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Mastering the Parabolic Trading Strategy with MACD

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The Parabolic SAR and MACD Forex Trading Strategy are a favorite for traders in markets that show clear up or down trends. This method uses two tools: the Parabolic SAR, a chart pattern that shows potential reversals in the market price of an asset, and the MACD, which stands for Moving Average Convergence Divergence, a trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of a security’s price.

What Is The Parbolic Sar?

Mastering the Parabolic Trading Strategy with MACD

The parabolic sar indicator is used to determine the direction of the currency pair momentum and the point at which this momentum has a higher-than-normal probability of switching directions. It’s represented as dots above or below the price on a chart.

  • Start: This is the initial value for the acceleration factor, which is used to calculate the SAR for the next period. A lower start value means the SAR is more sensitive to price changes at the beginning.
  • Increment: This is the amount by which the acceleration factor is increased each time a new high (in an uptrend) or low (in a downtrend) is formed. The increment affects how quickly the SAR converges towards the price.
  • Maximum: This caps the acceleration factor to prevent it from becoming too large. A lower maximum makes the SAR less sensitive to price changes as the trend develops, which can help filter out noise and prevent premature exits from a position.

While these are the standard default settings, traders often adjust them based on their trading style and the characteristics of the currency pair they are trading. For instance, in a highly volatile market, you might increase the maximum to make the SAR less sensitive to price swings. In a less volatile market, you might lower the start and increment values to make the SAR more responsive to price movements.

What Is The MACD?


The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a widely used technical analysis indicator in trading, particularly in Forex. It helps you identify potential buy and sell signals as well as momentum in the market. Here’s a breakdown of its components:

Components of MACD

  1. MACD Line: This is the main line and is calculated as the difference between two moving averages, typically the 12-period Exponential Moving Average (EMA) and the 26-period EMA. The periods can be minutes, hours, days, or any other time frame a trader chooses.
  2. Signal Line: This is usually a 9-period EMA of the MACD line. It acts as a trigger for buy and sell signals.
  3. Histogram: The MACD histogram is plotted on a chart and represents the difference between the MACD line and the Signal line. It visually shows the convergence and divergence of these two lines.

Strategy Fundamentals

Understanding the basics of this foreign exchange trading method is key if you plan to use the Parabolic SAR and MACD indicators to increase your trading results. It’s important to manage your risks to protect your trading account. This includes setting firm guidelines on your potential losses and choosing a trade size that’s right for your account.

Testing the method using past market performance is important. You want to be sure how the method holds up under various market situations before you start using real money. By backtesting, you’ll build trust in the method and decide on any adjustments that might improve how it works. Steady and disciplined actions are important for trading well, so be sure you understand the basics thoroughly before you begin real trades.

Let me break it down a bit:

  • The Parabolic SAR helps you figure out the direction of the market’s movement.
  • The MACD is a tool that helps you see the momentum of the market.
  • Risk management is about setting limits on what you are prepared to lose on a trade.
  • Stop losses are setting a point where you decide to cut your losses and get out of the trade to avoid bigger losses.

Let’s get into the strategy.

Parabolic SAR And MACD Forex Trading Strategy


The steps are fairly simple:

Entry Criteria:

  • Buy Signal:
    • The Parabolic SAR dots are below the price (indicating a bullish trend).
    • The MACD line crosses above the signal line, suggesting upward momentum.
    • Place a buy-stop 3-4 pips above the candlestick
  • Sell Signal:
    • The Parabolic SAR dots are above the price (indicating a bearish trend).
    • The MACD line crosses below the signal line, indicating downward momentum.
    • Place a sell-stop 3-4 pips below the candlestick

Exit Criteria:

  • For a Buy Trade:
    • Exit when the Parabolic SAR dots move above the price, signaling a potential trend reversal to bearish.
    • Or, when the MACD line crosses below the signal line.
  • For a Sell Trade:
    • Exit the trade when the Parabolic SAR dots move below the price, suggesting a bullish reversal.
    • Or, when the MACD line crosses above the signal line.


Risk Management Parameters:

    • Stop-Loss: Set a stop-loss near the recent swing high/low, or based on a certain percentage of your trading capital.
    • Take-Profit: Use a risk-reward ratio of at least 1:2 or higher. For instance, if your stop-loss is 20 pips away from your entry point, set a take-profit at least 40 pips away.
    • Position Sizing: Never risk more than 1-2% of your trading capital on a single trade.
    • Trailing Stop-Loss: Consider using a trailing stop-loss to lock in profits as the trade moves in your favor.

How To Enhance The Strategy

  1. Refining Entry Criteria:
    • Confirming Trend Strength: Before entering a trade, consider using additional indicators like the Average Directional Index (ADI) or the Relative Strength Index (RSI) to confirm the strength of the trend. This helps in avoiding false signals in sideways or weak trending markets.
    • Candlestick Patterns: Using candlestick patterns for entry can provide an extra layer of confirmation. For instance, a bullish engulfing pattern or pin bar for a buy signal or a bearish engulfing pattern for a sell signal.
  2. More Precise Exit Criteria:
    • Partial Profit Booking: Instead of exiting the entire position at once, consider booking partial profits at different levels. This can maximize gains in a strong trend while protecting against sudden reversals.
    • Multiple Time Frame Analysis: Use multiple time frames to identify the best exit points. For example, while trading on an hourly chart, refer to the 4-hour chart for broader trend confirmation.
    • MACD Cross:  Exit the trade only a cross of the MACD to avoid the rapid changes of the Parabolic Sar.
  3. Dynamic Risk Management:
    • Adjusting Stop-Loss: Instead of a fixed stop-loss, use a dynamic one like a moving average or a percentage of the Average True Range (ATR) to better suit the current market volatility.
    • Break-Even Point: Move your stop-loss to break-even once the trade is sufficiently in profit to protect against any loss (1:1 reward-risk ratio).
  4. Additional Indicators for Confirmation:
    • Volume Analysis: Incorporate volume analysis via FX Futures to confirm the strength of the buy or sell signals. Increasing volume on a buy signal or decreasing volume on a sell signal can offer additional confirmation.
    • Divergence Analysis: Look for divergence between the price and the MACD. For example, if the price makes new highs but MACD does not, it could indicate a weakening trend.
  5. Backtesting and Optimization:
    • Regularly backtest the strategy against historical data to assess its effectiveness. Adjust the parameters (like the periods of EMAs in MACD or the step increment in Parabolic SAR) based on the asset being traded and market conditions.
  6. Market Context Awareness:
    • Be aware of macroeconomic events and news releases that can cause high volatility. These events can lead to significant price spikes, making technical indicators less reliable in the short term.
  7. Psychological and Behavioral Aspects:
    • Maintain a trading journal to record your trades, emotional state, and market observations. This can be invaluable for personal growth and strategy refinement.

By incorporating these changes, the strategy can become more adaptable to various market conditions and potentially increase its effectiveness.

Recognizing Potential Pitfalls

While the Parabolic Sar trading strategy with the MACD provides a structured approach, it’s important to watch out for common traps that traders can fall victim to.

Trading too much can lead to costly mistakes and increased fees, so it’s wise to decide on a limit for how many trades you’ll make. Keeping an eye on market news is also important because it can affect your trades, especially with heavy economic events; a simple way to do this is to use a financial events calendar.  Stand aside 5-10 minutes before and after the release.

Risk management is vital.  Don’t put too much money into one trade by defining exactly how much you are willing to risk per trade.  Consider .5 – 2% of your account for each trade.

Emotions can also lead to poor trading decisions. To avoid this, stick to your trading plan, even when it’s tempting to follow the rapid movement we can see in price.  No setup.  No trade.

Maximizing Strategy Benefits

To get the most out of this forex trading strategy, it’s important to stick to its rules and keep a level head when making trades. Here are some steps to aid in your success:

  1. Improving How You Enter Trades: Get better at recognizing good trading opportunities by testing the strategy with past data. Learn what winning trades have in common as well as the losing ones.
  2. Setting Better Stop Loss and Take Profit Points: Look at past market data to find the best places to set these points to manage your risk. Learn how much your chosen currency pairs typically move up and down to set stop loss and take profit levels that are both safe and realistic.
  3. Keeping Up with Learning: Keep an eye on the market trends and financial news that can change how currencies are valued. This knowledge lets you tweak your strategy to work better under different market conditions.


With the Parabolic SAR and MACD strategy in your toolkit, you have a structured plan for trading.

The Parabolic SAR is a tool that helps traders identify potential reversals in the market price direction, while the MACD, or Moving Average Convergence Divergence, is used to spot changes in the strength, direction, momentum, and duration of a trend in a currency price. What’s important is to keep learning and adapting. As you apply this strategy, observe how it works in different market conditions. Take notes on what’s effective and what’s not. Change what is needed.

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