Trend Trading

Trend trading in the financial markets is one of many popular strategies used by both beginners and pro traders. This style of trading is widely used on leading forex and CFD platforms. In this article, we’ll cover key definitions and explain how to trade using trend lines, moving averages and other popular indicators. We also look at the benefits and limitations of trend trading, plus some useful tips.

Brokers

The leading US trading Exchange. Nadex offer genuine exchange trading to US clients on Binary Options. Fully regulated by the CFTC.
Cryptocurrency
No
Regulator
CFTC
MT4 Integration
No
Min. Deposit
$0
Min. Trade
$1
Bonus
$100 Deposit Bonus Offer
Forex.com boast a global reputation. Regulated in the UK, EU, US and Canada they offer a huge range of markets, not just forex, and offer very tight spreads and a cutting edge platform.
Cryptocurrency
Yes
Regulator
CySEC, IIROC, NFA, CFTC, FCA, FSA, and CIMA
MT4 Integration
Yes
Min. Deposit
$100
Min. Trade
$1
Bonus
None
NinjaTrader offer Traders Futures and Forex trading. Use Auto-trade algorithmic strategies and configure your own trading platform, and trade at the lowest costs.
Cryptocurrency
No
Regulator
NFA, CFTC
MT4 Integration
Yes
Min. Deposit
$50
Min. Trade
Varies by asset
Bonus
None
EagleFX is a popular trading broker offering forex, stocks, cryptos & commodities.
Cryptocurrency
Yes
Regulator
Unregulated
MT4 Integration
Yes
Min. Deposit
$10
Min. Trade
0.01 lots
Bonus
None
eToro is a multi-asset platform which offers both investing in stocks and cryptoassets, as well as trading CFDs.
Cryptocurrency
Yes
Regulator
FCA
MT4 Integration
No
Min. Deposit
$200 ($50 in US)
Min. Trade
$1
Bonus
None
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What Is Trend Trading?

Trend trading aims to track an asset’s momentum and takes advantage of any gains from the resulting price swings. The strategy is based on the premise that you can predict, to some degree, the direction of the market by analysing historical trends and patterns.

The strategy is popular with both short-term intraday traders and longer-term investors and is commonly associated with price action trading. You can trade a range of markets, including forex pairs such as EUR/USD or USD/JPY, or even with binary options, commodities, indices, ETFs and crypto-assets, including Bitcoin.

what is trend trading

Trend trading is typically done with a range of trading tools and software, including trend lines, technical indicators and trading bots. We’ll cover how to trade with moving averages, support and resistance and other techniques later.

Though we can draw some parallels between different forms of trading, trend following is not to be confused with swing or momentum trading.

Trend Trading Vs Swing Trading

A key difference between these two approaches is the timescale of trades. Often, trend traders will trade up or downtrends with trades lasting months; swing traders trade within the ranges determined by support and resistance, with short-term trades.

However, this is debated today with the availability of multiple time frames in real-time. This means you can trade on 1-minute, 5-minute or 15-minute charts, as well as 4-hour charts, for example.

Another difference is that trend trading typically focuses on economic news and fundamental market developments, whilst swing trading looks at short-term price action.

In terms of entries and exits, trend traders enter when momentum is strong and exit once the trend changes, regardless of the time frame. Swing traders, on the other hand, take a risk at support or resistance by positioning in the opposite direction and exit when stops or profit targets are hit.

Trend Trading Vs Momentum Trading

With trend trading and momentum trading, the main similarity is that they both aim to capture the momentum of an asset. In general, momentum traders will focus more on placing a few trades over hours or days, whereas trend traders will look at long-term fundamental valuations.

As such, momentum traders might focus on capturing strong moves based on aggressive market participants bidding prices up or down and causing a substantial move in one direction. Trend trading, on the other hand, is much more reactive and unpredictable.

If you’re deciding between momentum, trend or swing trading, it’s worth trying them out within a demo account first. Experienced traders might opt for a combination of approaches, though this will take some practice.

Trend Trading Strategies

With numerous strategies and techniques to choose from, it’s important to research which methods might suit your trading style. You can also experiment within your demo account using live daily and weekly charts, including candlesticks and Heiken Ashi, as well as popular indicators such as Bollinger bands and moving averages. We’ve covered a few examples below.

trend line trading strategy

For any trend trading strategy, even if you’re trading the 4 most common and reliable indicators, always ensure that risk management is in place. Stop losses should be placed below a previous swing low or support level for an uptrend, or just above a previous swing high or resistance level for a downtrend.

Trading With Trend Lines

Trendlines are some of the most efficient tools to use when trading, as they connect consecutive higher lows in an uptrend and lower highs in a downtrend. To use trendlines effectively, the price should touch the line at least three times.

Traders will then look to trade the bounces coming off the trendline, but they can also look for breakouts. Breakouts occur when the price breaks above a falling trendline or below a rising trendline. They are usually followed by significant momentum in the direction of the breakout.

Note that a common feature of trading with trendlines is fake or false breakouts. These occur when the price looks like it’s breaking out of the line but actually reverses and leaves the trader with a losing position. Inexperienced traders may find these tricky to recognise initially.

Trend Trading With Moving Averages

This strategy involves using two moving averages (MA), where a short-term MA crosses above a longer-term MA for a long position, or where a short-term MA crosses below a longer-term MA for a short position.

This strategy is only really useful when a trend is already present, which is why it’s often used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools and indicators to identify forex signals, for example. When the price is above a moving average, it usually indicates an uptrend, whilst a downtrend occurs usually when the price is below the moving average.

Trend Trading With Relative Strength Index (RSI)

The RSI is a momentum indicator which signals ideal entry and exit points once an uptrend has been identified. The indicator oscillates between 0 and 100. The RSI should stay above 30 for an uptrend and below 70 for a downtrend.

This method is best used for determining changes in direction and confirming trends, rather than signalling when to enter and exit trades. By utilising RSI in your strategy, you can base your trades on any strong trends that are present.

Note that if an asset is in an uptrend and suddenly drops below RSI 30, or is in a downtrend and surges above 70, this could indicate a reversal. Such opportunities would therefore benefit from a reversal strategy.

Pros Of Trend Trading

So what are the main reasons that traders choose to follow trends in the forex market?

  • Lower transaction costs compared to day trading – Compared to high-frequency strategies such as scalping day trading, transaction costs tend to be lower when following trends because you open fewer positions.
  • Less commitment than other forms of trading – Trend trading generally requires a slower pace and therefore can suit beginners or those who work full time.
  • You can cut your losses early – Trend-following bypasses the issue of holding on to losing trades. Many traders do this in the hopes that the forex market will recover when often, they are actually missing a good opportunity. Tight risk management is also involved, so you can exit the trade when it moves against you and save your capital for the next move.

Cons Of Trend Trading

However, it’s worth noting the following potential drawbacks:

  • History doesn’t always repeat itself – Whilst trend trading does follow the idea that history follows a pattern, this can be very subjective. Various changes can cause unpredictability in the markets and this can inevitably lead to losses.
  • Wide learning curve – If we look at trend trading vs ‘buy and hold’, there’s usually a lot of practice and market knowledge required with the former. This is because traders need to be clued up on how the markets behave, where to look for economic developments and how to adapt to them quickly.
  • False breakouts – Trend followers constantly attempt to ride the trends in the market. The problem with this is consolidation in the markets, meaning there are long periods of time where a trend won’t pick up. This can lead to false breakouts, making it difficult to win trades.

Automated Trend Trading

Some traders might opt for additional tools to automate trading processes and take the edge off the time commitment.

Advanced trading platforms such as MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) offer some excellent automated features for all experience levels. These include custom indicators, automated trading bots (EAs), scripts and signals.

trend trading bots

A trading bot is based on a computer algorithm that scans the markets on your behalf and places trades when the conditions are good. The MT4 and MT5 platforms allow you to browse these within an extensive marketplace and share trend and trading ideas within a community forum.

Education

Before you start trend trading, it’s vital that you sign up with a broker that offers educational tools and research features within their platform or app. Brokers that offer the full ‘360’ experience will allow you to access all the essential materials you need to enhance your trading strategies. Some account types might also offer a mentor or dedicated expert upon sign-up.

If you’re a newbie, you can also explore forex ideas and research within a trend trading course, a club or academy, a YouTube video guide, an e-book, or community feedback and reviews within a forum.

Some useful books could also serve you well, including ‘Trend Trading For A Living’ (Second Edition) or ‘Trend Trading For Dummies’. Some sources might allow a free PDF download if you’d prefer not to purchase the physical book.

Final Word On Trend Trading

In this article, we’ve explained the basics of trend trading strategies, the various pros and cons, as well as some top tips. Whether you’re new to trend trading or a pro trader, take some time to research a good brokerage company and check out online reviews and feedback.

Whatever strategy you choose, make sure you have proper risk management rules in place. This will allow you to develop the ultimate trend trading system for your investment goals. If you’re still unsure whether trend trading is your friend or foe, you can always try it out in a demo account.

FAQ

What Is Trend Trading? 

Trend trading aims to follow the momentum of an asset over a long time period and profit from any price swings. There are various trend trading set-ups and strategies, using different time frames and technical tools, though most of your strategy will aim to follow global news and developments that might influence the market direction.

Is Trend Trading Profitable?

Trend trading can be profitable because, unlike other forms of trading, you don’t need to monitor your charts constantly. This removes the urgency of making quick returns and therefore increases one’s odds of being a profitable trader. However, you should use a position calculator to determine your risk and understand that the markets can be unpredictable.

Does Trend Trading Work?

This depends on your level of discipline and how strong your risk control is. Some might argue that trend trading does not work for their style and strategy and there are various pros and cons to consider if you compare trend trading vs position or range trading, for example.

Where Can I Start Trend Trading? 

You can start following trends at most good brokers offering a solid platform and a range of indicators, such as eToro (excellent for beginners), Trading212 and FP Markets. You can also find live quotes on popular social platforms such as TradingView, which can provide community tips and tricks on trend lines and strategies.

What Is The Best Day Trading Course?

You can find a variety of trading guides online, from 1-day to 5-day trend trading courses, for example. Some top brokers also offer a trading academy, blog or education centre which you can access once you login.

What Is A Moving Average Trend? 

Moving averages help to identify bullish and bearish trends by filtering out the noise from short-term price fluctuations. You can use a variety of MA trading strategies to achieve this, for example, with an EMA strategy (exponential moving average) or SMA strategy (simple moving average).