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MTFA: Multiple time frame analysis in Forex trading

There are several types of Forex analysis. Most traders will know about fundamental, sentiment and technical analysis. There is another type of analysis which can be forgotten but is something that most, if not all, traders will have come across - particularly, those interested in technical analysis, and that is Forex multiple time frame analysis. This type of analysis is easily forgotten by traders as they pursue more specific markets.

In specialising as a momentum trader, day trader and event risk trader, or breakout trader, many participants of the market lose sight of the larger trend and may miss clear levels of both support and resistance and fail to notice high probability entry-stop levels. The overall purpose of this article is to explore what multiple time-frame FX analysis stands for and how to understand it.

What is the meaning of multiple time frame analysis?

Multiple time frame analysis in Forex trading first of all involves monitoring the same currency pair across various frequencies, also known as time compressions. Since there is no real maximum as to how many of the frequencies can be monitored, or which particular ones to choose, there are instead general guidelines that the majority of traders follow.

Utilising three different periods is usually enough to give a wide enough reading on the market. Applying fewer than this can end in a substantial loss of data, whilst using more commonly provides irrelevant analysis. When choosing the three time frequencies, an uncomplicated strategy is to follow the rule of four. This implies that a medium-term period must be first identified and it should illustrate a standard as to how long the average trade is held. From there, a shorter frame of time should be selected and it must be at least a quarter of the intermediate period. For instance, a 15-minute chart for the brief-term time frame and 60-minute chart for the medium time frame. Using an identical calculation, according to multiple time frame trading, the long-term time frame must be at least four times greater than the medium one. Thereby, keeping with the preceding example the 240-minute or 4-hour chart would round out the three time frequencies.

It is critical to choose the right time frame when selecting the range of the three periods. A long-term Forex trader who holds certain positions for months will find little use for 60 minute, 15 minute and 240 minute combinations. Conversely a day FX trader who holds positions for hours and seldom longer than a day would gain little advantage in daily, weekly or monthly arrangements.

The appliance of long-term time frames

We've covered the basics of multiple time frame analysis Forex, so now we'll look at how to apply it to the FX market directly. With this approach of studying charts, it is usually a good idea to begin with a long-term time frame and work down to the other frequencies. By observing a long-term time frame, the prevailing trend can be established. It is important to remember the most excessively used aphorism in trading for this frequency - the trend is your friend.

Arrangements should not be executed on this broad angled chart, yet the trades that are taken should be in the same direction as the trend. This doesn't actually mean that trades cannot be taken against the larger trend, though those that are will most likely have a considerably lower probability of success and the profit target will be smaller than if it was moving forward in the direction of the general trend. Take that into account while trading multiple time frames.

In the currency markets - when the long-term frame of time has different periods such as daily, weekly or monthly - fundamentals tend to have a substantial impact on direction. Thus, the FX trader has the task of monitoring main economic trends when following the overall trend on this frame of time. Whether the key economic concern is current account shortages, consumer spending, business investment or any other list of influences, those developments should be tracked to much better understand the direction in price action. This is one of the primary multiple time frame analysis techniques.

Another contemplation for a higher frame of time in this range is in fact interest rates. Often used as a reflection of an economy's health, the interest rate is an essential element in pricing exchange rates. Under most circumstances, the capital will flow toward the currency with the higher rate in a pair, as this relates to much greater returns on investments.

The appliance of medium-term time frames

Now we will move onto the next step of our guide in multiple time frame analysis in Forex market. We'll look at the medium time frame with smaller movements within the broader trend becoming more recognisable. That is the most flexible of the three frequencies, due to the fact that the sense of both the longer-term and the short-term frames can be acquired from this level. As we have previously mentioned, the anticipated holding period for an average trade should determine this anchor for the time frame range. As a matter of fact, this level is the most often followed chart when planning a trade.

The appliance of the short-term time frames

There are certain trades that should be performed on the short-term time frame. Since smaller fluctuations in price action become clearer, a Forex trader is better able to select an attractive entry for a position whose direction has already been identified by the charts of higher frequency.

Perhaps another consideration for this period is that fundamentals once again substantially affect price action in these charts, though in a very different way than they do for the higher time frames. Fundamental trends are no longer visible when charts are under a four hour frequency. Consider the following when applying multiple time frame analysis - the short-term frame will reply with enlarged volatility to those FX indicators dubbed market moving. The more granulated this lower time frame is, the greater the reaction to economic indicators will actually seem. Most of the time, those sharp movements last for a short time and as such are occasionally described as noise. Nevertheless, an FX trader will frequently avoid making poor trades on these interim imbalances, as they keep an eye on the progression of the other time frames.

The result of putting all time frames together

When all three time frames are combined to assess a currency pair, a Forex trader can easily enhance the odds of success for a trade. Executing the top-down analysis encourages trading with relatively larger trends. In fact, this alone lowers risk because there is a higher possibility that price action will in the end continue on the longer trend. By utilising this theory, the level of confidence in a trade should be evaluated by how multiple time frames align. For instance, if the larger trend is to the upside but the intermediate-term and short-term trends are moving lower, cautious shorts have to be taken with rational profit targets as well as stops. As an alternative, an FX trader may wait until a bearish wave runs its direction on the lower frequency charts and look to go long at a satisfying level when the three time frames align once more.

Another benefit from integrating Forex multiple time frame into analysing trades is the capability to determine support and resistance readings and strong entry-exit levels. The chance of success for a trade is enhanced when it is followed exactly on a short-term chart owing to the ability for a trader to keep away from poor entry prices, senseless targets and ill-placed stops.


The utilisation of MTFA can significantly enhance the odds of making a successful trade. Unfortunately, a lot of traders overlook the usefulness of this technique once they start to find a particular niche. However, it is a great starting point for newbies and certainly one worth revisiting for experienced traders.