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Calculating Trade Targets and Duration with Market Conditions

Calculating Trade Targets and Duration with Market Conditions

John Kicklighter,

Talking Points:

  • Rather than leaving targets and trade time frames up to chance, proper calculation helps craft better opportunities
  • The Average True Range (ATR) - perhaps along with the absolute Rate of Change (ROC) - can help quantify these elements
  • With a reference to market conditions more conducive to range, we discuss AUD/USD's break and GBP/USD's range

See what live coverage is scheduled to cover key event risk for the FX and capital markets on the DailyFX Webinar Calendar.

Most traders and strategies put the emphases on finding opportunities and plotting the best entries. These are certainly critical aspects of a fully formed trade, but they are collectively only half of the trip. Exiting the trade determines whether the trade is profitable or not and dictates how long capital is locked up. Yet, even when this leg of the journey is considered; it is often left up to emotion or happenstance. A successful engagement in the market should think of the trade the whole way through. And, while fundamentals and technicals should play a role in duration and exit of a trade; a quantitative reference to historical conditions may be the most probability-oriented techniques that could be employed.

The law in physics that a body in motion tends to stay in motion has good corollary to markets. If there is not a prominent technical level or high profile event/theme to alter an assets course, it is reasonable to suspect it will hold its bearing and pace. Given the baseline probability that reality produces, we can use simple indicators to aid an assessment of holding period and objective through the exposure. The Average True Range (ATR) offers a scale of market activity which set the guidelines for pace. If the average daily range is 50 pips, a 200 pip objective may be somewhat aggressive. Furthermore, without intervention from a technical or event-based accelerant; an expected holding period less than four days would be unreasonable.

While the ATR measures full ranges rather than actual progress, it can nevertheless set the bounds for a minimum. A complementary measure of progress to help refine the expectation for a reasonable target and time could be a Rate of Change (ROC) or an 'absolute value' ROC; but complication is not necessary to improve the strategy. We discuss this concept of defining the second half of a trade against the backdrop of a range-defaulting market with reference to the Aussie Dollar's (AUD/USD, AUD/CHF, AUD/JPY) effort to force breakouts and the Pound's (GBP/USD, GBP/NZD) comfort in sticking to range in today's Strategy Video.

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