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Pivot Point Meaning: Definition, Formulas, and How to Calculate

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 9/7/2023 12 min read

*Written by AI, Edited by Humans

So you’re diving into the stock market, and you’ve heard the term “pivot point” thrown around. What’s the pivot point meaning? Simply put, it’s a technical analysis tool that traders use to find potential support and resistance levels. It’s all about gauging the general direction of the market. Listen, I’ve been in this game for years, and pivot points are a staple in my trading plan. They help me make informed decisions, and they can do the same for you.

Pivot points are calculated using the high, low, and close prices from the previous trading day. This article will break down the formulas, types, and practical applications of pivot points. We’ll also tackle some frequently asked questions to give you a well-rounded education on the topic.

Whether you’re into stocks, forex, or futures, understanding pivot points is crucial. They’re not just for day traders; swing traders and investors can benefit too. So stick around, and let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

What Are Pivot Points in Stock Trading?

Pivot points are essentially indicators used in technical analysis to identify potential levels of support and resistance. These points help traders make educated decisions about entry and exit positions. Look, I’ve seen people dive into trades without any strategy, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Pivot points are part of a system that helps you avoid that.

The pivot point itself is an average of the high, low, and close prices from the previous trading day. It serves as the baseline for calculating support and resistance levels, which are crucial for your trading plan. These levels give you a roadmap for the day’s trading, helping you understand where the price might bounce or reverse.

Pivot points are a cornerstone in technical analysis, but they’re not the only tool you should have in your arsenal. Another concept worth exploring is trading with pivot points. This strategy involves using pivot points to identify potential reversals in the market, helping you make more informed decisions. If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of how to trade using pivot points, here’s a guide that can help you master the technique.

What Do Pivot Points Indicate?

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Pivot points indicate potential turning points in the market. They provide information on where the price action could change direction. If you’re a trader, this is gold. Knowing where the market might turn can help you set your stop losses and take profits effectively.

These indicators are not just about predicting highs and lows; they’re about understanding market sentiment. When prices are above the pivot point, it’s generally a bullish sign. Below the pivot point? That’s bearish territory. Use this data to align your trades with the market trend.

How Are Pivot Points Used?

Pivot points are used to identify potential entry and exit points. They’re especially popular among day traders, but swing traders and even long-term investors find them useful. The pivot point serves as a reference line, helping you gauge the market’s direction.

Support and resistance levels derived from the pivot point give you targets and stop-loss points. For example, if the price approaches a support level and shows signs of a bounce, that’s a potential entry point. On the other hand, if it nears a resistance level and starts to reverse, consider taking profits.

Formulas for Pivot Points

Alright, let’s talk math — but don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. The basic formula for calculating the pivot point (PP) is straightforward: you take the high, low, and close prices from the previous day and divide by three. That’s your PP.

Support and resistance levels are also calculated from this point. The first support level (S1) and the first resistance level (R1) are the most commonly used. To find S1, you subtract the high from twice the pivot point. For R1, you subtract the low from twice the pivot point. These calculations are the backbone of any pivot point system.

Understanding Pivot Points Calculation

Understanding how to calculate pivot points is crucial, but it’s just part of the equation. You also need to know how to interpret this data in the context of your trading strategy. The pivot point gives you a central line—a point of equilibrium in the market.

Support and resistance levels are derived from this central point. These levels are not set in stone; they’re dynamic and can change based on market events. So, keep an eye on your charts and use these calculations as a part of a well-rounded trading plan.

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Types of Pivot Points

There are several types of pivot points, each with its own set of formulas. Let’s break them down:

Standard Pivots

Standard pivots are the most commonly used and are calculated using the formula I mentioned earlier. They’re the bread and butter for many traders and offer a straightforward method for identifying support and resistance levels.

Fibonacci Pivots

Fibonacci pivots use Fibonacci numbers in their calculations. These are especially popular in forex markets. The Fibonacci method adds another layer of complexity but can offer more nuanced insights into price action.

Woodie’s Pivots

Woodie’s pivots give more weight to the closing price, making them unique. Some traders swear by them, especially when trading commodities. They’re worth checking out if you’re looking for a different perspective.

Camarilla’s Pivots

Camarilla’s pivots are a bit more complex and are best suited for traders who are comfortable with calculations. They offer four support and resistance levels and are often used for intraday trading.

Demark Pivot Points

Developed by Tom DeMark, these pivot points are conditionally based and are calculated differently depending on whether the market closed higher or lower than the opening price. They’re less commonly used but can be effective in certain strategies.

Practical Examples and Applications of Pivot Points

You’re not just here for the theory; you want real-world applications. Pivot points are versatile tools that can be used in various trading strategies. For instance, they can be combined with other indicators like moving averages to confirm a trend.

Day traders often use pivot points to identify entry and exit points. For example, if the price is hovering near a support level, it might be a good time to buy. Conversely, if it’s near a resistance level, it might be time to sell. These are not hard and fast rules but guidelines that can help you navigate the market more effectively.

While this article discusses various types of pivot points, including Standard and Fibonacci, it’s crucial to know how to draw these points on a chart. Specifically, understanding how to draw Fibonacci retracement levels can add another layer of depth to your trading strategy. This skill can help you identify potential areas of support and resistance more accurately. For a step-by-step guide on drawing Fibonacci retracement levels, check out this detailed tutorial.

Limitations of Pivot Points

No indicator is foolproof, and pivot points are no exception. While they provide valuable insights, they’re not a guarantee of success. Market events can quickly change the dynamics, rendering your calculations less effective.

Moreover, pivot points are generally more useful for short-term trading. Long-term investors may find them less applicable. So, while they’re a valuable part of any trader’s toolkit, they’re not the be-all and end-all.

Market dynamics can change rapidly due to various factors, including diluted shares. Understanding how diluted shares can impact a stock’s price can help you make more informed decisions and potentially avoid pitfalls. If you’re curious about how diluted shares can affect your trading strategy, this guide offers valuable insights.

They aren’t a silver bullet for your trading plan — but pivot points are one of the many topics you should learn as part of your trading education!

Trading isn’t rocket science. It’s a skill you build and work on like any other. Trading has changed my life, and I think this way of life should be open to more people…

I’ve built my Trading Challenge to pass on the things I had to learn for myself. It’s the kind of community that I wish I had when I was starting out.

We don’t accept everyone. If you’re up for the challenge — I want to hear from you.

Apply to the Trading Challenge here.

Trading is a battlefield. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

Do you use pivot points in your trading strategy? Let me know in the comments — I love hearing from my readers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Pivot Points Are Best Suited for Intraday Trading?

Standard and Fibonacci pivot points are generally the go-to for intraday trading. They provide a good balance of accuracy and ease of calculation, making them popular choices among day traders.

What Type of Pivot Point is Best?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The best type of pivot point depends on your trading style, risk tolerance, and the specific market you’re trading in. Experiment with different types to see what works best for you.

What Factors Influence the Accuracy of Pivot Points in Trading?

Market volatility, trading volume, and economic events can all impact the accuracy of pivot points. They’re not set in stone and should be used in conjunction with other indicators and tools.

How Do Pivot Points Interact with Other Technical Indicators?

Pivot points can be used alongside other technical indicators like moving averages and oscillators to provide a more comprehensive view of the market. They can confirm or challenge the signals from other indicators, adding an extra layer of validation to your trading strategy.

Can Pivot Points be Used in Long-Term Trading Strategies?

While pivot points are primarily used for short-term trading, they can offer insights into longer-term trends. However, they’re generally less effective for long-term strategies and should be used as part of a broader analysis.

What Are Pivot Point Signals and Support Levels?

Pivot point signals and support levels are key elements in technical analysis used by traders to determine potential areas where the asset price may experience a significant amount of buying or selling. Support levels like ‘s2’ indicate a lower price level at which buying is expected to take place. These calculations can be made using a pivot point calculator, and they can be critical in developing options trading strategies.

Where Can I Find Articles and Advice on Pivot Points?

You can find various types of content that offer a description of pivot points, how they work, and how to use them for investing. This can include articles hosted on different investment sites, informational pages with advice, and even investing forums where community members share their own insights.

How Can the Community Contribute to Understanding Pivot Points?

The trading and investing community often play a significant role in enhancing the understanding of pivot points. Others who are more experienced in the use of pivot points might share valuable advice through community platforms. Links to essential resources can also be shared within these platforms to provide more comprehensive views on the subject.

What Are the Terms of Use for Accessing Pivot Point Information?

When you access a site that provides content on pivot points, it’s important to be aware of the terms of use that govern how you can interact with that content. Ensure you are respectful of the rights involved in sharing and using the information. Most sites will have the content available in English, but you should check if other language options are available.


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Author card Timothy Sykes picture

Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”