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Range Breakout Trading Strategies

Range Breakout Trading Strategies

Range Breakout Trading Strategies

Breakout trading systems are based on a premise that the break of the range favours a continuation scenario.  Range breakout trading strategies are often used by market participants to try to get involved at the the start of (what they hope will be) significant price moves. Range breakouts often lead to expansions in volatility with potential for the trader to define risk beforehand.

Range Breakout Trading Entry Criteria

One of my favoured entry strategies it to trade in the direction of the near term trend and use price action confirmation as the entry criteria.  The following chart shows a recent example range trade breakout. Let’s now examine the setup:

  • Price should be moving in a clear trend before the consolidation phase.  I look for this as momentum often precedes price.
  • A clearly defined range is then formed with no spike moves out of the range highs or lows (supply and demand temporarily in balance).
  • A false countertrend move precedes the actual “with the trend” breakout (not essential but a bonus).
  • Price action confirmation likewise precedes the actual breakout.
The chart below has all of the above factors in play.
  • The currency pair was moving higher prior to the breakout range breakout criteria
  • The trading range was not penetrated and was clearly defined.  This can lead to orders clustering around the range highs and lows, the longer the range forms for the better range breakout criteria
  • A small countertrend move preceded the real deal breakout (trapping weak shorts in the process)range breakout criteria
  • Price action confirmation was seen in the form of a bullish engulfing candle range breakout criteria
With respect to the final bullet point: the price action element involves an element of discretion but the chart below gives an idea of what I look for (a Pin Bar or Doji piercing the lower range would also be of interest).  In an uptrend I like to see shorts trapped into a position prior to the actual breakout, as this could result in stop losses triggering when the other side of the range is broken.
With the chart below we can see how the bears attempted to move price lower; the bulls then took price back above the range highs on the next candle which engulfed the preceding 40+ candles.  The actual breakout to the upside came with strong momentum and no real retrace.

forex range breakout strategy


Range Breakout Trading – Exit Criteria

There is no right or wrong when it comes to exit criteria, Ultimately it comes down to the individual trader and their trading rules. the following points can be considered:

  • Some traders look for price to move an equal distance as the range high to low.  For example:  if the range is 30 pips a 30 pip range is subsequently projected from the breakout area. 
  • If the trade comes after a strong trend the trader may look to trail the stop loss higher as price progresses.  A price based trailing stop can be used (stop loss moved lower under lower highs) or an arbitrary X-pip trailing stop.  The trailing price action method would have worked well on the chart below.
  • Exits strategies can also range from fixed objective type levels to the utilisation of a time based exit (EOD etc).
  • Context is everything and there is no one size fits all approach.
forex range breakout chart

Additional Notes Relating to Range Breakout Trade Strategies  

  • forex trading educationThese breakout trades can be traded in conjunction with additional filters including news (in the direction of the prevailing market sentiment following news), higher timeframe price action, time based breakout (Opening Range Breakouts) and numerous other elements.
  • The nature of a trading ranges means that false breakouts are not uncommon. False breakouts are experienced if the price of an asset moves past – and out of – the established range, but subsequently retreats into the range.  This is why I look for price action confirmation, you can test different entry strategies yourself.
  • Make sure you are trading into clear space, with no immediate support or resistance in between your entry and exit area.
  • If you can find these near other confluent areas the setup can be even more interesting (typically trading away from these confluence areas).
  • Range breakouts can sometimes coincide with inside day trading setups.
  • Only ever paper trade while you learn what works best for you! 
This is only intended to be an introduction to range trade breakouts.  As with any trading strategy you should conduct a more thorough investigation, if it is of interest, and see what works for you.
Related search terms:  Volatility Breakout Trading, London Open Strategy, Tony Crabel VBO, Volatility Breakout Indicator, Breakout trading systems.

3 Responses to Range Breakout Trading Strategies

  1. teddrake says:

    Yes, contrarian strategies have more chance of working than standard breakouts.

  2. leonardo says:

    which range breakout style do you prefer? volatility breakouts look like a good foundation for a trading system. the rule based entry criteria is a good start. one problem/concern is that I do not like systems that can be automated. the discretionary price action element is nice though.

  3. john65 says:

    I am an avid breakout trader. This enables me to trade with the market flow and therefore trade with the trend. In my experience the best breakout trades don’t look back after breaking support or resistance. If the market is running the stop-loss orders and these orders are getting filled as the market progresses I I sometimes hold the trade for longer. Traders are consistently setting their stop loss orders over/under recent lows and highs etc.

    The main element I am looking for, as and when breakouts occur, is a candle closing over resistance or under support respectively.

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