Table of Contents
Swing trading is all about profiting from short-term price moves in the market, typically a few days to a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two tops. Swing traders are looking to catch a chunk of upward or downward momentum. They aren’t always fully invested; swing traders wait patiently for low-risk, then pounce. If the overall market is hot, they’ll go long more often. If it’s weak, they’ll short-sell more. And if things are quiet, they chill on the sidelines. Swing trading is different from strategies like day trading or long-term buy-and-hold investing.
Those approaches trade at different frequencies and focus on unique data points. As a swing trader, you need to understand those differences so you don’t get distracted by things only relevant to other trading styles. The key for swing traders is identifying assets poised to make sizable moves shortly. Then you dive in and ride the wave in either direction for a few days or weeks. Let’s break down how to catch that momentum.
Understanding Swing Trading
The hallmark of swing trading is holding a position for more than one trading day but usually less than a few months. Some trades may last longer if there’s an extended opportunity. Occasionally a volatile session allows for intraday swing trades too. The goal is to profit from identifying where a price is headed in the near term and riding that wave up or down. Some swing traders like volatile stocks with lots of action. Others prefer slower-moving ones with steady trends.
Either way, it comes down to spotting an impending price swing, jumping in early in the direction of the move, and cashing out partway through as it plays out. The art is entering right before momentum hits and exiting after you’ve ridden it. In addition, swing trading is all about anticipating and capturing moves larger than day trading profits but smaller than long-term buy-and-hold gains. In conclusion, swing trading aims to take a bite of the apple over a few days or weeks.
Swing Trading for Beginners and Experienced Traders
If you’re new to trading, this article will give you the swing trading basics – where to start, what to expect, and how to develop your own strategies for your goals. But reading alone won’t make you a profitable trader overnight. Here’s what else it takes:
- Education – You need comprehensive learning, not just an article or two. There’s a lot to cover.
- Tools – Proper trading platforms and analytics tools.
- Practice – Hands-on application through paper trading and real trades. Experience is crucial.
- Ongoing Research – Staying on top of changing market conditions.
For experienced traders, you’ll get insight into specific approaches, rules, and strategies for swing trading based on years of experience. This can complement your knowledge.
As a novice trader, you may consider the following:
- If new, this is an introduction – you’ll need more learning plus tools, practice and research.
- If experienced, you may gain helpful complementary knowledge on swing trading strategies.
Day Trading vs Swing Trading
On the trading spectrum, day traders are at the opposite end from long-term buy-and-hold investors. In addition, day traders close out all positions before the market closes to avoid overnight gap risk. Day traders monitor minute-by-minute price action and hold trades for hours at most. Therefore, this allows them to profit from volatile intraday swings. But it requires intense focus and time commitments. Moreover, day traders care more about investor psychology driving short-term moves than company fundamentals. They want to gauge if market noise is increasing or decreasing.
The costs add up quickly, though, with the high volume of trades. After commissions and taxes, profits can be slim. Infrastructure costs also hit day traders hard. On the other hand, swing traders have an advantage here – holding from days to weeks means fundamentals come into play more. As a result, the longer timespan also allows more significant potential gains per trade.
While swing traders pay commissions on more trades than buy-and-hold investors, it’s much less than what day traders rack up. Overall, swing trading provides a nice balance.
A Real-life Example
Imagine Jane is monitoring the tech stock XYZ. She notices it has been in a steady uptrend for the last two weeks but is currently pulling back from its highs. Jane believes this is a temporary dip within the broader uptrend. She enters a long position at $50, betting that the uptrend will resume soon. Her targets are $55 (10% gain) in the short term and $60 (20% gain) for the full move.
Over the next few days, XYZ bottoms out around $48 and starts bouncing back up, just as Jane expected. A week later, XYZ reached new highs and reached Jane’s first target of $55.
Jane sells half her position here to lock in some quick profits if the rally stalls. The stock continues surging over the next week until hitting $60. Jane closes out her remaining position, having ridden the upside swing for a 20% overall gain.
This example illustrates how swing traders identify momentum, time entries and exits, take partial profits along the way, and allow winning trades to run as long as the trend persists.
Indicators and Tools Used by Swing Traders
Using technical analysis tools and techniques is prevalent in all areas of trading. However, in each environment, there may be a tendency to use a specific tool more and more. Here we provided some of the most prevalent tools used for swing trading.
- Moving Averages – Swing traders will overlay simple or exponential moving averages on daily or weekly charts to identify support/resistance levels and trends. The 50-day and 200-day moving averages are commonly used.
- Momentum Indicators – Oscillators like the RSI, Stochastic, MACD, etc., help gauge market momentum and overbought/oversold conditions for potential reversals.
- Price Range Tools – Tracking price ranges with Bollinger Bands, Donchian Channels, and Keltner Channels can signal breakouts or profit targets.
- Sentiment Measures – Metrics like the put/call ratio help traders gauge overall market sentiment and contrarian opportunities.
- Chart Patterns – Swing traders watch for reversal and continuation patterns like head and shoulders, triangles, flags, and cups and handles.
- Volume Analysis – Analyzing volume surges on breakouts or high relative volume on upside moves confirms price action.
Using Candlestick Patterns
Candlesticks can aid swing traders in many ways, especially in identifying entry and exit points. Here’s an example of how candlestick patterns can aid swing traders:
- Candlestick patterns help identify potential reversal points that signal entry and exit opportunities.
For example, an evening star pattern after an uptrend can mark a swing high. The bearish pattern signals potential exhaustion, and swing traders may short-sell in anticipation of a downward move.
- Similarly, a morning star pattern can flag a swing low after a downtrend. The bullish pattern suggests a reversal up may be imminent. Swing traders may go long at that point.
- Patterns like doji and engulfing formations also indicate indecision or potential turning points. Swing traders use these clues to day trades.
- Beyond reversals, candlesticks also mark potential continuations like rising three methods and descending three methods. Traders stay with the trend on these.
So, in summary, candlestick patterns provide valuable context clues for swing traders on where supply/demand may be pivoting based on the patterns left on the chart through price action. This aids the timing of entries and exits.
The Mechanics of Swing Trading
Traders using Swing Trading normally utilize both a technical and fundamental analysis to address price uptrends and downtrends. However, using each tool and technique requires a chronological order. Here is an example walkthrough of a swing trade using technical analysis.
- Identify Opportunity – The trader spots a stock forming an ascending triangle pattern on the daily chart, signalling a potential breakout.
- Enter Trade – Once the stock breaks out upwards through triangle resistance, the trader goes long at $50. Initial stop at $48, profit target at $55.
- Monitor Trade – The stock trends are up as expected over the next few days. The 50-day moving average is holding as support.
- Exit Trade – When the stock hits the profit target of $55, the trader sells to lock in gains. The uptrend persisted as anticipated.
- Stop-loss order set at $48 limits potential loss if the trade goes wrong.
- Limit order ensures the trader locks in gains as soon as the price hits $55.
This example demonstrates how swing traders can utilize technical analysis and orders to capitalize on short-term price momentum.
Liquidity Swings Indicator
The Liquidity Swings indicator identifies price areas on the chart with significant trading volume during past swings. It marks these high-volume zones using shaded rectangles. The more times the price swung back to that area, the darker the shading. Also, the indicator labels the total volume traded within each zone. This shows the amount of market activity at those price levels.
These high-volume areas mark influential support and resistance levels that traders watch for potential long or short entries when the price revisits the zones. The zones also identify liquid areas traders may target for efficient entries and exits. High volume suggests sufficient liquidity to get trades filled. In summary, liquidity swings highlight past swing points experiencing heavy volume. Traders use these high-activity zones to time entries; place stops and targets, and improve trade execution.
Support and Resistance Levels in Swing Trading
Support and resistance lines are huge for swing traders. They show prices where buyers or sellers gain strength and reverse trends. Support is a price area where buying pressure pushes back on selling. Price bounces off support back upward. Swing traders buy on support with stops below it. On the other hand, resistance is the opposite, where selling pressure overwhelms buying. Price gets rejected downward at resistance. Traders short-sell at resistance with stops above it. Here’s a key thing: when price breaks support or resistance, they switch roles! Broken support flips to resistance when the price returns.
So, in summary, swing traders watch support/resistance flips to enter positions and place stops. Buy on support-turned-resistance with sell stops below. Sell at resistance-turned-support with buy stops above. Identifying these pivotal price areas provides great trade entry and exit signals based on changing supply and demand.
Breakout and Run Day Trading Strategy in Stocks
The core of this strategy is trading stocks the day AFTER a strong and confirmed breakout move. We find stocks with great short-term momentum that have consolidated for a few days. Then we wait for an explosive breakout on a big volume that closes near the high. The best spot is when a leading stock breaks out of a tight, well-defined consolidation pattern. The tighter, the better.
- The stock has been a top performer recently – sorted by monthly or 3-month gains.
- There’s a clear, multi-day consolidation preceding the breakout. At least three lined-up candles with limited gains.
- Volume increases on the initial breakout day, and the price closes near the highs.
- Volume doesn’t need a massive spike but must exceed recent averages and not decrease.
Then on day 2, after the confirmed breakout, we enter a swing trade in the direction of the breakout. Momentum continues the next day.
Risk Management in Swing Trading
Managing risk is crucial for swing traders. There are two main types, market risk and position risk. Market risk is from overall market shifts, like a stock market crash. This affects all positions. Diversification helps limit market risk.
On the other hand, position risk comes from the performance of specific trades. Swing trading is more vulnerable here since you hold trades short-term. If you trade only one or two stocks, you’re highly reliant on those picks doing well. If they drop, you lose big.
But with a portfolio of diverse, uncorrelated trades, any one position has minimal impact on total performance. Losses are absorbed.
As a swing trader, you can reduce position risk by:
- Appropriately sizing trades so no single bet makes or breaks you.
- Using stop losses to contain losses on every trade.
- Cutting losses quickly and letting winners ride.
- Monitoring correlations to avoid overexposure to one sector.
The key is controlling trade-specific risks through smart position management. Take advantage of swing trading while keeping risk in check.
Tips for Using Stop-loss Orders for Swing Trading
Using stop-loss orders is pivotal for all traders in all areas of financial markets, including swing trading. Hence, we have provided ways to mitigate risks by using stop-loss orders.
- Backtesting often shows stop-loss performs best, using diversification instead to manage risk.
- Trade uncorrelated assets and strategies – others balance losses in one area.
- If using stops, base on volatility over the typical trade duration to avoid premature exits.
- Time-based stops that close trades after the expected opportunity window can also work.
- There’s no universally best swing trading stop loss. Test different options in your strategy.
- Control risk while avoiding unnecessary interference with your valid trades.
- Fine-tune stops and hedges to protect from large losses but allow profit potential.
The key is balancing risk management with avoiding prematurely stopping profitable trades. Assess stop approaches through backtesting and match them to your strategy.
Position Sizing in Swing Trading
When position sizing swing trades, start with the stop-loss distance from entry to gauge per-share risk. But additional constraints are crucial:
- Set stops based on invalidating your thesis, not an arbitrary level. Optimal stop to protect upside potential.
- Consider hidden risks like gaps, news events, and slippage that could trigger premature stops.
- Incorporate overall portfolio risk-size positions so total risk stays within acceptable limits.
- Factor in higher risk with lower volume stocks, sector correlations, and macro events that could spike volatility.
- Size positions smaller than straight stop loss calculations suggest. Leave room for unseen risks.
- Use stop losses, hedging, and diversification together to manage risk, not just position size.
In summary, the key is balancing size to allow profits while controlling for known and unknown risks. Straight-stop loss sizing is just a starting point. Manage risk comprehensively.
Diversification for Mitigating Risks
Diversification is crucial for limiting risk across your portfolio. You’ve heard the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Well, in trading, that basket is your overall portfolio.
Diversification means trading:
- Multiple assets like stocks, forex, crypto, and commodities.
- Across different industries and sectors.
- Using varied strategies like trend following and mean reversion.
This way, losses in one area are balanced out by gains in others. Your swinging stocks may drop while your gold trades rally. The idea is everything wins. But diversification means even when some trades lose, others win to even it out. Your portfolio stays healthy overall.
Different assets often move independently or even inversely. So diversify your swing trading allocation to smooth out and protect the overall portfolio.
Swing Trading Strategies
Swing trading involves holding trades from several days to weeks to profit from short-term price moves. Traders aim to catch momentum as trends emerge and ride it briefly. The ability to identify, follow, and capitalize on trends is crucial to successfully swing trade. In the following, we provide an in-depth look at trend-following strategies tailored to the swing trading timeframe. We will explore techniques for spotting new trends early, entering at suitable points, managing trades as trends progress, and protecting profits.
It is essential to know when to jump on trends, stick with them, or exit for a profit. We will break down momentum indicators, chart pattern analysis, and volatility assessment. With the right trend-following approach, swing traders can consistently profit by exploiting shifts in supply and demand.
Trend-Following in Swing Trading
Trend following means identifying which way a stock’s price moves – up or down – and trading in alignment with that direction. Furthermore, a trend is a sustained change in price over time. Swing traders use analysis to spot emerging trends, then jump on board to try and profit. They’ll buy into uptrends or sell/short into downtrends. Understanding trends is so important because it gives you an edge. Therefore, by trading in the direction of momentum, your odds of success go way up.
Trading against the trend is risky – you never know when it might reverse sharply. But following the trend puts the wind at your back. Spotting trends early allows swing traders to hop on as momentum builds. Then they ride it briefly while managing risk. Trend following removes the guesswork and emotional decisions. Finally, you let the market tip its hand by revealing the prevailing direction. This clarity is invaluable for swing trades.
Counter-trend strategies aim to profit from corrections against the prevailing trend. Traders use them to buy dips in downtrends or sell rallies in uptrends. The idea is to sell/buy after a strong impulsive bearish/bullish move, anticipating a bounce back in the other direction. This lets you satisfy the buy low, sell high goal. However, traders accept smaller gains since corrections are typically limited. You must stay ready to exit quickly if the expected reversal doesn’t happen.
Counter-trend trades ignore the old saying “the trend is your friend”…for now at least! The goal is to profit from shorter price swings against the broader trend.
Tools like momentum oscillators, chart patterns, and trading ranges identify potential reversal points to enter counter-trends. However, tight risk management is essential if the main trend suddenly resumes. Stop losses allow exiting quickly if the correction stalls. In summary, counter-trend setups profit from pullbacks while respecting broader momentum with prudent trade management.
Swing trading aims to profit from market moves lasting a few days to a few weeks. Traders use technical and fundamental analysis to time entries and exit with a favourable risk/reward ratio.
Big-cap stocks that oscillate in predictable ranges are great candidates for swing trades in both directions. Advantages include profiting from short-term price swings, minimal time requirements, and flexible position sizing. Drawbacks are exposure to overnight gaps and missing bigger trend moves.
Swing trading fits nicely between day trading and long-term investing. With the right setups, risk management, and understanding of trends, swing trades can consistently capture slices of upside, and downside momentum over one to four-week holds.
Join Us to Learn How to Succeed in Your Trading person_addRegister