Stock prices typically follow a pattern of peaks and valleys, and swing trading capitalises on these movements. This strategy focuses on pinpointing the direction of the momentum and identifying potential points where this momentum might move.
While day trading is a well-known concept involving quick gains in a short period, swing trading remains less familiar to many. It’s a strategy not as widely discussed or understood, yet it serves a distinct purpose in the stock market, offering a different approach to trading than the rapid, high-stakes nature of day trading.
In this article, we’ll delve into the dynamics of swing trading. We’ll also discuss various advantages, disadvantages and different swing trading strategies.
What is Swing Trading?
Swing trading is a strategy that focuses on capturing gains in a stock or other financial instruments over a short to medium term, typically from a few days to several weeks. This method involves identifying and exploiting price swings and momentum in the market, using technical analysis to guide entry and exit decisions. Unlike day trading, swing trading positions are held longer but not as long as typical buy-and-hold investments.
Swing trading is a popular form of trading in which the traders hold their position for more than a day. By definition, it is the direct opposite of day trading – doesn’t require traders to square off their position in a day. Swing traders usually target a larger market share and wait for a deal to emerge for the underlying – when it happens, they trade in the direction of the trend. Swing trading is one of the fundamental forms of trading.
Why is Swing Trading Important?
A swing trade lasts more than a day but less than trend trades, which can emerge over weeks or months. Swing trading sits at the midpoint of the two extremes, looking at profiting from short-duration price movement arising from changes in corporate fundamentals. The key to profit from swing trading lies in picking up the right stocks (stocks that tend to grow in short duration).
While waiting for a larger profit to emerge, swing traders make several small wins to add to their ultimate profit. This helps them secure a more substantial profit volume. But to do that, swing traders keep their stop loss level low at 2-3% and manage to keep the profit-to-loss ratio at 3:1. It is done to avoid risking too much. A big loss can wipe away all the small gains made from smaller swings. To avoid making mistakes, swing traders carefully choose the stocks.
How does Swing Trading Work?
Swing trading is a strategy that involves capitalising on the short-term price movements of stocks or other securities, focusing particularly on those with high activity and significant price fluctuations. This approach can be broken down into a few key steps:
- Selecting a Suitable Stock
Picking up the right stocks is the first and crucial step in a successful swing. You need to confirm that the stocks you select are in an uptrend. Secondly, the stock you select must also have volume and liquidity in the market. Large-cap stocks are deemed right for swing trading. In an active market, these stocks fluctuate by a wide range of high and low extremes. Swing traders will ride the wave and trade in the direction of the trend before switching positions when the trend changes in the opposite direction.
- Performing Technical Analysis
After pinpointing a potential stock, the next step is thoroughly analysing its price movements and patterns. This is typically done using technical analysis tools such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI), Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD), volume indicators, and trend lines. Additionally, staying informed about relevant news and developments in the company and its industry can provide insights into potential future performance.
- Establishing Entry and Exit Points
With the analysis in hand, the next step is determining the optimal points for entering and exiting the trade. A common strategy is to set a stop-loss order, usually around 5% below the entry price, to minimise potential losses. Concurrently, setting a target price—often about 20% above the entry price—helps lock in profits. The idea is to buy near the stock’s support level and sell near its resistance level, capitalising on the ‘swing’ or the expected price movement between these two points.
- Understanding the Movement
The essence of swing trading lies in understanding and predicting the ‘swing’ or the oscillation of stock prices between their support and resistance levels. By identifying these levels and the stock’s tendency to rebound from support and move towards resistance, swing traders aim to buy low and sell high within a relatively short time frame.
Swing Trading Advantages and Disadvantages
- Potential for significant profit: Swing trading allows traders to capitalise on short-term price movement. By timing the entry and exit at strategic points, swing traders can earn a significant profit in a short time.
- Reduced market exposure: Swing trading involves holding a position for several days or weeks. It doesn’t require constantly monitoring the market. It can result in less stress or emotional decision-making as traders have more time to analyse the market.
- Utilisation of technical analysis: Swing traders rely heavily on technical analysis, studying price charts, patterns, and indicators to identify entry and exit. This approach allows for more discipline, providing consistency and objectivity to decision-making.
- Flexibility of part-time: Swing trading doesn’t require constant market monitoring and is more suitable for traders with other commitments, such as jobs or studies.
- Increased transaction costs: Swing traders are involved in multiple trades, which can increase the total cost of trading. The cost can cut into your profit, lowering overall gains.
- Market volatility risks: Swing trading is of short-to-medium-term duration and exposes traders to sudden market volatilities and reversals. Unexpected news events or economic developments can result in significant market fluctuations.
- False signals and market noise: Market noise often influences Short-term price movements, making it difficult to recognise genuine trends from momentary fluctuations.
- Emotional challenges: Frequent trading can increase emotional stress. Market volatility and the need to make quick decisions can lead to fear and greed.
Swing Trading Strategy
Swing trading got its name because it tries to gain from price oscillation or upward or downward swings. Swing traders use an array of technical trading tools, like day traders, only for a period that is close to position trading.
Swing traders use popular trading tools like Bollinger Bands, Fibonacci Retracement, and moving oscillators to form strategies. Besides, traders also keep a close watch on emerging patterns in multi-day charts like
- Head and shoulders pattern
- Flag pattern
- Cup and handle pattern
- Triangle pattern
- Moving Average Crossover
Let’s take a look at simple swing trading strategies.
- Fibonacci Retracement: Traders involved in swing trading know that stocks tend to retrace sometimes at different levels before reversing again. Fibonacci retracement lines help traders identify support and resistance levels. Traders draw horizontal lines at different % levels, like 23.6%, 38.2%, and 61.8%, to identify potential reversal levels. For instance, when the trend is downward, a trader can plan a short trade at the 61.8 Fibonacci line, functioning as a resistance level, where the price retraces before bouncing off and exits when the price touches the 23.6 Fibonacci line or the support level.
- Support and Resistance: Support and resistance lines are the two most important indicators for traders who follow the trend. Support identifies the bottom level of a trading range, and resistance represents the ceiling. Asset price moves within the range, but it indicates a reversal when it crosses the support or resistance level. Price above the resistance level is identified as an overbought situation, and it may indicate the buying pressure will recede and selling forces will take over. Similarly, the area below the support line is where overselling occurs. A swing trader will enter a selling position when the price bounces off at the resistance, placing the stop-loss level just above the line.
- Bollinger Bands Method: Bollinger Bands (BB) are price bands on both sides of a moving average trend line. It creates a range between which asset prices move. Swing traders use Bollinger Bands to plan entry and exit points in the market.
- Channel Trading: Channel trading is a simple method involving trading assets showing a strong trend line and trading within a channel. For example, you’ll plan a sale when the trend line is downward and touches the upper limit of the channel before bouncing off down. Traders using channel trading as the tool always trade with the trend signals.
- Using SMA: Another popular swing trading method is the simple moving average (SMA) line. The SMA is a continuously updating line where each data point represents the average price of an asset. 10 and 20-day SMAs smooth out the noise.
The trader will place the two SMA lines against each other on a trading chart. When the shorter SMA (10 days) crosses over the longer SMA (20 days), trades plan entry signals an uptrend. Conversely, when a longer SMA crosses the shorter SMA, it triggers a sell signal.
- MACD Crossover: The MACD consists of two average lines – the signal line and the MACD. It generates trading signals – buy or sell – when the two lines cross. In a bullish trend, the MACD will switch over the signal line, triggering off a buy signal.
The trend will reverse to bearish when the MACD line falls below the signal line, indicating selling opportunities. MACD crossover is a popular swing trading technique.
So far, we have discussed the standard swing trading methods that will give you a heads-up. But there is more to it. The second thing is how to manage your trade. There are two established methods for that,
- Passive trade management
- Active trade management
A passive trader will wait until the market hits stop loss or the profit target and ignore any movement in between. As the name suggests, an active trader will monitor the market movement to decide their next move.
The Bottom Line
Swing trading means trading methodically with the trend. Swing traders don’t try to make a big profit in one shot. They wait for the stock to hit the profit level so they can sell. It is considered a good technique for beginner traders, but if you are an intermediate or advanced trader, you can swing trade, too.
Swing trading doesn’t demand much of your time like scalping or day trading but allows you to see the profit mature over time. However, to swing trade, you would need discipline and technical understanding to make the winning deals. To start with swing trading, open your Demat andTrading account with Angel One today. Go to the Angel One website or download the Angel One app to complete the process in a few easy steps.
What is swing trading?
Swing trading is a short-to-medium-term trading strategy involving the buying and selling of stocks based on short-term price movements. A swing trade can last from a few days to a few weeks.
What are the best swing trading strategies?
The following are popular swing trading strategies.
- Fibonacci retracement strategy
- Trend trading
- Reversal trading
- Breakout strategy
- Simple moving average
What are the primary risks associated with swing trading?
Swing trading involves the risks of market volatility, false trends, and unexpected market news. Swing trading exposes traders to sudden and significant price movements.
How much time is required for swing trading?
The time commitment for swing trading can vary depending on your style and preferences. However, like day trading, it doesn’t require dedicated trading hours. Traders can use trading tools to automate exit and entry on swing trading stocks. Also, traders should still stay vigilant and be aware of market conditions, especially when holding positions overnight or over weekends to manage risks effectively.
Can swing trading be profitable for beginners?
Swing trading can be complex for beginners. They should focus on learning the basics of trading and risk management before attempting to swing trade.