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SoftSoap's NQ Journey - from SoftSoap to SoftGold
Started:August 28th, 2016 (01:13 PM) by SoftSoap Views / Replies:12,099 / 272
Last Reply:15 Hours Ago (02:34 PM) Attachments:430

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SoftSoap's NQ Journey - from SoftSoap to SoftGold

Old August 28th, 2016, 01:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
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Futures Experience: Beginner
Platform: NinjaTrader
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Thanks: 268 given, 824 received

SoftSoap's NQ Journey - from SoftSoap to SoftGold

So I've been on the fence about starting a journal on FIO for the last couple of months. Mainly due to the fact that I am not a disciplined trader yet, and some days my performance embarrasses me.
Honestly, the NinjaTrader contest was the push I needed to share my journal publicly, so thank you @NinjaTraderand @Big Mike.

I know that starting this journal will be helpful for me, and I hope that some of you can also learn from my mistakes

A bit about me
  • Open minded and looking to grow as a trader
  • Relatively young
  • My life motto is "Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity" (not sure whose quote)
  • I live in Calgary, Canada so I worked in Oil & Gas from before graduating until I quit
  • For what it's worth, I have a BBA
  • I have a broad set of work experience and skill sets but the most relevant to trading are:
    • Business Analytics
    • Operational Excellence / Business Improvement
    • Business Strategy and Business Process Development
    • Project Management
    • Root Cause Analysis
  • I also have a lot of other O&G experience that is great for a beer conversation in Calgary but not very useful in trading
  • No previous market experience
  • I’m married with no kids and my wife is not only very supportive of my trading, but she helps me improve with the psychological part of trading

My Trading Methodology
  • I trade the NQ
  • I look for the bigger swings of the day (10+pts), this means my trades can range from seconds to hours depending on how quick the market moves
  • Default risk is 4.5 pts, default target is 11.25 pts
  • I will adjust my target 90% of the time, and my stop about 35% of the time
  • Entry points are based on at least one of the following:
    • Support / resistance zones
    • Volume count and profiles
    • Observing what I refer to as “Long-Term Player behaviour” (big money)
    • Things that cannot be explained logically but make sense in my crazy head
  • I look at volume, volume profiles, and time candles in my charts. No indicators
  • The majority of my trades are looking for the reversal of a trend
  • I’m not afraid to get in front of a trend as the majority of my trades are counter trend expecting the market to reverse
  • I use this spreadsheet to track my trades, although I've modified it quite a bit to suit my needs

My Golden Risk Management Rules
These are rules that I will not break under any circumstance. As I develop as a trader I will be tweaking the numbers on these rules, and introduce additional rules.
  • Max 1% risk per trade
  • Max 3.5% loss per day
  • Max 7% loss per week
  • Max 12% loss per month

My Silver Risk Management Rules
These are similar to my golden rules in the sense that I don't want to break these under any circumstance. However, right now I am not emotionally strong enough to never break them. I read these every day to myself before the market opens to remind myself though.
  • Walk away if you are emotionally unstable
  • If you execute 2 ‘bad’ trades in a row, walk away for 5 minutes
  • If you execute 1 ‘really bad’ trade, walk away for 5 minutes

My Trading Philosophy
  • One thing that I ask myself constantly and you will see me ask frequently is why. Why does the market do that? Why did I take that trade? Why didn’t the market react as I expected? Etc.
  • I have 3 main goals that I remind myself of every day:
    1. Understand more about how the market moves and why
    2. Understand more about myself and how it impacts my trading
    3. Trade better today than I traded yesterday
  • I believe in starting simple and adding depth as required. The market is already an extremely complex organism, so I don’t need to add to that by also having a complex decision making system
  • I believe that trading futures isn’t a strict science but a combination of science and art. Having said that, I’ve observed 3 branches of trading, this is how I would define them:
    1. Fundamental – Looks for quantitative macroeconomic indicators to make decisions. GDP, manufacturing, interest rates, etc. Longer Term players and Big Money prefer this (my speculation)
    2. Technical – I am not very familiar with this branch of trading as I haven’t taken the time to understand it. What I gather is that the traders are looking for patterns in the market to make decisions. These patterns are derived from price, time, and volume and often rely on indicators to speed up the analysis. It seems that scalpers and shorter term players prefer this (my speculation)
    3. Market Sentiment – I’d say that this is the art of trading. This is what I would refer to as being able to ‘feel’ the market in real-time. It’s easy to determine that we are in a bull or bear market based on historical data, and that’s usually what people think of when they think Market Sentiment. However I view this a bit differently. It’s hard for me to explain but if you view the market as a living organism as I do, it’s as if you are holding on to it as it’s moving and can get an idea of where it will go. Some key events will make reading this extremely obvious (Brexit results coming in as an example)
  • My philosophy primarily focuses on Market Sentiment and Fundamental Analysis, but I will use some technical analysis such as Support / Resistance and Volume Profiles for my entry and exit points.

How I grade my trades
Shortly after starting to trade I realized that grading performance on P/L isn't effective. I decided to come up with a way of grading my trades that is tailored to my issues.
  1. Really Bad
    • Not in plan
    • Knew I shouldn’t have entered
    • Made execution mistakes
  2. Bad
    • Not in plan
    • Some signs were there, but it felt like a 51/49 gamble
  3. Ok
    • It may or may not have been part of the plan
    • Some signs were there, but it felt like a 51/49 gamble
    • Decent (but not good) target and/or stop
  4. Good
    • It was in the plan
    • Observed signs of entry
    • Good target and stop
  5. Excellent
    • Everything a good trade has but also adapted to the market either by modifying entry for better potential, or exited early/late depending on the market conditions

What I plan to post and when
  • Intraday
    • Snapshots of some of my entry / exit points along with a brief description
  • End of day
    • Summary of the day
    • 3 things I did well
    • 3 things I could’ve done better
  • End of week
    • Summary of the week
    • P/L, expectancy, win%, other quick analyses
    • My best trade and the trade I will be sure to avoid in the future
  • End of month
    • Summary of the month
    • P/L, expectancy, win%, other quick analyses
    • Risk of ruin analyses

Current Routine
  1. Sunday Routine
    • Get caught up on news
    • Note newsworthy events from last week as well as from upcoming week, enter them into outlook for a reminder
    • Look at US holidays, will any of them have an impact on market activity?
    • Calculate updated daily, weekly, and monthly max risk
    • Complete week-over-week changes in market (range, volume, high, low, etc.)
    • Get an idea of market sentiment
    • Look at support / resistance zones, note how many times they’ve been tested and note what conditions will require them to break
    • Look for signs on the market that something has changed or is changing (volume, range, etc.)
    • Try and get a gauge of the emotions in the market, how will that change trader’s behaviour? How will that change my behaviour? This helps raise my self-awareness
    • Write down weekly goals
  2. Pre-Market Routine
    • Calculate updated daily and weekly max risk
    • Get caught up on news
    • Re-read weekly assessment
    • Conduct daily assessment
    • Lay out type of trades I will NOT take (if applicable)
    • Think of various scenarios
    • Lay out areas in NinjaTrader where I will likely enter a trade, as well as no trade zones
    • Enter alerts in NinjaTrader
    • Ensure my ATM strategies are set and good to go on NinjaTrader
    • Complete checklist of daily personal preparation expectations (things such as drink x amount of water, re-reading weekly assessment, laying out no-trade zones, etc.)
  3. Post-Market Routine
    • Read journal
    • List 3 things I did well
    • List 3 things I can improve on
    • Complete checklist for what I should've completed during the day

Thanks for reading! The purpose of this journal is for me to improve, so if you have any advice, comments, or criticism along the way I would love to hear it!

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity

Last edited by SoftSoap; August 28th, 2016 at 11:01 PM. Reason: I didn't enter the mentions properly
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Old August 28th, 2016, 01:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
Quick Summary
Quick Summary Post

Instead of using this as a 'summary', I thought to use this as an area of 'key' posts to refer to.



Last edited by SoftSoap; November 10th, 2016 at 05:54 PM.
     
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Old August 28th, 2016, 07:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Trading Career Summary and my Edge


My Trading Career so far
I quit my job at the end of 2015 and dedicated myself to trading starting this year.
I was initially going to trade CL as I was familiar with O&G but saw that my account wasn't big enough to handle the volatility. I then chose to go with NQ with help from this FIO webinar

I found some free data going back to 2004 so I started just trying to figure out wtf I was looking at , nothing really made sense.
The fact that I just copied other people's setups from screenshots didn't help as I had so many things on my charts and had no idea what they all meant.
I got rid of everything and started fresh with a naked candle stick chart. I eventually added things to it but only if it gave me an answer to a question that I was having.
Starting 2013, the data I found had intraday data so I was able to get into the 5 and 15 minute candles.

Sim trading
I then started sim trading from 2014-2016 YTD, took me a couple of real months. I tried different things until I found something that felt right with me. I replicated this over and over until the numbers proved that I had found an edge. I was slightly profitable in sim and got some feedback on my first FIO thread. I used some of the advice that was given on there to further improve my edge on sim. I had raised my numbers so much in SIM I felt like I would have a very easy transition to live and I'd be bringing in 10% monthly ROI on my first month.

However, SIM did not take into account any psychological factors and I severely overestimated my ability on that, I felt that my numbers would slightly fluctuate but the overall trend would be the same.
Let's all laugh together

My first try at live trading
At the end of May I took my first 2 trades on the IB platform because I didn't have NinjaTrader set up and they were pure gambles, I didn't even know how to exit out of my position. Needless to say I lost both of those trades.
I then proceeded to lose the next 3 weeks and took a bit of a break. I traded on and off in May, June and early July as I was losing most of the time. I lost ~20% of my account so fast and realized that I completely underestimated the psychological aspect. The really bad thing about this is that I did not go a full month trading live, August will be my first full month of live trading.

Proving to myself that I still had an edge
I didn't question my edge throughout this time but I no longer trusted my ability to execute things according to my plan. I was frustrated, I'm used to picking things up extremely quick and here I was down a significant % of my account and still executing trades that I didn't want to execute. The emotional side in me was completely ignoring my edge and just doing whatever it wanted to do.

What frustrated me the most is that I am an extremely logical person and this was not like me at all. Some people smarter than me (such as @MacroNinja) suggested that my system is not mechanical enough and I need to go back to sim. I felt like going back to sim was taking a step back and I hate taking steps back. However, sometimes you need to take a step back in order to make a huge leap forward. I decided to stop doing the on and off live trading thing and stop altogether.

I sat down with one of my mentors over a beer and told him my problems (he is not a trader). He challenged me on whether I truly had an edge. I knew that my emotions were getting in the way but I wasn't able to prove it. So in order to prove my hypothesis I started to divide my trades into the 3 following categories:
  1. Rational trade – Part of my plan, signs are there, all the good stuff. Essentially, my head entered me into this trade
  2. Emotional trade – Was this in your plan? Did you want to avoid this trade? Were you thinking about it? Doesn’t matter, you are now in a trade because the dopamine surge you got from looking at the charts was enough to click a button
  3. Mixed trade – Mostly rational but has a bit of emotions in there. Example, all the signs are there but I entered with a market order

I populate this category in my spreadsheet the second I enter into a trade.

I then took the next couple of weeks to sim trade and think very critically about my biggest pitfalls. My wife helped me as well to not just think about what I was doing, but WHY I was doing it. I honestly spent so much time asking myself questions and doing a full root cause analysis on my emotional trades. I decided to modify a lot of my management system to accommodate. I started back up in full force on the last week of July and the difference feels like night and day.
I still have a LOT to improve on specially emotionally speaking, but I feel like I'm more in control of my emotions MOST of the time.

I love this journal because despite just starting I feel that this will make me more accountable regarding the emotional side of my trading!

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 28th, 2016, 07:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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End of Week

Ok so despite just starting my journal I did commit to adding something at the end of the week, so here goes!

Summary
This week was a bit of a roller coaster to be quite honest, Monday I absolutely killed it with 3 rational trades, 1 mixed trade, and 0 emotional trades. However, I also did really bad on Thursday with 7, yes 7 emotional trades. Friday was such a volatile day that I had lots of good trades and lots of bad trades. I ended on a drawdown but positive so I can't complain on that part.

Metrics:
PNL - 2.10%
Win% - 34%
Expectancy - 9.72%

Overall though I am happy because I learned A LOT about myself this week. To top that off, I made a lot of changes to my management system that will definitely help me out in the future.
The biggest example is knowing when to get out on trades that I scale in at.
I'm still learning how to scale in properly and honestly I am not quite strong enough emotionally to be comfortable doing it all the time. However things were moving very strongly on Friday that I told myself I would try the first move after Yellen's speech whether bull or bear. I scaled in nicely from 1 into 4 contracts but I did not get out when I should've.
I would've had a killer trade if I got out when I was debating getting out but I was not strong enough emotionally to do so.

Here was the trade.
10:09 Long entry at 4791.75
10:15 Second contract at 4802
10:15 Third contract at 4807.75
10:16 Fourth contract at 4810.00
At around 10:20 the price was around the 4815-4816 mark and I noticed the signs that I should get out.
However I was not able to do it, and was hoping that the trend would just continue DESPITE the signs being there that I should get out.

I didn't get out until 10:40 and I got out at the 4807.50 mark, about 7-9 points below where I knew I should've gotten out.
Initially I was pretty frustrated because that is a difference of 30-40 points! and I had a really bad Thursday so this would more than make up for it but I was able to get over that fast.

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I thought about this and I realized that when the market moves that fast and I'm in with 4 contracts it is very hard for me to think logically and I just want the trend to continue. The signs were there for me to exit but I didn't want to listen to them.

So I created a list of 2 easy questions to ask myself should I ever be in this situation again where I've scaled in more than normal and I am debating get out of the market.
  1. Are there any signs that the move is ending and it could reverse?
  2. Are you in control, or does this trade now feel like a gamble?

If I answer yes to both of those, then I need to get out immediately, easy.

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 28th, 2016, 08:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The trades I want to avoid from this week

Futures Edge on FIO
I wish I did NOT have to share this on my first week of this journal, but ugh I need to get over this. It's trades like these that made me debate whether or not I should start a journal.
This is what one of my mentors refers to as 'the child inside me'. This is what I am fighting so hard to beat, this is my main problem, and it happened this week.

A picture says a thousand words so here goes:
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Yep that's what 7 bad decisions in 20 minutes looks like. Now this made me very angry, not just because those were all emotional trades and they were all loses. The reason I got really angry is because if you see this next picture, this is my morning prep and I have an order set at what was to be THE BOTTOM OF THE RTH SESSION!!!
The worse thing is that I canceled my rational order to make room for these emotional trades....
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Now I might not have been filled but I set that order because that's where I thought it would be a good place to enter, so why the hell did I go chasing those trades and then exiting within seconds at some point? Specially when I had done all of my morning prep? why did I even spend so much time doing something that I instantly threw out the window?

Now this all started with me thinking that the market was going to trend bull at first and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss it. But jeez I shouldn't care if I miss a move, there's going to be tons of moves all the time so who cares if I miss it. Instead I took 7 emotional trades in 20 minutes and had to walk away...

This is exactly what I am fighting so hard to avoid, the child in me...

To add a positive to this, the child in me only comes out every now and then, but the child in me would come out almost every day when I initially started trading...

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 28th, 2016, 08:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The trades I am proud of this week

Okay let's end this on a positive note shall we?
I've shown you the child in me, now let me show you the disciplined trader in me

Here's the result of my morning prep, the red are my 'no entry areas', the blue boxes are where I am looking to place an order
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As you can see I have a preemptive order set at the 4793 area, which I DO NOT MOVE at all until my order is filled

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Here is my order being filled, completely against trend, but with good enough signs that the trend will reverse

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You have no idea how bad I wanted to exit the trade here, but I controlled myself and I had a very good stop, the price came a couple ticks away from taking me out. As you can see, I also moved my target up as I felt very comfortable the market would go up more than 4804 area which was my initial target.

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After an hour or so my efforts paid off and I hit my target!

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I then entered a short position at area #3, where in my prep I expected the market to reverse on first contact, I wasn't at my desk to place the trade initially but I was still able to get filled. As you can see, once again I increased my target about 3 points as I felt very comfortable on the way I was reading the market sentiment.

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Again an hour or so later my target was hit, I was expecting the market range to shrink so once it didn't I was wishing that I had a higher target hah

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But once again, it hits one of the areas I've marked as potential to reverse the trend, I observe the signs and enter into another counter trend trade

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My target was 2 points shy on this trade so I had to exit when the trend had reversed one more time but I was still happy

In Summary all 3 of these trades were rational, all 3 of these trades were in my trading plan, and all 3 of these trades were successful.

This is the trader I need to and will become, the logical trader who reads the market and executes according to plan. I felt very proud this day.

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 28th, 2016, 08:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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When money on the table our brains start to work completely different and unexpectedly. You are not alone in struggling with your inside demons btw, journaling is one of the ways to overcome them and back under control. So your decision to start journaling is definitely right. Will watch your progress and follow your journal. We both trade NQ so will be glad to share ideas! Good luck!

Sent from my ASUS_Z007 using futures.io mobile app

Bite small, run fast!
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Old August 28th, 2016, 09:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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citikot View Post
When money on the table our brains start to work completely different and unexpectedly. You are not alone in struggling with your inside demons btw, journaling is one of the ways to overcome them and back under control. So your decision to start journaling is definitely right. Will watch your progress and follow your journal. We both trade NQ so will be glad to share ideas! Good luck!

Sent from my ASUS_Z007 using futures.io mobile app

I appreciate the words of encouragement!
I'm glad to hear from another trader who is also trading the NQ, I'll be checking your journal out as well.
Cheers

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 28th, 2016, 11:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Week 35 Prep

I do most of my prep on my written journal but I thought I'd post some big things I've highlighted.
  • Surprisingly still in balance after Yellen speech
  • Top of balance ~ 4836 hard tested twice, likely to hold the first time we approach it (unless very strong move)
  • Bottom of balance area is now 4857 mark, it was tested twice on Friday but unsure how it will hold up during the weekday. Will probably hold the first time we test it and I've placed an ON trade at 4758.50 in case the price drops 20 pts before I wake up
  • I'm expecting a strong break out of balance this week and a big trend to show, the most likely time will be after the jobs report comes out as Yellen put a strong emphasis on that
  • However be ready for the market to trend any day now, we have been having a tight balance for the last 3 weeks and you can see range and volume growing
  • If you look at the charts it appears that we will reverse this post-Brexit bull rally, and trend bear for a little bit. Reasoning is that bulls can get tired and LT players don't like uncertainty
  • However the bulls are out in pretty strong force I would say, and if you believe in the whole market and election correlation then you won't expect the fed to hike interest rates in September
  • If you believe the election / market correlation then not only will you not be expecting a rate hike, but you will expect that the US markets will be in a stronger position come election time than where they are now
  • Does this mean that people will raise the price from where it is this week based on that? Not likely, but keep an eye out in case that becomes a reality
  • My prediction is that the job report comes out as expected or better than expected and we have a slight bull rally, then some of the longer term players / big money step in and use that liquidity to slam the market down and start a slight bear trend. However, this is me having fun and I'm going to trade what I see.
  • While I personally think it's unlikely that we see a rate hike before the election, big money doesn't like uncertainty so why not get out of their bull positions after the liquidity is there from a positive job report?
  • One thing to take into account though is that after Friday it is a long weekend, so I'm not sure how that will affect the potential trend?

These are my goals for this week:
  1. I will take 0 Emotional trades
  2. I will enter 100% of my trades into spreadsheet
  3. I will screenshot all my entries & exits
  4. I will not look at account P/L until Friday (unless I sense I'm getting close to a stop)
  5. I will write in my journal every day
  6. I will watch FT71's last webinar
  7. I will pick my next trading book and listen to half of it

Yesterday's excellence is today's standard and tomorrow's mediocrity
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Old August 29th, 2016, 10:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Morning prep


So today I woke up 1 1/2 hour earlier than expected. Not the biggest fan as I already don't get enough sleep and sleep is precious to me. My stomach woke me up so the pizza I had last night was obviously not nutritious enough, I'll need to make note of that. As a positive, I had a bit more time to dig through some news. I'll definitely need to make up the loss of sleep with a nap after the market closes though. I'm also listening to some faster paced music than usual to make sure I'm awake.


As with my Sunday prep, I do most of it on a written journal but here are key points:
  • ON activity very tight, no surprise there
  • Big surprise around the 4775 volume though, zone tested 3 times during the night and it held very nicely
  • Big Money unlikely to step in today, but we could see some big swings with less volume from firms who can still move the market
  • Range has expanded as volatility grows
  • Looks to be a balance day
  • Range should stay ~ATR
  • Although I'm not yet seeing any signs that we will trend today, I need to be prepared for a trend day any day this week so I'll still be looking for signs that Long Tern players with big pockets are taking up / exiting positions
  • 15 day balance so far
  • Wicks show uncertainty
  • 4800 zone has been very weak but if we have a low ATR this could be a place to watch
  • I saw on the news this morning that the shorts on the S&P 500 have dropped significantly after Friday, something to note as part of market sentiment

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  1. 4815 zone - Surprisingly strong zone over the past 2 weeks, top of Friday’s session
    • a. Expect this to hold unless very strong force pushes through it
    • b. Look for signs of a move being exhausted
    • c. Can enter pre-emptively as long as the move pushing into this zone isn’t too strong, although aim to have a stop of 4821+ if possible
  2. 4790 zone- ON high, also the place the market balanced at end of Friday
    • a. Not likely to hold and we’ve already passed it
    • b. Look for any signs of change
    • c. Already been broken pre-open
  3. 4775 zone – ON low, decent volume ON, also the low right after Yellen’s speech
    • a. Look for long position if volume allows it
    • b. If we have a very strong bear move, look for continuation of bear move and avoid taking up a long position
    • c. Can enter into a short position if the move is very strong, but only if you feel that it will hit the 4762 zone
  4. Used to be the low of the balance area until Friday
    • a. Only look for positions if volume shows change happening here
    • b. I’ve removed it as a support zone as it was very useless on Friday but it is still an area to watch
    • c. Do not enter this zone pre-emptively
  5. Current bottom of balance area – Zone should be strong
    • a. Look for long positions
    • b. Can enter pre-emptively
  6. Early August resistance zone, could be support if we reach this point
    • a. Look for longs
    • b. Take a trade only if volume allows it

I currently haven't marked a no-trade zone as I don't have a good idea of where we will see balance, right now 4788-4778 looks to be that but the first hour will determine whether that should be a no-trade zone or not.
Big Gap between 4790 and 4815 in my morning prep,I need to watch those areas carefully as apart from a potential 4800 zone being at play, I don't feel comfortable right now setting zones

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