Using Signals as Trading Tools in Forex

By: Nick Moseley

Prices in Forex trading are the most unpredictable of any investment class. They change more and faster (commonly) than equities, bonds and even commodities (though they can be crazy too!) This gives non day traders a dilemma - As you can't sit by a monitor all day looking for price moves in real-time you risk losing a lot of money on open trades or not getting into good short window ones. But there is an answer - Use signals and signal services.

Forex signals are buy and sell indicators based on technical analysis. Technical analysis uses historical price and volume data to statistically analyze trends. The aim is to zero in, with a explicit probability, the odds of future price movements.

A signal may be as simple as 'Buy euros now at 1.1901'. Those signals are presented in any number of ways, by email, SMS text message to a mobile phone, IM message etc. Some are just flashing text and/or icons on trader software. The software integrates built-in algorithmic rule sets that use technical analysis formulas and aggregate that data with current market data to produce a trade signal.

For instance, one generally practiced technical indicator is something called MACD (Moving Average Convergence/Divergence). Without getting in particulars here, it uses the moving average - the change in an average price over time. A signal can be triggered when the value of MACD crosses above or below a pre-set trigger threshold. Buy when it moves up over the line, then sell when it crosses below.

Some signal services allow clients to automate the process of Forex trading even further. You can leave standing orders that when a certain signal is generated, carry out the recommendation. You get an email recommending 'Buy euros now at 1.1901' and the broker auto enters the order to do exactly that.

As with any investment instrument, it has to be used intelligently in order to avoid disasters. Totally automating buy and sell instructions is very very risky and can amount to automatically LOSING money. Using a signal service can make your life easier, but never abandon your investments entirely to an automated service.

If you plan to do that, you may as well simply turn your investments over to a broker with the instruction: 'Maximize my returns, but keep the risk down to a reasonable level'. Sensible, but not helpful if you want to control your destiny.

Signal services are certainly useful, however. They can relieve investors of the need to continually monitor prices. They can simplify the sometimes bewildering complexity of charts. They can help the investor make better decisions about when to buy or sell and at what price.

All that comes at a price, of course. Signal services range from $50-$250 per month, though some are cheaper and a few are more. Only the individual investor can decide whether the cost is justified. As with any trading service, if you make more than it costs than you would without it, that's profitable.

But, buyer beware. There are dozens of firms that will be happy to take your money. Whether their analysis, and as a result, their signals, are worth anything is an educational experience in its own right.

At minimum, investors should use order types that help control risk. Stop-loss orders, limit orders and other common types are an essential means of limiting losses and timing buy and sell orders. That technique, commonly employed in stock trading, is even more critical in the volatile world of Forex.

Foreign Exchange
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Foreign Exchange
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles