Counter-Trend Trading with Simple Range Exhaustion System

Here is an extremely simple trading system that violates the classic rule of trading, trend is your friend, with very good results. It is an excellent example that illustrates how counter-trend approaches work.

Simple Range Exhaustion System

1. Calculate the daily 20 period average range.

2. Today’s range must expand to exceed #1.

3. The 2-day combined range must expand to exceed 2.2 times of #1.

4. Go long at market if the market is trading in the lower portion of the 2-day range.

5. Protective stop is placed at 0.35 times #1 from the entry price.

6. If not stopped out, exit by 16:00 Eastern Time. i.e. a day trading system

To understand what the system does, just think about a rubber band that stretched thin. Once the force that hold up the stretched rubber band is gone, the rubber band will snap back to its normal self. Similarly, when the market moves in a particular direction too fast too soon, it will then snap back to a more sustainable level.

Almost all counter-trend trading techniques are based on similar principle. As oppose to wait for a confirmation before taking a position like trend followers, most counter-trend traders will try to time their entries as close to the extreme reversal points as possible to maximize the profits and minimize the risk exposures.

The Chart

I applied the system onto Emini S&P 10-min data, covering only 9:30 to 16:00 Eastern Time. Commission of $2.50 per side per contract is taken into account.

Here is the indicator setup,

sys 20060417 setup

Here is how the system works,

sys 20060417 chart2


The equity curve of the system covering 1997 until end of 2005,

sys 20060417 chart1

Notice that the system performs equally well in both bullish years and bearish years, even though it is a long only system. This implies the system has real statistical bias.

The duration in market for this system is just 1%. That leaves a lot of room for integration with other trading systems with minimal interference.

There is a major weakness with this system – when there is no range to work with, then you cannot measure range exhaustion. Thats exactly what happened during year 2003 and 2005 where the system has almost no trade.

Complete Indicator

Simple Range Exhaustion System.


This trading system is a good starting point for further research in utilizing range expansion for counter-trend trading. I have even included an extra filter in the indicator that you can uncomment and then test out its effect. Enjoy!

Discuss this article.

8 Comments on “Counter-Trend Trading with Simple Range Exhaustion System”

  1. Rocko Says:

    Very interesting strategy. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Lawrence Chan Says:

    You are welcome.

  3. DS Says:

    I don’t think I understand properly how to apply this strategy. I am a TS user and I was experimenting a bit with writing a code for indicator based on this approach. I run into the following problem:

    Since Range is High-Low then range will usually be a small number for example on ER2, that number for today is somewhere near 21 points, (2 day range * 2.2 is 85.80, but that is not even important at this point), what matter is that Rage is 21, but MA(20) is 727.80 for example (at the time of writing this post). So the following condition of range exceeding MA will be never met. Please explain what am I doing wrong here.

    Good trading.

  4. Kenneth Says:

    You can directly download and run trading system code at above download link.

  5. simon Says:

    Excellant idea….momentum divergence and sentiment divergence could help this strategy……how has it been preforming as of late? Do you feel that it will work on stocks as well?



  6. Chris Says:

    Hi Lawrence,

    I can tell that you have allot of years invested into system trading. As you know 90% of systems for sale lose money. Im sure you have developed some great systems, I was looking for a good swing or day trading system, if your interested in selling one I would be happy to negotiate.


  7. Mike Says:

    Hi Lawrence,

    I try to implement this indicator for Meta Trader but i have some problems with it. Could you please contact me by email?

    Thank you and best regards,

  8. Lawrence Chan Says:

    The discussion of trading systems, etc. has moved to daytradingbias.com

    Please post over there with your questions.

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