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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Forex versus Futures

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24-hour Trading



Commission Free Trading*



Up to 400:1 Leverage



Price Certainty



Guaranteed Limited Risk




In the spot Forex market, almost $2 trillion is traded daily, making it the largest and most liquid market in the world. This market can absorb trading volume and transaction sizes that dwarf the capacity of any other market. The futures market traders a puny $30 billion per day. Thirty billion?!! Peanuts! The futures markets can't compete with its limited liquidity. The Forex market is always liquid, meaning positions can be liquidated and stop orders executed without slippage except in extremely volatile market conditions.

24-Hour Market

At 2:15 p.m. EST Sunday, trading begins as markets open in Sydney and Singapore. At 7 p.m. EST the Tokyo market opens, followed by London at 2 a.m. EST. And finally, New York opens at 8 a.m. EST and closes at 5 p.m. EST. So, before New York trading closes the Sydney and Singapore markets are back open - it’s a 24 hour seamless market! As a trader, this allows you to react to favorable or unfavorable news by trading immediately. If important data comes in from England or Japan while the U.S. futures market is closed, the next day's opening could be a wild ride. (Overnight markets in futures currency contracts exist, but they are thinly traded, not very liquid, and are difficult for the average investor to access).

Commission Free Trading

You know what’s great about trading currencies? You pay NO commissions! Because you deal directly with the market maker via a purely electronic online exchange, you eliminate both ticket costs and middleman brokerage fees. There is still a cost to initiating any trade, but that cost is reflected in the bid/ask spread that is also present in futures or equities trading. Brokers are compensated for their services through the bid-ask spread instead of via commissions.

Price Certainty

When trading Forex, you get rapid execution and price certainty under normal market conditions. In contrast, the futures and equities markets do not offer price certainty or instant trade execution. Even with the advent of electronic trading and limited guarantees of execution speed, the prices for fills for futures and equities on market orders are far from certain. The prices quoted by brokers often represent the LAST trade, not necessarily the price for which the contract will be filled.

Guaranteed Limited Risk

Traders must have position limits for the purpose of risk management. This number is set relative to the money in a trader’s account. Risk is minimized in the spot FX market because the online capabilities of the trading platform will automatically generate a margin call if the required margin amount exceeds the available trading capital in your account. All open positions will be closed immediately, regardless of the size or the nature of positions held within the account. In the futures market, your position may be liquidated at a loss, and you will be liable for any resulting deficit in the account.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Market Hours

“When” to trade the forex market. That the forex is open 24 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean it’s always active the whole day. You can make money in the forex when the market moves up, and you can even make money when the market moves down. However, you will have a very difficult time trying to make money when the market doesn’t move at all. This lesson will help determine when the best times of the day are to trade.

Market Hours

Before looking at the best times to trade, we must look at what a 24hr. day in the forex world looks like. The forex can be broken up into three major trading sessions: the Tokyo Session, the London Session, and the U.S. Session. Below is a table of the open and close times for each session:







07.00 pm

07.00 am


04.00 am

09.00 am



03.00 am

08.00 am


12.00 pm

05.00 pm



08.00 am

01.00 pm


05.00 pm

10.00 pm

You can see that in between each session there is a period of time where two sessions are open at the Chrise time. From 3-4 a.m. EST, both the Tokyo and London markets are open, and from 8-12 a.m. EST, both the London and U.S. markets are open. Naturally, these are the busiest times during the market because there is more volume when two markets are open at the Chrise time.






















Average PIP range of the 4 majors during each session

The London session usually shows the most movement.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ascending Triangles

This type of formation occurs when there is a resistance level and a slope of higher lows. What happens during this time is that there is a certain level that the buyers cannot seem to exceed. However, they are gradually starting to push the price up as evident by the higher lows.

In the chart above, you can see that the buyers are starting to gain strength because they are making higher lows. They keep putting pressure on that resistance level and as a result, a breakout is bound to happen. Now the question is, “Which direction will it go? - Will the buyers be able to break that level or will the resistance be too strong?”

Many charting books will tell you that in most cases, the buyers will win this battle and the price will break out past the resistance. However, it has been my experience that this is not always the case. Sometimes the resistance level is too strong, and there is simply not enough buying power to push it through.

Most of the time the price will in fact go up. The point we are trying to make is that we do not care which direction the price goes, but we want to be ready for a movement in EITHER direction. In this case, we would set an entry order above the resistance line and below the slope of the higher lows.

In this scenario, the buyers won the battle and the price proceeded to skyrocket!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pattern Schmatterns

Think of chart patterns as a land mine detector, because once you learn this, you will be able to spot “explosions” on the charts before they even happen, making you a lot of money in the process.

In this lesson, we will teach you basic chart patterns and formations. When correctly identified, it usually leads to a huge breakout or “explosion” in this case.

Remember, our whole goal is to spot big movements before they happen so that we can ride them out and rake in the cash! Chart formations will greatly help us spot conditions where the market is ready to break out.

Here's the list of patterns that we're going to cover:

• Symmetrical Triangles
• Ascending Triangles
• Descending Triangles
• Double Top
• Double Bottom
• Head and Shoulders
• Reverse Head and Shoulders

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Symmetrical Triangles

Symmetrical triangles are chart formations where the slope of the price’s highs and the slope of the price’s lows converge together to a point where it looks like a triangle. What is happening during this formation is that the market is making lower highs and higher lows. This means that neither the buyers nor the sellers are pushing the price far enough to make a clear trend. If this was a battle between the buyers and sellers, then this would be a draw.
This type of activity is called consolidation.

In the chart above, we can see that neither the buyers nor the sellers could push the price in their direction. When this happens we get lower highs and higher lows. As these two slopes get closer to each other, it means that a breakout is getting near. We don’t know what direction the breakout will be, but we do know that the market will break out. Eventually, one side of the market will give in.

So how can we take advantage of this? Simple. We can place entry orders above the slope of the lower highs and below the slope of the higher lows. Since we already know that the price is going to break out, we can just hitch a ride in whatever direction the market moves.

In this example, if we placed an entry order above the slope of the lower highs, we would’ve been taken along for a nice ride up. If you had placed another entry order below the slope of the higher lows, then you would cancel it as soon as the first order was hit.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oscillators and Trend Following Indicators

For the purpose of this lesson, let’s broadly categorize all of our technical indicators into one of two categories:

1. Oscillators - Oscillators are leading indicators.
2. Trend following or momentum indicators - Momentum indicators are lagging indicators.

While the two can be supportive of each other, they're more likely to conflict with each other. We’re not saying that one or the other should be used exclusively, but you must understand the potential pitfalls of each.

Oscillators / Leading Indicators

An oscillator is any object or data that moves back and forth between two points. In other words, it’s an item that is going to always fall somewhere between point A and point B. Think of when you hit the oscillating switch on your electric fan.

Think of our technical indicators as either being “on” or “off”. More specifically, an oscillator will usually signal “buy” or “sell”, with the only exception being instances when the oscillator is not clearly at either end of the buy/sell range.

Does this sound familiar? It should! Stochastics, Parabolic SAR, and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) are all oscillators. Each of these indicators is designed to signal a possible reversal, where the previous trend has run its course and the price is ready to change direction.

A few examples :

On the 1-hour chart of USD/EUR below, we have added a Parabolic SAR indicator, as well as an RSI and Stochastic oscillator. As you have already learned, when the Stochastic and RSI begin to leave their “oversold” region that is a buy signal.

Here we get buy signals between the hours 3:00 am EST and 7:00 am EST on 08/24/05. All three of these buy signals occurred within one or two hours of each other, and this would have been a good trade.

We also got a sell signal from all three indicators between the hours of 2:00 am EST and 5:00 am EST on 08/25/05. As you can see, the Stochastic indicator remained in the overbought for a pretty long time - about 20 hours. Usually when an oscillator remains in the overbought or oversold levels for a long period of time, that means there is a strong trend occurring. In this example, since Stochastic stayed overbought, you see there was a strong uptrend present.
Now let’s take a look at the Chrise leading oscillators messing up, just so you know these signals aren’t perfect. Looking at the chart below, you can quickly see that there were a lot of false buy signals popping up. You’ll see how one indicator says to buy, while the other one is still saying sell.

Around 1 am EST on 08/16/05, both RSI and Stochastic gave buy signals, while Parabolic SAR still showed a sell signal. Yes, Parabolic SAR gave a buy signal 3 hours later at 4 am EST, but then Parabolic SAR turned into a sell signal one bar later. If you actually look at the bar with the Parabolic SAR below it, notice how it’s a strong looking red bar with very short shadows. Also, notice how the next bar closed below it. This would not have been a good long trade.

On the last two oversold (buy) signals given by Stochastic, notice how there is no indicator at all for RSI, but Parabolic SAR is giving sell signals. What’s going on here? They are each giving you different signals!

The answer lies in the method of calculation for each one. Stochastic is based on the high-to-low range of the time period (in this case, it’s hourly), yet doesn’t account for changes from one hour to the next. The Relative Strength Index (RSI) uses change from one closing price to the next. And Parabolic SAR has its own unique calculations that can further cause conflict.

That’s the nature of oscillators – they assume that a particular chart pattern always results in the Chrise reversal.

While being aware of why a leading indicator may be in error, there’s no way to avoid them. If you’re getting mixed signals, you’re better off doing nothing than taking a ‘best guess’. If a chart doesn’t meet all your criteria, don’t force the trade! Move on to the next one that does meet your criteria.

So how do we spot a trend? The indicators that can do so have already been identified as MACD and moving averages. These indicators will spot trends once they have been established, at the expense of delayed entry. The bright side is that there’s less chance of being wrong.

On this 1-hour chart of EUR/USD, there was a bullish crossover for MACD at 3:00 am EST on 08/03/05 and the 10 period EMA crossed over the 20 period EMA at 5:00 am. These two signals were all accurate, but if you waited for both indicators to give you a bull signal, you would have missed out on the big move. If you calculate from the start of the uptrend at 10:00 pm EST on 08/02/05 to the close of the candle at 5:00 am EST on 08/03/05, you would have watched a gain of 159 pips while sitting on the sidelines.

Let’s take a look at the same chart so you can see how these crossover signals can sometimes give false signals. We like to call them “fake-outs”. Look at how there was a bearish MACD crossover after the uptrend we just discussed.

Ten hours later, the 20 EMA crossed below the 10 EMA giving a “sell” signal. As you can see, the price didn’t drop but stayed pretty much sideways, then continued its uptrend. By the time both indicators were in agreement, you would’ve entered a short trade at the bottom and set yourself up for a loss.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Leading versus Lagging Indicators

There are two types of indicators:
  1. leading.
  2. lagging.
A leading indicator gives a buy signal before the new trend or reversal occurs.

A lagging indicator gives a signal after the trend has started and basically informs you “to pay attention”, the trend has started.

You would “catch” the entire trend every single time, IF the leading indicator was correct every single time. But it’s not.

When you use leading indicators, you will experience a lot of fake-outs. Leading indicators are notorious for giving bogus signals which will “mislead” you.

The other option is to use lagging indicators, which aren’t as prone to bogus signals. Lagging indicators only give signals after the price change is clearly forming a trend. The downside is that you’d be a little late in entering a position. Often the biggest gains of a trend occur in the first few bars, so by using a lagging indicator you could potentially miss out on much of the profit.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

Relative Strength Index, or RSI, is similar to stochastics in that it identifies overbought and oversold conditions in the market. It is also scaled from 0 to 100. Typically, readings below 20 indicate oversold, while readings over 80 indicate overbought.

Using RSI

RSI can be used just like stochastics. From the chart above you can see that when RSI dropped below 20, it correctly identified an oversold market. After the drop, the price quickly shot back up.

RSI is a very popular tool because it can also be used to confirm trend formations. If you think a trend is forming, take a quick look at the RSI and look at whether it is above or below 50. If you are looking at a possible uptrend, then make sure the RSI is above 50. If you are looking at a possible downtrend, then make sure the RSI is below 50.

In the beginning of the chart above, we can see that a possible uptrend was forming. To avoid fakeouts, we can wait for RSI to cross above 50 to confirm our trend. Sure enough, as RSI passes above 50, it is a good confirmation that an uptrend has actually formed.

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