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Icon of a magnifying glass over a square and the word Tracking on a green background

 

As a trader, one of the most critical aspects of your strategy is trend tracking. Being able to identify and follow trends can make the difference between a successful trade and a losing one. That's where Parabolic SAR comes in. In this comprehensive introduction, we will explore the power of Parabolic SAR for trend tracking.

Parabolic SAR, short for Stop and Reverse, is a technical analysis indicator developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr. It is designed to help traders identify potential reversals in the price direction of an asset and provide entry and exit signals. Parabolic SAR is particularly useful in trending markets, where it excels at capturing the essence of the trend.

 

How does Parabolic SAR work?

To understand how Parabolic SAR works, we must first grasp the concept of SAR or Stop and Reverse. The indicator follows the price closely and provides a series of dots either above or below the price, indicating potential reversals. 

When the dots are below the price, it suggests an uptrend, and when they are above, it suggests a downtrend. The calculation of Parabolic SAR depends on two variables: the acceleration factor (AF) and the extreme point (EP). 

The acceleration factor determines the rate at which the SAR dots move closer to the price, while the extreme point represents the highest or lowest price reached during the current trend. Adjusting the acceleration factor, traders can customise the sensitivity of Parabolic SAR to suit their trading style.

 

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Understanding the Components Of Parabolic SAR

Parabolic SAR consists of two key components: the dots that appear on the price chart and the trend direction. The dots, often referred to as SAR dots, are the visual representation of potential reversals. 

When the dots switch from below to above the price, it signifies a potential bearish reversal. Conversely, when the dots switch from above to below the price, it signifies a potential bullish reversal.

The trend direction component of Parabolic SAR is equally important. It indicates the current trend based on the position of the dots. If the dots are below the price, it suggests an uptrend, and if they are above, it suggests a downtrend. 

Combining the dots and trend direction, traders can gain valuable insights into the market sentiment and make informed trading decisions.

Calculation and Formula of The Parabolic SAR Values


 

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The Parabolic SAR (Stop and Reverse) is calculated in a stepwise fashion, adjusting with each new period based on the price data. Here’s how the values are typically computed:

  1. SAR for the Next Period (SARn+1): The value for the next period is calculated using the current period's data.
  2. Initial SAR: This is the previous period's SAR.
  3. Extreme Point (EP): This is the highest high or lowest low recorded for the current trend. For an uptrend, it's the highest price, and for a downtrend, it's the lowest price.
  4. Acceleration Factor (AF): It starts at a specified value (commonly 0.02) and increases by a specified amount (up to a maximum, commonly 0.2) every time the EP is updated.

The general formula for calculating SAR is:

For an uptrend:

 SARn+1​=SARn​+AF×(EP−SARn​)

For a downtrend:

SARn+1​=SARn​−AF×(SARn​−EP)

The calculation continues with each period. If the price crosses the SAR value, the indicator flips to the opposite side of the price line, and the EP and AF are reset.

It's important to note that while the formula might seem straightforward, the actual calculation can be complex due to the resetting and adjustment of the EP and AF values. Hence, most traders rely on charting software to calculate and plot the Parabolic SAR on price charts.

 

Interpreting Parabolic SAR for Trend Tracking


 

Candlestick chart on a dark screen representing financial data

 

Interpreting Parabolic SAR is crucial for effective trend tracking. The dots provide valuable insights into potential reversals, while the trend direction component helps identify the overall market sentiment. 

When the dots are below the price and the trend direction is positive, it suggests a strong uptrend. Conversely, when the dots are above the price and the trend direction is negative, it indicates a strong downtrend.

Traders can also look for specific patterns in the SAR dots to gain further insights. For example, a series of dots above the price followed by a series of dots below the price suggests a potential trend reversal from bearish to bullish. 

Similarly, a series of dots below the price followed by a series of dots above the price indicates a potential trend reversal from bullish to bearish.

Utilising the information from the SAR dots alongside trend direction, traders can make informed decisions about entering or exiting trades. However, it is critical to employ Parabolic SAR in conjunction with other technical analysis tools to confirm signals and avoid false positives.

 

Using Parabolic SAR to Identify Entry and Exit Points

One of the primary applications of Parabolic SAR is identifying entry and exit points in a trade. When the SAR dots switch from below to above the price, it suggests a potential exit signal, indicating that the uptrend might be losing steam. 

Conversely, when the dots switch from above to below the price, it suggests a potential entry signal, indicating that the downtrend might be reversing.

Traders can also combine Parabolic SAR with other indicators to refine their entry and exit points. For example, using a moving average crossover strategy, where the price crosses above or below a moving average, in conjunction with Parabolic SAR can provide more robust signals. 

By waiting for confirmation from multiple indicators, traders can increase their chances of success in the market.

 

Strategies for Using Parabolic SAR in Trend Trading

There are several strategies that traders can employ when using Parabolic SAR for trend trading. One popular strategy is the SAR trailing stop, where the SAR dots are used to set stop-loss levels. As the price moves in the desired direction, traders can adjust their stop-loss orders based on the SAR dots, trailing them behind the price to protect their profits.

Another strategy is the SAR breakout, where traders wait for the price to break above or below the SAR dots before entering a trade. This strategy aims to capture significant price movements following a period of consolidation. Waiting for confirmation from the SAR dots, traders can avoid false breakouts and enter trades with higher probability.

It is important to note that no single strategy works perfectly in all market conditions. Traders should adapt their approach based on the prevailing market dynamics and combine Parabolic SAR with other indicators for optimal results.

 

Limitations and Considerations When Using Parabolic SAR

While Parabolic SAR is a powerful tool for trend tracking, it is not without its limitations. One major limitation is its performance in choppy or sideways markets. Parabolic SAR tends to generate false signals in such conditions, leading to losses for traders. 

Therefore, it is crucial to use Parabolic SAR in trending markets and combine it with other indicators for confirmation.

Another consideration when using Parabolic SAR is the sensitivity of the indicator. The acceleration factor determines how quickly the SAR dots move closer to the price. 

Higher values of the acceleration factor make the indicator more sensitive, resulting in more frequent and potentially false signals. Traders should adjust the acceleration factor based on their trading style and the volatility of the market.

Lastly, it is essential to remember that no indicator is infallible. Parabolic SAR is just one tool in a trader's arsenal and should be used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools and sound money management principles.

 

Bottom Line

Parabolic SAR is a powerful tool for trend tracking in the financial markets. Understanding how it works, interpreting its signals, and employing effective strategies, traders can harness the power of Parabolic SAR to identify trends, enter and exit trades, and manage risk. 

However, it is crucial to use Parabolic SAR in conjunction with other technical analysis tools and exercise caution in choppy or sideways markets. With the right approach, Parabolic SAR can become an invaluable asset in a trader's toolkit.

Now that you have a comprehensive introduction to Parabolic SAR, it's time to put your knowledge into practice. 

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“When considering “CFDs” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.” 

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