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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Chart Patterns: After the Buy
Getting Started in Chart Patterns, Second Edition book.
Trading Basics: Evolution of a Trader book.
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Swing and Day Trading: Evolution of a Trader book.
Visual Guide to Chart Patterns book.
Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns 2nd Edition book.

Bulkowski's Breakout Day Trading Setup (long)

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Candles Chart
Small Patterns
Industrials (^DJI):
Transports (^DJT):
Utilities (^DJU):
Nasdaq (^IXIC):
S&P500 (^GSPC):
As of 04/20/2018
24,463 -201.95 -0.8%
10,579 -92.91 -0.9%
691 -5.96 -0.9%
7,146 -91.93 -1.3%
2,670 -22.99 -0.9%
Tom's Targets    Overview: 04/13/2018
25,300 or 23,400 by 05/01/2018
10,800 or 9,800 by 05/01/2018
670 or 710 by 05/01/2018
7,400 or 6,800 by 05/01/2018
2,750 or 2,600 by 05/01/2018

Written by and copyright © 2005-2018 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

My book, Swing and Day TradingSwing and Day Trading: Evolution of a Trader book., discusses other trading setups and offers trading tips. The book is the last in the "Evolution of a Trader" trilogy.

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This trading setup uses the 1- or 5-minute chart to take advantage of price staging a breakout from a congestion area. You buy the stock on the breakout and then use a tight stop as price climbs.

Breakout Day Trading Setup Background

The idea behind this trade is to find a horizontal region of price movement and wait for price to breakout from this region. You can use this setup on any time scale but you can narrow your potential loss if you use a short time period to exit, like the 1-minute scale.

Breakout Day Trading Setup Methodology

The ideal breakout setup

The figure shows an idealized breakout trade. Price moves horizontally from candle C to D and then pierces the top of the region at candle A.

To help locate these horizontal price movements, you may find that the 5-minute scale works better than the 1-minute scale. Look for price that moves horizontally, perhaps oscillating just below or just above a round number like 10, 15, 20, or other support or resistance zone. Determine how close overhead resistance is, so you can judge where price is likely to turn after it breaks out of the current trading range. In other words, look for a target price.

In this example, the breakout occurs at candle A, and price makes a strong move up. This straight-line uptrend does not occur every time, so your situation will vary. As price rises move your stop higher using the low price of the prior candle (a penny or two below the bottom of the candle. If you place it at the low price instead of a penny or two below, you will be stopped out when a tweezers candle appears. Avoid that by using a stop placed 1 to 2 cents below the low). Raise the stop as each new candle appears. For choppy price movements, perhaps a stop below the lower of the prior two candles would work better.

Try to give price room to move higher without the trade being stopped out. Another exit method is to use a 10 period exponential moving average, but you may find that the candle low stop method works better. The EMA tends to hug the price trend as the stock rises. When price pierces the EMA, then close out your position.

Using a stop a penny below the prior candle low (placed at B) takes us out at candle E, as the figure shows.

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Breakout Day Trading Setup Checklist

  • Begin with the 5-minute chart to identify a horizontal consolidation region
  • Buy the stock when price moves above the top (by 1 to 5 cents) of the consolidation region
  • When the order fills, place a stop a penny or two below the prior candle's low
  • If the stock is volatile, then place the stop using the lower of the prior two candle's (a penny or two below the low). Alternatively, you can use a 10-period exponential moving average. When price crosses the EMA, close out the trade
  • Raise the stop as each new candle appears
  • Eventually, price will hit the stop and take you out

Breakout Day Trading Setup Example

The figure shows EBAY on the 5-minute scale. A horizontal price movement occurs from A to B followed by the breakout at candle C. A buy order placed a penny above the top of the consolidation region would have given you an entry price of 36.28. As price climbed, raise the stop to a penny below the prior candle's low. The stock peaks at D then makes a lower high at E. The stop on candle E is 36.72, a penny below the low when candle F forms. The trade is stopped out at candle F for a gain of 44 cents.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2018 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.