As a general rule of thumb you want price to hold important reference levels on a closing basis. This means that you can allow for an intraday move below the mark. This is commonly referred to as a shakeout. However you must be aware that some shakeouts can be severe, especially in the high octane swing stocks. Due to this it totally depends on the individual situation if a trader should scale-out some quickly on the first intraday violation of support or wait until end of day with the risk to fall victim to a nasty shakeout. If a stock closes below the expected “support” w/o a shakeout it tells you that:
A) The stock changed character and could be in for a deeper pullback/consolidation or maybe it is gone for good
B) You failed at identifying a proper support level
C) The stock has only strong hands on board which are not prone to overreacting.
If the latter is the case you can scale-out and then simply scale-in again once price moves up through the mark tomorrow and or the days ahead. Large cap stocks which are widely followed move more like a ocean tanker so support and changing direction can be a multiday process which often sees closes below support.
The quintessence is this: You want your stock to show you that it adheres to proper support in one way or the other. If a stock stops doing what you want it to do you have to think about letting it go.
That is a very good question indeed! From hearsay and my own experience I can tell you that most money is lost when traders jump back into a stock too early. While nobody can predict the short term, let alone long term price development it is very important to always have a couple realisitic scenarios in the back of your mind. This means that when a stock made a move and starts to pullback or flash topping signs I start to imagine what a proper consolidation could look like at this point. This thought process forces you to be objective and helps to tackle down feelings such as hope (The hope that your beloved stock will stop going lower) or fear (The fear that it will quickly turn around and continues to rally without you on board).
When a stock ran up 150% in 3 months then it will take time to digest the move and you must not jump back in on the first little rally off a logical but weak support. You can watch it and it often flashes setups which then falter. Generally speaking the most powerful stocks must digest the move and draw the attention away. Realistic consolidations typically have 2 or three little waves down or they at least test prior lows or former pivots. In order to get the timing right you must realize that stocks often wait for the 50d MA to catch-up with price. The most explosive names just wait for the 20d or even 10d MA on their way up. However once a short term top is in (Stock printed a clear red flag) it is often the 50d MA which comes into play.
Give a stock time to go through the much needed psychological stages of A) Getting rid of weak hands B) Drawing attention away and then C) Attracting smart money again. This can take weeks to months. Rinse and repeat.
Actually that is exactly the opposite of what I really do or try to do. Most of the time I have a couple position trades running which matured over time (couple months). Many of those started as swings. I then add most fresh money swing trades when I see quality setups showing up after a period of market turmoil. This is what I often refer to an opening window of opportunity. Those early movers of an opportunity cycle are the stocks I focus on the most as most traders will miss out on them waiting for more confirmation. When these early movers ran their course and start to hit logical resistance or even flash red flags I DO NOT just rotate to the next hot group. This is because those early movers are in sync and the next hot thing is obvious to everyone and often attracts the late comers and FOMO traders. I don’t say that they can’t go up, but overcomitting to those stocks more often than not messes with my market timing. The cardinal sin of swing trading is to not be able to sell into strength when swings reach their natural price targets. If you are unable to fight your greed and stick to swings with full position you will be forced to sell them on the way down which puts you in a weak position. The cardinal sin of position trading however is to overcommit to the next hot group which then corrects and increases the heat until you are forced to sell your strong position trades. If that happens always sell the recent swings you entered! The correct thing to do is as follows. You must be able to engage with the early movers without fear when others still lick their wounds. Then you sell partial profits of your swings into unusual strength when the late comers push the markets higher. Then you wait for those early movers to go through a natural pullback or correction. You can of course always engage with fresh stock ideas along the way but make sure not to overcommit! Try to stick to your position trades all way through and even think about adding swings (scale-in) on top of your regular position when a proper setup emerges in one of them. All this is an organic process without strict rules, you go over charts and listen to the feedback of stocks. Over time you will learn to create a feel for the market and understand how it moves in a waves in order to inflict specific emotions into the crowd at specific times (the 90%+ who lose so that you can excel). Once you manage to be ahead like this you turn into an observer from above, reading the collective hive mind ready to strike at the correct opportunistic moment. For this to work you MUST isolate yourself from all the noise. It is all hidden in the charts, trust me! It will take time to develop this skill.
Short answer: No I don’t move stops to breakeven!
Long answer: I never ever move my initial stop loss before a trade hits my R-multiple threshold. However this is mainly due to my sharp stops. If you use wider stops it might make sense to sell on a proper red flag before hitting the R-multiple threshold. But in my honest opinion it is better to avoid any intervention after the entry thus allowing the market to do the magic for you!
I do use scale-outs to avoid being shaken out on natural pullbacks which more often than not coincide with stocks hitting the widely followed 3R mark from widely followed entries such as pivot breakouts and pocket pivots. Once I scaled out the initial stop loss becomes meaningless and I will trail it up to the next logical level of support. However this is a just a safety mechanism for protecting me against a flash crash as I will sell on a proper red flag independent on the “trailing” stop. Also be aware that such a protection trailing stop must be placed ABOVE support so that you are getting filled before all the other stops in the case of a sudden crash. This is the exact opposite to a regular stop loss, which must be placed below PLL support in order to avoid regular shakeouts. A protection trailing stop is just an intraday protection mechanism when you are not sitting in front of the computer.
The daily chart is your bread and butter timeframe. It is meaningful because many traders act end of day or use the daily closing price as a signal generator for the next day. Thats why you often see a continuation or carry over of end-of-day action into the next trading session. While I also employ the weekly, monthly and 15min charts, I don’t think my trading would suffer much if I had to rely only on the daily. In my opinion one should actually focus almost all of the time on it while only checking the weekly every once in a while. I like to put the (messy but useful; PLL anyone?) volume-by-price indicator on my weeklies so that my dailies remain clean and easy on the eyes. I also check the weekly to judge the quality of bases. Oftentimes a stock appears choppy on the daily, but when you check the weekly a lot of the daily noise is hidden. I sometimes dismiss non-ideal daily price & volume action when it’s hidden in a very constructive weekly chart. Reason is that big money rather focus on the long term. They accumulate based on the weekly/monthly and fundamentals.
Yes, I narrow down the us stock market to a way smaller list of quality growth stocks to engage with. I only trade in names which fulfill the following criteria: Effective Market Cap >200-250M $; Price >7$; Shares/float ratio <20 (I violate this occasionally); Average Daily Dollar Volume > 2-3M $. I also want to see strong fundamentals in either forward EPS and current quaterly sales.
I trade in my own little universe of quality and fundamentally strong names which I scan for opportunisitc and non-obvious entries. I realize profits into unusual strength and logical price targets. Small and mid cap names often turn into swing trades naturally due to my aggressive scale-outs while large cap names rather turn into classical position trades. I never hold stocks through larger consolidations or earnings and I only enter or add when a stock flashes me a proper fresh money entry according to my rules.
No I am not, but the odds are slim. There are certainly techniques which put the odds a little more in your favour than others and applying advanced statistics like the rest of the corporate and scientific world will make any system more efficient. But those kind of things require an experienced trader to pull-off correctly. Maybe you are lucky and pick a method which suits your personality and at the same time provides you with an inherent edge! But even if you pick such a system it still requires an experienced and skillful trader behind the screen. So you would need to hire one early on until you accumulated the experience and skills yourself. Automated trading systems will certainly get a boost from artifical intelligence in the future so will see where this is heading.
In no way! William O’Neil’s books are great and got me hooked in the first place. I actually label myself as a technical fundamentalist or technofundamentalist. However over the years I realized that you have to look beyond the CANSLIM ‘frontend’ with all the labels and ‘simplified’ rules. While I rarely buy any of the CANSLIM chart patterns I am always aware of them. One can argue that in todays age of instant information base breakouts are late entries. The mass psychological mechanics behind the patterns are still sound of course but you have to make sure that a pattern isn’t too obvious. Tight weekly closes are golden and are often the breeding ground for my favourite quiet and tight swing entries.
I watch out for Peak Liquidity Levels (PLL) and Low Liquidity Levels (LLL). The former is a price level where a lot of shares changed hands (high volume in the volume-by-price indicator) while the latter is a price level where little actual trading took place in the recent past (low relative volume in the volume-by-price indicator).
Weekly chart where I construct the PLLs:
Daily chart where I analyze the PLLs:
Price can often launch off a PLL (zone limit or sharp level) and then rally up through a LLL zone aka “a void” without much resistance due to a vacuum of potential sellers (Net buying). PLLs often deviate from pure technical support and resistance levels such as pivots. In my opinion a PLL is a much more reliable level for potential support and resistance. The reason why some traders are always taken out via shakeouts can be contributed to the fact that they place their stops below an obvious technical level. By doing so they falsely believe that they created a nice cushion or leeway while in reality they placed their stop right at a major PLL (This is holy grail material so please don’t tell anyone). Always place your stops with respect to PLLs to avoid shakeouts.
I also distinguish between sharp PLLs and wider PLL zones. Inside a PLL zone, price can roam freely between the upper and lower limits while the argument, between buyers and sellers about the correct price, is still ongoing.
This means that price moves inside the limits of the zones are not meaningful. However, when the zone is wide enough one can “play the limits” as trigger levels for smaller scale-ins and scale-outs.
Oftentimes intraday price moves out of a zone reverse just to make sure to close inside the PLL zone “overnight shelter”. Once price managed to leave the PLL zone for good, it revealed the path of least resistance as it requires net buying (for uptrends) and net selling (for downtrends) to move price from one major PLL to the next through a LLL volume void. Such a move is a meaningful price expansion and catching them is a core part of my swing trading method. Movements inside a PLL zone are not a price trend, they are just noise!
I did use them during my early years but over time I slowly realized that finding stock picks is the easy part of trading and that chart reading simply needs a lot of experience. All you need is a lightning fast charting package and a slim real time screener. Finviz and Tradingview have perfect synergy when it comes to speed and ease of use. You can read more about the tools and how I use them in everyday trading in the article describing my trading routine.
The trick is to just enter setups when they show up in real time. I may get stopped out a couple times before hitting the homerun. When I hit it I brag about it on twitter while I sweep the stop loss hits needed to ‘nail’ it under the carpet. Joke aside, my typical 20 trade rolling winrate fluctuates between 25 and 45% most of the time. When I am actively seeking an entry I often experience stop loss hits. However those stops are very small. Doing it that way isn’t needed and you always walk a fine line between improving your entry price and overtrading. When you can’t watch markets intraday you simply enter with your regular stop loss. However when we talk about quiet and tight setups popping up during prolonged sideways action some can fail and it can indeed require one or two stop loss hits before the stock -and market- give you green light.
Get out of that losing trade if you are still in it, stick to your safety net rules and ignore your account balance! Continue to trade as if it was just a regular stop loss hit. In trading it is all about preserving emotional capital and remaining in a position of strength so that you can seize fresh opportunity ahead. Treat such a loss like a failed exam and simply keep studying. If the loss was huge it also helps to take time off the markets. After a couple days/weeks the joy and passion should be back and you should be eager to improve. If you truly stick to the safety net rules chances are very slim that you’ll ever experience a huge loss. If you blew your account, save up another stack if you still feel the passion, if not leave trading alone.
I use a bottom up position sizing technique where I calculate the correct size according to logical stop loss and price target levels of the stock at hand. I only trade the ideas which exceed my profit/risk threshold (Risk multiple). I set the max risk I am willing to lose on each trade via this technique.
My bread and butter entry is a quiet and tight pullback into a PLL or the 10 and 20 day moving average. Quiet means that the volume should be well below average and tight means that the daily price range is small compared to the recent past. Such a setup tells me that the attention is drawn away from the stock and that it is ripe to blast higher leaving the crowd and late comers behind. The other one is a powerful breakaway gap in leading mid to large cap names. The latter is usually earnings related.
Whenever I enter a swing idea and the stock blasts higher and exceeds +10% on an intraday basis I automatically close out 1/4 to 1/3 of the position into strength. No questions asked! Depending on the average true range of a stock and/or closeby major PLL levels, this threshold could vary. Origin of the rule was a tweak to avoid that gains in swing trades entered via quiet & tight setups vanish one day after a one bar wonder and to secure or lock-in the setup specific R-multiple in general. Subsequent trigger events call for reduced scale-outs.
Mostly huge climax reversals and bearish outside day reversals on large volume and moving average (MA) violations where a stock loses support after adhering to a MA for weeks to months. But I also run for the exit quickly when a stock retraces a huge move right after flashing me an entry. (Note: Due to tight stops in Q&T setups, typically my stop loss gets hit before a red flag is in the books.)
You must know that swing trading was my solution to engage in smaller high octane stocks. Most of the time I can only make an educated guess beforehand. But typically the smaller names will have the most aprupt moves which will make me scale-out more aggressively. Scaling out a lot obviously turns any trade into a swing trade.
Position trades typicially consume between 40 to 60% off my account size. I use the remaining 140 – 160% for swing trading in more explosive names. I rarely go over 200% on an intraday basis and when I do it it is mostly on the short side. I scale out of my swing trades aggressively and find myself mostly in position trades after a while. Rinse and repeat.