Horizontal vs Trend Lines

Hello Forex Traders,

What is the difference between horizontal lines and trend lines? That was a question I recently received from a member of our trading room. It’s an excellent question and today’s main article topic in fact.

ANGLE

The first but very obvious difference is the angle of the lines. It is however important to state the obvious as to reinforce the concept.

1)      A horizontal line has no angle

2)      A trend line has an angle which is above 0, but below 90

3)      A vertical line has a 90 degree angle

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The angle of the trend line can vary from anything just above 0 to 89.99 degrees which is close to a vertical line. But in practical real life situations trend lines never have 89.99 degrees of course. Anything from 5 to 60 is most common.

The vertical line has no particular usage in trending, unless used on the charts for remembering a particular time or part of price action. For the remainder of the article we will therefore focus on the trend line and horizontal line.

VALIDITY

The validity is another difference between a trend line and a horizontal line. A horizontal line could be placed at any support or resistance level that a Forex trader assesses as important. A trend line, however, must have multiple touches to be considered a valid trend line.

Here is a summary of trend lines and their number of hits:

1)      At the minimum a trend lines must have 2 hits / touches, otherwise the trend line has no value.

2)      A trend line with 3 hits or more is the most valuable as the 3rd hit gives the confirmation of the market respecting the trend line.

3)      A trend line with 3 hits or more could also be considered the base of a trend channel.

Horizontal lines also have more importance once price action respects that level multiple times but it is not a prerequisite for validity. A horizontal line that has one price point is a support or resistance. A horizontal line that has multiple points is a potentially a stronger support or resistance and could be the top or bottom of a range.

LINE TRADING

In theory, both horizontal lines and trend lines can be used for trading break outs. Trading break outs has big advantages – primarily because traders avoid lots of moments where price action is indecisive. Price action does tend to consolidate the majority of the time and trading break outs gives the advantage of entering when the market has a higher change of moving in your favor.

One of the most difficult elements of trading is the psychological perspective: let’s face it, trading is mental game and implementing one’s trading plan with confidence is crucial. Avoiding long drawn out sideways chop certainly helps that psychological battle. But it also allows for optimal allocation of trading capital. Forex trader who do not have their trading capital “stuck” in chop / sideways movement keep their ability to enter the market with the break out opportunity of their choice, whereas other might have hit their maximum risk levels.

There is a difference when trading trend lines or horizontal lines. The angle is the primary focus point, because there is also a difference between trading shallow trend lines, regular trend lines and steep trend lines.

1)      Steep trend lines (more than 40 degrees): price action is moving with a lot of momentum, otherwise the trend line could never be that steep. A break of this line indicates that this big momentum is stopping, but usually it’s only temporarily. Price usually corrects the angle of the trend before it continues with the trend. In general, these trend lines are great as a trailing stop and are an excellent method of taking a profit upon break.

Some steeper trend line breaks do see a reversal. And trading those to the opposite side are profitable. This is primarily happening when a 4 hour chart is showing a trend and the smaller time frames are moving in a steep correction. A break of that steeper counter trend line has a higher chance of succeeding.

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2)      Regular trend lines (10-40 degrees): price action is moving at a well balanced angle but mostly weaker as well. The market is showing exhaustion to one side by price is moving correctively in these cases (as the angle suggests). A break of the trend line indicates the end of that corrective movement.

These trend lines, however, still have plenty of space towards the next bottom or top (support or resistance) and that is the primary reason why the breakout is often less volatile than trend lines with shallow angle or horizontal trend lines. All break outs tend to have their ups and downs before a 1 directional price action occurs but regular trend lines are the most “stable” in their break outs.

The “stable” break out will lead a good run in one direction before the currency bottoms or tops out on the lower time frames. Therefore using a tigher stop loss has a higher chance of succeeding here than in other examples. At that moment there is a good chance of a hook back or pullback to the price level of the broken trend line. But only after a good size price moment has been made. Both the break out (strike) and pullback (boomerang) are trade setups which the Winners Edge Trading room employs.

3)      Shallow trend lines (0-10 degrees): price action is moving at a weak angle. The market can hardly move away from the top or bottom. The correction is very timid. A break of the trend line also indicates the end of that corrective movement but there is one crucial difference: tops and bottoms (support and resistance) are close by and this could make the break out short lived before price action respects those levels.

In our trading room we have a simple solution of making sure that we have an appropriate reward to risk when tackling these trades. This helps take away the subjectivity from the decisions. Remember, always keep your approach to trading as simple as can be.

Due to this lack of space to the next support or resistance, price action often moves choppier than usual. Forex traders are not willing to take a trade right in front of these levels so many up and downs are usually accompanied during this environment. Our trading room also has guidelines on how the break out should proceed.

4)      Horizontal lines (0 degree): price action has broken the top or bottom, which means that 1 support or resistance is out of the way. However, there are cases when even though 1 support and resistance has been broken, there is another one right above/below it. That could cause the unexpected and sudden (opposite) turnaround.

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Often enough the break of horizontal level is accompanied with lots of volatility and sudden moves up and down. The break out will see some follow through but often enough this potential is limited as price action wants to hook back to the broken horizontal level. Very frequently the currency actually makes a retracement after this break out. This retracement could even turn into a full fledge reversal. With horizontal levels it is safer to trade the 2nd break out or continuation trade setup, which in fact occurs when a break out and pullback have already occurred.

Do you recognize it yourself when trading? What do you think of trend lines and their angle? Let us know down below!

Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing the article!!

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  • Chris Svorcik

    Hey Fabrice,

    Appreciate your comments and feedback! Very happy to hear that you have added a solid strategy to your portfolio :)) Great job!

    Thanks for the note and good trading!

  • Fabrice Goeyvaerts

    Hey Chris,

    In fact, tks to the WET trading room I discovered a very easy way to find setups and indeed it’s by using trend lines (always drawing them on H4 LINE charts) but I’m not playing the breakout. I rather wait for the pullback and enter when price retraces. Boomerangs are what I’m looking for and it is one of the strategies I’m using since few weeks.

    Using horizontal levels from the daily and weekly charts help me to filter some setups.

    Tks for this article. Cheers,
    Fabrice