Signs You’ve Found a Good Candidate for a Swing Trade

By Omar Bassal, CFA

Part of Swing Trading For Dummies Cheat Sheet

To succeed with swing trading, you need to know how to read market indicators. Make a swing trade that’s more likely to yield good results by getting to know the following signs of favorable conditions. (Just keep in mind that no trade is a sure money-maker.)

  • The market is on your side. A rising tide lifts all boats. And before you buy, make sure the public equity market (for the country where you are buying the security) is in a solid uptrend.
  • The industry group is on your side. Stocks tend to follow their industry groups up or down. If the security’s industry group is a strong uptrend, chances are your purchase will be profitable.
  • If you’re trend trading, buy on a technical signal or a breakout of a chart pattern: The stock should be entering an uptrend (from a chart pattern) or resuming an uptrend on a technical signal. Use the ADX indicator to determine whether a trend exists.
  • If you’re trading ranges, the candidate has just bounced off of support/resistance with a technical indicator confirmation. Watch for the technical indicator (an oscillator) to generate a buy signal. Divergences between your oscillator and the price action signal higher-confidence trades (for example, a stock falling to a support level while the oscillator, such as stochastics, traces a higher low and indicates underlying strength).
  • The fundamentals back the technicals. Pair your great chart setup with strong fundamentals. And no, you don’t need to spend 25 hours reading a company’s financial statements. Simply verify the important items, such as financial health, return on equity, P/E ratio, and expected earnings growth rates.
  • The stop-loss level is near your desired execution price. The best swing trading candidates are those where your emergency exit is nearby. The closer your desired entry price is to your stop-loss level, the less you stand to lose if matters turn ugly. But don’t place your stop loss at a level so close to the market price that a small insignificant move forces you out (as with most things in life, there must be a balance).
  • You allocate the right amount to the trade. Loss is always possible, even with the best swing trading candidate. Set your position size in accordance with your trading plan, which should put an absolute ceiling on your position size and set a maximum percentage of capital you’re willing to lose on a single trade and for the entire portfolio (remember, shark bites versus piranha bites).