Forex Strategy: Trading with Stochastics

Stochastics are amongst the most popular technical indicators when it comes to Forex Trading. Unfortunately most traders use them incorrectly. In this article we will review the correct way to use this popular technical indicator.

George Lane developed this indicator in the late 1950s. Stochastics measure the current close relative to the range (high/low) over a set of periods.

Stochastics consist of two lines:

%K - Is the main line and is usually displayed as a solid line

%D - Is simply a moving average of the %K and is usually displayed as a dotted line

There are three types of Stochastics: Full, fast and slow stochastics. Slow stochastics are simply a smother version of the fast stochastics, and full stochastics are even a smother version of the slow stochastics.


Buy when %K falls below the oversold level (below 20) and rises back above the same level.

Sell when %K rises above de overbought level (above 80) and falls back below the same level.

The interpretation above is how most traders and investors use them; however, it only works when the market is trendless or ranging. When the market is trending, a reading above the overbought territory isn't necessary a bearish signal, while a reading below de oversold territory isn't necessary bullish signal.

Trending market

When the market is trending is necessary to adapt the oscillator to the same conditions: When the market is trending up, then the signals with the higher probability of success are those in direction of the trend "Buy signals", on the other hand when the market is trending down, selling signals offer the lowest risk opportunities.

Thus when the market is trending up, we will only look for oversold conditions (when the stochastics fall below the oversold level [below 20] and rises back above the same level) to get ready to trade, and in the same way, when the market is trending down we will only look for overbought conditions (when the stochastics rise above de overbought level [above 80] and falls back below the same level.

Taking all overbought/oversold signals during a trending market will lead us to many whipsaws. If you are not comfortable with the number of signals given, try expanding your trading to other currency pairs.

Trend-less market

During a ranging market we could use the interpretation explained above to trade off stochastics.


Divergence trades are amongst the most reliable trading signals in the Forex market. A divergence occurs either when the indicator reaches new highs/lows and the market fails to do it or the market reaches new highs/lows and the indicator fails to do it. Both conditions mean that the market isn't as strong as it used to be giving us opportunities to profit from the market.

Stochastics can also be used to trade off divergences.

Price behavior

A price behavior can be incorporated into any kind of system or Forex strategy. When using divergences or overbought/oversold condition with a price behavior approach, the probability of success of our signals increases enormously. Why? Because price dictates at the end, how all indicators will behave, it also gives us a lot of information about the probable direction it will take in the future.

I hope this article helps you become a better trader.

Don't forget to read our risk disclaimer.

Making Forex Day Trading Successful

If you're serious about Forex day trading, where open positions are usually only held for one day, then you'll need to set aside a chunk of time each day to make it happen. Many day traders might try to balance their regular full-time job with Forex trading, but it can be difficult to juggle both endeavors. However, it can be done if you plan it right and make the necessary time commitment and thoroughly try to keep abreast of the latest Forex trading news and offerings.

Scheduling your time

Just like anything else that you're serious with, you'll need to keep set hours for day trading. If you work a 9 am - 5 pm job, you can easily day trade from 7 pm - 10 pm since the Forex market is open 24 hours a day, six days a week. You can even day trade on Sunday, when you don't have to worry about your other job. That extra day can really give you the opportunity to study the latest Forex market trends.

Online resources

Online Forex trading offers some of the sleekest and most impressive total package offerings. Many sites provide the latest Forex news in daily online journals where you can keep current with the latest happenings. You can read about such news items as projected interest rate cuts in Europe or the weakening of a certain country's currency due to the political climate. Not only are daily news articles available, but also fundamental and technical news alerts. These alerts can be sent to you around the clock, up to five or six times per day, so you get the latest information before you make that trade. Online Forex trading systems can send these all-important alerts via your email or even mobile phone, so that you have this information at your fingertips wherever you're located. You don't have to wait until you come home to open your account to see the latest happenings. It gives you a real heads-up on the market so you'll be able to make that day trade decision even that much quicker.

Another invaluable resource to make your day trading that much more successful are the online Forex seminars. It can help you brush up on your overall Forex knowledge and give you invaluable trading strategies for your Forex investments.

by Harman Gilly

Online Forex trading system platforms provide all the conveniences of Forex trading in a user-friendly environment.

The Trading Teacher

When I studied the principles of investing in university, I was taught that the price of a share reflected the value of the company. With fundamental analysis, there are many methods on how one can analyse the financial statements of companies to find out whether a share is a good or a bad investment. You can conduct horizontal and vertical analyses on standardised financial statements, which are just fancy terms for comparing numbers. You can calculate certain financial ratios to get a better understanding of a company's liquidity, working capital management, its ability to remain in business over the long term, and its profitability.

I applied these concepts when I started trading the stock market. Soon I found that if I wanted to trade shares in a timeframe of less than three months, decisions based on these analyses were not useful. I did not want to buy shares only to receive dividends. I wanted to trade for capital gains.

I was dissatisfied with my knowledge, the tools and the methods that I had to trade the markets. With my desire to trade a timeframe shorter than three months and my strengthening belief that emotions greatly impact on trading, I began to search for different approaches to buying and selling shares.

I went back to one of my textbooks in university. I wanted to know how else I could analyse the markets. From the passage I read, I learned that one can analyse the markets in one of two ways: fundamental analysis and technical analysis.

I bumped into a newspaper ad one day for a trading seminar. While reading through the ad I saw the words: technical analysis. An expert trader was going to speak on the exact topic I was interested in learning. It was a free seminar and everybody was welcome to come along. So I called a friend of mine and I asked if he would be interested in attending this trading seminar. He was.

The seminar was organised by a business selling trading courses: courses to instruct people on how to trade the share market. When we arrived, we were led into a small room. There were about thirty people. The spokesman was apparently a veteran trader who wrote two books on trading. Let's call him Bauer for the purpose of this article. Bauer had a very strong presence. He was a huge, tall man with a clean-shaven head.

I was on the front row seat trying to listen and understand every word this man said. It was his teachings that planted the seeds of how I eventually grew as a trader over the years. Many times, I heard his voice in my head, reminding me of the lessons I learnt from his books and the lessons I learnt from him that day. I will try to enumerate the lessons I learnt from this man to help you the way they helped me.

This man had my attention from the very beginning. "The share market is a game where people try to steal money from other people. That is the objective of the game and it is legal", he began. I wondered what the professionals in Wall Street would have thought about that statement if they heard it. I smiled. I liked him already.

He continued: "If you are going to join this game, you are essentially given permission to steal money from other people and in exchange, you are okay with them stealing your money also. Some of the brightest people in the world will be playing with you. Therefore, if you are going to war and fight an army with real weapons, you better make sure you do not go there with a plastic gun."

He said that people rush to the markets to lose their money. It sounded laughable but I guess it was the only conclusion one can draw from the fact that most people begin trading without sufficiently preparing and educating themselves. Of course, most of us do not put on a trade with the hope of losing our money; however, that is what we are effectively doing when we trade without adequate preparation.

"They just cannot wait to lose their money. They do not bother learning about the market first. They think it is easy. Most people know that they need training before they can fly a plane or perform surgery, but I do not know why they think it is easy to make money trading", he exclaimed. He was quite emotional about it.

"Trading is hard", he declared. Only about 5% of people know how to trade profitably. And so the probability of finding someone else who knows what they are doing is very, very small. "Do not rely solely on the advice of your brokers, your fund managers or whoever else. Your best hope for success is to educate yourself. The sooner you do that, the better off you'll be."

"When it comes to buying and selling shares, there is no such thing as investing. What people normally refer to as investing means long-term trading to me". When people hold on to their investments for five or more years with the intention to sell later, then all they are effectively doing is trading:just with a longer time frame.

"Do not buy shares solely for the dividend payments. They offer you measly rewards", he said. "Do trade only with the purpose of making money from capital gains. Buy low, sell high and that's how you should make your profit."

At the time, I was juggling between the concepts of short-term trading or investing for the long-term. I did not know whether I was taking the right approach by attempting to make short-term profits. He made his stance on the matter strongly.

He asked us if we knew what drove prices up or down. Remembering what my lecturer said in university, I responded, "the price moves up and down close to the intrinsic value of the share".

He turned his attention to me and asked, "What share are you trading?"

"XYZ (I changed the name for the purpose of this article)", I replied quite happily. Perhaps I could squeeze a tip or two from him about the stock.

"Do you know what the intrinsic value of XYZ Company is", he asked.

I nodded my head sideways and muttered, "no".

"I'll tell you what the value of XYZ is: it is zero!" He barked.

I was taken aback by his response. Zero? Then what are we paying money for when we buy a share? I thought. Then he clarified himself.

"Price is only a perception — it is people's perception of what they think the value of the share price is".

"The key to success in trading is psychology", he continued. Psychology? I thought. How did psychology get involved in this? "The stock market is like an opinion poll. It is a measure of what people think is going to happen. If they think the price will go up, you will see an upward movement on the chart because there are more buyers so the sellers increase their price because some of these buyers are willing to buy at higher prices", he explained.

He then used an example to explain a typical trader's behaviour when he trades without a system. As he explained it, I recognised my own behaviour in his demonstration.

This was all a revelation for me. When I was buying and selling shares I wondered what type of people were on the other side of the trade because collectively, they were pretty smart. Now I know. It was people like Bauer who were on the other side of those transactions, doing the exact opposite of what I was doing, using similar methods like the ones he was using. They were looking at the share market with a philosophy and an approach that were completely alien to me. Traders like him were making all the money and traders like me were losing.

I shook my head in disbelief that other people saw things the way they did. I felt excited knowing that there was another alternative, another approach in analysing the markets.

"What you need, is to develop your own trading system." He exclaimed to everybody in the entire room. "Without a trading system, you will fail. I guarantee you. This trading system must be something that is suited for you and you only. Even if I give you my trading system I am certain that you will fail to make money, because my system is not designed for you. It is designed for me. That is why you need to learn how to use the tools and acquire the skills needed to be a trader".

I accepted his advice without fully understanding this concept of matching a trading system to suit the trader's own personality. It lingered in my mind for a long time. The wisdom of his advice became apparent to me as I slowly learnt more about the nature of trading.

Bauer diverted our attention to the charts on the screen projected from his laptop. All I saw were lines, curves, rectangular boxes and more squiggly lines. The tools of a professional trader: I thought. I was being shown the tools that my market 'adversaries' have been using to 'clobber' me with all this time. My heart was beating faster than usual. I was in awe. I wanted those tools.

I asked Bauer what program he used to analyse the markets. He told me. I also asked him how many indicators he used. I had read enough about technical analysis by that time to know that technical analysts use indicators to analyse share prices. There are many indicators to choose from so I wanted to know how many of those are used by professional traders. He started counting his fingers. 'Seven', he said.

I think many people there had not really read up on technical analysis but I had done my homework and by that time, I was pretty much the only person in dialog with him, asking him questions. I wanted to gain as much knowledge and wisdom he was willing to give me.

Then I heard one of the most important lessons I've learnt which minimised my losses during my early years of trading: "Trade so small that it is almost a waste of your time. Assume the next trade is going to be the first out of a thousand trades you are going to be making in your life. Even though your profits are smaller, your losses are smaller too. There is no need to rush. Do not worry about getting rich too quickly."

He was suggesting that novices like me should trade using small position sizes. That means to buy small number of shares at the start. I was intrigued. I did not know a person should trade that 'small'.

Eventually, the seminar ended. I grabbed the booklets and brochures given out by some of the staff. In one of these brochures was the name of the program he uses. They were selling the software with the courses they were offering. I could not afford the entire package but I knew I had to buy the same charting software Bauer used. I decided to learn as much as I could about how to use charts and graphs to analyse the market. I needed to develop my own trading system.

As for my friend, he said he had a car loan to take care of first. He would look into trading shares later when he had a little more money to set aside.

A couple of days later, I got a call from the organiser of the seminar, telling me that based from the questions I had been asking that night, I was the type of person that would most benefit from their education package. Bauer was asked to demonstrate the need for trading education because he traded the markets. In the process, he was selling the courses well. Bauer seemed knowledgeable and experienced. He has enlightened me and probably several other people in that room about how much there was to learn. I was sold. I just could not afford the courses at the time but I wanted them so badly that I asked the sales person on the other end of the line if I could work for them in exchange for the course.

I did not get to do the course but I bought the software from a different distributor at a cheaper price. I also bought the two books Bauer wrote. I figured that I could acquire the skills and wisdom through self-education. I learnt a lot from those two books and from using the software. Having that opportunity to attend that seminar was a 'gift from the heavens', as far as I was concerned. Wherever you are, Bauer, I thank you. You — and others like you -- have made me recognize the value of passing on knowledge and experience for others to follow.

About The Author:

Marquez Comelab is the author of the book: The Part-Time Currency Trader. It is a guide for men and women interested in trading currencies in the forex market. Discusses analysis, tools, indicators, trading systems, strategies, discipline and psychology. See: http://marquezcomelab.com. His other articles are also published at http://thefreedomtochoose.com along with other helpful articles.

A Quick Forex Guide for Traders

In this Forex course we will review some steps you need to take care before you venture into your trading journey. Most traders venture into the Forex market with little or no experience in the Forex market. This results in painful experiences like loosing most of the risk capital, frustration because it seemed so easy to make money, etc.

The first thing you need to realize is that, it is not easy to make money. As every other endeavor in life, where important rewards are to come after mastering it, you need to work hard. You need to get very well educated and experienced before having the possibility to receive important rewards on it. The key on mastering the Forex market relies on commitment, patience and discipline.

Ok, you have decided you are going to trade the Forex market, you have seen several advertisings featuring how easy is to make money in the Forex market. You might think this is your opportunity to reach your financial freedom, right away, time is money, why waiting any longer if you have the opportunity to make money now. I know, I've been there, but you have a chance now, I didn't, no body told me what I am going to tell you.

We, Forex traders, make transactions based on a set of rules. These sets of rules are what we call a Trading System. Our systems tell us the exact time where we need to get in the market and out the market in order to make a profit (i.e. buy low sell high.)

Creating a system is the first big step you need to take care first. Why is this so important? Because you need to build a system that suits your personality, otherwise you are going to find hard to follow it, thus hard to profit from.

A system can be based on technical indicators or what we called a mechanical system or based on experience and intuition or what we call discretionary systems. I highly recommend using and trying first a mechanical system, because discretionary systems are dangerous during the early stages of a Forex trader (can lead to indiscipline.) With experience, on later stages, you will find out which signals work better and which ones to avoid.

The next step in this Forex course is to try your system on a demo account. Most Forex brokers offer a demo account, an account with virtual money. This is an excellent choice to test your trading system as there is no money at risk. In this step you will figure out if the strategy works for you. If you feel comfortable trading it, then it is most likely to produce good results. How much time should you stay in this step? It varies, but you shouldn't go one step further until your system gets consistent profitable results over a period of time. It can take many months, but remember, you need to be patient.

You must be honest to yourself; you need to take every single signal generated by your system, not only the signals you thought were going to work, otherwise, you are going to have problems in the next two steps.

Ok, by know you had consistent profitable results on your demo account. You might think its time to go full. Nope, nope, nope. There is a big difference between trading a demo and a real account. The most important difference lies on emotions (fear, greed, anger, etc.) These are psychological barriers that affect every single decision made by traders regardless of what he/she is trading (stocks, bonds, Forex, futures, grains, etc.) These emotional factors, in my opinion, are the most determinant factor that separates profitable traders from the others.

The next step in this Forex course is specially designed to deal with emotions and to confirm the results obtained in the prior step (consistent results in a demo account.) At this step you need to trade in a real account with limited funds. Some brokers offer fractional lot trading. Meaning you are able to trade any desired amount (even cents.) The important thing here is that these emotions we've been talking about are present only when there is real money at risk. At this stage, you are going to see if you are really comfortable trading your system and if you are able to trade with such system, remember different systems produce different emotions. If you are able to produce similar results than those obtained in a demo account, then ready for the next step. If you didn't, then you might need to create another system, there is chance your system never fit you. If you created consistent profitable results on this stage, you have a chance to produce similar results in the next one, on the other hand, if you didn't produce good results in this stage, you will not be able to make on the next stage. Remember, you need to do things right, and be honest to yourself.

The last stage is trading in a real account with sufficient funds. If you are at this stage, and have passed successfully every prior stage, then you have a chance to make it, go ahead and try it, you need to be confident in yourself and in your system, your strategy have already produced consistent profitable results, there are reasons to believe you are going to make it. Very few traders fail at this stage (if passed successfully prior stages.)

Trading successfully is no easy task, it requires a lot of work, patience, discipline, and education. By completing the steps outlined in this Forex course, you have a chance to produce profitable results. I repeat it again, you need to be honest to yourself about the results obtained in every stage. Some times you might need expert guidance regarding your system development strategies.

Choosing A Forex Strategy

Technical analysis and fundamental analysis are the two basic areas of strategy in the FOREX market which is the exact same as in the equity markets. However, technical analysis is by far the most common strategy that is used by individual FOREX traders. Here is a brief overview of both forms of analysis and how they directly apply to forex trading:

Fundamental Analysis

If you think it's hard enough to value one company, you should try valuing a whole country instead. Fundamental analysis in the forex market is often an extremely difficult one, and it's usually used only as a means to predict long-term trends. However it is important to mention that some traders do trade short term strictly on news releases. There are a lot of different fundamental indicators of the currency values released at many different times. Here are a few of them to get you started:

* Non-farm Payrolls

* Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)

* Consumer Price Index (CPI)

* Retail Sales

* Durable Goods

You need to know that these reports are not the only fundamental factors that you have to watch. There are also quite a variety of meetings where you can get some quotes and commentary that can affect markets just as much as any report. These meetings are often brought out to discuss any interest rates, inflation, and other issues that have the ability to affect currency values.

Even changes in how things are worded when addressing certain issues such as the Federal Reserve chairman's comments on interest rates; can cause a volatile market. Two important meetings that you have to watch out for are the Federal Open Market Committee and Humphrey Hawkins Hearings.

Just by reading the reports and examining the commentary, it can help FOREX fundamental analysts to get a better understanding of any and all long-term market trends and also to allow short-term traders to be able to profit from extraordinary happenings. If you do decide to follow a fundamental strategy, you will want to be sure to keep an economic calendar handy at all times so you know when these reports are released. Your broker may also be able to provide you with real-time access to this kind of information.

Technical Analysis

Just like their counterparts in the equity markets, technical analysts of the FOREX trading market analyze price trends. The only real difference between technical analysis in FOREX and technical analysis in equities is the time frame that is involved in that FOREX markets are open 24 hours a day.

Because of this, some forms of technical analysis that factor in time have to be modified so that they can work with the 24 hour FOREX market. Some of the most common forms of technical analysis used in FOREX are:

* The Elliott Waves

* Fibonacci studies

* Parabolic SAR

* Pivot points

A lot of technical analysts have a tendency to combine technical studies to make more accurate predictions on your behalf. (The most common method for them is combining the Fibonacci studies with Elliott Waves.) Others prefer to create trading systems in an effort to repeatedly locate similar buying and selling conditions.

Choosing Your Strategy

Most successful traders will develop a strategy and perfect it over a specific period of time. Some people will focus on one particular study or calculation, while still some others use broad spectrum analysis as a means of determining their trades. Most experts would likely suggest that you try using a combination of both fundamental and technical analysis, with which you can make long-term projections and also determine entry and exit points. Of course, in the end, it is the individual trader who has to decide what works best for him.

When you are ready to get started in the FOREX market, you should open a demo account and paper trade so that you can practice until you can make a consistent profit. Many people who fail have a tendency to jump into the FOREX market and quickly lose a lot of money because of a lack of experience. It is important to take your time and learn to trade properly before you start committing capital.

You also need to be ale to trade without emotion. You can't keep track of all stop-loss points if you don't have the ability to execute them on time. You must always set your stop-loss and take-profit points to execute automatically, and don't change them unless you absolutely have to. Make your decisions and stick to them. Otherwise you will drive yourself and your brokers crazy.

You should also realize that you need to follow the trends. If you go against the trend, you are just messing with your money because the FOREX market tends to trend more often than anything else and you will have a higher chance of success in trading with the trend.

The FOREX market is the largest market in the world, and every day people are becoming increasingly interested in it. But before you begin trading, make sure your broker meets certain criteria, and take the time to find a trading strategy that works for you.

by Giles Windholm

How I became a successful part time trader


I am Joe Chalhoub, a computer engineer, Forex trader and strategy builder. I began trading currencies 3 years ago. The first 3 months trading were complete failure, I remember I lost all my money and I was about to quit, but I couldn't, I felt if I quit now maybe I am missing the chance of having my own business. So I stopped trading and began observing, studying, analyzing and practicing.

Observing: I began observing the market, what causes movement, reaction, ranging and trading.

Analyzing: I began working with technical and fundamental analysis; how each analysis can predict and redirect the market and how I can use them both for my own benefit. I will talk about these analyses in the following paragraph.

Reading: I bought Forex Trading Books and read them, books explaining different strategies and tactics used by experienced traders.

Practicing: I created free accounts and began trading virtually and each technique I invent I tried it and monitored its performance and validity.

After one year of studies, analysis and practicing trading techniques and after many failure and frustration I reached my own strategy and it is working very well and each month my profit is positive.


I reached my targets and I built a successful strategy, but that's not enough; to make profit I must not miss any opportunity and forex market is full of opportunities because it is the most active market in the world, for that reason I must sit all time and watch and detect opportunities all day long from Monday to Friday.

How to resolve this problem, I can't sit and observe the market hours and hours, I have my career and my family, so I thought I must program my strategy, let the Information Technology do the hard work for me, and nobody is discipline as a software, so I created an artificial intelligent software which collects data from the market and implement my strategy on this data and detect opportunities 24/24.

This program analyses fundamental and technical data and generates forex signals which are forwarded automatically to my broker platform where the signals are executed automatically and forwarded also to my website members. All this is done without my interfering, I just run the program, it analyses and makes its decisions (Buying, Selling or stay aside).

How to succeed in Forex Trading

Five over hundred traders succeed in this business, what differentiate those five successful from the 95 others is one thing, it is the HARD WORK. Forex trading is not an easy business, and who tells you that he can make you rich in one night is one of those 95. Only one thing can make you a successful trader, HARD WORK, and nothing else. Don't rely on other traders or advisors to help you, rely and have confidence on yourself.

Don't begin trading quickly, the forex market will not go anywhere, it will stay forever, give yourself 6 to 12 months of studies, analysis, readings, practice and build your own strategy before begin real trading, it will take a lot of time and dedication but at the end you will reach your target.


I will not reveal my full strategy but I will reveal some techniques I use which help traders in their trades.

My strategy follows the following tips and techniques:

1 — Discipline: Put criteria for your trades, watch the market and only trade when criteria are met, if they are not met do not trade. My program is the most disciplined trader, it takes care of all of this, it monitors the market and only trade if only criteria are met, and the second advantage of this is the elimination of the fear factor, it enters a trade when it sees it is good to enter and fear nothing.

2 — Money management: It's the main key for good trading, I exit all trades and stop trading for a specific day if I lost -60 pips, in the other hand I put stop loss for my trades if I reached +25 pips profit, in that case profit will not get under +25 pips and it has open target, and all I have to do is go out and have fun.

3 — No trades for now: The most important thing in trading is sometime not to trade, I take this decision after looking to my charts and see that there is not enough volatility or there is no enough reports will be released for today and it is better to wait until market is more volatile. I advise traders not to trade during the first days of the month, personally I begin trading at the first Friday of the month when the "NonFarm payroll" report will be released.

4 — Analysis: I use fundamental and technical analysis while trading. Fundamental defines the trend of the market and the technical analysis is used after the definition of the trend. I trade the news by analyzing programmatically the released data for a specific report and generate signals which are executed immediately on the trading platform and forwarded simultaneously to my members.

Fundamental and technical analysis must be used together, if one is used without the other this will lead to failure.

5 — Technical indicators: In the forex market there is a lot of indicators which are used by many traders. I use ADX, Bollinger Bands to identify trends and volatility; RSI to identify an over bought or sold and Moving Average to identify a signal. And the most important technique is FIBONACCI, I advise traders to implement this technique and use it to confirm trades.

Finally, I must say that Forex is not easy, and many times we feel that someone is doing a conspiracy on us to take our money, but the truth is nothing is impossible, and others successful traders are not more intelligent than us and they are not genius from other planet, the fact is the more you work the more you become closer to become good trader. Do not quit quickly because this business deserves hard work and dedication.

By Joe Chalhoub

About the author:

Address: Lebanon, Beirut

Website: http://www.rpchost.com

Email: webmaster@rpchost.com

Bio: http://www.rpchost.com/profile.aspx


The Dangers Of Trading Without Stop Loss Orders

Despite the fact that it is one of the most important orders which a Forex trader can place, a surprisingly large number of foreign currency traders simply ignore the stop loss order.

This type of market order is called a stop loss order for a very good reason - it stops you from making too heavy a loss should the market move against you. So, why do so many traders ignore a trading tool which is specifically designed to protect their trading interests?

The answer is emotion.

The Forex market is a technical market and foreign currency trading must be based upon a technical analysis of the market. But human beings are emotional creatures and, even when the numbers are staring us in the face, there will always be an urge to go with our feelings and let our hearts rather than by our heads dictate our decisions.

If you ask most traders why they do not use stop loss orders they will tell you that one of their greatest fears is that often, despite the fact that a trade is moving against them, their instinct tells them that it is basically sound and that it will reverse in their favor. If they had a stop loss order is placed on the trade, there is a danger that their position would automatically be closed out before the market had an opportunity to reverse.

Undoubtedly there are occasions on which this will happen but all too often it will not. If you are away from the trading floor and don't have a stop loss order in place then all too frequently you will return to find that you have made an unexpectedly large loss and the trader who remains on the trading floor not likely to fare any better, despite the fact that he is there watching the action.

In the latter case the trader can see that the market is moving against him and that his trade is moving into a loss but he hangs in there because he continues to believe that the market is going to turn in his favor shortly. However, as a relatively small loss starts to turn into a fairly large one he finds himself in the position of not only still being convinced that the market will reverse, but also now feeling compelled to hold his position because he needs to recover some of his now large loss when the market does turn. In the end of course he is invariably forced to admit that he has made a mistake and to close his position before an already large loss turns into a disaster.

Even the most experienced traders do not make a profit on ever trade they make and losing trades are a fact of trading life. Nonetheless, the only way to become a successful trader is to minimize the size of any losing trades by ensuring that you put a stop loss order on all of your trades. In this way you protect yourself against movements in market and also stop your heart from ruling your head.


The Forex Three-Session System

One of the greatest features of the foreign exchange market is that it is open 24 hours a day. This allows investors from around the world to trade during normal business hours, after work or even in the middle of the night. However, not all times are created equal. Although there is always a market for this most liquid of asset classes, there are times when price action is consistently volatile and periods when it is muted. What's more, different currency pairs exhibit varying activity over certain times of the trading day due to the general demographic of those market participants that are online at the time. In this article, we will cover the major trading sessions, explore what kind of market activity can be expected over the different periods and show how this knowledge can be adapted into a trading plan.

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Breaking A 24-Hour Market Into Manageable Trading Sessions
While a 24-hour market offers a considerable advantage for many institutional and individual traders because it guarantees liquidity and the opportunity to trade at any conceivable time, it also has its drawbacks. Although currencies can be traded any time, a trader can only monitor a position for so long. This means that there will be times of missed opportunities, or worse, when a jump in volatility will lead the spot to move against an established position when the trader isn't around. To minimize this risk, a trader needs to be aware of when the market is typically volatile and decide what times are best for his or her strategy and trading style. (For more, see Trade To Your Taste.)

Traditionally, the market is separated into three sessions during which activity peaks: the Asian; European; and North American sessions. More casually, these three periods are also referred to as the Tokyo, London and New York sessions. These names are used interchangeably as the three cities represent the major financial centers for each of the regions. The markets are most active when these three powerhouses are conducting business as most banks and corporations make their day-to-day transactions and there is a greater concentration of speculators online. Now let's take a closer look at each of these sessions. (For more, see how does the foreign-exchange market trade 24 hours a day?)

Asian Session (Tokyo)
When liquidity is restored to the forex (or, FX) market after the weekend passes, the Asian markets are naturally the first to see action. Unofficially, activity from this part of the world is represented by the Tokyo capital markets, which are live from midnight to 6am Greenwich Mean Time. However, there are many other countries with considerable pull that are present during this period including China, Australia, New Zealand and Russia, among others. Considering how scattered these markets are, it stands to reason that the beginning and end of the Asian session are stretched beyond the standard Tokyo hours. Allowing for these different markets' activity, Asian hours are often considered to run between 11pm and 8am GMT.

European Session (London)
Later in the trading day, just before the Asian trading hours come to a close, the European session takes over in keeping the currency market active. This FX time zone is very dense and includes a number of major financial markets that could stand in as the symbolic capital. However, London ultimately takes the honors in defining the parameters for the European session. Official business hours in London run between 7:30am and 3:30pm GMT. Once again though, this trading period is expanded due to other capital markets' presence (including Germany and France) before the official open in the U.K.; while the end of the session is pushed back as volatility holds until the London fix after the close. Therefore, European hours are typically seen as running from 7am to 4pm GMT.

North American Session (New York)
By the time the North American session comes on line, the Asian markets have already been closed for a number of hours, but the day is only half through for European traders. The Western session is dominated by activity in the U.S. with few contributions from Canada, Mexico and a number of countries in South America. As such, it comes as little surprise that activity in New York City marks the high in volatility and participation for the session. Taking into account the early activity in financial futures, commodity trading and the concentration of economic releases the North American hours unofficially begin at noon GMT. With a considerable gap between the close of the U.S. markets and open of the Asian trading, a lull in liquidity sets the close of New York exchange trading at 8pm GMT as the North American session close.

Session Major Market Hours (GMT)
Asian Session Tokyo 11pm to 8am
European Session London 7am to 4pm
North American Session New York noon to 10pm
Figure 1: Major market session hours

Figure 2: Three-market session overlap
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Measuring Market Activity
Now that we know when the Asian, European and North American sessions are and what markets comprise each, we should discuss how time and participation affect price action for different currencies.

As logic would suggest, a currency is typically most active when its own markets are open. For example, the euro, British pound and Swiss franc see higher volatility on average when the European session is active. This is the case because banks, businesses and traders from any specific country will use their domestic currency in the majority of their foreign exchange transactions. What's more, it is more difficult for a market participant to buy or sell a currency from a region where all the major banks are closed. To illustrate, if a U.S. bank wants to make a multibillion dollar currency exchange for euros, it would likely do so when European banks are online and there is a greater pool of liquidity. Otherwise, large orders in a thin market would result in prices moving away from the ideal entry point as the order is processed.

The above example further highlights another truism for the currency markets: price action is usually greatest when the sessions overlap. When traders, banks and business from two different sessions are online, there are more participants in the market and, therefore, a greater level of liquidity is available. Figure 3 below charts the average hourly range for the seven majors in the two years through 2007. A quick glance at this graph reveals what we would expect - two notable peaks in price action. The first rise in price action occurs around the closing hours of the Asian session and open of the European session (around 7am GMT). Before this peak, the markets in the Far East are carrying currency volatility alone. After the Japanese session closes, there is a clear drop in the ranges for most of the majors as Asian liquidity quickly evaporates and leaves traders in Europe to keep the fires of volatility stoked. (For more, see Getting Started In Forex.)

The second and larger jump in activity is seen when the North American and European sessions converge (between noon and 4pm GMT). This four-hour overlap is far greater than the Asian/European sessions' own union, and volatility clearly benefits from the greater period of liquidity. However, from this period we can see there is another factor at work in driving price action - otherwise there would not be a consistent dip across the majors at 1pm GMT. This particular influence is the presence of fundamental releases. Most of the top market moving indicators for the U.S. cross the wires at either noon or 2pm GMT and thereby boost the average range for those times. And, while the influence of the U.S. data is the clearest example here, fundamentals from other key markets certainly influence price action as well. Another obvious instance of this dynamic is the typical release time for U.K. data (around 8am GMT), which coincides with a sharp peak in GBP/USD activity that goes beyond the Asian/European session overlap and cooling of the other major pairs.

Figure 3: Currency market volatility
Copyright Ó 2008 Investopedia.com

Another aspect to take into consideration is that while broad market activity typically follows the same trend as seen across the majors (a peak in volatility during the two session overlaps), each pair is unique depending on its two component currencies and which underlying sessions they belong to. For example, when a pair is made up of two currencies from the same session (let's say USD/CAD), there will likely be a relatively greater level of volatility during that session (the U.S. session) while price action is subsequently more muted during the market's other high points (the Asian/European session overlap).

In contrast, if the pair is a cross made of currencies that are most actively traded during Asian and European hours (like EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY), there will be a greater response to the Asian/European session overlaps and a less dramatic increase in price action during the European/U.S. sessions' concurrence. Of course, the presence of scheduled event risk for each currency will still have a substantial influence on activity regardless of the pair or its components' respective sessions.

Figure 4: A greater response to Asian/European session overlaps is shown in pairs that are actively traded during Asian and European hours.
Copyright Ó 2008 Investopedia.com

How To Weave This Into a Trading Strategy
There are few things more important to successful trading than market activity. Even the best strategy could fall apart if it is applied during the wrong session. For long-term or fundamental traders, trying to establish a position during a pair's most active hours could lead to a poor entry price, a missed entry or a trade that counters the strategy's rules. On the other hand, for short-term traders who do not hold a position over night, volatility is vital. (For more, see The Fundamentals Of Forex Fundamentals.)

When trading currencies, a market participant must first determine whether high or low volatility will work best with their personality and trading style. If more substantial price action is desired, trading the session overlaps or typical economic release times may be the preferable option. The next step would be to decide what times are best to trade given the bias for volatility. Following with a desire for high volatility, a trader will then need to determine what time frames are most active for the pair he or she is looking to trade.

When considering the EUR/USD pair, the European/U.S. session crossover will find the most movement. However, there are usually alternatives, and a trader should balance the need for favorable market conditions with physical well-being. If a market participant from the U.S. prefers to trade the active hours for GBP/JPY, he or she will have to wake up very early in the morning to keep up with the market. If this person has a regular day job, this could lead to exhaustion and errors in judgment when trading. A better alternative for this particular trader may be trading during the European/U.S. session overlap, where volatility is still elevated even though Japanese markets are offline