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How to Set Protective Stops Using the Wave Principle

The 3 simple rules of Elliott wave analysis can help traders manage risk, ride market trends and spot price reversals.

by Editorial Staff
Updated: October 22, 2015

Over the years that I've worked with Elliott wave analysis, I've learned that you can glean much of the information you require as a trader - such as where to place protective or trailing stops - from the three cardinal rules of the Wave Principle:

  1. Wave two can never retrace more than 100% of wave one.
  2. Wave four may never end in the price territory of wave one.
  3. Wave three may never be the shortest impulse wave of waves one, three and five.

Let's begin with rule No. 1: Wave two will never retrace more than 100% of wave one. In Figure 4-1, we have a five wave advance followed by a three-wave decline, which we will call waves (1) and (2). An important thing to remember about second waves is that they usually retrace more than half of wave one, most often making a .618 Fibonacci retracement of wave one. So in anticipation of a third-wave rally - which is where prices normally travel the farthest in the shortest amount of time - you should look to buy at or near the .618 retracement of wave one. 

Where to place the stop: Once a long position is initiated, a protective stop can be placed one tick below the origin of wave (1). If wave two retraces more than 100% of wave one, the move can no longer be labeled wave two.

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