Significance of ATR in Forex Trading

Forex trading is a complex and risky endeavor that requires careful risk management in order to be successful. One tool that is commonly used by traders to help manage risk is the Average True Range (ATR) indicator. In this article, we will explore the importance of ATR in risk management for forex trading, as well as how it can be used to improve trading strategies and protect against losses.

What is ATR?

The Average True Range (ATR) is an indicator that measures market volatility by calculating the average range between high and low prices over a certain period of time. It was developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr. and first introduced in his book “New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems” in 1978.

ATR is often used by traders to determine the size of stop-loss orders and profit targets, as well as to assess the overall volatility of a market. It is displayed as a line on a price chart, with higher values indicating greater volatility and lower values indicating lower volatility.

How is ATR calculated?

The formula for calculating ATR is relatively simple:

ATR = Average True Range

TR = True Range

N = number of periods

To calculate ATR, you first need to calculate the True Range (TR) for each period. The True Range is the greatest of the following:

– Current high minus the current low

– Absolute value of the current high minus the previous close

– Absolute value of the current low minus the previous close

Once you have calculated the True Range for each period, you can then calculate the ATR by taking the average of the True Range values over the specified number of periods (N).

How is ATR used in risk management for forex trading?

ATR can be a valuable tool for managing risk in forex trading for several reasons:

  • Setting stop-loss orders: ATR can help traders determine the appropriate size of stop-loss orders based on the current volatility of the market. A wider ATR value may indicate that a larger stop-loss is needed to protect against larger price swings, while a narrower ATR value may suggest a smaller stop-loss order is sufficient.
  • Setting profit targets: ATR can also be used to set profit targets by identifying potential price levels that are within a certain range of the current market volatility. Traders can adjust their profit targets based on changes in ATR values to ensure they are realistic and achievable.
  • Adjusting position sizes: ATR can help traders calculate the appropriate position size for a trade based on the current volatility of the market. By adjusting position sizes to account for changes in ATR values, traders can minimize risk and maximize potential returns.

Overall, ATR can provide traders with valuable insights into market volatility and help them make more informed decisions about risk management strategies.


Q: How often should I calculate ATR?

A: The frequency of calculating ATR will depend on your trading strategy and time frame. Some traders may calculate ATR on a daily basis, while others may calculate it on a weekly or monthly basis. It is important to experiment with different time frames to determine what works best for your trading style.

Q: Can ATR be used in combination with other indicators?

A: Yes, ATR can be used in conjunction with other technical indicators to enhance risk management strategies. Some traders may use ATR in combination with moving averages, trend lines, or support and resistance levels to make more informed trading decisions.

Q: How can I interpret ATR values?

A: ATR values can be interpreted in relation to the specific currency pair you are trading. Generally, higher ATR values indicate greater volatility and potential price movements, while lower ATR values indicate lower volatility and smaller price movements. It is important to consider ATR values in the context of your trading strategy and risk tolerance.


1. Wilder, J. Welles. “New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems.” Trend Research, 1978.

2. Brown, Constance M. “Technical Analysis for the Trading Professional.” McGraw-Hill Education, 2012.

3. Murphy, John J. “Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets: A Comprehensive Guide to Trading Methods and Applications.” New York Institute of Finance, 1999.

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