance of picking the high and low. Despite what people may think of their trading abilities, even a seasoned day trader won't fair much better in being able to capture an entire day's range - and they don't have to.

Therefore, some realism needs to be added to our calculation, accounting for the fact that picking the exact high and low is extremely unlikely. Assuming that a trader is unlikely to exit/enter in the top 10% of the average daily range, and is unlikely to exit /enter in the bottom 10% of the average daily range, this means that trader has 80% of the available range available to them. Entering and exiting within this area is more realistic than being able to enter right in the area of a daily high or low.

Using 80% of the average daily range in the calculation provides the following values for the currency pairs. These numbers paint a portrait that the spread is very significant.

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 3/81.6= 3.68%

    Spread as a percentage of maximum pip potential: 3/61.6= 4.87%

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 4/99.2= 4.03%

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 4/93.6= 4.27%

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 4/49.6= 8.06%

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 4/75.2= 5.32%

    Spread as a percentage of possible (80%) pip potential: 6/116= 5.17%

With the exception of the EUR/USD, which is just under, 4%+ of the daily range is eaten up by the spread. In some pairs the spread is a significant portion of the daily range when factoring for the likely possibly that the trader will not be able to accurately pick entries/exits within 10% of the high and low which establish the daily range.


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The Ichimoku Kinko Hyo or equilibrium chart isolates higher probability trades in the forex market. It is new to the mainstream, but has been rising incrementally in popularity among novice and experienced traders. More known for its applications in the futures and equities forums, the Ichimoku displays a clearer picture because it shows more data points, which provide a more reliable price action. The application offers multiple tests and combines three indicators into one chart, allowing the trader to make the most informed decision. Learn how the Ichimoku works and how to add it to your own trading routine.

Getting to Know Ichimoku
Before a trader can trade effectively on the chart, a basic understanding of the components that make up the equilibrium chart need to be established. Created and revealed in 1968, the Ichimoku was developed in a manner unlike most other technical indicators and chart applications. Usually formulated by statisticians or mathematicians in the industry, the indicator was constructed by a Tokyo newspaper writer named Goichi Hosoda and a handful of assistants running multiple calculations.What they came up with is now used by many Japanese trading rooms because it offers multiple tests on the price action, creating higher probability trades. Although many traders are intimidated by the abundance of lines drawn when the chart is actually applied, the components can be easily translated into more commonly accepted indicators.

Essentially made up of four major components, the application offers the trader key insight into FX market price action. First, we'll take a look at both the Tenkan and Kijun Sens. Used as a moving average crossover, both lines are simple translations of the 20- and 50-day moving averages, although with slightly different time frames.

1. The Tenkan Sen - Calculated as the sum of the highest high and the lowest low divided by two. The Tenkan is calculated over the previous seven to eight time periods.

2. The Kijun Sen - Calculated as the sum of the highest high and the lowest low divided by two. Although the calculation is similar, the Kijun takes the past 22 time periods into account.

Now let's take a look at the most important component, the Ichimoku "cloud", which represents current and historical price action. It behaves in much the same way as simple support and resistance by creating formative barriers. The last two components of the Ichimoku application are:

3. Senkou Span A - The sum of the Tenkan Sen and the Kijun Sen divided by two. The calculation is then plotted 26 time periods ahead of the current price action.

4. Senkou Span B - The sum of the highest high and the lowest low divided by two. This calculation is taken over the past 44 time periods and is plotted 22 periods ahead.

Once plotted on the chart, the area between the two lines is referred to as the Kumo, or cloud. Comparatively thicker than your run-of-the-mill support and resistance lines, the cloud offers the trader a thorough filter. Instead of giving the trader a visually thin price level for support and resistance, the thicker cloud will tend to take the volatility of the currency markets into account. A break through the cloud and a subsequent move above or below it will suggest a better and more probable trade. Let's take a look Figure 2's comparison.

To Recap:

1. Refer To The Kijun / Tenkan Cross - The potential crossover in both lines will act in similar fashion to the more recognized moving average crossover. This technical occurrence is great for isolating moves in the price action.

2. Confirm Down / Uptrend With Chikou - Confirming that the market sentiment is in line with the crossover will increase the probability of the trade as it acts in similar fashion with a momentum oscillator.

3. Price Action Should Break Through The Cloud - The impending down/uptrend should make a clear break through of the cloud of resistance/support. This decision will increase the probability of the trade working in the trader's favor.

4. Follow Money Management When Placing Entries - By adhering to strict money management rules, the trader will be able to balance risk/reward ratios and control the position.

The Round Up
This indicator is intimidating at first, but once the Ichimoku chart is broken down, every trader from novice to advanced will find the application helpful. Not only does it mesh three indicators into one, but it also offers a more filtered approach to the price action for the currency trader. Additionally, this approach will not only increase the probability of the trade in the FX markets, but will assist in isolating only the true momentum plays. This is opposed to riskier trades where the position has a chance of trading back former profits.

Read More - Investopedia

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