Are you a range trader or trend follower?

April 1st, 2010

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Remember, back in Explosive gold price movement ahead. But up or down?, we showed you that gold prices had been bound within a range from February 2009 to the day when the article was written (September 2009). As we showed you in the price charts, the range got progressively narrower and narrower as the months go by. That gave rise to a price formation called the ?pennant.? As we wrote in that article,

A pennant is like a spring coiled up, ready to jump [either up or down] at any moment.

Not long after we wrote that article, gold prices broke out of the range and made a record high of US$1,226.37 on 2 December 2009. Today, gold prices are range bound again.

How to buy and invest in physical gold and silver bullionIn 2005, we remembered the headline from the Australian Financial Review (AFR) screaming “gold fever” as gold prices hit US$500 for the first time in many years. As the crowd piled into gold, driving it to a then record high of over US$730 before a major correction threw it down to a low of around US$540. Then gold was range bound for about a year before making another dash to above US$1000 before the Panic of 2008 crashed it to around the US$700 level. Then it recovered, made another dash to US$1000 before being range bound again. The rest of the story you know.

Do you see a pattern? Basically, the story goes like this: range-bound, break out, dash up, correction, range-bound… rinse and repeat. You can visually see this pattern nicely in the Why gold will not make new highs or lows this year video made by our friends in Market Club (which we have an affiliate relationship with). If this pattern repeats itself, we may see gold prices becoming range bound for the rest of this year before making a record high next year.

For those who are into trading, this is a good opportunity to engage into “range trading.” The principle behind this type of trading is very simple- sell when prices reach the upper range and buy when it reaches the lower range.

For traders who engage in “trend following,” they follow a different approach. They wait for break-outs of the range and buy/sell accordingly. For example, if gold breaks out of the trading range upwards, they buy.

Is it possible to be a range trader and a trend follower at the same time? One old trader told us “No, unless you are extremely smart.” Why? When you see gold prices reach its upper range, a range trader will sell (or short sell). A trend follower, on the other hand, will buy.

What if you are trying to be both? Do you buy or sell?

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  • Pete

    Nice article CIJ!

    Unfortunately (for me) I don't think I am either…

    I am assuming that the gold trading you are speaking of is either ETFs, futures, GoldMoney or Gold Miner shares… unless there is some other way to do it. I would think that trading the real stuff would cost too far much.

    Although…you could trade gold certificates from a mint.

    Good points about the pennant too.

    I also like the idea of gold in Australia as I am bearish on the strength of the AUD, and all my cash is in AUD (I don't have the know-how or the guts to put it into any other currencies at the moment, nor can I think of a particularly appropriate currency).

    Anyhow, thanks for the articles and I hope you have a nice Easter Break CIJ and everyone else šŸ™‚

  • Hi Pete!

    Happy Good Friday & Easter to you and everyone else.

    Unfortunately (for me) I don't think I am either…

    It could be a fortunate thing. Better to be neither than both.

    I am assuming that the gold trading you are speaking of is either ETFs, futures, GoldMoney or Gold Miner shares…

    Yes, that's right. It will be a real bother trying to trade physical gold back and forth. Physical gold is for you to buy, keep and forget about it until the day you need it.