Although the type of trading style impacts the choice of time-frames to some degree, it is worth highlighting the differences and nuances of the individual time-frames explicitly to enable traders to make a conscious decision about which time-frame to use for their trading based on their objectives, personal needs and character traits.
These are usually the monthly, weekly and daily time-frames. Whereas day traders use these time-frames to get a broad overview of the market and to identify the general market direction, swing traders rarely go any lower than the 4 hour time-frame and spend most of their time on these time-frames. Trading the higher time-frames might also be more suited if you are still working in a regular job where time for trading is limited.
Although, the myth exists that trading higher time-frames is easier, this is not entirely true. Trading the higher time-frames is a whole other game and requires a very different skillset. Traders who struggle with patience, will often find it even harder to trade the higher time-frames where waiting for entry signals can take days or weeks. Furthermore, managing trades on the higher time-frames requires emotional stability because traders have to accept and deal with frequent retracements during their trades.
The lower time-frames
These are mainly the 4 hour, 1 hour, 30 minute and 15 minute time-frames. These time-frames are used by most day traders. Patience plays a smaller role on these time-frames, because trade signals occur more frequently. However, traders who tend to over-trade and engage in revenge-trading often have more problems on these lower time-frames because more potential trading opportunities exist and volatility is higher on the lower time-frames, creating more opportunities as well.
The choice of time-frames is, therefore, more than just picking the first best that comes to your mind or something other traders suggest, but a factor that has to be aligned to your personality and your emotional state.
Combining different time-frames
The top-down approach is used by many traders and performing a top-down analysis can be very helpful when it comes to determining trade opportunities and creating a trading plan.
At least once a week, a trader should take a look at his Monthly and Weekly time-frames to understand where current price is in relation to the bigger picture or whether price is approaching important support and resistance levels.
Using the higher time-frame as a directional filter can also improve the quality of your trades. For example, a trader can only choose to trade in the direction of the trend that he can identify on the higher time-frames. The lower time-frames are then used to time the entries and to find trade signals based on the trading methodology. By going with the overall market direction, a trader can often realize much smoother trades and avoid getting whipsawed in counter-trend situations.
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