Trading news

Why to trade with multiple time frame charts? | Part 1

As the traders who read my articles are aware by now I do not favour an idea of basing one’s analysis and trades on price action in a single time frame chart. New traders are often fascinated by the constant action visible in the 1 minute or 5 minute time frames. This is the same crowd that loves trading platforms with flashing lights, blinking windows and buzzing buzzers. The more eye candy and action, the better. I’ve been there and done that, so I can’t blame them. But, believe me, after watching price action for over 16 years, I’ve got no need for such hyper activity any longer. I am only interested in knowledge and information that has quality, validity, and hopefully, also some predictive value.


The main problem with the lowest time frame charts is the thing called noise. Noise can be defined as unwanted signals that obscure the real signals and therefore harm the quality of your analysis. In other words, 1 minute charts for instance, have so many spikes, ranges, mini trends, hammers, shooting stars, breakouts and false breakouts that these “setups” are only going to wear you out – and drain your trading account. You are free to try out, but unless you are extraordinarily lucky it’s likely that you will, sooner or later, become physically, mentally and financially exhausted. If you recognise some (or all) of these symptoms, take a step back and start again with (multiple) higher time frame charts and do some analysis that adds value to your trading career.

Another major problem with single time frame analysis is the fact that you are constantly out of touch with what is really happening in the market that you are trying to trade. How can that be true? Let’s give it some thought. First, what logical reason would there be to assume that the price action in, for example, a 5 minute chart would give us any relevant clues on what the big market operators, such as banks or hedge funds are focusing on. Their operations generally last longer than the time period a newbie trader typically focusses on (when watching his small time frame charts). These market participants are those that have the power to really move the markets and I have not yet heard of any central bank action or other major currency operation that would be completed intra day.

For instance, when a big company buys another from abroad for billions of dollars, this deal needs a currency transaction in order to be completed. The buyer needs to exchange the local currency to the currency of the target country. The FX market is the biggest market in the world, but selling or buying billions does mean that the position has be accumulated over a few days. Obviously the traders try to complete the buy operation in such a way that they don’t push the prices higher. If we do our analysis properly, we can find the levels that are meaningful for the big operators as well. These levels are likely to be important daily and weekly highs and lows, not minor one or five minute levels.

In addition, if one limits his or her view into a single time frame chart, the understanding of the current process and context at which this price action is taking place is kind of difficult (if not impossible) to grasp. With a process I mean for instance a situation where price is bouncing off from a higher time frame support level or it has reached a major resistance level and the momentum is waning. Should a trader focus only on a 5 minute chart or 1h chart for that matter, he or she would be likely to keep on shorting the bounces next to a major support. In other words, shorting even though price has reached a level that is likely to attract institutional buying. These shorts have much fewer probabilities on their side than those opened close to a major resistance level after there is confirmation that prices are indeed likely to turn lower. The old adage goes: buy low and sell high, but we need the bigger time frame to understand what the low and high actually mean.

Friday, 24 Oct, 2014 / 1:07

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