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Pivot Points in Forex - What They Are and How to Use Them

You may hear that one of the handier tools in a forex trader's toolbox is a pivot point calculator. Pivot points are one of the commonly used triggers for trading systems. If you're new to the forex market, though, you may be foggy on exactly what pivot points are and what they can mean to your trading.

Pivot points are exactly what they sound like - the point at which the market is expected to turn - if it's been going down, a pivot point is the value at which it will reverse the trend and begin to climb. If it's been rising, then the pivot point is where the sentiment of the traders will turn and begin a downward trend. Obviously, being able to predict major movements in the money market is a valuable skill, since it hints at the where the market is moving and whether or not this is the time to trade or stick.

Pivot point trading is an especially popular method of mapping out a trading strategy. It was originally used by floor traders in the stock market who liked it because it allowed them to gauge where the market was heading with just a few simple bits of information and calculations. By knowing the high, low, opening and closing points from the previous day, they could calculate a point at which the market had "turned" to head upward or downward. Pivot points can help predict where the market is going and coupled with the resistance and support points, give you an idea how far in that direction it will go.

There are a number of ways to calculate the pivot points for the day, but the most common and easiest is to average the opening, closing and high points for the last day's trading. There are other pivot points that can be calculated from those numbers as well. Before we talk about how to calculate them and what they mean, let's define a few terms:

Pivot point - the point where the market reverses a current trend

Resistance - A high point in a market chart that recurs regularly. Generally, it's the point where the market (or currency) will begin a downturn

Support - A low point in the market chart that recurs regularly. Generally, it's the point where the market (or currency) will begin to climb back up.

Traditionally, support and resistance points are difficult to break through. Most of the time as the numbers approach that level; there will be a slight rebound in the other direction. An interesting phenomenon is that once a resistance or support point is broken, it tends to switch sides -- a broken resistance will often become a support for prices on the other side of the line.

The most common calculation for arriving at a pivot point is:

Pivot: (High + Close + Low)/3

Resistance: 2 * Pivot - Low

Support : 2 * Pivot - High

USD/EUR Date:02/03/06 14:40 O=0.83174 H=0.83188 L=0.83167 C=0.83188

Given this data for Feb 3, 2006, the pivot points for Feb 4, 2006 would look like this:

Pivot: 0.83180

Resistance: 0.83193

Support: 0.83172

Those numbers give me some points on which to base my strategy for the day. If the market opens above the pivot point, it's a bull market, and most advisors would go for long trades, since the direction of the market is up. If it opens below pivot, it's time to favor short trades and quick sales.

There are two common sales strategies using pivot, resistance and support points.

Breakout Trade: When a currency pair breaks through a resistance or support point, there's usually a surge of activity around it. Buy if the charts show a break through a resistance, sell if the rate drops below a support point.

Pullback Trade: When the exchange rate drops back from a high, most traders will buy, based on other information that's available. It's a tricky move, though, since the pullback could just be a temporary pause in the upward momentum, or the beginning of a downward rebound.

Using pivot points to inform your strategy in day trading is a complex subject. You'll find a great deal written about it by various gurus and experts. These basics can help you understand what you're reading from them.

Let Your Money Work for You with Automated FOREX Trading

In our modern world of luxury and ease, some financial speculators are finding it advantageous to do FOREX trading the easy way: through automated FOREX trading systems.

Automatic FOREX markets trading is fully automated. A highly sophisticated and complicated computer program uses mathematical algorithms to determine when to buy and sell currency, and it makes the trades for you. You put an initial investment into the account, and then let the system do all the work for you.

It may sound risky to let a computer program choose when to buy and sell currency, but automated trading can often be safer than doing it yourself. Humans are subject to error, to misreading charts, and to overlooking data. Humans can also let their emotions get in the way of making smart decisions, like the gambler who loses everything because he just can't tear himself away from the blackjack table.

An automated trading program has none of those flaws. With the software doing it for you, it's as if you were always watching every market, noticing every trend, instantly analyzing all available data, and making the smartest decisions.

There is a cost for this, of course. Most brokers that offer it require a minimum investment of several thousand dollars or more, and they may charge a fee on top of that.

But the benefits of automated FOREX trading can be great. Whereas manual trading requires an investor to study the market intensely before jumping in to it, automated trading requires no training at all. Learn the very basics of how the market works so you can tell what your automated system is doing for you, and that's it. Sit back and let it make your money work for you.

Automated trading is also useful for companies and other institutions that want to diversify their assets but don't have the time or resources to devote to FOREX trading. If a computer program can do it for you, there's no need to have one of your employees handle it, right?

It goes without saying that automated trading systems rely on technical analysis rather than fundamental analysis. That is, the algorithms examine past market performance and general trends and base their trading decisions on that, not on external factors such as politics and environmental concerns, which may affect a nation's currency. Nonetheless, automated trading has proven to be highly effective and accurate for many investors, freeing up their schedules to focus on other things.

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