Any financial market has the potential to go either up, down, or sideways. A market is said to be in an uptrend when it is moving higher, and a downtrend when it is moving downward. What does, however, trading sideways mean?
In a sideways market, the price varies for an extended length of time within a narrow range without trending in one direction or the other. When the forces of supply and demand are almost equal, there is a horizontal price movement.
We’ll talk about the following in this article:
- What is a sideways market and what does it mean?
- The fundamentals of sideways market movement
- The best way to spot a sideways market
- What does a sideways market indicate, for better or worse?
- Trading tactics for sideways markets
- Trading a sideways market: advantages and disadvantages
What is a sideways market and what does it mean?
In a sideways market, the price varies for an extended length of time within a narrow range without trending in one direction or the other. When the forces of supply and demand are almost equal, there is a horizontal price movement. Prior to the price continuing a previous trend or reversing into a new trend, it frequently signals a time of consolidation.
Other names for sideways markets include ranging markets, range-bound markets, non-trending markets, and trendless markets. In that case, neither the bulls nor the bears are able to establish control since price simply oscillates in a horizontal range or channel rather than going up or down. It can signify a time when institutional investors are either building up new positions or selling off old ones.
Sometimes, the price moves aimlessly up and down while keeping a specific average level. Other times, the price moves between two established price levels that constitute support and resistance zones. The sideways markets in this case might be described as choppy. It frequently indicates uncertainty ahead of a financial, political, or economic decision.
In general, long-term investors dislike sideways markets, especially when they endure for a long period because the price doesn’t move much either way to generate profits. However, seasoned short-term traders are aware of how to profit from range-bound markets. Smart investors also understand when sideways markets offer a good chance to enter a trade in anticipation of the formation of a new trend.
Even though trading in a sideways market might be challenging, certain forex trading methods work best in these conditions. Some traders make money by selling currency pairs that are overbought or oversold, especially if the sideways market is anticipated to last for a considerable amount of time.
Fundamentals of sideways market movement
Regardless of where it is going, the price frequently fluctuates up and down. The upswings would be greater than the downswings if the price were on an upward trend, and vice versa if the price were on a downward trend. But when the upswings and downswings are almost the same size, the market doesn’t move much either way—it just moves sideways!
Regions of price support and resistance within which the price oscillates are often what define sideways markets. In other words, if the price is constrained within the bounds of significant levels of support and resistance, the market will move sideways. When an upswing meets a resistance level, it reverses to start a new downswing, much to how a tennis ball bounces between the floor and the ceiling. A downswing bounces off a support level and does the same. The market is said to be range-bound in this circumstance.
A sideways market is said to be a time of price consolidation before the previous trend continues. These periods of consolidation are frequently required during long-lasting trends since it is almost impossible for such significant price movements to persist over the longer run. It might, however, also be a time of dispersal or accumulation. Before the start of a new trend, either an uptrend or a downtrend, it is not unusual to observe price movement that remains sideways for an extended length of time. After a downturn, a time of accumulation frequently signals the start of an upswing, whereas a period of distribution after an uptrend signals the start of a new downtrend.
The trading volume, which often remains flat during a sideways trend since it is evenly balanced between bulls and bears, is one of the indicators that point to a sideways price movement. But more crucially, it can predict when a breakout (or breakdown) is likely to happen; when it shoots up fast, it indicates higher market activity, and the color code would accord with the breakout’s or collapse’s direction. In order to predict where the price may go and when a breakout or breakdown may be likely to occur, traders often look at other technical indicators and chart patterns.
The best way to spot a sideways market
You must be able to recognize a sideways market in order to know how to trade it or even decide whether to trade it or avoid it altogether. Here are several indicators to watch out for when trying to spot a sideways market.
Identifying the degrees of support and opposition is the first step. A support level is the price at which buyers resume their purchases of the asset and prevent the price from falling below that level. On the other side, a resistance level is a point at which investors sell their stock because they don’t think it will rise much further. Additionally, it’s where short-term traders place their short orders.
These levels can be identified by the price’s reversal when it bounces off of them. The resistance level is like the ceiling, while the support level is like the floor. The market is moving sideways when you observe that the price is constrained by those two levels.
As long as the price stays between those two levels, it might eventually break through one of the barriers without making a new high or low that is higher or lower. As a result, the support or resistance level may wind up being extended, becoming zones.
The sideways market would eventually terminate and be replaced by a new bull or bear market when the price would break out and make an even higher high or lower low. Before a true breakthrough eventually happens, there may be several fake ones.
What does a sideways market indicate—is it positive or negative?
A sideways market: beneficial or harmful? What does it teach you about the state of the market and how to deal with it?
A sideways market is neither good nor negative, as with all market phases; it all depends on how you approach it. A sideways market is simply another phase of the market, one that you may either trade if your technique is appropriate for that market condition or avoid until your strategy’s ideal market situation manifests itself.
However, a sideways market, which is characterized by decreased trading activity and low trading volume, essentially informs you that the market is taking a pause (consolidation). Consolidation is a typical aspect of trading activity and frequently follows a logical trend in one direction. It demonstrates that traders are unsure of the potential next moves the market may make. As a result, they are exercising caution while continuing to build on their prior successes and waiting for the market to turn around. The more traders want to drive the price in one way, the longer they hold on and don’t notice any clear movement.
What would occur following the break is unclear, though. The price may either carry on moving in the same direction as it had before the consolidation or it may reverse course and trend in the opposite direction. However, there can be hints to identify where a breakout will most likely occur.
One way to determine the stage of the business cycle is to take into account the general economic situation. A market consolidation during a phase of the business cycle may indicate the beginning of the following phase and a change in the market’s trend. For instance, if severe price swings and high asset valuations occur before a time of price consolidation, this might indicate the end of the business cycle or the beginning of the market’s distributive phase. A bear market might occur after that.
A sideways market during a recession is likely an accumulation phase in the market and could indicate a new bull market because a recession signifies the bottom of the business cycle. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay attention to leading economic indicators because they can reveal the stage of the business cycle, which you can then use to evaluate the data.
A technical indicator to take into account, aside from economic reasons (fundamental analysis), is the occurrence of false breakouts. The price is more likely to move after a consolidation in the direction in which it produced a false breakout. The true breakout could be to the downsides if there is a false breakout to the upside, and vice versa.
Trading strategies for sideways markets
Long-term investors and short-term traders both find it challenging to trade a sideways market. A long-term buy-and-hold investor, though, might not concern if he believes the asset to be fundamentally sound and a wise investment. He would just buy and keep the stock while patiently waiting for the market to increase and bring in a profit. However, there is still a chance that the current phase of the business cycle is incorrect and a bear market will develop. In light of this, let’s examine how both long-term and short-term investors and traders might trade a sideways market:
The importance of trying to time the market is irrelevant to buy-and-hold investors. The proper asset allocation is what counts to them. Therefore, it is necessary to rebalance the portfolio and ensure that it is diversified when the market is moving sideways. In this manner, the investor lowers risks while watching for the market to resume rising.
Technical analysis serves as the foundation for short-term traders’ trading decisions. With technical analysis, there are two strategies to trade a sideways market: trading the breakout and, if the range is wide enough to generate profits, trading the up and down price movements.
Trading range breakouts
Followers of trends and momentum breakouts are popular among traders. To go long or short, they would have to wait for the price to close either above the upper border or below the lower threshold. Micro-consolidations around the boundary prior to the breakout and a false breakout in the opposite direction are two methods they employ to determine the authenticity of a breakout.
Trading range-bound price swings
Some short-term traders will trade price swings from the range’s edges if the sideways price movement’s range is wide enough. They attempt to exit right before the upper boundary by going long from the lower boundary (support level) (resistance level). They attempt to short from the upper boundary and depart before the lower barrier whenever it is possible.
Trading a sideways market: advantages and disadvantages
Trading a sideways market has a lot of benefits and drawbacks.
Here are a few advantages:
- Clear entry and exit points: Support and resistance levels are frequently well-defined so a trader knows where to look for trade setups. It may be a good idea to go long and set a profit target before the resistance if you see a hammer candlestick formation at the support level.
- Tight risk management: Traders are extremely careful when trading a sideways market. To limit the downside of the deal, they placed a stop-loss order.
Here are a few disadvantages:
- Higher costs: Frequent trading results in higher transaction costs and typically offers more trading possibilities than trend trading. Spreads and commission expenses increase as trading volume increases.
- Chart watching: Spending more time in front of the screen is necessary for trading more regularly in order to assess the markets, place trades, and keep track of them.
A sideways market, also known as a sideways drift, is when a currency pairs price fluctuates over time within a somewhat stable range without clearly exhibiting any trends. Instead, price activity fluctuates in a horizontal range or channel without either bulls or bears seizing control of the market.
If investors can accurately recognize a sideways trend and create and put into practice a sideways trading strategy, the sideways market can be a rewarding investing opportunity. Given that the sideways trending price chart provides the trader with the highs and lows, they can successfully enter on a low and exit on a high with the appropriate movements.
Self-confessed Forex Geek spending my days researching and testing everything forex related. I have many years of experience in the forex industry having reviewed thousands of forex robots, brokers, strategies, courses and more. I share my knowledge with you for free to help you learn more about the crazy world of forex trading! Read more about me.