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Jan 04

13 Futures Markets For Automated Breakout Strategies

One of the frequent questions I keep receiving is what is the complex list of markets that are suitable for automated trading strategies. Let me give you a short overview of 13 markets that I know that you can develop interesting automated trading strategies for.

US Index markets: TF, EMD, YM, ES

American index markets are my specialization and I can confirm that for all, above mentioned markets it is not so difficult to find functional and high-quality automated trading system. I think that the most simple market where you can get good results quickly is EMD. Most of the strategies working in EMD market are (with minor changes) profitable also on TF market.

On YM market, you can get strategies with small stop-loss and it definitely is a market suitable for small trading accounts. ES market can be rather challenging. Due to a high level of saturation of automated trading systems in this market, it takes quite a while to find an interesting and robust system. Still, it is not impossible, and, as a reward for your hard work, you can expect smaller stop-losses, which is making this market more suitable for small accounts.

EU Index markets: FDAX

I have quite a lot of experience with this European market. Its high volatility can bring some really nice profits, but if you are not careful enough, you can experience rather big drawdowns. In fact, it is not so difficult to create a system for FDAX market, when using time template with US trading hours (15.30-22.00). Using this time template, I have managed to create several breakout systems that can be profitably traded in this market. One of the systems I have created for FDAX market several years ago, is quite simple breakout model (my breakout models are, in general, not complicated) and it turned out that it is profitable also in US index markets and several other markets as well. Systems don’t have to be complicated to be robust, it is just necessary to be patient – as it takes some time to find simple systems that are robust.

US Bonds: US

I have never traded any of my automated trading strategies live in this market ( I specialize myself in US index markets), but creating an interesting, simple and robust automated breakout strategy can be done even in this market. I know several traders who are successfully trading US market and there is no reason to avoid it. The only challenge is to create a system with big enough avg. trade value. 1 tick in this market represents more than 30 USD, so transaction costs and slippage can have a big impact in the live equity curve. So keep that in mind.

Energies: CL, RB, NG

I have quite a lot of experience with energies as well, especially with trading CL and NG markets. To trade these markets you need a bigger trading account, they tend to be quite volatile time to time, but creating an automated breakout strategy is not so difficult. The “secret trick” here is to experiment little bit with time templates – as they can have really big impact on the final results. So again – you need to be patient little bit and don’t be afraid of experimenting.

In general, I have also quite interesting results in the RB market, but the downside of this market is really low liquidity, which is the reason why I haven’t started live trading with any of my systems.Some of my students are also experimenting with energy markets and according to some systems that I have seen, I can tell that I am not the only one who can create really robust automated breakout strategies for CL and NG markets.

Grains: Wheat, Corn

These markets can be little bit challenging for creating breakout systems and I personally have had just a partial luck when developing systems for these markets. I have managed to find a couple of models, but it requires already advanced know-how. And I have seen several successful systems for these market from my students as well.

Personally, when it comes to grain markets, I am little worried about one issue – they tend to get little bit “crazy” time to time and there can be a limit move. So, when working with these markets, the approach needs to be more sophisticated and I highly recommend to have an advanced system for risk management, that will, for example, quickly decrease the number of contracts (or turns the system of completely), as soon as the volatility increases rapidly. Luckily, the limit moves are often preceded by volatility increase, so you can predict it and react in advance. Besides this specificity, grain markets have quite an interesting potential for automated breakout strategies.

Softs: Cotton, Sugar

I must admit that I don’t have much experience with these markets. But I know that several of my students, that are using advanced know-how, were able to build interesting and robust breakout strategies even in these markets.

I was experimenting with sugar market in the beginning of my automated trading career and I think that this market gets really interesting when you decide for position trading. Position traders have, in this market, much more possibilities how to get an interesting breakout automated strategy.

In general, it is always easier to search for long trading strategies rather than short trading ones. I myself build strategies trading long and short in separate ways.