Broadly speaking, there are three states in the market – trend, range, and channel. If we were to go a little more in detail, a market has components like retracement and reversal. Identifying and differentiating between a retracement and reversal is a skill in itself. In this lesson, let’s go and understand what these terms mean and how to differentiate them.
What is Retracement?
Retracement is the terminology usually associated in a trending market. We know that in a trending market, the price moves in one specific direction. For instance, an uptrend is defined as a sequence of higher highs and higher lows. As per the definition of an uptrend, the prices do not keep moving higher and higher continuously.
After trending up to a certain point, the price temporarily moves in the opposite direction. This movement against the original trend is referred to as retracement. Technically, the price action from a higher high to the higher low is called a retracement.
What is a Reversal?
A reversal can be defined as the overall change in the direction of the market. A market can reverse from an uptrend to a downtrend, or from a downtrend to an uptrend.
Reversal to the Upside
In this type of reversal, initially, the market trends in a downtrend making lower lows and lower highs. Later, the market goes into a transition state where the price typically ranges for a while. In other words, the price stops making lower lows and lows highs. Instead, it makes equal lows or higher lows. Finally, the market starts to trend north by making higher highs and lower lows.
Reversal to the Downside
This reversal happens when the market transits from an uptrend to a downtrend. In an uptrend, the price makes higher highs and higher lows. But, when the trend begins to diminish, the higher highs turn into equal highs, and higher lows start to become equal lows. Finally, when the seller’s pressure comes in, the price begins to make lower lows and lower highs, forming a downtrend. Thus, the complete scenario is referred to as a reversal.
Predicting a possible reversal or retracement in the market is pretty challenging. If you’re stuck in a position and unsure if it is a retracement or a reversal, you may try the following options to manage the trade:
- Hold onto your positions by keeping the stop loss as it is. If it is a retracement, you can ride the trade, else get stopped if it is a reversal. This is the simplest approach.
- If you are more inclined towards a reversal than a retracement, then you may close your positions. Based on where the market breaks through, you can look for re-entry. But, you might have to compromise on the risk: reward.
- You could close the entire position and stay away from the pair and look for other opportunities. This is the safest option possible, especially for conservative traders.