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 Understanding Stock Breakouts

30 Oct 2023

What Is A Breakout In The Stock Market? 

A breakout is defined as a price movement of a stock or commodity over an established level of resistance or support, which is frequently accompanied by high volumes and higher volatility. Traders purchase stocks or commodities when the price rises above a specific level of resistance or ceiling, and sell when the price falls below a given level of support or floor. This is also known as a confirming indicator for a significant market shift. In practice, a breakout refers to a scenario in which the price breaks out above a level of resistance and continues to go higher beyond the starting barrier.

Stocks often see massive movements after breaking out. An example of a basic comparison would be a caged bird (resistance). The bird soars high and far beyond its resistance as soon as the cage is released/opened. When a resistance level is breached, the following level of support frequently becomes the asset's next level of support when it undergoes a correction or pullback. Most traders utilize chart patterns, as well as other technical tools and indicators such as trend lines, to identify potential resistances for stock prices that are likely to break through. Such downward price fluctuations are more often referred to as breakdowns. A breakout supported by high volume after a long time of consolidation will result in a larger movement than a breakout after a short period of consolidation.

Technical chart patterns like head and shoulders, triangles, and flags that are nearing completion and indicate higher price moves are also typical breakout targets. A price breakout generally occurs when price action makes a last swing to confirm the pattern.

How To Identify Breakout Stocks?


Breakouts are beneficial when stock markets are going strong, but they are a nightmare when markets are heading sideways or correctively. It would be impossible to predict when the correction will end, thus every breakout must be sought since no one knows when a major surge would begin. Subsequently, trading breakout requires a strong nerve and the willingness to accept whipsaw losses. When there is a sequence of whipsaw losses, it is time for a major move to occur, and the trader must have the guts to pull the trigger despite the ongoing whipsaw losses. Price breakouts may also be caused by significant news events. These breakouts are more unexpected and rely on the impact of the news on certain security, and hence should be avoided if it is not fundamentally sound.

For Exits

Exit rules are often stated for several reasons. Moving average crossings are used by some, while others use predefined objectives depending on the projected gains and baseline risk. Others follow the breakout on the other side by half the time of the first breakout. Those that use 200 days as a breakthrough entry signal, for example, will use 100 days as a breakout exit signal. Nevertheless, adequate backtesting and optimization of the number of days to be employed for reversing the transaction are required.

Breakout Trading Strategy Entry Rules

To initiate the trade, a short-term trader would often use a breakout period of 21 days, a positional trader will use a breakout period of 55 days, and a long-term momentum investor will use a breakout time of 200 days. Jesse Livermore's trading strategy was breakouts; he used to define breakouts as "lines of least resistance," which means that when prices go beyond the breakout, there is no opposition, and the price glides easily in that direction.

Wrapping Up

Trading breakouts is a difficult undertaking.  The proverb "no price is too high to purchase and no price is too low to sell" is not commonly recognized, and hence following such a strategy requires tremendous confidence. Only after backtesting the breakout approach across many periods for different markets and instruments would one be able to deploy breakout as a strategy. Breakouts are a whole trading system in and of themselves, and if followed rigorously with adequate risk management, they will turn out to be a highly lucrative trading system in the long term.


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