What is Trading Range?

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
March 25, 2024

Range trading is a simple concept favored by new and conservative traders. Rather than speculating on general market trends, range traders trade in an identified price range. They typically buy at the lower end of the range and sell at the upper end. Range trade can limit risk while offering traders profit potential. 

Despite its popularity, range trading has its limitations. These include reduced profit potential, false breakouts and a need for patience and discipline. Forex traders must understand how range trading works before embarking on this trading strategy.  

How Does a Trading Range Work in Forex?

A trading range represents a consolidation period when a currency pair remains price bound. The market is in a state of indecision or equilibrium, often referred to as a "sideways" or "flat" market. This state of equilibrium is surprisingly constant, with price-bound currencies prevailing 70% of the time. 

The price range falls between the support and resistance levels. The support or lower price level is the price at which traders enter the market. The higher or resistance level is the price at which traders prefer to sell. 

Traders use technical analysis to identify trading ranges. Trading ranges may suddenly break out. Traders must, therefore, use appropriate risk-management techniques, like stop-loss orders, to limit losses.

Characteristics of a Trading Range

There are several key characteristics in range trading. These include: 

Support and Resistance Levels

These signify the areas where the market encounters buying or selling pressure. Traders use these levels to make trading decisions. They may use a combination of technical analysis tools, like trendlines, moving averages and chart patterns, to identify upper and lower price ranges.

When the price approaches a support or resistance level, traders may look for signs of price reversal or breakout. If the price rebounds from a support level, traders may take a long position, hoping the price will continue to rise. If the price breaks through a resistance level, traders may take a short position, hoping the price will continue to fall.

Support and resistance levels are not exact points. It is the price range where the market has shown significant buying or selling pressure. The trading range width provides clues about market sentiment and future price action.

Trading Range Width and Price Volatility

A narrow trading range suggests low price volatility. The market may be indecisive or consolidating. Traders may decide to wait for a breakout before entering a trade to improve the chances of making a profit within the range.

A broad trading range suggests higher volatility and potential for bigger price movements. Traders could take advantage of the price volatility or wait for a breakout. A wider trading range may indicate uncertainty and conflicting market signals. 

Traders should be cautious in interpreting the price range. Technical or fundamental analysis can confirm findings before traders make trading decisions.

Range Trading Strategies for Forex

The primary objective of range trading is to profit from price oscillations within a specific range, rather than capturing large, directional moves in the market. This strategy is particularly useful in range-bound markets, where price tends to fluctuate between specific levels for an extended period. Range trading strategies can be implemented in various financial markets, including stocks, currencies, commodities, and indices, and can be effective in both short-term and long-term trading scenarios. 

Range Trading with Volume Indicators

Volume indicators play a crucial role in range trading as they help identify high probability setups, qualify price breakouts and provide confirmation of market conviction. Volume indicators, such as Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) or On-Balance Volume (OBV), help identify high probability setups within a range. By analyzing the volume traded at different price levels, traders can identify areas of high activity, suggesting strong buying or selling pressure. These areas can serve as potential support or resistance levels within the range, providing traders with precise entry or exit points.

Volume indicators are useful for qualifying price breakouts. When the price breaks out of a range, the volume traded during the breakout can confirm the validity of the move. A breakout accompanied by high volume signifies strong market conviction, indicating higher chances of the price continuing in the breakout direction. Conversely, a breakout with low volume suggests a lack of market conviction, indicating a potential false breakout.

To effectively utilize volume indicators in range trading, you should combine them with other technical analysis tools, such as trend lines or oscillators, to gain a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics. 

Range Trading with Pivot Points

Range trading with pivot points is a popular strategy used to identify support and resistance levels in the market and make informed entry and exit orders. Pivot points are calculated by taking the average of the high, low and closing prices of the previous trading session.

To use pivot points for range trading, begin by identifying the prevailing trend in the market. If the market is range-bound, pivot points can help in determining potential reversal points and areas of support and resistance. By using the pivot points value, along with the upper and lower support and resistance levels, you can plan trades more effectively.

The pivot points serves as the central level, with the upper and lower support and resistance levels acting as barriers. You can enter a long trade when the price breaks above the upper resistance level or an established short trade when the price breaks below the lower support level. Entry orders can be set just above the resistance levels or just below the support levels, while stop-loss orders can be placed at the opposite side of the range.

Range Trading with Volatility Indicators

Volatility indicators can be effective tools in range trading strategies as they help to identify periods of low volatility and high volatility, which are key in determining the boundaries of a trading range.

To effectively use volatility indicators in range trading strategies, the first step is to identify range-bound markets. Volatility indicators such as the Average Directional Index (ADX) can help in determining whether the market is in a range-bound phase or trending phase. A low ADX reading suggests a range-bound market, while a high ADX reading indicates a trending market. 

These indicators can also help identify breakout opportunities within a range-bound market. When the volatility starts to increase and the upper or lower boundaries of the trading range are breached, it suggests a potential breakout. 

Other Things to Consider with Range Trading Strategies

Some of the best trading strategies for forex range trading include:

  • Using support and resistance levels: Traders may take long positions when prices rebound off the support level and exit close to the resistance level. Alternatively, they may enter short positions when the price clears the resistance level and exit near the support level.
  • Bollinger Bands: Bollinger Bands are two standard deviations on either side of the moving average. They are used to identify overbought and oversold conditions. Traders may take short positions when the price reaches the upper band and long positions when it’s in the lower band.
  • Trendlines: Trendlines are used to identify the upper and lower boundaries of a range. Traders can enter long positions near the bottom of the range and exit near the top. Alternatively, they can enter short positions near the upper trendline and exit close to the lower trendline.
  • Using multiple time frames: Multiple time frames can be used to confirm the trading range and identify potential breakout opportunities. Longer time frames show the overall trend, while a shorter period determines the trading range with entry and exit points.

Examples of Range Trading

In analyzing the EUR/USD currency pair, you identify a trading range between 1.2 and 1.22. As a range trader, you decide to buy near the bottom of the range, at 1.2, and sell near the top at 1.22. You set your stop loss at 1.195 to limit your losses.

The price bounces off the support level at 1.2, indicating the presence of buyers. You enter a long position, expecting the price to continue rising.

The price continues to rise and reaches the resistance level of 1.22. You exit your position, taking profit on the trade. You have made a profit of 200 pips (the difference between your entry price of 1.2 and your exit price of 1.22).

If the price breaks out of the range, your stop loss will trigger, and you will incur a loss.

Advantages of Range Trading

Range traders enjoy several advantages. These include:

  • Defined trading range: Range trading provides traders with entry and exit points. Using these, traders make informed decisions and manage risk more effectively.
  • Reduced risk: Range trading typically involves smaller price movements, reducing the risk of loss. Reduced risk will benefit traders who prefer a more conservative trading style or traders new to trading.
  • Trading opportunities: Trading ranges can last for days, weeks or months, providing plenty of trade opportunities. 

Disadvantages of Range Trading

There are also several disadvantages to range trading:

  • Limited profit potential: Forex range trading typically involves smaller price movements. Traders may have to take several trades to achieve significant profits.
  • False breakouts: Trading ranges can sometimes break out of the established boundaries, leading to false signals and potential losses.
  • Market volatility: Market volatility can affect forex range trading, particularly when there are high-impact news releases or unexpected events. 
  • Time-consuming: Forex range trading requires patience and discipline. Traders may wait for extended periods before identifying a trading range to make profitable range trades.

Limit the Risks in Forex Trading

Identifying a trading range on a forex chart requires a keen eye for price action and the astute use of technical analysis. Still, risk-mitigated range trade can deliver profit at lower risk, making this the ideal trading strategy for forex traders who prefer to trade carefully. 

Frequently Asked Questions 


Is range trading profitable?


Range trading is profitable, though trend traders may make higher profits.


What is the best indicator for range trading?


Bollinger Bands and average true range are two of the best indicators for range trading.


How is volume used in range trading?


Volume trade plays a significant role in understanding the price range and future market direction.

Disclosure: Benzinga was commissioned for this article and is not affiliated with CedarFX. Any comments or opinions provided herein are Benzinga's. CedarFX does not endorse or promote any trading strategies that may be discussed or promoted herein. The broker makes no representation or warranty as to the article's adequacy, completeness, accuracy or timeliness for any particular purpose of the above content.

This presentation discusses technical analysis, other approaches, including fundamental analysis, may offer very different views. The examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be reflective of the results you can expect to achieve. This article is for informational and educational use only and is not a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy. Investment information provided in this content is general in nature, strictly for illustrative purposes, and may not be appropriate for all investors. Investing involves risk regardless of the strategy selected and past performance does not indicate or guarantee future results. Trading leveraged products such as Forex and Cryptos may not be suitable for all investors as they carry a degree of risk to your capital.