Bollinger Bands are popular with technical analysts and traders in all markets, including forex. Since traders of currency look for very incremental moves to profit, recognizing volatility and trend changes quickly is essential. Bollinger Bands help by signaling changes in volatility. For generally steady ranges of a security, such as many currency pairs, Bollinger Bands act as relatively clear signals for buying and selling. This can result in stop-outs and frustrating losses, though, so traders consider other factors when placing trades in relation to the Bollinger Bands.
First, a trader must understand how Bollinger Bands are set up. There is an upper and lower band, each set at a distance of two standard deviations from the security's 21-day simple moving average. Therefore, the Bands show the volatility of the price in relation to the average, and traders can expect movements in price anywhere between the two bands. Forex traders can use the bands to place sell orders at the upper band limit and buy orders at the lower band limit. This strategy works well with currencies that follow a range pattern, but it can be costly to a trader if a breakout occurs.
Since Bollinger Bands measure deviation from the average, they react and change shape when price fluctuations increase or decrease. Increased volatility is nearly always a sign that new normals will be set, and traders can capitalize using Bollinger Bands. When the Bollinger Bands converge on the moving average, indicating lower price volatility, it is known as "the Squeeze." This is one of the most reliable signals given by Bollinger Bands, and it works well with forex trading. A Squeeze was seen in the USD/JPY currency pair on Oct. 31, 2014. News that the Bank of Japan would be increasing its stimulus bond-buying policy sparked the trend change. Even if a trader did not hear about this news, the trend change could be spotted with the Bollinger Band Squeeze.
Sometimes reactions are not as intense, and traders can miss profits by setting orders directly on the upper and lower Bollinger Bands. Therefore, it is wise to determine entry and exit points near these lines to avoid disappointment. Another Forex trading strategy to work around this is to add a second set of Bollinger Bands placed only one standard deviation from the moving average, creating upper and lower channels. Then, buy orders are placed within the lower zone and sell orders in the upper zone, increasing execution probability.
There are several other specific strategies used in currency trading with Bollinger Bands, such as the Inside Day Bollinger Band Turn Trade and Pure Fade Trade. In theory, these are all profitable trades, but traders must develop and follow the methods exactly in order for them to pan out.