Forex Course

90. The ATR Indicator & Its Corresponding Trading Strategy


ATR (Average True Range) is a popular volatility indicator in the market. It is used to find how much the instrument moves on an average over a given period of time. This indicator is introduced by J. Welles Wilder Jr. in his book, ‘New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems.’ Apart from ATR, this book also includes some of the most famous technical indicators such as RSI, ADX, and Parabolic SAR, etc.

The ATR indicator was originally developed to trade the commodities market, but it has been modified in such a way that it could be widely used for stocks, indices, and the Forex market as well. This indicator is not developed to indicate the price direction. Instead, it is used to measure the volatility of the instrument, which is caused by the gaps, up & down moves. ATR is a boundless indicator, unlike the other indicators we learned till now. Higher the ATR level, higher is the market volatility, and lower the ATR level, lower is the volatility of the underlying asset.

Below is an illustration of how this indicator looks on a price chart.

Trading With The ATR Indicator

The image below represents the ATR indicator on a GBP/AUD Forex chart. The orange box indicates the pullback phase, and at this phase, we can see the ATR indicator keeps going down. This means that there is currently low volatility in this pair. Conversely, the uptrend in the Green box indicates high ATR value. This means the big players are back in the business, and they are accumulating big chunks. As a result, the instrument is quite volatile. Furthermore, the yellow box again shows a decline in volatility.

Traders can use this indicator to get an idea of how far the price of an asset is expected to move on a daily basis. We suggest you use this way of trading only on higher timeframes such as daily, weekly, and monthly. If the last closed candle of a daily chart shows 50 ATR value, it means that the last candle has moved 50 pips, and we can expect the next day price movement to move similarly.

First of all, we must find out the ATR value of the last closing candle on the daily chart. Then we can look for buy/sell opportunities at the opening of a new day’s candle. The profit target should be based on the last day’s ATR value. Some traders also use double the value of the ATR indicator to place their take-profit orders. It all depends on what kind of trade you are. If the ATR value is 50, we can go for 50 pip target (conservative move), or you can even go for the 100 pip target (aggressive move)

We can also use the ATR indicator for placing Stop-loss orders. When the ATR gives us the value of the present day, we can use those values to place the stop-loss orders below or above our entry points. If the market hits the stop-loss, it means that the daily price range is moving in the opposite direction. Hence we must exit our positions as soon as we can. The major benefit of placing the stop-loss orders by using the ATR value is that we can avoid the ‘market noise.’ That is, the unusual up and down moves will not stop us out.

Changing the Settings of this Indicator affects its Sensitivity

The standard setting of this indicator is 14, which means the ATR indicator will measure the market based on the last 14 candles. If we use a setting lower than 14, it makes the indicator more sensitive, and it will show us a choppier ATR line. On the other hand, a setting above 14 makes the indicator less sensitive to the price action and shows smoother reading.

In short, most of the Traders use the ATR indicator to check the market volatility and to place the stop-loss & take-profit orders. The higher value of the indicator implies that we must go for deeper stops, and the low value means we must go for smaller stops.

That’s about the ATR indicator and its use cases. Try using this indicator to check the market volatility and place accurate stop-loss orders. There are traders who use this indicator to enter the market as well, but those are advanced strategies that we will be discussing in the future. Cheers.

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