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Standard deviation is a concept all Forex traders should understand as part of their Forex education. In fact if you don’t understand it and know how to factor it into your trading strategy you are unlikely to win long term. Let’s look at it.
Standard deviation is logical, easy to understand and will help you time entries better and define targets for trades, as well as spotting important trend reversals.
It’s a simple and powerful concept and all forex traders should know how it works and how to take advantage of it.
The real problem that traders have to overcome when trading forex is overcoming volatile price moves that can stop them out to soon or with losses – if you learn how to deal with standard deviation, you will enter with better risk reward and get stopped out less often.
What is standard deviation?
Standard deviation is a statistical term that refers to and shows the volatility of price in any currency. In essence standard deviation measures how widely values are dispersed from the mean or average.
Dispersion is effectively the difference between the actual closing value price and the average value or mean closing price.
The larger the difference between the closing prices from the average price, the higher the standard deviation and volatility of the currency is. On the other hand - the closer the closing prices are to the average mean price, the lower the standard deviation or volatility of the currency is.
Here is the technical bit don’t worry if you find it a little complicated we will simplify things in a minute – here is the calculation:
Standard deviation the square root of the variance, and the average of the squared deviations from the mean.
High Standard Deviation is present when the price of the currency studied is changing volatile and has large daily ranges. On the other hand, low Standard Deviation values take places when currencies are range trading or in consolidation i.e. when prices are more stable and less volatile.
Spotting Big Contrary trades
Major tops and bottoms and important trend changes are accompanied by high volatility as prices reflect the psychology of the participants and greed and fear push prices away from the fundamentals.
If you look at any forex chart you will see price spikes caused by human emotion and they are not sustainable and prices tend to return to more realistic levels after periods of high volatility – you will often here the term blow off top or bottom where prices make one last volatile surge and reverse.
3 Important Ways to Use Standard Deviation
So how can you incorporate standard deviation in your forex trading? The answer is it is useful for:
1. Picking important market tops or bottoms i.e look for highly volatile prices that have spiked to far from the mean.
2. Targeting entries within trends - if for example, prices spike away from the mean to far, they will fall back to the average eventually. If the trend is strong you can target entry at the mean price.
3. If prices are trading in a narrow range and suddenly high standard deviation pushes prices away from the mean, you can trade with the break.
If you want an easy tool to apply to help you apply standard deviation in your trading - looking no further than the Bollinger band. Most major chart services plot it and its easy to use – we don’t have time to explain it all here so see our other articles.
The Real Enemy for Traders
Is not picking trend direction, it’s entering with the best risk reward and dealing with volatility if you have understanding of standard deviation you will be able to deal with the enemy of volatility, harness and control it, and use it to achieve currency trading success.
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