What is Breakout Trading? Meaning, Advantages and Disadvantages

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  • 02 Jan 2024
What Is Breakout Trading? Meaning, Advantages and Disadvantages

Key Highlights

  • Breakout trading involves profiting when asset prices break out from predefined support or resistance levels. The aim is to take advantage of emerging trends and directional price movements.

  • You need to identify the consolidation periods and wait for a breakout. Then you can place trades in the breakout's direction.

  • Types of breakout patterns include horizontal, flag and pennant, trendline, head and shoulders, and triangle breakouts.

  • Breakout trading offers opportunities for substantial profits and it applies to various markets. However, traders may encounter false breakouts. It is also difficult to use the strategy in highly volatile markets.

  • Strategies for breakout trading include price action, momentum, volume, news-based, and trend-following strategies.

Breakout Trading is a strategy that involves entering a trade when the price of a security moves beyond a specific level. These levels are usually the predefined support and resistance levels. Traders use this strategy to profit from emerging trends. One may also use it to gain from directional price movements of securities.

A Breakout suggests a possible change in the demand and supply of an asset. So, in this strategy, traders generally enter the market right before or after a significant trend starts. They do not wait for a retracement or an exhaustion level.

Now that you know the breakout trading definition, let’s see how it works.

  • The first step is to search for indexes or equities undergoing a period of consolidation.

  • A breakout occurs when the price breaks through a critical level of support or resistance. The volume will increase. This is the appropriate time to enter a trade.

  • Now, traders have to place a buy or sell position in the breakout's direction. Also, it’s essential to put a stop-loss at a predefined level to restrict the losses.

  • To identify potential levels of support or resistance, you may employ various technical analysis tools. These include trend lines, moving averages, or chart patterns.

  • Finally, traders should track the stock or index to make sure the breakout is real.

The following are the most typical kinds of breakout patterns:

1. Horizontal Breakouts: These happen when the asset price breaks through a significant horizontal support or resistance level. A stock follows this breakout pattern after trading in a restricted range for a long time. It suggests that buyers and sellers are in a balanced position.

2. Flag and Pennant Breakouts: This pattern takes place when the asset price breaks out of a pennant or flag pattern. These patterns consolidate for some time. Then the breakout happens in the direction of the preceding trend.

3. Trendline Breakouts: They happen when the asset price crosses over a trendline connecting a sequence of higher lows or lower highs. A breakthrough of this kind may suggest a possible trend reversal or continuance.

4. Head and Shoulders Breakouts: The pattern occurs when the asset price breaks through a head and shoulders pattern's neckline. Three peaks make up this pattern. They are the central peak, which is the tallest. It forms the "head". The other two peaks create the "shoulders."

5. Triangle Breakouts: These happen when the asset price breaks through a triangle pattern's upper or lower boundary. Triangle patterns can be symmetrical, ascending, or descending. A breakout may suggest a reversal or continuation of the existing trend.

Let's say a trader is tracking a stock. It has been fluctuating over a few weeks inside a small range. The range is between Rs. 2000 and Rs. 2200. It suggests that buyers and sellers are in balancing each other. The trader is looking for a possible breakout over Rs. 2200. He has identified a considerable resistance level. He has also placed an entry order to purchase it at Rs. 2200. The stock eventually breaks above Rs. 2200 after a few days. It has a higher trading volume. His order gets executed automatically. So, he takes a long position in the stock.

To reduce losses, the trader employs suitable risk management strategies. This includes putting a stop-loss order below the breakout level. To make sure the breakout is real, he also keeps an eye on the stock. Its price keeps rising over the following several days. So, the trader looks for possible support and resistance levels using technical analysis tools like trend lines and moving averages.

He establishes a profit target at these points and modifies his stop-loss order accordingly. The trader sells a portion of his position to lock in profits as soon as the stock hits the first profit target. He keeps on monitoring the stock and modifies the stop-loss and profit target as required.

The following table highlights the benefits and drawbacks of breakout trading.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Breakout Trading The following table highlights the benefits and drawbacks of breakout trading.

Advantages Disadvantages
Potential for Large Gains: Accurate entry into a genuine breakout can lead to significant profits.False Breakouts: False breakouts can trap traders and lead to losses.
Objective and Measurable: Defined criteria based on technical analysis make it objective and measurable.Market Volatility: Highly volatile markets can be challenging due to unpredictable price swings.
Trend-Following: Aligns with market trends, potentially capturing significant gains during trends.High Trading Costs: Frequent entries and exits can lead to high transaction and brokerage fees.
Applicable to Various Markets: Can be used in diverse markets like stocks, commodities, and currencies.Emotional Bias: Fear, greed, and overconfidence can influence decisions and lead to errors.

The following are some common breakout trading strategies.

1. Price Action Strategy: Analysing a security's price fluctuations and spotting possible breakouts are key components of this strategy. In this strategy, traders usually search for patterns like triangles, head and shoulders, flags or pennants, trendlines, and horizontal support or resistance levels.

2. Momentum Strategy: In this strategy, one must find stocks with significant momentum and make a trade when the momentum breaks in the same direction. Technical indicators like moving averages, the relative strength index (RSI), and moving average convergence divergence (MACD) are used here.

3. Volume Strategy: This strategy uses the trading volume of securities to look for possible breakout chances. When a security is trading close to a critical support or resistance level, traders usually look for a rise in volume. This is because it indicates that there is increasing pressure to buy or sell.

4. News-Based Strategy: One has to find possible breakouts based on news to trade with this strategy. Traders usually search for news or events that may have an effect on a security's price. Then they make a trade when the breakout occurs in the expected direction.

5. Trend-Following Strategy: To trade with this strategy, you must spot stocks with a strong uptrend or downtrend. Then you have to make an investment when the breakout occurs in the same direction. You should use technical indicators like trendlines, moving averages, and the directional movement index (DMI).

Conclusion

A breakout occurs when trading volume significantly rises and the stock price moves beyond a predetermined support or resistance level. Breakout trading entails entering a trade in the early stages of a trend. You should go long if the stock price breaks above a resistance level. If it falls below support, you should go short. Trading breakouts may be lucrative as they allow an asset's price to move quickly once it breaks through the breakout. However, false breakthroughs and lost opportunities might make it difficult to achieve regular success. So, it is essential to have a thorough trading plan and effective risk management.

FAQs on Breakout Trading

You can identify breakout opportunities by observing the price charts. Find where the price moves through a key level and there is high trading volume.

Support levels are price levels where security stops decreasing. Resistance levels are where prices stop increasing.

Breakouts are usually more effective in trending markets. However, breakouts can also occur in range-bound markets. It generally happens when the price breaks out of the defined trading range.

Traders can use volume analysis and technical indicators such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) to confirm if a breakout is real.

Chart patterns such as triangles, flags, and rectangles are associated with breakouts.

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