The Ultimate Guide to Retracements in Technical Analysis

Retracements are a key concept in technical analysis that every trader should understand. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about retracements, how to spot them, and how to trade them.

What is a Retracement?

A retracement refers to a brief price reversal in an existing trend. As the name suggests, price is “retracing” a portion of the previous move before continuing in the overall trend direction.

Retracements occur because of profit-taking and consolidation during uptrends, or short-covering during downtrends. They provide traders with an opportunity to join the trend at a better price.

Key Takeaways:

  • A retracement is a short-term move against the primary trend.
  • They occur because of profit-taking and consolidation.
  • Retracements present trading opportunities in the direction of the larger trend.

Why Do Retracements Occur?

There are a few key reasons why retracements occur in forex, stocks, cryptocurrencies, and other markets:


As an uptrend extends, short-term traders will close out portions of their long positions to lock in profits. This profit-taking creates downward pressure and causes the price to retract.


Uptrends cannot extend indefinitely. Periodic retracements allow for consolidation as new buyers enter the market and additional upside momentum builds.

Short Covering

In a downtrend, short sellers may close out some positions to take profits. This short covering produces upside momentum against the prevailing trend.

Value Areas

When price reaches an attractive level, buyers tend to emerge and halt the retracement. This could be near a key support or resistance level, a Fibonacci level, or a moving average.

Market Dynamics

Changes in fundamentals, sentiment, or technical factors may temporarily shift momentum, resulting in a correction before the primary trend resumes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Profit-taking and short covering cause retracements against the trend.
  • Consolidation allows the trend to gather steam for the next leg.
  • Value areas attract buyer interest during retracements.
  • Shifts in market dynamics may fuel short-term corrections.

Common Retracement Percentages

There are three common percentages used to measure the size of a retracement:


A 23.6% retracement is considered shallow and normal. These brief, minor pullbacks present attractive areas to join the overall trend.


This is the most common retracement percentage. A 38.2% retracement represents a moderate correction before trend continuation.


A 61.8% retracement is deep, but remains common. This signals a potential trend reversal and requires caution.

Beyond 61.8%, a 78.6% retracement would likely represent full trend reversal.

These percentages are based on the Fibonacci sequence and considered significant support/resistance areas in markets.

Key Takeaways:

  • 23.6%, 38.2%, and 61.8% are the most common retracement sizes.
  • Shallower retracements present opportunities to join the trend.
  • Deeper 61.8% retracements may signal trend weakness.
  • Retracements beyond 78.6% generally lead to reversals.

Fibonacci Retracements

The Fibonacci retracement tool plots percentage retracement levels based on Fibonacci numbers. This is used to identify support and resistance levels during a retracement.

Common Fibonacci retracement levels include:

  • 23.6%
  • 38.2%
  • 50%
  • 61.8%
  • 78.6%

To use the Fibonacci retracement tool:

  1. Identify the trending move on the chart. From a significant swing low to a higher swing high for uptrends. Or from a swing high to lower swing low in downtrends.
  2. Plot the retracement tool from the start of the move to the end.
  3. Look for support/resistance near the Fibonacci levels as price retraces.
  4. Target trend continuation upon retracement completion.

The 50% retracement level is also widely followed, acting as a potential turning point for the pullback.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fibonacci retracements identify support and resistance during pullbacks.
  • Levels are calculated based on Fibonacci numbers like 23.6%, 38.2%, 50%, and 61.8%.
  • Traders watch for bounces near Fib levels, then target trend continuation.
  • The 50% level marks an important milestone for retracement depth.

How to Trade Retracements

Here are some tips for trading retracements:

Confirm the Trend

Ensure an established trend is present before trading retracements. Use moving averages, swing highs/lows, or other tools to define the trend.

Watch for Profit-Taking

Be alert for topping or bottoming signs indicating early profit-taking. This may include bearish/bullish divergences, breakdowns, or candlestick patterns.

Identify Retracement Entry Levels

Look for Fibonacci support/resistance levels, chart patterns, moving averages, previous swing highs/lows, or other areas that may halt the pullback.

Place Stop Loss Orders

Set stop losses below key support levels in case the retracement fails. This defines and limits downside risk on the trade.

Book Partial Profits

Consider scaling out of a portion of the position at the original entry level. This allows you to lock in some profits in case of deeper retracements.

Trail Stop Loss

As the trend resumes, trail the stop loss level to lock in more profits in case of a whipsaw. This helps protect open profits while riding the trend.

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Key Takeaways

  • Confirm the overall trend before trading retracements.
  • Watch for initial profit-taking as a sign of pullbacks beginning.
  • Identify clear support/resistance levels to enter on retracements.
  • Use stop losses in case the expected bounce fails to materialize.
  • Book partial profits near the original entry area.
  • Trailing stop losses helps lock in profits during trend continuation.

Retracement Case Study

Let’s walk through an example of trading a retracement on a EUR/USD chart:

EURUSD Retracement Example
  1. EUR/USD forms a bullish trend with higher swing highs and lows.
  2. The moving averages reflect the uptrend with the 50-day above the 100-day.
  3. Price makes a swing low at 1.0500, then rallies up to 1.0800 over the next few weeks.
  4. Profit-taking subsequently emerges, with the rally topping out. This signals potential retracements ahead.
  5. A pullback begins, taking price down to the 38.2% Fibonacci support near 1.0640.
  6. We go long EUR/USD at 1.0640 with a stop loss at 1.0600. A potential upside target is the previous 1.0800 swing high.
  7. The trade hits its profit target as the trend resumes and price makes its way back up to 1.0800 over the following days.

This example illustrates how traders can capitalize on retracements by combining trend confirmation, Fibonacci levels, profit targets, stop losses, and a patient execution.

Key Takeaways:

  • Confirm uptrend with swing points and moving average alignment.
  • Note initial profit-taking as sign of pullback ahead.
  • Enter long at 38.2% Fibonacci support level.
  • Set stop loss below nearby support level.
  • Target previous swing high for profits as trend resumes.

Retracement Trading Strategies

Here are some specific trading strategies using Fibonacci retracements:

Deep Retracement Reversals

Look for failed breakdowns below the 61.8% retracement level to signal exhaustion and trend resumption. Enter long on bullish reversals from the 61.8% level in uptrends.

Shallow Pullback Bounces

Buy dips at the 23.6% or 38.2% retracement levels in uptrends. Sell rallies at the 23.6% or 38.2% levels in downtrends. Target a move back to the recent swing point.

Double Bottom Breakouts

In downtrends, watch for double bottom patterns that find support near 50% or 61.8% Fibonacci levels. Enter long on a breakout above resistance with a target back to the prior high.

Triple Top Breakdowns

During uptrends, look for triple top patterns near the 50-61.8% area on pullbacks. Short breakdowns below support, targeting at least a full 100% measured move lower.

Key Takeaways

  • Buy long on deep 61.8% retracement reversals in uptrends.
  • Fade shallow 23.6-38.2% dips against the trend direction.
  • Trade double bottoms bouncing from 50-61.8% Fib levels.
  • Short triple top breakdowns near 50% retracements.

Advanced Retracement Analysis

Beyond basic Fibonacci levels, traders can employ additional retracement analysis for more context:

Retracement Volume

Monitor volume on retracements. Heavy volume suggests a stronger, more significant reversal, while light volume indicates consolidation.

Sentiment Indicators

Extreme bullish/bearish readings during retracements imply exhaustion. Sentiment often reverses at extremes.

Elliott Wave Theory

Complex corrective waves will adhere to Fibonacci relationships. Useful for identifying large retracements within a primary trend.

Candlestick Patterns

Certain candlestick formations often emerge near potential retracement reversal points. Hammer or inverted hammers mark key turning points.

Momentum Divergences

Watch for bearish/bullish divergences between price and an oscillator like RSI or MACD. This signals pullback exhaustion ahead of trend resumption.

Key Takeaways

  • Volume clues help assess retracement severity.
  • Sentiment extremes flag pending reversals.
  • Elliott wave and candlestick analysis provide added context.
  • Divergences identify exhaustion points amid retracements.

Retracement Pitfalls to Avoid

While trading retracements can be profitable, it is not without risks. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Picking Tops and Bottoms

Do not attempt to pick exact tops or bottoms. It is better to wait for confirmation of a trend or retracement completion.

Overly Optimistic Targets

Set reasonable profit targets based on previous support/resistance levels or chart patterns. Do not chase overextended price objectives.

Sitting Through Deep Retracements

Cut losses quickly if retracements exceed 61.8%. Deeper pullbacks often lead to full trend reversals.


Avoid overtrading by waiting for clearly defined trading opportunities and resist the urge to jump into every minor retracement.

No Stop Loss

Always use a stop loss order when trading retracements. This will limit losses in case the expected bounce does not materialize.

Key Takeaways

  • Avoid picking arbitrary tops or bottoms.
  • Set realistic profit targets based on levels.
  • Bail on deep 61.8%+ retracements.
  • Wait patiently for high-probability setups.
  • Always use stop losses to limit downside.

Retracement Myths

There are also some common myths about retracements worth dispelling:

Retracements Must Reverse at Fib Levels

While Fibonacci levels are useful, price does not need to reverse exactly at the 23.6%, 38.2%, or other percentages. Use Fib levels as a guide, not an absolute rule.

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Some strong trends will run extended periods without significant retracements. Do not expect all trends to produce tradable pullbacks.

Retracement Entries Are Always Low Risk

Going long at support or short at resistance carries inherent risk if those levels break. Manage risk accordingly.

Retracements Predict Trend Resumption

A completion of a retracement does not guarantee the trend will resume. Always wait for confirmation before trading a bounce.

Markets Adhere to Fib Ratios

Fibonacci ratios are a useful technical guide, but markets do not precisely follow mathematical proportions. Use common sense in analysis.

Key Takeaways

  • Price may not always reverse exactly at standard Fib levels.
  • Strong trends can run without pullbacks for a time.
  • Entries are not guaranteed low-risk opportunities.
  • Beware blindly assuming trend continuation.
  • Fib ratios are just a guide – markets are not that precise.

Retracement Analysis FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about trading retracements:

What are the best indicators for analyzing retracements?

The Fibonacci retracement tool, volume, moving averages, momentum oscillators, sentiment indicators, candlestick patterns, and classic support/resistance levels are all useful in assessing retracements.

What percentage retracement is normal?

A 23.6%-38.2% retracement is considered relatively normal within a strong uptrend or downtrend. Beyond 50-61.8% raises warnings of a deeper correction.

How deep can a retracement go?

There is no definite limit, but generally 61.8% is seen as the max for a healthy retracement. Moves beyond 78.6% tend to result in a trend reversal rather than a continuation.

How long do retracements last?

Retracements may last a few hours to a few weeks depending on the market and timeframe. Monitor the volume and price action for clues pointing to exhaustion.

Do retracements provide low-risk entries?

While retracement entries have logical appeal, they carry risk of a breakdown. Use stop losses and reasonable position sizing to manage the risk appropriately.

Key Takeaways:

  • Combine Fibonacci levels, volume, indicators, patterns to assess retracements.
  • 23-38% is a normal retracement while 61.8% is deep.
  • Retracements lasting beyond 61.8% tend to reverse the trend.
  • Duration varies from hours to weeks depending on circumstances.
  • Retracement entries require risk management like any other trade.


Retracements are a pivotal concept in technical analysis and a potential source of trading opportunities in strong trending moves. Mastering retracement analysis provides a clear edge in markets.

The keys are identifying reinforcement levels where retracements reverse, using measured stop losses in case of failure, and maintaining a prudent trading mindset. Avoid greed or fear from clouding decisions during pullbacks.

Overall, retracements represent a strategic part of trading with the trend. By buying dips in uptrends and selling rallies in downtrends, traders can profit from short-term corrections within greater directional moves. With the right tools and risk management, retracement trading can produce sizable profits over time.

“If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

- Warren Buffett

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