The Price and Donchian Channel

What is it?

The Donchian Channel, or Price Channel as it is also know, is a trend indicator that was developed by Richard Donchian who is widely regarded as the farther of trend following. As with other bands and channels, such as the Bollinger Bands and Keltner Channels, the Donchian Channel is a price overlay that is drawn on the price chart where it plots the highest high and the lowest low a specified number of periods. The Donchian Channel can also be used to observe the volatility of a market as it widens and narrows as price volatility increases and decreases. This indicator formed the basis of the breakout system that was used to great effect by the famed Turtle Traders.

How is it calculated?

The Donchian Channel or Price Channel essentially performs two calculations: it calculates the highest high over a specific look back period, and the lowest low over the same look back period. Some charting platforms also plot a center line in the channel, which is just an averaging of the highest high and the lowest low over the specified look back period. The default look back period for the Donchian Channel is 20. The formula with the default value is:
Upper Channel Line = 20-period high
Lower Channel Line = 20-period low
Middle Channel Line = ( Upper Channel Line + Lower Channel Line ) / 2

How is it used?

The Donchian Channel method identifies when price break through the high or the low of the specified look back period. When the price breaks through the upper channel line, it indicates the potential start of an uptrend and signals a long entry and the covering of any open short positions. When the price breaks through the lower channel line, it indicates the potential start of a down trend and signals a short entry and the closing of any long positions.

Some traders use the signals from the Donchian Channel as a stop-and-reverse, always-in-the-market system, switching from longs to shorts when the price breaks through the lower channel line, and switching from shorts to longs when the price breaks through the upper channel line. This, however, is not advisable as it does not allow for proper money management.



Chart Example

The following chart shows a 20-period Donchian Channel on a 4-hour DAX 30 Futures chart. The upper channel line tracks the highest high of the last 20 4-hour candlesticks while the lower channel line tracks the lowest low of the last 20 4-hour candlesticks.


Donchian Channel on the DAX 30
20-period Donchian Channel on a 4 hour DAX Futures chart

At 8:00 on February 7, 2014, the price action broke through the upper channel line, signaling the start of an uptrend and a buy entry at 9,278. At 20:00 on 20 February the price action broke through the lower channel line, signaling the end of the uptrend and a start of a down trend. It was also a signal to close the long and enter a short at 9,581.


Trend Indicators

MACD
A Trend Indicator (MACD)

The main purpose of a trend indicator is to identify the existence and direction of a trend. These indicators accomplish this by smoothing the price action of a security and tend to be lagging indicators as they are based on past price action. Thus, they tend to follow price action and are sometimes referred to as trend following indicators.

By far the most common trend indicator is the moving average (MA). Other trend indicators include Average Directional Index (ADX), Parabolic SAR, Price Oscillator, Zig Zag and Trend Lines. How the trend is determined ...


Trading Bands

Trading Bands
Trading Bands

Several indicators that are placed on the price chart and are based on Moving Averages can be used to form trading bands. These bands can be adjusted to contain most of the proce action with the price often moving between the two moving bands, touching one and then the other. These bands can be used to confirm trading signals, and can also indicate overbought and oversold levels. Some bands, such as the Bollinger Bands and the Keltner Channel have a middle line that can act as support or resistance.

The most popular bands are ...


Wealth Warning

Trading equities, options, derivatives, currencies, commodities or any other financial security can offer significant returns BUT can also result in significant losses if the market moves against your position. It requires a strong commitment to skill development, knowledge acquisition, and emotional control. It should be treated as a business with a clear business plan, a risk analysis, and set of attainable goals. The risk associated with trading the vagaries of the stock markets is probably the most important consideration as it has a profound effect on emotional control. You should not trade the stock markets with money you cannot afford to lose as there is considerable exposure to risk in any stock market transaction.

Furthermore, the past success of any trading method, strategy, or system is only indicative of future success. Under no circumstances should past success be construed as a guarantee of future success!