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# Pivot Points in Forex

## Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:00 AM GMT by Raul Lopez

It is useful to have a map and be able to see where the price is relative to previous market action. This way we can see how is the sentiment of traders and investors at any given moment, it also gives us a general idea of where the market is heading during the day. This information can help us decide which way to trade. Pivot points, a technique developed by floor traders, help us see where the price is relative to previous market action. As a definition, a pivot point is a turning point or condition. The same applies to the Forex market, the pivot point is a level in which the sentiment of the market changes from bull to bear or vice versa. If the market breaks this level up, then the sentiment is said to be a bull market and it is likely to continue its way up, on the other hand, if the market breaks this level down, then the sentiment is bear, and it is expected to continue its way down. Also at this level, the market is expected to have some kind of support/resistance, and if price cant break the pivot point, a possible bounce from it is plausible. Pivot points work best on highly liquid markets, like the spot currency market, but they can also be used in other markets as well.

Pivot Points
In a few words, pivot point is a level in which the sentiment of traders and investors changes from bull to bear or vice versa.

Why PP work?
They work simply because many individual traders and investors use and trust them, as well as bank and institutional traders. It is known to every trader that the pivot point is an important measure of strength and weakness of any market.

## Calculating pivot points

There are several ways to arrive to the Pivot point. The method we found to have the most accurate results is calculated by taking the average of the high, low and close of a previous period (or session). Pivot point (PP) = (High + Low + Close) / 3 Take for instance the following EUR/USD information from the previous session: Open: 1.2386

High: 1.2474 Low: 1.2376 Close: 1.2458 The PP would be, PP = (1.2474 + 1.2376 + 1.2458) / 3 = 1.2439 What does this number tell us? It simply tells us that if the market is trading above 1.2439, Bulls are winning the battle pushing the prices higher. And if the market is trading below this 1.2439 the bears are winning the battle pulling prices lower. On both cases this condition is likely to sustain until the next session. Since the Forex market is a 24hr market (no close or open from day to day) there is a eternal battle on deciding at white time we should take the open, close, high and low from each session. From our point of view, the times that produce more accurate predictions is taking the open at 00:00 GMT and the close at 23:59 GMT. Besides the calculation of the PP, there are other support and resistance levels that are calculated taking the PP as a reference. Support 1 (S1) = (PP * 2) H Resistance 1 (R1) = (PP * 2) - L Support 2 (S2) = PP (R1 S1) Resistance 2 (R2) = PP + (R1 S1) Where, H is the High of the previous period and L is the low of the previous period Continuing with the example above, PP = 1.2439 S1 = (1.2439 * 2) - 1.2474 = 1.2404 R1 = (1.2439 * 2) 1.2376 = 1.2502 R2 = 1.2439 + (1.2636 1.2537) = 1.2537 S2 = 1.2439 (1.2636 1.2537) = 1.2537 These levels are supposed to mark support and resistance levels for the current session. On the example above, the PP was calculated using information of the previous session (previous day.) This way we could see possible intraday resistance and support levels. But it can also be calculated using the previous weekly or monthly data to determine such levels. By doing so we are able to see the sentiment over longer periods of time. Also we can see possible levels that might offer support and resistance throughout the week or month. Calculating the Pivot point in a weekly or monthly basis is mostly used by long term traders, but it can also be used by short time traders, it gives us a good idea about the longer term trend.

## S1, S2, R1 AND R2...? An Objective Alternative

As already stated, the pivot point zone is a well-known technique and it works simply because many traders and investors use and trust it. But what about the other support and resistance

For many years, traders and market makers have used pivot points to determine critical support and/or resistance levels. Pivots are also very popular in the forex market and can be an extremely useful tool for range-bound traders to identify points of entry and for trend traders and breakout traders to spot the key levels that need to be broken for a move to qualify as a breakout. In this article, we'll explain how pivot points are calculated, how they can be applied to the FX market, and how they can be combined with other indicators to develop other trading strategies.

<ILAYER SRC="http://ad.investopedia.com/?DC=Forex_box&DH=Y" HEIGHT="250" WIDTH="300"> </ILAYER> <NOLAYER> <A HREF="http://ad.investopedia.com/?SHT=Forex_box"><IMG SRC="http://ad.investopedia.com/?SIT=Forex_box" HEIGHT="250" WIDTH="300"></A> </NOLAYER> Calculating Pivot Points By definition, a pivot point is a point of rotation. The prices used to calculate the pivot point are the previous period's high, low and closing prices for a security. These prices are usually taken from a stock's daily charts, but the pivot point can also be calculated using information from hourly charts. Most traders prefer to take the pivots, as well as the support and resistance levels, off of the daily charts and then apply those to the intraday charts (for example, hourly, every 30 minutes or every 15 minutes). If a pivot point is calculated using price information from a shorter time frame, this tends to reduce its accuracy and significance. The textbook calculation for a pivot point is as follows: Central Pivot Point (P) = (High + Low + Close) / 3

Support and resistance levels are then calculated off of this pivot point using the following formulas: First level support and resistance: First Resistance (R1) = (2*P) - Low First Support (S1) = (2*P) - High Likewise, the second level of support and resistance is calculated as follows: Second Resistance (R2) = P + (R1-S1) Second Support (S2) = P - (R1- S1) Calculating two support and resistance levels is common practice, but it's not unusual to derive a third support and resistance level as well. (However, third-level support and resistances are a bit too esoteric to be useful for the purposes of trading strategies.) It's also possible to delve deeper into pivot point analysis - for example, some traders go beyond the traditional support and resistance levels and also track the mid-point between each of those levels. Applying Pivot Points to the FX Market Generally speaking, the pivot point is seen as the primary support or resistance level. The following chart is a 30-minute chart of the currency pair GBP/USD with pivot levels calculated using the daily high, low and close prices. The green line is the pivot point (P). The red lines are resistance levels (R). The blue lines are support levels (S). The yellow lines are mid-points (M). Figure 1 shows how the pivot line served as support for the GBP/USD for most of the European trading hours. Once U.S. traders joined the market,

however, prices began to break higher, with each of the breaks first testing and resisting either the midpoint or the R1 and R2 levels; then the break occurred off of those levels (see areas circled). This chart also shows something that occurs frequently in the FX market, which is that the initial break occurs at a market open. There are three market opens in the FX market: the U.S. open, which occurs at approximately 8am EDT, the European open, which occurs at 2am EDT, and the Asian open which occurs at 7pm EDT.

Figure 1 - This chart shows a common day in the FX market. The price of a major currency pair (GBP/USD) tends to fluctuate between the support and resistance levels identified by the pivot point calculation. The areas circled in the chart are good illustrations of the importance of a break above these levels.

## What we also see when trading pivots in the FX

market is that the trading range for the session usually occurs between the pivot point and the first support and resistance levels because a multitude of traders play this range. Take a look at Figure 2, a chart of the currency pair USD/JPY. As you can see in the areas circled, prices initially stayed within the pivot point and the first resistance level with the pivot acting as support. Once the pivot was broken, prices moved lower and stayed predominately within the pivot and the first support zone.

Figure 2 - This chart shows an example of the strength of the support and resistance calculated using the pivot calculations.

The Significance of Market Opens One of the key points to understand when trading pivot points in the FX market is that breaks tend to occur around one of the market opens. The reason for this is the immediate influx of traders entering the market at the same time. These traders go into the office, take a look at how prices traded overnight

Figure 3 - This chart shows a pivot point being used in cooperation with a candlestick pattern to predict a trend reversal. Notice how the descent was stopped by the second support level.

Another strategy traders can use is to look for prices to obey the pivot level, therefore validating the level as a solid support or resistance zone. In this type of strategy, you're looking to see the price break the pivot level, reverse and then trend back towards the pivot level. If the price proceeds to drive through the pivot point, this is an indication that the pivot level is not very strong and is therefore less useful as a trading signal. However, if prices hesitate around that level or "validate" it, then the pivot level is much more significant and suggests that the move lower is an actual break, which indicates that there may be a continuation move.

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The 15-minute GBP/CHF chart in Figure 4 shows an example of prices "obeying" the pivot line. For the most part, prices were first confined within the midpoint and pivot level. At the European open (2am EDT), GBP/CHF rallied and broke above the pivot level. Prices then retraced back to pivot level, held it and proceeded to rally once again. The level was tested once more right before the U.S. market open (7am EDT), at which point traders should have placed a buy order for GBP/CHF since the pivot level had already proved to be a significant support level. For those traders who did do that, GBP/CHF bounced off the level and rallied once again.

## Figure 4 - This is an example of a currency pair

"obeying" the support and resistance identified by the pivot point calculation. These levels become more significant the more times the pair tries to break through.

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## Term Directory: # | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W|X|Y|Z

Resistance 3 = High + 2*(Pivot - Low) Resistance 2 = Pivot + (R1 - S1) Resistance 1 = 2 * Pivot - Low Pivot Point = ( High + Close + Low )/3 Support 1 = 2 * Pivot - High Support 2 = Pivot - (R1 - S1) Support 3 = Low - 2*(High - Pivot) As you can see from the above formula, just by having the previous days high, low and close you eventually finish up with 7 points, 3 resistance levels, 3 support levels and the actual pivot point. If the market opens above the pivot point then the bias for the day is long trades. If the market opens below the pivot point then the bias for the day is for short trades. The three most important pivot points are R1, S1 and the actual pivot point. The general idea behind trading pivot points are to look for a reversal or break of R1 or S1. By the time the market reaches R2,R3 or S2,S3 the market will already be overbought or oversold and these levels should be used for exits rather than entries. A perfect set would be for the market to open above the pivot level and then stall slightly at R1 then go on to R2. You would enter on a break of R1 with a target of R2 and if the market was really strong close half at R2 and target R3 with the remainder of your position. Unfortunately life is not that simple and we have to deal with each trading day the best way we can. I have picked a day at random from last week and what follows are some ideas on how you could have traded that day using pivot points.

On the 12th August 04 the Euro/Dollar (EUR/USD) had the following: High - 1.2297 Low - 1.2213 Close - 1.2249 This gave us: Resistance 3 = 1.2377 Resistance 2 = 1.2337 Resistance 1 = 1.2293 Pivot Point = 1.2253 Support 1 = 1.2209 Support 2 = 1.2169 Support 3 = 1.2125 Have a look at the 5 minute chart below

The green line is the pivot point. The blue lines are resistance levels R1,R2 and R3. The red lines are support levels S1,S2 and S3. There are loads of ways to trade this day using pivot points but I shall walk you through a few of them and discuss why some are good in certain situations and why some are bad. The Breakout Trade At the beginning of the day we were below the pivot point, so our bias is for short trades. A channel formed so you would be looking for a break out of the channel, preferably to the downside. In this type of trade you would have your sell entry order just below the lower channel line with a stop order just above the upper channel line and a target of S1. The problem on this day was that, S1 was very close to the breakout level and there was just not enough meat in the trade (13 pips). This is a good entry technique for you. Just because it was not suitable this day, does not mean it will not be suitable the next day.

The Pullback Trade This is one of my favorite set ups. The market passes through S1 and then pulls back. An entry order is placed below support, which in this case was the most recent low before the pullback. A stop is then placed above the pullback (the most recent high - peak) and a target set for S2. The problem again, on this day was that the target of S2 was to close, and the

market never took out the previous support, which tells us that, the market sentiment is beginning to change.

Breakout of Resistance As the day progressed, the market started heading back up to S1 and formed a channel (congestion area). This is another good set up for a trade. An entry order is placed just above the upper channel line, with a stop just below the lower channel line and the first target would be the pivot line. If you where trading more than one position, then you would close out half your position as the market approaches the pivot line, tighten your stop and then watch market action at that level. As it happened, the market never stopped and your second target then became R1. This was also easily achieved and I would have closed out the rest of the position at that level.

Advanced As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of ways to trade with pivot points. A more advanced method is to use the cross of two moving averages as a confirmation of a breakout. You can even use combinations of indicators to help you make a decision. It might be the cross of two averages and also MACD must be in buy mode. Mess around with a few of your favorite indicators but remember the signal is a break of a level and the indicators are just confirmation.

We haven't even got into patterns around pivot levels or failures but that is not the point of this lesson. I just want to introduce another possible way for you to trade. Good Trading Best Regards Mark McRae
Information, charts or examples contained in this lesson are for illustration and educational purposes only. It should not be considered as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. We do not and cannot offer investment advice. For further information please read our disclaimer.

By Eric Utley

## the rest of the day.

Source: Quote.com

Follow The Intraday Trend The power of pivot points is unleashed when you follow an unfolding trend during the day, and use the pivot values to measure the magnitude of trend. Additionally, the pivot points can be used to determine entry points into a trade. Applying simple breakout and breakdown entries around pivot points is a powerful way of using the tool. An example of following the trend of the day as it unfolds, and entering trades on the break of pivot values, is illustrated on the 5-minute chart below of the JPY/USD contract. In this example, the Yen began the day near its pivot value, rolled over from R1, and proceeded to breakdown below the pivot point, S1, and S2. The pair dropped by about 60 ticks, providing ample opportunity for a day trader to make money on each breakdown below support. These types of intraday trends unfold a few times throughout the trading week, and they are relatively easy to exploit by following the futures contract through its pivot values.

Source: Quote.com

Source: Quote.com