3 forex trading strategies for beginners

Learn how to use wave-trading, trendlines and moving averages plus how to manage your level of risk when trading.

Choosing a strategy can be very difficult when you first start trading forex and CFDs. This guide outlines 3 different forex trading strategies you could consider, as well as some risk management techniques to help limit your losses.

If you’re looking for an online trading platform, you can compare forex brokers at the end of this guide as well.

Understand how different markets move

Many markets trade differently and move in various cycles. Before you devise a trading strategy, you’ll need to be familiar with how each asset class behaves.

Equity markets tend to trend for longer since an investor in equity markets will likely be looking for long-term returns and retirement income. Currencies tend to be more volatile and dynamic and tend to revert to mean (moving back to a more normal area).

The foreign exchange market, or FX, is a great market to trade but tends to be more sensitive than equities, while commodities run in a more cyclical pattern due to harvesting and mining cycles. For example, grains tend to follow weather and demand patterns. Coffee is used all year round but futures from different markets follow harvesting cycles in their respective regions.

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Trading strategy 1: Technical-based moving average

This strategy can help traders spot long-term price trends by considering the average trend over a period of time rather than focusing on the day-to-day price movements.

This strategy can help you control risk easily and has a strict entry point. You can choose the time frames yourself, but be aware that trading on shorter time frames involves more risk as prices can be more volatile and your stop-loss can cancel you out of your position quickly.

Start with a 4-hour candle chart and add a 30-period moving average (an average of the last 30, 4 hour periods). Now each time the price crosses the moving average in either direction, you take a position. The stop loss should be placed at the previous wave’s low/high.

Image source: Screenshot taken from author’s own trading platform

The chart above highlights the basic premise of the strategy. The long position (Buy) on the left hand side of the chart, the stop loss (risk limit) at the bottom left of the chart and then finally at the top right shows the exit of the trade, where the price crosses back below the moving average. So in essence when the price moves above the line (moving average) in this strategy it’s a buy signal and when it moves back below we sell out and take profits.

Trading strategy 2: Wave trading

Wave trading is when you trade pullbacks in a trending market. A pullback is when there’s a slight dip or drop in the price of an asset that has been trending upward, and often can be a good opportunity to start a position. First of all, you need to establish a trend. You can do this by looking at the closing prices each day over a period of time. If the market you have chosen has made higher highs and higher lows, it’s on an uptrend. If it’s made lower highs and lower lows, it’s in a downtrend.

Once this has been established, the trick is to look for an entry point on the next wave up or down depending on the direction. To some investors, it can be difficult to buy a security at the highs, but to many seasoned investors, this is a common strategy to follow momentum and hold positions for a significant period of time.

Let’s looks at the ASX as an example in the following chart.

Image source: Screenshot taken from author’s own trading platform

In this chart, the highlighted area at the top has to be broken for a position to be added. You can see the ASX index has been trading in an uptrend, and following this trend could be beneficial.

Risk can be determined by the size of your position and where the previous waves begin. In the above example, a stop has been suggested around half way into the trend. This could possibly be sufficient to achieve a decent risk to reward. However, if you have a higher tolerance to risk, you could place the stop lower down to before the waves begin in the uptrend.

To help limit your risk with this trading strategy, you could start with a smaller position, and when each wave high is broken, add more to the position as desired.

Trading strategy 3: Trendlines

Trendlines are an important indicator of the market’s underlying trend. Once a trendline is broken, this can be a reference point to future prices. Determining the trendline and drawing it correctly is the hard part. Similar to wave trading, a trendline can be drawn by looking at the previous closing prices over a set period of time. If each closing price is lower than the previous, it could signal a downtrend. All price action must be under the line (none of the price action must be above the line when drawing a down trendline and vice versa for an uptrend).

Let’s look at this gold daily chart as an example.

Image source: Screenshot taken from author’s own trading platform

As you can see, there is a very steep down trendline plotted in the middle of the chart. The buy signal is triggered on the break of the trendline. Because the trend has been broken, the trader assumed the price would now continue in an upward direction instead, which you can see it did for a short period.

However, after a short time, the price quickly went down again, which is when the stop was executed and the position was closed at a loss. For this reason, you can see this particular trade didn't work out. As a trader, you must be prepared to take losses as not all trades go to plan.

Risk management strategies

Risk management is key to all forex trading strategies; you cannot control the future, but you can control your risk! These are some simple risk management techniques you can follow:

  • Limit your capital. Making more frequent trades of less value rather than larger trades less often could be a good way to limit your risk.
  • Diversify your trades. You may want to consider not taking too many trades that are correlated to each other. Take for example, long (buy) EUR/USD and short (sell) gold. If the US dollar appreciates too quickly, EUR and gold could both fall in tandem and take you out of both positions.
  • Consider the size of your positions. Some brokers only offer minimum and maximum trade sizes on different asset classes. For example a EUR/USD position may be able to trade with a $1 per point size (1 decimal movement in price) but a silver position may have a minimum of $4. Even if you are correct with your trade decision, this over-leveraging may make the trade uncomfortable and force unwanted account management.

Having a clear trading plan and strategy in trading is probably the most important, and toughest, aspect for any trader to establish. This could be the difference between success and failure. Once you are confident with the strategy you have chosen, back-test it (run a simulation). There is software that can do this for you, for example tradingview, but you can also do it manually.

Demo trading is also another way to see if you have a handle on executing the plan and controlling the money management. Obviously, you cannot win every trade, but if you control the risk to reward and account management, you will be at least half way in the right direction.

Your personal psychology is also something you need to consider. If you can't stare at your charts all day without messing with your positions, maybe a “set and forget” strategy on a long-term time frame would be better. If you enjoy the adrenaline, then a short-term system would suit you.

Compare forex and CFD trading platforms below.

Compare Australian forex and CFD brokers below to find one that meets your trading level and needs.

Updated October 14th, 2019
Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Major Trading Instruments Commission (ASX 200 Shares) Platforms
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETFs, International futures
No commission
Plus500 Web Trader
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Finder exclusive offer: Open a new trading account and receive a welcome bonus of AU$120 when you deposit your first $400 and enter the bonus code “Special200”. T&C’s apply.
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more.
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, ETFs
0.08% with $5 minimum
MetaTrader 4
At Pro
Advantage Web
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Special offer for new customers: Get a cash bonus of up to $1,000 when you open a new account with City Index and meet minimum deposit and trade requirements. T&Cs apply.
Trade CFDs on indices, FX, global & Australian shares and commodities, plus access other markets such as metals, bonds and interest rates.
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETPs
0.08% with $7 minimum
MetaTrader 4
ProReal Time
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Introductory offer: Build confidence by trading at lower minimum trade sizes for the first six weeks. Plus, receive a reduced commission on Australian shares CFDs. T&C's apply. Trade from over 15,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex.
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, ETFs
0.10% with $6 minimum
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
More than 9,000 CFDs including single stocks, stock indices and commodities
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETFs
No commission
eToro Trading Platform
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Join the largest social trading network in the world.
Indices, FX, Commodities, Cryptocurrency
No commission
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Trade stock indices on the global market, via Pepperstone's MetaTrader 4 and cTrader client terminals.
Indices, Shares, Equities, Commodities, Futures
0.10% with $10 minimum
CFDs are complex financial products and traders are at high-risk of losing all of or more than their initial investment.
Trade CFDs with FP Markets using the IRESSTrader platform. Trade CFDs on international equities, futures and forex.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated October 14th, 2019
Name Product Monthly fee Standard Brokerage Fee Margin trading - Online
$8.00 or 0.1%
Special offer: Earn up to 10,000 Qantas Points when you start trading on a new IG Share Trading account. T&C applies.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, forex and CFDs, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
$6.99 or 0.1%
High quality, low-cost brokerage on global share trading.
Access up to 19,000 global stocks on 36 of the world’s major stock exchanges and enjoy some of the most competitive FX rates on the the market when you trade with Saxo Capital Markets.
Trade ASX-listed shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
$15 for first 10 trades
Offer: For a limited time, get a custom deal based on your trading preferences when you switch to Bell Direct.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
$11 or 0.1% for first 10 trades (for trade value up to $11,000)
Access a broad range of investment products from Australia and overseas.
Take advantage of IPOs and trade shares, warrants, options and CFDs listed across the ASX, SSX and Chi-X, and other major global exchanges, including US, Canada and UK markets.

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Trading in financial instruments carries various risks, and you can lose more than your capital. This article may contain general advice. You should always seek professional advice when deciding if a product is right for you.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    chrisMarch 1, 2019

    Does it cost $100 per day to leave a trade open longer than a 24hr period?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 6, 2019Staff

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Regarding your question, that you would depend on the trading platform you are using. Thus, it would be a good idea to check your trading platform for any fees that may apply if you leave a trade open for longer than 24 hours.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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