Fibonacci Retracement Levels in Day Trading

Tool to Help Isolate When Pullbacks Could End

Fibonacci retracement levels
••• Thinkorswim

Moves in a trending direction are called impulses, and moves against a trend are called pullbacks. Fibonacci retracement levels highlight areas where a pullback can reverse and head back in the trending direction, making them helpful in confirming trend-trading entry points.

Origins of Fibonacci Levels

Fibonacci levels are derived from a number series that Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa—also known as Fibonacci—introduced to the west during the 13th century. The sequence starts like this:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89...

Each new number is the sum of the two numbers before it. As the sequence progresses, each number is approximately 61.8% of the next number, approximately 38.2% of the following number, and approximately 23.6% of the number after that. Subtract 23.6 from 100, and the result is 76.4.

These are Fibonacci retracement levels: 76.4, 61.8, 38.2, and 23.6.

Espiral dorada
Espiral de Fibonacci. Ricardo Avila.

The Relevance of the Sequence

What Fibonacci and scholars before him discovered is that this sequence is prevalent in nature in spiral shapes such as seashells, flowers, and even constellations. As a spiral grows outward, it does so at roughly the same rate as the percentages derived from the Fibonacci ratios.

Some believe these ratios extend beyond just shapes in nature and actually predict human behavior. The thinking is that people start to become uncomfortable with trends that cause changes to happen too rapidly and adjust their behavior to slow or reverse the trend.

According to this theory, if someone started out with $100 in his wallet, he would begin to slow his spending—or stop altogether—once he has spent about $61.80 and has only about $38.20 remaining.

How to Use Fibonacci Retracement Levels

When a stock is trending very strongly in one direction, the belief is that the pullback will amount to one of the percentages included within the Fibonacci retracement levels: 23.6, 38.2, 61.8, or 76.4. Some models also include 50%.

For example, if a stock jumps from $10 to $11, the pullback should be expected to be approximately 23 cents, 38 cents, 50 cents, 62 cents, or 76 cents. Early or late in trends, when a price is still gaining or losing steam, it is more typical to see retracements of a higher percentage.

In this image, you'll notice that between 61.8% and 38.2% there are two downward trends. This is an example of a Fibonacci retracement. The theory states that is a usual circumstance for stocks to trend in this manner because it is inherent in behavior to follow the sequence.

Fibonacci Retracement Levels
Viewing the retracement level.

If your day trading strategy provides a short-sell signal in that price region, the Fibonacci level helps confirm the signal. The Fibonacci levels also point out price areas where you should be on high alert for trading opportunities.

Using a Fibonacci retracement tool is subjective. There are multiple price swings during a trading day, so not everyone will be connecting the same two points. The two points you connect may not be the two points others connect.

To compensate for this, draw retracement levels on all significant price waves, noting where there is a cluster of Fibonacci levels. This may indicate a price area of high importance.

Retracement Warnings

While useful, Fibonacci levels will not always pinpoint exact market turning points. They provide an estimated entry area but not an exact entry point. There is no guarantee the price will stop and reverse at a particular Fibonacci level, or at any of them.

If the price retraces 100% of the last price wave, the trend may be in question. If you use the Fibonacci retracement tool on very small price moves, it may not provide much insight. The levels will be so close together that almost every price level appears important.

Fibonacci retracements provide some areas of interest to watch on pullbacks. They can act as confirmation if you get a trade signal in the area of a Fibonacci level. Play around with Fibonacci retracement levels and apply them to your charts, and incorporate them if you find they help your trading.