The Chart Set Up I Use For Futures

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Futures Settings

Futures Settings affect parameters of all futures symbols. These settings include display properties, volume subgraph visibility, and Extended Session viewing parameters.

To customize the Futures chart settings:

1. Make sure the Chart Settings window is open. For information on accessing this window, refer to the Preparation Steps article.

2. Choose the Futures tab which will help you define the settings.

3. Choose the Price type to be displayed on chart: Last, Ask, Bid, or Mark. Note that last three are only available for intraday charts with time interval not greater than 15 days.

4. Use the Daily Close drop-down list to specify whether the last daily bar should be closed with Last or Settlement price.

5. Select Adjust for contract changes to adjust all price data prior to the active contract change so that the last close before the contract change is at the same level as the first open after it.

6. Select Show open interest to display the Open interest study plot on the Volume subgraph. Note that the plot will only be displayed if the Show studies option is enabled on the General tab. For more information, see the General Settings article.

7. Select Show options to display listed options on the main subgraph. Note that listed options require expansion of the chart subgraph which can be set on the Time axis tab. For more information, refer to the Time Axis Settings article. The number of visible option strikes in each series can be specified within the Strikes field.

8. Select Show volume subgraph to display volume histogram on the chart. Note that you can view the volume and the price plot on a single subgraph. For more information, see the General Settings article.

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9. Select Show Extended-Hours Trading session to view the non-trading hours on the intraday chart. If the option is not selected, only real trading hours will be viewed. Select Highlight Extended-Hours Trading session if you prefer to view the non-trading hours in a different color. When the Extended-Hours Trading session is hidden, you can select Start aggregations at market open so that intraday bars are aggregated starting at corresponding schedule’s market open.

10. Select Show contract change events to mark points where active contract changes occurred, with a vertical line.

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Market volatility, volume and system availability may delay account access and trade executions.

Past performance of a security or strategy is no guarantee of future results or investing success.

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Futures and futures options trading is speculative and is not suitable for all investors. Please read the Risk Disclosure for Futures and Options prior to trading futures products.

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How To Make Your Futures Trading Charts Better

July 11, 2020 by Daniels Trading | Futures 101

In the contemporary marketplace, pricing charts are the trader’s window to the action. Unless you craft your decisions based solely on fundamentals, having access to robust futures trading charts is a big part of achieving success.

Step #1: Select the Best Chart for Your Needs

By far, the single most important characteristic of a pricing chart is its usability. Futures markets frequently move at break-neck speeds, demanding the utmost attentiveness from active traders. That’s why it’s important for a chart to be user-friendly ― it furnishes the trader with a comprehensive picture of price action without any mental gymnastics.

The first step to enhancing your charting application is selecting the proper format for the presentation of pricing data. Formatting is a key component of any chart because it takes live streaming data from the exchange and places it into a useful context. Without ideal formatting, a price chart is mostly worthless.

Here are a few of the most common formats put forth by futures trading charts :

  • Open high low close (OHLC): A traditional form of charting , the OHLC format is especially handy for identifying market state. It provides essential pieces of price-specific information — such as the periodic open, high, low, and close — for detailed analysis.
  • Japanese candlesticks: Candlesticks are exceedingly popular among technical traders. They provide an intuitive visual reference to users and are ideal for spotting previously obscure patterns.
  • Line: The line chart is a tried-and-true form of price data study. It’s useful for quickly identifying market direction and eliminating any unwarranted noise.
  • Time price offering (TPO): TPO charts illustrate the relationship between price and traded volumes. Fans of Market Profile or volume analysis typical use this type of chart.

In reality, trades can choose from a vast array of futures trading charts , ranging from simple to highly specialized. Many varieties facilitate specific trading such methodologies as Heikin-Ashi candlesticks or Renko charts.

No matter what chart type you choose, it’s imperative that it compliments your technical approach to the market. For instance, if you’re a pattern trader and reference a simple line chart, your odds of success drop exponentially. In that situation, candlestick or OHLC futures trading charts would provide far superior functionality.

Step #2: Optimize Your Futures Trading Charts

After selecting an ideal chart for your trading style, make sure to optimize the presentation. Here are three ways to accomplish this objective:

  • Customize: The beauty of the pricing chart is that it’s fully customizable. You can add indicators at your leisure and manipulate data sets according to any desired parameter. In short, customize for comfort!
  • Fine-tune: Ultimately, a chart is a hands-on, visual tool. Modifying things as simple as fonts and colors can greatly boost usability. Reducing any unwarranted latencies through performing regular software maintenance and updates can further enhance performance.
  • Eliminate clutter: In futures, things move quickly. Traders are continuously hit with a barrage of data, both relevant and extraneous. When it comes to the pricing chart, it’s crucial that only information deemed useful is represented. Unless a specific data set, indicator, or tool is an active part of your strategy, then it’s clutter ― get rid of it!

If your futures trading charts are not user-friendly and easily referenced, their contributions to your performance will be limited. However, by streamlining each chart’s appearance and functionality, you’ll increase its utility multifold.

Want to Become a Chartist?

For technical traders, charting is often viewed as being an art form. Fortunately for aspiring chartists, modern software trading platforms have taken most of the guesswork out of the equation.

If you’re interested in building your own futures trading charts , look no further than Daniels Trading’s flagship platform dT Pro . Featuring real-time streaming quotes and a library of advanced technical indicators, dT Pro can help take your chart game to the next level.

About Daniels Trading

Daniels Trading is an independent futures brokerage firm located in the heart of Chicago’s financial district. Established by renowned commodity trader Andy Daniels in 1995, Daniels Trading is built on a culture of trust committed to the firm’s mission of Independence, Objectivity and Reliability.

Risk Disclosure

This material is conveyed as a solicitation for entering into a derivatives transaction.

This material has been prepared by a Daniels Trading broker who provides research market commentary and trade recommendations as part of his or her solicitation for accounts and solicitation for trades; however, Daniels Trading does not maintain a research department as defined in CFTC Rule 1.71. Daniels Trading, its principals, brokers and employees may trade in derivatives for their own accounts or for the accounts of others. Due to various factors (such as risk tolerance, margin requirements, trading objectives, short term vs. long term strategies, technical vs. fundamental market analysis, and other factors) such trading may result in the initiation or liquidation of positions that are different from or contrary to the opinions and recommendations contained therein.

Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or commodity options can be substantial, and therefore investors should understand the risks involved in taking leveraged positions and must assume responsibility for the risks associated with such investments and for their results.

Trade recommendations and profit/loss calculations may not include commissions and fees. Please consult your broker for details based on your trading arrangement and commission setup.

The Chart Set Up I Use For Futures

The following article on Trading Screen Setup is the opinion of Optimus Futures

This may seem like a strange analogy to some, but there are a few key similarities that we can draw between a day trader and a fighter pilot:

  • Both operate in risky environments (the trader assuming financial risk; and the pilot, physical risk).
  • Both functions rely on the speed and depth of observation, orientation, decision, and action (more famously known as the classic OODA Loop decision cycle); and
  • Both operators (i.e. trader or pilot) must handle their “platform” naturally and intuitively as if it were an extension of their own bodies.

Observation and Action are platform characteristics: a platform must allow you to see what’s taking place in the “outside” world at a rapid pace and comprehensive scale. Furthermore, its dashboard must allow you to act in as seamless and intuitive a manner as possible; that is, unencumbered by any tools or instruments.

Orientation and Decision are operator characteristics: you must have the capacity to react swiftly and decisively to the changing environment.

Essentially, you and your platform functionally perform as one. Hence, your choice of platform and your ability to master and maneuver your platform are critical components in your performance.

So why draw this analogy? To emphasize not only the importance of speed in decision-making and execution while deliberately engaging with risk, but also to punctuate the critical factor of “merging” with your platform while in action, particularly when seconds (or even microseconds) count. Remember that both areas are often described in accordance with two states of being: the quick and the dead. You’re simply one or the other.

Trading Screen Setup

With that said, what is the best way to accomplish this type of “merge” between your actions as a day trader and the technology you use? Let’s begin with your trading screen. A scalper’s trading screen setup can’t be disrupted by the very platform it relies upon to engage the markets. The same can be said of swing traders, though they typically have more time to observe market opportunities and make decisions (as they hold trading positions longer than the average scalper).

So, what’s in a platform and futures trading chart setup? What significant criteria should we consider when building our trading screen setup? Here are ten things to put on your checklist.

1 – Should I Use a Modular Chart or a Fixed Chart?

2 – What’s the Best Monitor Size for Trading?

When it comes to monitor size, you have to consider a) how much data you are viewing on separate windows and b) how the number of individual windows (or data boxes) affect your ability to view them.

If you are dealing with lots of numbers such as price, order flow numbers, or any other indicators expressed numerically, then you might consider a larger monitor. Your choice can range from 14 inches to 34 inches. Ultimately, the best monitor size is any size that allows you to view data clearly and quickly (especially if you’re a day trader who must make trading decisions in a rapid and decisive manner).

3 – How Many Monitors Should I Have?

Do you need just one monitor or two? Part of this decision refers back to the last two conditions we just discussed–namely, whether you have a modular or fixed chart, as well as the size of your screen.

If your chart is modular, then you have the capacity to add more windows or boxes to your screen. There’s a point beyond which a single screen may seem inadequate, preventing you from viewing your data or acting on your data by virtue of the small size of graphics or cramped controls on your dashboard. When money is at stake, it would make sense to avoid such inconveniences by simply purchasing a second monitor.

If the size of your screen is greater than the standard 15 inches, then perhaps one screen may suffice. However, traders sometimes opt for modular charts for “additive” purposes. If this describes your situation, then think of the worst thing that can happen: two monitors may add some value, but one monitor may impede your trading capacity. If the potential negative payoff is much greater than the positive payoff, then avoid the situation that can bring about the negative payoff, and purchase a second monitor.

4 – Which Time Frames (and How Many) Should I Display?

Take a look at this 15-minute chart on Gold Futures (GC):

But if you look at the daily chart, you get a different picture:

I think you get the point. You look at different time frames to see what’s happening in the big picture, the smaller picture, and to find where the different time frames may be in agreement.

Let’s talk about the last point: supposing you’re a swing trader who trades the hourly chart. If your one-hour chart, 15-minute chart, and daily chart show that the trend is moving upward, then the probability that the market may move upward is much more convincing than, say, if only one chart shows an uptrend while the other two are trending downward.

So which time frames might you want to follow, assuming that such a thing is important for your trading? One standard approach would be to select a lower and higher time frame from the one you are currently trading. If you trade the 5-minute chart for a quick scalp, you might want to view a tick chart or 1-minute chart while also viewing the 15-minute and perhaps even the 1-hour.

This is not rocket science, it’s all pragmatic. The main point is that you don’t want to get sideswiped by something that you should have seen but didn’t. And your time frame preferences really depend on your trading strategy, platform capacity, monitor size (or a number of monitors), and personal ability to digest all of the information that you’re looking at.

5 – What Contracts Should I Use for Benchmarking?

So when choosing a benchmark, not only must you have a reason to benchmark a specific market (or markets), you also have to understand something about the fundamentals affecting both markets.

For example, if you’re a precious metals trader, then you might want to follow both gold futures and silver futures–to monitor the Gold-Silver ratio–but also the US Dollar index futures while paying close attention to every Federal Reserve announcement.

If you trade the ES or NQ, then you might need to follow equity index ETFs to see what’s happening with any of the 11 market sectors (particularly the Semiconductors industry and Tech). In certain economic environments signaling a potential recession, you may want to follow the 2-Year and 10-Year Treasury yields.

If you trade agricultural products for which China is the main purchaser, then it might help to follow the Shenzen or Hang Seng index, the USD/CNY (dollar-to-yuan) FX rates, plus any US agricultural and farming news, Chinese central bank decision, and reports on the overall geopolitical climate.

As you can see, there are quite a few possibilities, and they all depend on how comprehensive a scope you want to achieve.

6 – Do I Need a News Feed?

7 – How Many Indicators Should I Have at One Time?

8 – Trade Entry and Exit Factors

9 – How Can I Monitor Risk?

10 – Should I Use a Dark or Light Background Theme

Believe it or not, dark or light screens go beyond aesthetics. They actually do impact functionality.

First, let’s talk about why so many financial platforms have dark screens. When design firm, IDEO designed the Bloomberg terminal, Bloomberg’s platform aesthetic became something of an industry-standard, if not by functionality, then by “brand design.” In this case, aesthetics may have had a lot to do with platforms that provided a default dark-themed background.

But there’s more to it. According to an article on UX Movement, “When it comes to text on websites, users either read or scan. Reading involves focusing on words for a thorough comprehension of the subject. Scanning involves skimming the words for a broader comprehension of the subject. When you should use white text on a dark background depends on whether users are scanning or reading text.” The article continues, “you should avoid using white text on a dark background when displaying paragraph text to make it easier from them to read.”

Getting to the main point:

  • Financial charts are made up of graphic symbols and sometimes text.
  • When “reading” text, white text on a black background can cause more eye strain than black on white.
  • But when “scanning” graphic symbols, white or other bright colors on a black background can make the information more prominent.

The Bottom Line

Trading screen setups should be customized to enhance the ease and efficiency of functionality. As a day trader, your “best” trading screen setup is one that allows you to see comprehensively and to respond as quickly as possible to fleeting market opportunities. If your platform default doesn’t work for you, then you might strongly consider modifying it. When it comes to platform modifications, it’s ultimately up to you as the cost is yours alone to absorb. And if you choose not to modify your platform, and if such a choice results in bad trading, then that too is a cost that you alone must absorb.

Please be advised that trading futures and options involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for all investors. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. This matter is intended as a solicitation to trade.

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