As I mentioned in a previous post, I do not classify day trading as an easy route to riches. However, if you were to ask me what my favourite approach would be, I would say pivot points. In this post I will illustrate how to use pivot points in trading stocks and forex.
How to use pivot points in trading
Pivot points can be calculated on most charting packages now but it’s still handy to know the exact formula so you can calculate them yourself, so here it is:
Pivot (P) = (High + Low + Close) / 3
R1 = P + (P − Low)
S1 = P − (High − P)
R2 = P + (High − Low)
S2 = P − (High − Low)
R3 = High + 2 × (P − Low)
S3 = Low − 2 × (High − P)
In essence, I think pivot points work quite well because they are always adapting to recent price action. They are also watched by lots of professional traders and because of that I think it gives them more significance.
Traders can use pivot points in different ways. Personally, I find them most useful as profit targets because when a market hits a pivot level it nearly always holds up there for at least a short period of time.
I tend to be bearish on a market so long as the price is below the pivot and bullish so long as the price is above the pivot. I also like to combine pivots with other indicators and to watch the news.
For example, if the market drops through the pivot on some significant piece of news I will often short the market and look to buy it back on one of the support levels. Depending on the momentum of the market, I might take all the position off at the second resistance/support or I might take half the position off. Indeed, I might hold out for the third level if price action is really moving.
Rarely, if volatility is dead, I will take a position off at S1 or R1.
Watching momentum is therefore very important when using pivot points and it’s also a good idea to watch the ATR. That way you can see what is happening to volatility. If volatility and momentum are tapering off it’s a sign to exit your trade more quickly.
In order to illustrate how to use pivot points in trading I thought it would be a good idea to show some examples from last week. These charts are all taken from the same period. You’ll notice from these charts that pivot points do get hit a lot of the time.
As can be seen in the next chart, pivot points often produce uncanny levels in which to enter or exit a market.
On the 29th July, the pivot, or just below it, would have been an excellent place to sell and the third support (S3) would have been a great place to close the trade, making around 30 pips.
On the 30th, the market declined and bounced off the second support and on the 31st the market stayed around the pivot for most of the day.
On the 1st August, the currency pair pushed through the pivot in the morning and moved right up to the third resistance, giving a trader 40-50 pips if long.
During the same period, the pivot also acted as a strong level for GBP USD.
On July 29th, the market dropped 60 pips from the pivot to the third support and on the 30th the currency moved up to the pivot before falling back to the second support.
On the 31st, GBP USD hit the pivot in the morning then moved down to the first support where it consolidated.
And on the 1st August, the currency touched the pivot in the morning then moved lower throughout the session, closing right on the second support. The second support (S2) was a great place to take profits.
As you can see from the next chart, a similar story unfolded for the Kiwi US dollar pair.
On most days, the key pivot levels provided great places to enter buy and sell orders and take profits.
On the 29th, the currency fell through the pivot all the way to the second then third support.
On the 31st, the currency turned back off the first resistance to the pivot and on the 1st August the currency moved between the first support and first resistance.
As can be seen, pivot points can work in volatile as well as trending conditions.
Thank You For Reading
Joe Marwood is an independent trader and the founder of Decoding Markets. He worked as a professional futures trader and has a passion for investing and building mechanical trading strategies. If you are interested in more quantitative trading strategies, investing ideas and tutorials make sure to check out our program Marwood Research.
This post expresses the opinions of the writer and is for information, entertainment purposes only. Joe Marwood is not a registered financial advisor or certified analyst. The reader agrees to assume all risk resulting from the application of any of the information provided. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns and financial trading is full of risk. Margin trading can lead to losses more than in your account. Mistakes in backtesting and presenting of analysis regularly occur. Please read the Full disclaimer.