How to Trade Breakouts in Forex

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
July 21, 2023

Breakouts are a common trading strategy in forex where traders aim to profit from the price movements that occur when the market breaks out of a consolidation pattern. However, trading breakouts can be more complex than it sounds. It requires careful analysis, planning and execution to avoid common mistakes and maximize profits. This guide offers an in-depth understanding of forex breakout trading, providing expert tips on how to trade breakouts and discussing the factors that lead to them. 

Disclosure: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

What are Breakouts in the Forex Market?

A breakout in forex trading refers to a situation where the price of a currency pair moves beyond a predetermined support or resistance level with increased volume. Breakouts indicate a potential change in the supply and demand of the currency pair and often signal the start of a new trend or a continuation of an existing one. Breakouts are significant in technical analysis because they provide trading opportunities for traders who want to take advantage of the momentum and volatility generated by the price movement.

What Causes Breakouts in Forex?

Breakouts in forex are triggered by factors that affect the supply and demand of a currency pair, as well as the market sentiment and expectations. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Economic news and events: These are announcements or reports that reveal the economic performance, health and outlook of a country or a region. They can significantly impact the currency's value and the central banks' interest rate decisions. Let's say the U.S. releases a better-than-expected GDP growth rate; this news could boost the demand for the U.S. dollar and cause it to break out of a range against other currencies. Conversely, if the Eurozone reports a worse-than-expected inflation rate, this information could weaken the demand for the euro and cause it to break down from a level against other currencies.
  • Market psychology and emotions: Traders have feelings or attitudes towards currency pairs based on their expectations, beliefs or biases. These feelings can influence traders' reactions to news, events, indicators or signals and cause them to buy or sell a currency pair based on fear, greed or herd mentality. For example, if there is a positive sentiment towards the British pound because of optimism about Brexit negotiations, this feeling could increase the buying pressure and cause it to break out of a consolidation. Conversely, negative sentiment towards the Japanese yen from pessimism about Japan's economic recovery could increase the selling pressure and cause it to break out of range.

5 Top Tips for Trading Breakouts in Forex

Trading breakouts require detailed analysis, planning and execution to avoid common pitfalls and maximize profits. Here are five top tips for trading breakouts in forex.

Identifying Breakout Opportunities

The first step in breakout trading is to identify potential opportunities. This process often involves analyzing forex charts and identifying key levels of support and resistance that have been tested severally by the price and have acted as barriers for further movement. Tools like Fibonacci retracements, trendlines and moving averages can help spot areas where the price is likely to break out or bounce back.

Importance of Confirmation

To avoid false breakouts where the price briefly moves beyond the breakout point but then retraces to the previous level, traders should wait for breakout confirmations before initiating a trade. False breakouts can trap traders into losing trades and frustrate them. Techniques for confirmation can include volume analysis and candlestick patterns.

Setting Stop-Loss and Take-Profit Levels

Risk management is essential in forex trading. Setting appropriate stop-loss and take-profit levels can help protect your trading capital and optimize your profit potential. Stop-loss levels are predetermined exit points that limit trade risk by closing it automatically if the price moves against the trader. Take-profit levels are predetermined exit points that secure the trade profit by closing it automatically if the price reaches a certain target. To set stop-loss and take-profit levels, you can employ different strategies, such as using a fixed percentage of risk or reward, a multiple of risk or reward, a trailing stop loss or take profit or technical indicators.

Entering and Exiting Breakout Trades

After confirming a breakout, the next step is to enter the trade. Different techniques for entering the trade include:

  • Waiting for a pullback: You wait for the price to retest the breakout point before entering the trade. This action can reduce the risk of entering too early or too late and increase the chance of catching a true breakout. 
  • Using limit orders: This strategy involves placing an order at a specific price level slightly above or below the breakout point. This move can ensure you get filled at a favorable price and avoids slippage or missed opportunities. 
  • Using market orders: Market orders entail entering the trade immediately at the current market price after a breakout confirmation. This approach ensures that you don’t miss out on significant price movement and captures the momentum of the breakout.

Methods for determining when to exit a breakout trade include: 

  • Using trailing stop losses: This order adjusts automatically as the price moves in your favor, locking in profits and limiting losses. You can use trailing stop losses to exit a breakout trade when the price reverses by a certain amount or percentage from its highest point.
  • Using target levels: A target level is a predetermined price level where you plan to exit your trade and take profits. You can use target levels to exit a breakout trade when the price reaches a certain level of resistance or support or based on technical indicators, chart patterns or Fibonacci retracements. 
  • Using time-based exits: This exit strategy involves exiting your trade after a certain period, regardless of the price movement. You can use time-based exits to exit a breakout trade when you expect the market to change direction or lose momentum after a certain time frame, such as the end of the day, week or month or quarter. 

Managing Breakout Trade Challenges

Trading breakouts in forex can present unique challenges, such as false breakouts, changing market conditions or high market volatility. To manage these challenges, traders can use various tips and techniques, such as minimizing losses by using tight stop losses or cutting losses quickly, adapting to changing market conditions by using trailing stop losses or taking profits or closing partial positions or adjusting stop loss levels by using technical levels or indicators.

Trade Breakouts in Forex Like a Pro

Breakout trading in forex can offer considerable opportunities when done right. Understanding what triggers breakouts and how to identify, enter and exit these trades effectively can increase your profitability and enhance your trading experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How profitable is breakout trading?

A

Breakout trading can be highly profitable if executed correctly, offering substantial gains during strong market trends.

Q

What is the 3% rule for breakout?

A

The 3% rule refers to waiting for a price to move 3% beyond a resistance or support level before confirming a breakout.

Q

How do you avoid false breakouts in forex?

A

Avoiding false breakouts involves waiting for confirmation signals, such as increased trading volume or candlestick patterns, before entering a trade.

Get a Forex Pro on Your Side

FOREX.com, registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), lets you trade a wide range of forex markets with low pricing and fast, quality execution on every trade. 

You can also tap into:

  • EUR/USD as low as 0.2 with fixed $5 commissions per 100,000
  • Powerful, purpose-built currency trading platforms
  • Monthly cash rebates of up to $9 per million dollars traded with FOREX.com’s Active Trader Program

Learn more about FOREX.com’s low pricing and how you can get started trading with FOREX.com.

Anna Yen

About Anna Yen

Anna Yen, CFA is an investment writer with over two decades of professional finance and writing experience in roles within JPMorgan and UBS derivatives, asset management, crypto, and Family Money Map. She specializes in writing about investment topics ranging from traditional asset classes and derivatives to alternatives like cryptocurrency and real estate. Her work has been published on sites like Quicken and the crypto exchange Bybit.