Part 18 Technical Analysis – Using Fibonacci lines (video)

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Fibonacci Retracement Definition & Levels

What is a Fibonacci Retracement?

A Fibonacci retracement is a term used in technical analysis that refers to areas of support or resistance. Fibonacci retracement levels use horizontal lines to indicate where possible support and resistance levels are. Each level is associated with a percentage. The percentage is how much of a prior move the price has retraced. The Fibonacci retracement levels are 23.6%, 38.2%, 61.8% and 78.6%. While not officially a Fibonacci ratio, 50% is also used.

The indicator is useful because it can be drawn between any two significant price points, such as a high and a low, and then the indicator will create the levels between those two points.

If the price rises $10, and then drops $2.36, it has retraced 23.6%, which is a Fibonacci number. Fibonacci numbers are found throughout nature, and therefore many traders believe that these numbers also have relevance in the financial markets.

Key Takeaways

  • The indicator connects any two points that the trader views at relevant, typically a high and low point.
  • Once the indicator has been drawn on the chart, the levels are fixed and will not change. The percentage levels provided are areas where the price could stall or reverse.
  • Levels should not be relied on exclusively. For example, it is dangerous to assume the price will reverse after hitting a specific Fibonacci level. It may, but it also may not.
  • Fibonacci retracement levels are most frequently used to provide potential areas of interest. If a trader wants to buy, they watch for the price to stall at a Fibonacci level and then bounce off that level before buying.
  • The most commonly used ratios include 23.6%, 38.2%, 50%, 61.8% and 78.6%. These represent how much of a prior move the price has corrected or retraced.

The Formulas for Fibonacci Retracement Levels Are:

The indicator itself doesn’t have any formulas. When the indicator is applied to a chart the user chooses two points. Once those two points are chosen, the lines are drawn at percentages of that move.

If the price rises from $10 to $15, and these two prices levels are the points used to draw the retracement indicator, then 23.6% level will be at $13.82 ($15 – ($5 x 0.236)) = $13.82. The 50% level will be at $12.50 ($15 – ($5 x 0.5)) = $12.50.

How to Calculate Fibonacci Retracement Levels

As discussed above, there is nothing to calculate when it comes to Fibonacci retracement levels. They are simply percentages of whatever price range is chosen.

You may wonder where these numbers come from, though. They are based on something called the Golden Ratio.

If you start a sequence of numbers with zero and one, and then keep adding the prior two numbers, you end up with a number string like this:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987. with the string continuing on indefinitely.

The Fibonacci retracement levels are all derived from this number string. Excluding the first few numbers, as the sequence gets going, if you divide one number by the next number you get 0.618, or 61.8%. Divide a number by the second number to its right and you get 0.382 or 38.2%. All the ratios, except for 50% since it is not an official Fibonacci number, are based on some mathematical calculation involving this number string.

Interestingly, the Golden Ratio of 0.618 or 1.618 is found in sunflowers, galaxy formations, shells, historical artifacts and architecture.

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Fibonacci Retracement

What Do Fibonacci Retracement Levels Tell You?

Fibonacci retracements can be used to place entry orders, determine stop loss levels, or set price targets. For example, a trader may see a stock moving higher. After a move up it retraces to the 61.8%% level, and then starts to bounce again. Since the bounce occurred at a Fibonacci level, and the longer trend is up, the trader decides to buy. They could set a stop loss at the 78.6% level, or the 100% level (where the move started).

Fibonacci levels are used in other forms technical analysis as well. For example, they are prevalent in Gartley patterns and Elliott Wave theory. After a significant price movement up or down, when the price retraces (which it always does), these forms of technical analysis find the retracements will tend to reverse near certain Fibonacci levels.

Fibonacci retracement levels are static prices that do not change, unlike moving averages. The static nature of the price levels allows for quick and easy identification. This allows traders and investors to anticipate and react prudently when the price levels are tested. These levels are inflection points where some type of price action is expected, either a rejection or a break.

The Difference Between Fibonacci Retracements and Fibonacci Extensions

While Fibonacci retracements apply percentages to a pullback, Fibonacci extensions apply percentages to a move back in the trending direction. For example, a stock goes from $5 to $10, and then back to $7.50. The move from $10 to $7.50 is a retracement. If the price starts rallying again and goes to $16, that is an extension.

Limitations of Using Fibonacci Retracement Levels

While the retracement levels indicate where the price could potentially find support or resistance, there are no assurances the price will actually stop there. This is why other confirmation signals are often used, such as the price actually starting to bounce off the level.

The other argument against Fibonacci retracement levels is that there are so many of them that the price is likely to reverse near one of them quite often. The problem is that in advance traders struggle to know which one will be useful on the current retracement they are analyzing.

Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio

There is a unique ratio that can be used to describe the proportions of everything from nature’s smallest building blocks, such as atoms, to the most advanced patterns in the universe, like the unimaginably large celestial bodies. Nature relies on this innate proportion to maintain balance, but the financial markets also seem to conform to this “golden ratio.” Here, we take a look at some technical analysis tools that have been developed to take advantage of the pattern.

The Mathematics

Mathematicians, scientists, and naturalists have known about the golden ratio for centuries. It’s derived from the Fibonacci sequence, named after its Italian founder, Leonardo Fibonacci (whose birth is assumed to be around 1175 A.D. and death around 1250 A.D.). In the sequence, each number is simply the sum of the two preceding numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.).

Key Takeaways

  • The golden ratio describes predictable patterns on everything from atoms to huge stars in the sky.
  • The ratio is derived from something called the Fibonacci sequence, named after its Italian founder, Leonardo Fibonacci.
  • Nature uses this ratio to maintain balance, and the financial markets seem to as well.
  • The Fibonacci sequence can be applied to finance by using four main techniques: retracements, arcs, fans, and time zones.

But this sequence is not all that important; rather, the essential part is the quotient of the adjacent number that possess an amazing proportion, roughly 1.618, or its inverse 0.618. This proportion is known by many names: the golden ratio, the golden mean, PHI, and the divine proportion, among others. So, why is this number so important? Well, almost everything has dimensional properties that adhere to the ratio of 1.618, so it seems to have a fundamental function for the building blocks of nature.

Prove It

Don’t believe it? Take honeybees, for example. If you divide the female bees by the male bees in any given hive, you will get 1.618. Sunflowers, which have opposing spirals of seeds, have a 1.618 ratio between the diameters of each rotation. This same ratio can be seen in relationships between different components throughout nature.

Are you still having trouble believing it? Need something that’s easily measured? Try measuring from your shoulder to your fingertips, and then divide this number by the length from your elbow to your fingertips. Or try measuring from your head to your feet, and divide that by the length from your belly button to your feet. Are the results the same? Somewhere in the area of 1.618? The golden ratio is seemingly unavoidable.

But does that mean it works in finance? Actually, financial markets have the very same mathematical base as these natural phenomena. Below we will examine some ways in which the golden ratio can be applied to finance, and we’ll show some charts as proof.

The Fibonacci Studies and Finance

When used in technical analysis, the golden ratio is typically translated into three percentages: 38.2%, 50%, and 61.8%. However, more multiples can be used when needed, such as 23.6%, 161.8%, 423%, and so on. Meanwhile, there are four ways that the Fibonacci sequence can be applied to charts: retracements, arcs, fans, and time zones. However, not all might be available, depending on the charting application being used.

1. Fibonacci Retracements

Fibonacci retracements use horizontal lines to indicate areas of support or resistance. Levels are calculated using the high and low points of the chart. Then five lines are drawn: the first at 100% (the high on the chart), the second at 61.8%, the third at 50%, the fourth at 38.2%, and the last one at 0% (the low on the chart). After a significant price movement up or down, the new support and resistance levels are often at or near these lines.

Created Using MetaTrader

2. Fibonacci Arcs

Finding the high and low of a chart is the first step to composing Fibonacci arcs. Then, with a compass-like movement, three curved lines are drawn at 38.2%, 50%, and 61.8% from the desired point. These lines anticipate the support and resistance levels, as well as trading ranges.

Created Using MetaTrader

3. Fibonacci Fans

Fibonacci fans are composed of diagonal lines. After the high and low of the chart is located, an invisible vertical line is drawn through the rightmost point. This invisible line is then divided into 38.2%, 50%, and 61.8%, and lines are drawn from the leftmost point through each of these points. These lines indicate areas of support and resistance.

Created Using MetaTrader

4. Fibonacci Time Zones

Unlike the other Fibonacci methods, time zones are a series of vertical lines. They are composed by dividing a chart into segments with vertical lines spaced apart in increments that conform to the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.). Each line indicates a time in which major price movement can be expected.

Created Using MetaTrader

The Golden Ratio can be applied to everything from nature to human anatomy to finance.

The Bottom Line

Fibonacci studies are not intended to provide the primary indications for timing the entry and exit of a position; however, the numbers are useful for estimating areas of support and resistance. Many people use combinations of Fibonacci studies to obtain a more accurate forecast. For example, a trader may observe the intersecting points in a combination of the Fibonacci arcs and resistances.

Fibonacci studies are often used in conjunction with other forms of technical analysis. For example, Fibonacci studies, in combination with Elliott Waves, can be used to forecast the extent of the retracements after different waves. Hopefully, you can find your own niche use for the Fibonacci studies and add it to your set of investment tools.

Top 4 Fibonacci Retracement Mistakes to Avoid

Every foreign exchange trader will use Fibonacci retracements at some point in their trading career. Some will use it just some of the time, while others will apply it regularly. But no matter how often you use this tool, what’s most important is you use it correctly every time.

Improperly applying technical analysis methods will lead to disastrous results, such as bad entry points and mounting losses on currency positions. Here we’ll examine how not to apply Fibonacci retracements to the foreign exchange markets. Get to know these common mistakes and chances are you’ll be able to avoid making them—and suffering the consequences—in your trading.

Top 4 Fibonacci Retracement Mistakes To Avoid

Key Takeaways

  • A Fibonacci retracement is a reference in technical analysis to areas that offer support or resistance.
  • Foreign exchange traders, in particular, are likely to use Fibonacci retracements at some point in their trading career.
  • One common mistake traders make is confusing reference points when fitting Fibonacci retracements to price action.
  • New traders tend to take a myopic approach and mostly focus on short-term trends rather than long-term indications.
  • Fibonacci can provide reliable trade setups, but not without confirmation, so don’t rely on Fibonacci alone.

1. Don’t Mix Reference Points

When fitting Fibonacci retracements to price action, it’s always good to keep your reference points consistent. So, if you are referencing the lowest price of a trend through the close of a session or the body of the candle, the best high price should be available within the body of a candle at the top of a trend: candle body to candle body; wick to wick.

Incorrect analysis and mistakes are created once the reference points are mixed—going from a candle wick to the body of a candle. Let’s take a look at an example in the euro/Canadian dollar currency pair. Figure 1 shows consistency. Fibonacci retracements are applied on a wick-to-wick basis, from a high of 1.3777 to a low of 1.3344. This creates a clear-cut resistance level at 1.3511, which is tested, then broken.

Figure 1: A Fibonacci retracement applied to price action in the euro/Canadian dollar currency pair.

Source: FX Intellicharts

Figure 2, on the other hand, shows inconsistency. Fibonacci retracements are applied from the high close of 1.3742 (35 pips below the wick high). This causes the resistance level to cut through several candles (between February 3 and February 7), which is not a great reference level.

Figure 2: A Fibonacci retracement applied incorrectly.

Source: FX Intellicharts

By keeping it consistent, support and resistance levels will become more apparent to the naked eye, speeding up analysis and leading to quicker trades.

New traders often try to measure significant moves and pullbacks in the short term without keeping the bigger picture in mind. This narrow perspective makes short-term trades more than a bit misguided. By keeping tabs on the long-term trend, the trader can apply Fibonacci retracements in the correct direction of the momentum and set themselves up for great opportunities.

In Figure 3, below, we establish the long-term trend in the British pound/New Zealand dollar currency pair is upward. We apply Fibonacci and see our first level of support is at 2.1015, or the 38.2% Fibonacci level from 2.0648 to 2.1235. This is a perfect spot to go long in the currency pair.

Figure 3: A Fibonacci retracement applied to the British pound/New Zealand dollar currency pair establishes a long-term.

Source: FX Intellicharts

But, if we take a look at the short term, the picture looks much different.

Figure 4: A Fibonacci retracement applied on a short-term timeframe can give the trader a false impression.

Source: FX Intellicharts

After a run-up in the currency pair, we can see a potential short opportunity in the five-minute timeframe (Figure 4). This is the trap. By not keeping to the longer-term view, the short seller applies Fibonacci from the 2.1215 spike high to the 2.1024 spike low (February 11), leading to a short position at 2.1097, or the 38% Fibonacci level.

This short trade does net the trader a handsome 50-pip profit, but it comes at the expense of the following 400-pip advance. The better plan would have been to enter a long position in the GBP/NZD pair at the short-term support of 2.1050.

Keeping in mind the bigger picture will not only help you pick your trade opportunities, but will also prevent the trade from fighting the trend.

3. Don’t Rely on Fibonacci Alone

Fibonacci can provide reliable trade setups, but not without confirmation.

Applying additional technical tools like MACD or stochastic oscillators will support the trade opportunity and increase the likelihood of a good trade. Without these methods to act as confirmation, a trader has little more than hope for a positive outcome.

In Figure 5, we see a retracement off a medium-term move higher in the euro/Japanese yen currency pair. Beginning on January 10, 2020, the EUR/JPY exchange rate rose to a high of 113.94 over almost two weeks. Applying our Fibonacci retracement sequence, we arrive at a 38.2% retracement level of 111.42 (from the 113.94 top). Following the retracement lower, we notice the stochastic oscillator is also confirming the momentum lower.

Figure 5: The stochastic oscillator confirms a trend in the EUR/JPY pair.

Source: FX Intellicharts

Now the opportunity comes alive as the price action tests our Fibonacci retracement level at 111.40 on January 30. Seeing this as an opportunity to go long, we confirm the price point with stochastic, which shows an oversold signal. A trader taking this position would have profited by almost 1.4%, or 160 pips, as the price bounced off the 111.40 and traded as high as 113 over the next couple of days.

4. Using Fibonacci for Short-Term

Day trading in the foreign exchange market is exciting, but there is a lot of volatility.

For this reason, applying Fibonacci retracements over a short timeframe is ineffective. The shorter the timeframe, the less reliable the retracement levels. Volatility can, and will, skew support and resistance levels, making it very difficult for the trader to really pick and choose what levels can be traded. Not to mention in the short term, spikes and whipsaws are very common. These dynamics can make it especially difficult to place stops or take profit points as retracements can create narrow and tight confluences. Just check out the Canadian dollar/Japanese yen example below.

Figure 6: Fibonacci is applied to an intraday move in the CAD/JPY pair over a three-minute time frame.

Source: FX Intellicharts

In Figure 6, we attempt to apply Fibonacci to an intraday move in the CAD/JPY exchange rate chart (over a three-minute timeframe). Here, volatility is high. This causes longer wicks in the price action, creating the potential for misanalysis of certain support levels. It also doesn’t help that our Fibonacci levels are separated by a mere six pips on average, increasing the likelihood of being stopped out.

Remember, as with any other statistical study, the more data used, the stronger the analysis. Sticking to longer timeframes when applying Fibonacci sequences can improve the reliability of each price level.

The Bottom Line

As with any specialty, it takes time and practice to become better at using Fibonacci retracements in forex trading. Don’t allow yourself to become frustrated—the long-term rewards definitely outweigh the costs. Follow the simple rules of applying Fibonacci retracements and learn from these common mistakes to help you analyze profitable opportunities in the currency markets.

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