Don’t you hate it when you take profit on a trade and the market continues on much further without you? That’s almost as good as getting tagged on your stop loss only to watch the market reverse and head toward your originally intended profit target (and maybe continue past it!) What’s going on?
Why is it so difficult to set effective profit and stop loss targets?
The problem originates with the assumption that the markets never change, and of course that is a bad assumption. The markets are constantly changing, expanding and contracting. Just understanding that the markets are in constant flux will better equip you to take advantage of what it is giving (or not giving) and allow you to set effective profit and stop loss targets.
How do you do that? The first thing you need to consider is the market’s Average Daily Range. Notice that the Average Daily Range is not the same as the Average True Range, which is a measure of market volatility. Just as the name implies, Average Daily Range is an average range the market makes each day. Why is this important? Well, if we have an idea of how many ticks the market is likely to move in a day we can judge how far the market has already come and how far it is likely to go, relative to the average.
Of course you can make your own calculations for determining the Average Daily Range, or use software to quickly calculate the Average Daily Range for you. A trading tool such as the Day Ranger can quickly figure out the Average Daily Range and how many ticks the market has made for the day. It can show you the 5, 10 and 30 day Average Daily Ranges in a compact viewing chart.
Knowing how the market is trading compared to the averages allows you to make better assumptions of what to expect for the current trading day.
For example, if the 5 day average is higher than the 10, and the 10 is higher than the 30, that would suggest that the market is expanding and as such we might expect the current session to be very active, maybe even expanding the range even further. Conversely, if the 5, 10 and 30 day averages are diminishing relative to each other then we can assume the market is contracting and the current session might be limited in range and maybe even become choppy or range bound.
But how can we use this information for optimizing our profit and stop loss targets?
Knowing if the market is expanding, contracting or staying the same gives us an idea if the market is getting more or less volatile or trading “normally”. If the market is contracting and slowing down, then we will want to be more conservative with both our profit and stop loss targets. If the market is expanding and becoming for volatile then the opposite is true and we need more aggressive profit and stop loss targets. If the market is trading within the normal range parameters, then we can choose something in-between.
A simple way to pick your targets for a slow moving market is to take the Average Daily Range and divide it by 5. This means you are looking to use 1/5th of the daily range for your targets – a fairly conservative objective. If the market is expanding and becoming more volatile divide the Average Daily Range by 3, or 1/3rd of the daily range, for your profit and stop loss targets. In a normal market, divide the Average Daily Range by 4, which will give you a quarter of the Average Daily Range as a target. You may need to refine these targets for the markets you are trading, but it is a good guide to start with.
Generally speaking I tend to use the same target ranges for both my profit and stop loss orders. People always ask me about Risk/Reward Ratios (RRR) and why I don’t reduce the risk amount to reflect a 2:1 or 3:1 reward to risk ratio. I’ve addressed this in another article, but the reason is simple: Risk/Reward Ratios don’t work.
While they seem to make sense on the surface RRR’s don’t work when put into practice. Why? Because NO ONE knows where the market is going next, so why would you base a trade decision on something you don’t know; namely the reward side of the equation? The Risk side of the equation the only part you have any control over, so that’s where your attention needs to be.
Moreover, the Risk only comes into play IF the market hits your stop loss order. So long as your target is hit before the stop loss, does it really matter if you’re running a 1/2:1, 1:1, 2:1 or 3:1 trade? Don’t strangle your trade with an overly tight stop loss and don’t leave money on the table with an overly tight profit target. By considering the market’s Average Daily Range you can have the best of both and capitalize on your winners while minimizing your losers.
Come see how we use the Average Daily Range in our Trade Room. Click HERE to Register.
TESTIMONIAL DISCLOSURE: Testimonials appearing on www.IndicatorWarehouse.com may not be representative of the experience of other clients or customers and is not a guarantee of future performance or success.
LIVE TRADE ROOM DISCLOSURE: All presentations, videos, and information are for educational purposes only and the opinions expressed are those of the presenter only. All trades presented should be considered hypothetical and should not be expected to be replicated in a live trading account.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Futures and Options trading has substantial potential rewards, but also significant potential risk. You must be aware of the risks and be willing to accept them to invest in the futures and options markets. Don’t trade with money you can’t afford to lose. This website is neither a solicitation nor an offer to Buy/Sell futures or options. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed on this website. The past performance of any trading system or methodology is not necessarily indicative of future results.
CFTC RULE 4.41 – HYPOTHETICAL OR SIMULATED PERFORMANCE RESULTS HAVE CERTAIN LIMITATIONS. UNLIKE AN ACTUAL PERFORMANCE RECORD, SIMULATED RESULTS DO NOT REPRESENT ACTUAL TRADING. ALSO, SINCE THE TRADES HAVE NOT BEEN EXECUTED, THE RESULTS MAY HAVE UNDER-OR-OVER COMPENSATED FOR THE IMPACT, IF ANY, OF CERTAIN MARKET FACTORS, SUCH AS LACK OF LIQUIDITY. SIMULATED TRADING PROGRAMS, IN GENERAL, ARE ALSO SUBJECT TO THE FACT THAT THEY ARE DESIGNED WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT. NO REPRESENTATION IS BEING MADE THAT ANY ACCOUNT WILL OR IS LIKELY TO ACHIEVE PROFIT OR LOSSES SIMILAR TO THOSE SHOWN.
Use of any of this information is entirely at your own risk, for which Indicator Warehouse will not be liable. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and content found or offered in the material for any particular purpose. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. All information exists for nothing other than entertainment and general educational purposes. We are not registered trading advisors.