E-mini trading is like any other job; you need to develop a set routine to establish a pattern of success. As I have mentioned in previous articles, I can’t tell you how many times I have watched novice traders get the surprise of their life at 8:30 am EST or at 10:00 am EST when the centralex market explodes up or down. Of course, had they bothered to check the daily financial data releases they would have known that there were scheduled announcements at those times. Normally, I will announcement the day’s data releases as they enter the room, but if no one chimes in I sometimes remain quiet hoping that the movement will help them learn better e-mini trading habits.
I have a fairly set routine that I follow each day and it has served me well. I work hard to shut out any financial television news shows as the TV has become a mechanism for varying political goals and hence, not a reliable source of news. With that being said, I head straight for the computer and begin my day as follows:
1. I like to check all the potential daily announcements and analyze which e-mini contracts will be directly affected by them. As of late, we have been in a very news related market and I have been making the assumption that any bit of news is going effect all markets. Needless to say, the announcements from the USA have the most profound effect on the market since both the currency (even non-USA currencies) and financial futures pay close attention to how the announcement is going to influence the day’s price movement.
2. Once I bring up my charts, I am interested in what has been happening throughout the course of the night session. I am not a huge believer that the overnight session is an accurate predictor of what will transpire in the cash session, but you can get an idea of possibilities that can occur. I am especially interested in e-mini trading that occurs in the 15 minutes prior to the opening of the cash session, as many of the larger players begin to place their orders.
3. With my charts up, I make sure that all of my DOM settings are correct. I can’t tell you how many times traders initiate trades on simulator and then realize they have not switched to live trading mode. I also make sure I have the correct number of contracts selected and that each DOM is set to the right e-mini contract.
4. I generally trade the CL (crude) contract from 5:00 am EST until 9:25 am EST as the CL contract opens at 9:00 am EST and can be very active in the hours prior to the cash market open. Note that the CL opens 30 minutes prior to the CME cash market open. In effect, you get to trade 2 opens. If the CL is dead, my second choice is the 6E contract (Euro) or the 6J (Japanese yen). Since I have eight screens I can monitor the activity of multiple contracts, but usually focus on just one. That is just my trading style. I know of many people who trade on multiple contracts simultaneously but I am not one of them, except on rare occasions.
5. My trading is based on real-time indicators, which is bit different than trading lagging indicators, so I focus on taking high probability trades throughout the morning. I generally try to stay in the 3-5 trade per morning session area, but if more than 5 solid trades materialize I trade what the market is offering. Conversely, if few solid trades present themselves, then I may only find 1 or 2 good trades. I want to constantly remind myself not to overtrade and keep my stops within my preset parameters. (2x the Average True Range) I take the approach of trying to talk myself out of a trade before I initiate the trade, and if I can’t find a good reason not to take the trade I act quickly and decisively to enter the trade at a point of my choosing. My mentor used to harp on me by saying, “the market goes through phases where it will readily hand out money, but keep in mind you cannot steal a winning trade from the market.” It’s good advice and I have not forgotten it.
6. Generally I gravitate to the US financial contracts and trade the NQ, YM, or TF contracts for the remainder of the morning. I stop trading when the market starts to flatten out around lunch time. I suppose my average stopping time is about noon EST, but sometimes later and sometimes earlier; it all depends on the price movement I observe in the morning’s e-mini trading.
7. After I have finished trading, I download all the trades to a spreadsheet which analyzes how well I have performed that day. Did I let my trades run? Did I jump out too early? Was the Average True Range an accurate predictor of what each trades potential movement? Did I take some trades that were just boneheaded and why were they boneheaded trades? I try to spend 15-30 minutes understanding my trading behavior that day, in retrospect. I save the trades on the spreadsheet, make sure I have no open positions, and turn the computer off.
This routine has served me well over the years, and keeps me from making the mechanical mistakes that you often see. Of course, the judgment aspect of initializing a trade is highly subjective and I strive to maintain a consistent approach every day. I trade what I see on the chart, not the economy, not what the TV “talking heads” are pushing, not the market rumors, and I try to stay in the trend. It’s a good approach and it works for me. As always, all the best in your trading endeavors.