Who is Fibonacci and how can he help you with your trading?

Leonardo Fibonacci was a great Italian mathematician who lived in the thirteenth century who first observed certain ratios of a number series that are regarded as describing the natural proportions of things in the universe, including price data. The ratios arise from the following number series: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 .......

This series of numbers is derived by starting with 1 followed by 2 and then adding 1 + 2 to get 3, the third number. Then, adding 2 + 3 to get 5, the fourth number, and so on.

After the first few numbers in the sequence, if you measure the ratio of any number to that of the next higher number you get .618, e.g. 34 divided by 55 equals 0.618. . If you measure the ratio between alternate numbers you get .382, for example, 34 divided by 89 = 0.382 and that’s as far as into the explanation as we’ll go. If you divide any Fibonacci number by the preceding number, after 2 the number is always 1.6 and after 144 the number is always 1.618.

These ratios are referred to as the “golden mean.” Additional ratios were then derived to create ratio sets as follows:**Price Retracement Levels 0.236, 0.382, 0.500, 0.618, 0.764Price Extension Levels 0, 0.382, 0.618, 1.000, 1.382, 1.618**

You won’t really need to know how to calculate all of this. Your charting software will do all the work for you. But it’s always good to be familiar with the basic theory behind the indicator so you’ll have knowledge to impress your date.

The first set of ratios is used as price retracement levels and is used in trading as possible

**support and resistance levels**. Traders all over the world watch these levels and place buy and sell orders at these levels which becomes a self-fulfilling expectation.

The second set is used as price extension levels and is used in trading as possible

**profit taking levels**. Again, traders all over the world are watching these levels and placing buy and sell orders to take profits at these levels which becomes a self-fulfilling expectation.

Most charting software include both Fibonacci Retracement Levels and Price Extension Levels. In order to apply Fibonacci levels to price charts, it is necessary to identify Swing Highs and Swing Lows.

A Swing High is a short term high bar with at least two lower highs on both the left and right of the high bar.

A Swing Low is a short term low bar with at least two higher lows on both the left and right of the low bar.

**Fibonacci Retracement Levels**

In an uptrend, the general idea is to go long the market on a retracement to a Fibonacci support level. In order to find the retracement levels, you would click on a significant Swing Low and drag the cursor to the most recent Swing High. This will display each of the Retracement Levels showing both the ratio and corresponding price level. Let’s take a look at some examples of markets in an uptrend.

This is an hourly chart of USD/JPY. Here we plotted the Fibonacci Retracement Levels by clicking on the Swing Low at 110.78 on 07/12/05 and dragging the cursor to the Swing High at 112.27 on 07/13/05. You can see the levels plotted by the software. The Retracement Levels were 111.92 (0.236), 111.70 (0.382), 111.52 (0.500), and 111.35 (0.618). Now the expectation is that if USD/JPY retraces from this high, it will find support at one of the Fibonacci Levels because traders will be placing buy orders at these levels as the market pulls back.

Now let’s look at what actually happened after the Swing High occurred. The market pulled back right through the 0.236 level and continued the next day piercing the 0.382 level but never actually closing below it. Later on that day, the market resumed its upward move. Clearly buying at the 0.382 level would have been a good short term trade.

Now let’s see how we would use Fibonacci Retracement Levels during a downtrend. This is an hourly chart for EUR/USD. As you can see, we found our Swing High at 1.3278 on 02/28/05 and our Swing Low at 1.3169 a couple hours later. The Retracement Levels were 1.3236 (0.618), 1.3224 (0.500), 1.3211 (0.382), and 1.3195 (.236). The expectation for a downtrend is if it retraces from this high, it will encounter resistance at one of the Fibonacci Levels because traders will be placing sell orders at these levels as the market attempts to rally.

Let’s check out what happened next. Now isn’t that a thing of beauty! The market did try to rally but it barely past the 0.382 level spiking to a high 1.3227 and it actually closed below it. After that bar, you can see that the rally reversed and the downward move continued. You would have made some nice dough selling at the 0.382 level.

Here’s another example. This is an hourly chart for GBP/USD. We had a Swing High of 1.7438 on 07/26/05 and a Swing Low of 1.7336 the next day. So our Retracement Levels are: 1.7399 (0.618), 1.7387 (0.500), 1.7375 (0.382), and 1.7360 (0.236). Looking at the chart, the market looks like it tried to break the 0.500 level on several occasions, but try as it may, it failed. So would putting a sell order at the 0.500 level be a good trade?

If you did, you would have lost some serious cheddar! Take a look at what happened. The Swing Low looked to be the bottom for this downtrend as the market rallied above the Swing High point.

You can see from these examples the market usually finds at least temporary support (during an uptrend) or resistance (during a downtrend) at the Fibonacci Retracements Levels. It’s apparent that there a few problems to deal with here. There’s no way of knowing which level will provide support.

The 0.236 seems to provide the weakest support/resistance, while the other levels provide support/resistance at about the same frequency. Even though the charts above show the market usually only retracing to the 0.382 level, it doesn’t mean the price will hit that level every time and reverse.

Sometimes it’ll hit the 0.500 and reverse, other times it’ll hit the 0.618 and reverse, and other other times the price will totally ignore Mr. Fibonacci and blow past all the levels like similar to the way Allen Iverson blows past his defenders with his nasty first step.

Remember, the market will not always resume its uptrend after finding temporary support, but instead continue to decline below the last Swing Low. Same thing for a downtrend. The market may instead decided to continue above the last Swing High.

The placement of stops is a challenge. It’s probably best to place stops below the last Swing Low (on an uptrend) or above the Swing High (on a downtrend), but this requires taking a high level of risk in proportion to the likely profit potential in the trade. This is called reward-to-risk ratio. In a later lesson, you will learn more money management and risk control and how you would only take trades with certain reward-to-risk ratios.

Another problem is determining which Swing Low and Swing High points to start from to create the Fibonacci Retracement Levels. People look at charts differently and so will have their own version of where the Swing High and Swing Low points should be. The point is, there is no one right away to do it, but the bad thing is sometimes it becomes a guessing game.**Fibonacci Price Extension Levels**

The next use of Fibonacci you will be applying is that of targets. Let’s start with an example in an uptrend.

In an uptrend, the general idea is to take profits on a long trade at a Fibonacci Price Extension Level. You determine the Fibonacci extension levels by using three mouse clicks. First, click on a significant Swing Low, then drag your cursor and click on the most recent Swing High. Finally, drag your cursor back down and click on the retracement Swing Low. This will display each of the Price Extension Levels showing both the ratio and corresponding price levels.

On this 1-hour USD/CHF chart, we plotted the Fibonacci extension levels by clicking on the Swing Low at 1.2447 on 08/14/05 and dragged the cursor to the Swing High at 1.2593 on 08/15/15 and then down to the retracement Swing Low of 1.2541 on 08/15/05. The following Fibonacci extension levels created are 1.2597 (0.382), 1.2631 (0.618), 1.2687 (1.000), 1.2743 (1.382), 1.2760 (1.500), and 1.2777 (1.618).

Now let’s look at what actually happened after the retracement Swing Low occurred.

- The market rallied to the 0.500 level
- fell back to the retracement Swing Low
- then rallied back up to the 0.500 level
- fell back slightly
- rallied to the 0.618 level
- fell back to the 0.382 level which acted as support
- then rallied all the way to the 1.382 level
- consolidated a bit
- then rallied to the 1.500 level

You can see from these examples that the market often finds at least temporary resistance at the Fibonacci extension levels - not always, but often. As in the examples of the retracement levels, it should be apparent that there are a few problems to deal with here as well.

First, there is no way of knowing which level will provide resistance. The 0.500 level was a good level to cover any long trades in the above example since the market retraced back to its original level, but if you didn’t get back in the trade, you would have left a lot of profits on the table.

Another problem is determining which Swing Low to start from in creating the Fibonacci Extension Levels. One way is from the last Swing Low as we did in the examples; another is from the lowest Swing Low of the past 30 bars. Again, the point is that there is no one right way to do it.

Alright, let’s see how Fibonacci extension levels can be used during a downtrend. In a downtrend, the general idea is to take profits on a short trade at a Fibonacci price extension level since the market often finds at least temporary support at these levels.

On this 1-hour EUR/USD chart, we plotted the Fibonacci extension levels by clicking on the Swing High at 1.21377 on 07/15/05 and dragged the cursor to the Swing Low at 1.2021 on 08/15/15 and then down to the retracement Swing Low of 1.2541 on 07/17/05. The following Fibonacci extension levels created are 1.2041 (0.382), 1.2027 (0.500), 1.2013 (0.618), 1.1969 (1.000), 1.1925 (1.382), 1.1911 (1.500), and 1.1897 (1.618).

Now let’s look at what actually happened after the retracement Swing Low occurred.

- The market fell down almost to the 0.382 level which for right now is acting as a support level
- The market then traded sideways between the retracement Swing High level and 0.382 level
- Finally, the market broke through the 0.382 and rested on the 0.500 level
- Then it broke the 0.500 level and fell all the way down to the 1.000 level

Alone, Fibonacci levels will not make you rich. However, Fibonacci levels are definitely useful as part of an effective trading method that includes other analysis and techniques. You see, the key to an effective trading system is to integrate a few indicators (not too many) that are applied in a way that is not obvious to most observers.

All successful traders know it’s how you use and integrate the indicators (including Fibonacci) that makes the difference. The lesson learned here is that Fibonacci Levels can be a useful tool, but never enter or exit a trade based on Fibonacci Levels alone.

**Summary:**

- Fibonacce retracement levels are 0.236, 0.382, 0.500, 0.618, 0.764
- Fibonacci retracement levels are used support and resistance levels.
- Fibonacci extension levels are 0, 0.382, 0.618, 1.000, 1.382, 1.618
- Fibonacci extension levels are used as profit taking levels.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas Edison

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