Day Trading Strategy: Using ATR to Set Profit Targets

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It is inaccurate in the same way that exponential moving average with period of 5 is not the average closing price in the last 5 days. Only simple moving average is, and the above claim would only be true for ATR calculated as simple moving average of true range. However, this simple daily range neglects the price movements that occur outside of active trading.

Before making decisions with legal, tax, or atr technical indicatoring effects, you should consult appropriate professionals. Information is from sources deemed reliable on the date of publication, but Robinhood does not guarantee its accuracy. It’s also important to remember that ATR doesn’t signify a trend. It only shows volatility levels, not the direction the stock is moving.

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Rayner Teo is an independent trader, ex-prop trader, and founder of TradingwithRayner. Thanks Rayner, after listening to an audiobook on Richard Dennis i have always wondered how to have volatility on a chart. Lastly, our customer support usually gets back to you within 1 business day and there’s a possibility your email might be in spam or didn’t reach us. The Pro Traders Edge comes with market analysis published each week. This is my first time of getting more confused after reading ur material my problems are how do u get to apply the ATR indicator. Essentially, when the market exceeds 2 times ATR value, there’s a chance it could reverse from it.

It does not optimize the overall profitability of the trading strategy. With the understanding of the volatility, it helps the trader to better manage an entry, stop loss, and profit-taking decisions. The indicator does not indicate or predict market direction. I’ve been having some success with ranging markets, but needed theory dealing with identifying trends. You offer concise, easy to understand explanations of the forex tool-kit. Developed by Wilder, ATR gives Forex traders a feel of what the historical volatility was in order to prepare for trading in the actual market.

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In other words, if the price is moving continually higher but not reaching the upper band, then your channels may be too wide and you should lower the multiplier. If the price is continually trending higher but often touches the lower band while doing it, your channels may be too tight and you should increase the multiplier. An ATR indicator is a visualization tool that is used on many trading platforms. A stock price chart will typically display candlesticks (a box-and-shadow figure that signifies the high, low, open, and close for each day) for a selected timeframe. If you turn on the ATR indicator, it usually appears below the price chart.

Use the ATR to gauge the risk of a trade prior to entering the position. If you like the slowness of IBM, you should not trade a $3 dollar biotech. For newbie traders, this explanation will get a bit muddy, but do the best you can to stay with me. The ATR formula is comprised of three key inputs, which is why the word “true” is in the title because these three inputs provide a more holistic view of a stock’s trading activity. The ATR should not be used to identify stop loss and exit targets as past volatility is not a predictor of future activity. Makes it easier than manually measuring every candle when a potential entry is approaching.


When the candlesticks increase in size, the ATR also increases. A good example is what happened during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Since there was a lot of volatility, many investment banks and hedge funds that have large trading accounts generated billions of dollars. The chart below shows how the ATR looks like when added in a chart. A high ATR figure is a sign of high volatility while when it is falling, it signals reduced volatility.

What are the upsides and downsides of using ATR?

Below I set the ATR to 1 period which means that the ATR just measures the range/size of one candlestick. DTTW™ is proud to be the lead sponsor of TraderTV.LIVE™, the fastest-growing day trading channel on YouTube. As you can see, the indicator showed little movements when the index was in consolidating. It started moving higher when the index started to decline. This is an indication that there was enthusiasm about the new downward trend. When the market is consolidating, the ATR usually shows no major moves.


Remember it is the change in the value of ATR that betrays the pressure rather than the absolute value for ATR. By looking for changes in the value of ATR, one can get a fair idea of the strength of the current market move. Once one has the TR values for all the days, then ATR can be calculated via a moving average.

ATR for support/resistance level crosses

It may be difficult to interpret ATR signals, as there is no single value that would mean increased or decreased volatility. That’s why trading strategies based on this tool are not reliable. You should always compare current ATR readings against the previous ones to determine the trend’s strength. However, if you need to measure volatility on lower timeframes, it’s recommended to use periods from 2 to 10.

  • All these readings are plotted on a graph to form a continuous line, so traders can see how volatility has changed over time.
  • A beta of zero would suggest the price doesn’t change at all.
  • Here’s a 15-minute chart of the December Crude Oil Futures on October 1, 2018.
  • Otherwise, the previous close can be lower than the current opening.
  • TradingView provides some variations (in the indicator’s settings), such as using a simple moving average or an exponential moving average to calculate the average.
  • Wilder used daily charts and 14-day ATR to explain the concept of Average Trading Range.

These sure bets are said to carry a lower risk as compared to their more uncertain counterparts. Therefore, it’s no surprise that good investors also consider the risks along with the returns and always perform their comparative analysis on the basis of risk-adjusted-returns. During smooth price action, any large move against your position points to a change in the market. You’d not want to be holding when momentum shifts against you. Imagine your trading strategy has you entering momentum candlesticks at close.

Shorter Period = Faster ATR

A new ATR reading is calculated as each time period passes. On a one-minute chart, a new ATR reading is calculated every minute. All these readings are plotted on a graph to form a continuous line, so traders can see how volatility has changed over time. For the original Wilder’s ATR this is not true (although he quite unfortunately uses wording like „14-day true range average“ himself).


This keeps the stop out of the daily fluctuations but also protects the account if the trade collapses. We can use multiples of the ATR reading and this is where you decide your risk tolerance and the market you are trading. We’ve all had instances where our stop gets ticked out, and then on to the profit targets we had. It is hard to watch a solid risk reward trade broken down because you decide to keep a tight stop loss which is usually done to increase position sizing. As price whips back and forth, it is easy for a stop to be taken out during erratic swings when market conditions are tough. Day Range only looks at how much the price moves between the high and low on a given day. This is the Day Range or DR, which is when averaged to create ADR. ATR is useful for measuring the price movement of whatever time frame is being analyzed. It’s typically calculated in dollars, not percent, so ATR shows how much an asset moves in dollar terms. Average True Range is one of the most commonly used indicators for determining how much an asset moves. Below, we see the same cyclical behavior in ATR as we saw with Bollinger Bands.

For the first calculation, add up the 14 TRs, and then divide by 14 to get the ATR. Once that first ATR is calculated, then Wilder used a slightly different formula. Wilder used a 14-period average, but there’s no reason to assume this is better than a different number of periods. 14 is commonly used and is the default in most charting software. One of the main things to know about ATR is that it calculates how much the price moves between the high and low of the candle, as well as any gaps.

  • ATR measures volatility, taking into account any gaps in the price movement.
  • Traditionally, analysts use the 14-day moving average, but they could also use a longer or shorter time frame.
  • As I wrote about here in regards to failure tests and trapped traders, price can breach these zones without invalidating the trade.
  • Options trading subject to TD Ameritrade review and approval.

Traders and analysts widely use ATR to define entry and exit points. Although the indicator can’t define the price direction, it can show you the periods when the market is calm enough or going to calm down. This will help you enter or exit the market without slippage, as it’s unlikely there will be a price gap. Standard deviation is an indicator applied to evaluate and reflect the price volatility. For example, it’s usually used as a part of the Bollinger Bands instrument.

Comparison between Average True Range (ATR), Average Day Range (ADR), and Intraday Range (IR)

A low ATR value indicates a series of periods with small ranges . These low ATR values are found during extended sideways price action, thus the lower volatility. A prolonged period of low ATR values may indicate a consolidation area and the possibility of a continuation move or reversal. But the ATR can also provide general information about the underlying level of volatility of a market or the average price range for a specific period.

It compares the three methods, all with period length set to 5. For example, with period set to 5, each of the last 5 days has exactly 20% effect on today’s ATR. If you set a longer period, like 40, each of the last 40 days has only 2.5% effect and, as a result, ATR will be much slower to reflect volatility changes. ATR with period of 50 will be much slower and smoother than ATR with period of 5. As ATR measures the volatility of the market, it could be used to adjust the trailing stop. While during the lower volatility period, a wide stop would be a waste.

Having the ATR act as a profit target and stop loss mechanism is asking too much of the indicator. For every dollar you risk, you can make up to 3 times in profits. Following this model, you could have more losing trades than winners and still be in the black.

Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. We decide on a 20-day ATR, since that gives us a two-week average of the range at which this contract trades.

This information is not a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell an investment or financial product, or take any action. This information is neither individualized nor a research report, and must not serve as the basis for any investment decision. All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of capital. Past performance does not guarantee future results or returns.

However, a trader with a longer time horizon can configure the price chart to a few days. In intraday stocks trading, the leverage is lower than when trading futures contracts or other derivatives. At the same time, this limits the potential loss a trader can make if his price prediction is wrong.

So if you’re buying a stock, you might place a stop-loss at a level twice the ATR below the entry price. If you’re shorting a stock, you would place a stop-loss at a level twice the ATR above the entry price. Where TR is current bar’s true range, ATR1 is previous bar’s ATR, and a is the smoothing factor – not the period, but a number calculated from the period and reaching values from 0 to 1. The answer is of course there is no such thing as the best or most profitable ATR period, like there is no best technical indicator, trading strategy, time horizon, or market. The moving average is the average price for a certain number of periods.

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The 200 pips target is unlikely to be hit within a day (as it’s more than the ATR value). The 30 pips target is likely to be hit within a day but you’re leaving money on the table as the market could move 100 pips a day. Instead, combine it with market structure (like Support & Resistance, swing high & low, etc.) so you know where the price might reach for the day.