How to Trade a Break of a Trendline


Trading broken trendlines is a critical aspect of technical analysis. Understanding how to interpret and act upon the break of trendlines can make a significant difference to a trader's performance. This FXOpen article delves into the intricacies of trading broken trendlines, providing insights, strategies, and risk management techniques to help traders navigate this essential aspect of market analysis.

Understanding Trendlines

Although you know what trendlines are, let’s briefly go over the subject. Trendlines are foundational tools used in technical analysis to visualise the direction of price movements. Drawing accurate trendlines involves selecting the appropriate highs and lows to connect, so they provide a clear representation of the prevailing trend. According to the established rules, there should be at least two highs/lows to draw a strong trendline. The more points you connect, the more solid the line is supposed to be.

There are trendlines in forex, stock, commodity, index, and cryptocurrency* charts. Still, it may be easier to find trendlines on charts of assets experiencing less price volatility.

The three primary types of trendlines are:

1. Uptrend lines connect higher lows and act as support levels. They represent bullish market conditions.

2. Downtrend lines connect lower highs and serve as resistance levels. They depict bearish market conditions.

3. Sideways or Range-Bound lines connect comparable highs and lows, indicating a range-bound or consolidating market.

Significance of Broken Trendlines

Broken trendlines create trading opportunities for traders with different trading styles and risk tolerances. Traders can employ various strategies based on trendlines with breaks, including trend continuation, trend reversal, and breakout strategies. These opportunities can provide traders with entry and exit points to take advantage of changing market dynamics.

Identification of Trend Reversals

Perhaps the key value of broken trendlines is their role in identifying potential trend reversals. When an established trendline is decisively broken, it often signifies a shift in market sentiment. This break indicates that the previous trend's momentum has weakened or reversed, which can be a vital turning point for traders.

In an uptrend, the break of an uptrend line can suggest a potential reversal to a downtrend, and conversely, the break of a downtrend line in a downtrend may signal a potential reversal to an uptrend. If the price breaks the sideways trendline, it usually reflects the end of consolidation and the formation of a new trend, either upward or downward.

In the chart above, the price broke above the downward trendline, after which a new uptrend was formed.

Confirmation of Price Movements

Broken trendlines can act as confirmation signals for other technical analysis tools and patterns. For example, when a trendline break aligns with the formation of chart patterns like head and shoulders or double top and double bottom, it may reinforce the validity of these patterns and their associated price projections.

Market Sentiment

Broken trendlines can also provide insights into market sentiment and psychology. Traders' reactions to trendline breaks can reveal their beliefs and expectations regarding future price movements, which can impact market dynamics and create trading opportunities.

False Trendline Breakout

A false trendline breakout, also known as a fakeout or failed breakout, occurs when the price of an asset appears to break a trendline but then reverses direction, often moving back within the trendline's boundaries. False breakouts can mislead traders and can result in losses for those who initiate trades based on the initial breakout signal.

Here's a breakdown of the key characteristics of a false trendline breakout:

  • Initial Breakout. Initially, the price of the asset appears to break above or below a trendline. This break may even be accompanied by increased trading volume, which can provide confirmation of the breakout.
  • Traders' Reactions. Many traders may interpret the breakout as a significant move and initiate trades in that direction. For example, if a downtrend line is seemingly broken to the upside, traders may start buying, expecting a trend reversal.
  • Reversal. However, instead of continuing in the direction of the breakout, the price reverses course and moves back within the boundaries of the trendline. This reversal negates the initial breakout signal and can catch traders off guard.

Look at the chart above. The price broke above the falling trendline, but the uptrend didn’t form, so the downtrend resumed.

There are several reasons for false trendline breakouts, including:

  • Market Manipulation: In some cases, market participants with substantial resources may deliberately manipulate prices to trigger breakouts and then reverse the market's direction to take advantage of the price swings.
  • Lack of Confirmation: Fakeouts often occur when there is a lack of confirmation from other technical indicators or factors. Therefore, experienced traders look for multiple signals aligning to increase the validity of a breakout.
  • Whipsawing Markets: In volatile or indecisive markets, prices can frequently whipsaw above and below trendlines, making it challenging to distinguish between genuine and fakeouts.

Factors to Consider When Trading Broken Trendlines

To reduce the risk of falling victim to false trendline breakouts, traders often use additional technical analysis tools and confirmation signals. These may include waiting for reversal signals from other indicators, monitoring price action after the breakout, and setting stop-loss orders to potentially reduce losses in case of a reversal.

Confirmation Signals

Confirmation signals can come from various technical indicators and patterns, including but not limited to:

  • Candlestick Patterns. Traders look for candlestick patterns that support the direction of the breakout, such as bullish engulfing patterns for an upside breakout and bearish engulfing patterns for a downside breakout.
  • Oscillators. Oscillators like the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or the Stochastic can provide overbought or oversold conditions, which may help traders confirm the strength of the move.
  • Chart Patterns. Aside from candlestick patterns, chart formations, such as flags, triangles, or pennants, that coincide with the trendline break may provide additional confirmation.

Volume Analysis

Analysing trading volume is a crucial component of evaluating broken trendlines. Volume can provide insights into the significance of the breakout and whether it is more likely to be genuine or a false signal.

A breakout with increasing volume is generally seen as more reliable. It suggests that market participants are actively involved in the move, increasing the chances of a sustained trend.

Conversely, a breakout with decreasing volume may be less reliable, as it indicates a lack of enthusiasm among traders and raises the possibility of a false breakout.


Considering multiple timeframes is essential when trading broken trendlines. Different periods may provide different perspectives on the trendline break, and using a combination of them may enhance decision-making. Here's how traders approach timeframes:

  • Higher Timeframes. They start by analysing higher timeframes (e.g., daily or weekly) to identify the primary trend direction. This provides context for the trendline break observed on shorter timeframes.
  • Lower Timeframes. Market participants use lower timeframes (e.g., hourly or 15-minute charts) for finer entry and exit points. These shorter timeframes may help pinpoint optimal trade execution levels after the trendline break.
  • Confluence. Traders seek confluence between different timeframes. When a trendline break aligns with a breakout on higher timeframes, it adds strength to the trade signal.

Support and Resistance Levels

When trading broken trendlines, it's crucial to consider nearby support and resistance levels. These levels can influence price movements and provide valuable context for trade management.

Fibonacci Retracement and Extension Tools

Fibonacci retracement and extension levels can complement trendline analysis. If the price breaks the Fibo level after a trendline breakout, this may confirm the strength of the newly forming trend.

Risk Management and Position Sizing when Trading Trendline Breakouts

Effective risk management is paramount when trading trendline breakouts. When trading with trendlines, potential profits and losses can be determined via these techniques:

  • Setting Stop Losses. Setting appropriate stop-loss orders is a crucial component of risk management strategies.
  • Proper Position Sizing. Position sizing is a critical aspect of risk management, especially when trading trendline breakouts. It determines the amount of capital allocated to each trade and helps control exposure to potential losses.
  • Risk-Reward Ratios. Risk-reward ratios are essential for evaluating the potential effectiveness of a trade relative to the risk taken.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Trading Trendline Breakouts

Common mistakes when trading trendline breakouts include making decisions based on insufficient confirmation signals, ignoring fundamental factors, and being guided by emotions. By implementing a disciplined approach and being aware of these pitfalls, traders may increase their chances of making informed trading decisions.

Ignoring Confirmation Signals

One of the most common mistakes traders make when trading trendline breakouts is ignoring confirmation signals. Relying solely on the trendline break itself can lead to premature or misguided trades.

Overlooking Fundamentals

While technical analysis plays a significant role in trading trendline breakouts, overlooking fundamental factors can be a costly mistake. Traders consider the broader market context and macroeconomic factors that may impact the assets they trade. Fundamental events like economic releases, earnings reports, or geopolitical developments can influence market sentiment and override technical signals.

Emotional Trading

Emotional trading is a common pitfall for traders, and it becomes particularly pronounced when trading trendline breakouts. Emotions such as fear and greed can lead to impulsive decisions and erode trading discipline.

Final Thoughts

The ability to trade broken trendlines is a valuable skill for market analysts and traders. Understanding the basics of trendlines, recognising their significance, and implementing effective trendline strategies and risk management techniques may lead to more sound trading outcomes. It's essential to approach broken trendline trading with discipline, patience, and continuous learning to navigate the complexities of financial markets effectively.

*At FXOpen UK and FXOpen AU, Cryptocurrency CFDs are only available for trading by those clients categorised as Professional clients under FCA Rules and Professional clients under ASIC Rules, respectively. They are not available for trading by Retail clients.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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