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The most common trading mistakes (and how to avoid them)



Trading gaps are a common phenomenon in the financial markets, occurring when a security’s price moves sharply from one level to another without any trading activity. Gaps can be seen in various time frames, from stocks that gap up or down on the opening of a single day’s session to gaps created across multiple days for longer-term securities such as futures contracts. 

While traders have varying degrees of understanding about gap formation and behavior, it is important for anyone entering the markets to understand what causes gaps and how they may impact individual trades or overall trends. This article provides an introductory guide to what are gaps in trading and filling gaps in trading, discussing common causes, different types of gaps, and the influence on trading strategies.

What are Gaps in Trading?

Gaps in trading are areas of sudden price movement within a market chart where prices are noticeably absent. These areas are usually seen on charts of indexes and stocks but can also occur in other financial markets. Gaps can be used as potential signals and indicators for traders to help suggest potential entry and exit points. Let’s look at the different types of gaps and how they can be used in trading.

Types of Gaps

Gaps occur when the opening price of a given stock is significantly different than the closing price of the previous trading day – either higher or lower. This can be caused by any number of market factors ranging from news announcements to simple supply and demand pressures. Gaps generally have three classifications — common, breakaway, and runaway/exhaustion — based on their causes and implications for potential trends. 

Common Gaps: Common gaps are relatively small price movements resulting from brief imbalances between buyers and sellers within an established trading range; weekend occurrences or overnight news events typically cause them. This type of gap does not typically signify a change in sentiment; it’s more like a minor blip on a larger trend chart. 

Breakaway Gaps: A breakaway gap occurs when prices move out of an existing trend channel and leave behind an empty space on the chart pattern, usually indicative of sustained buying pressure. The sudden price jump usually happens before news events, making these gaps fairly unpredictable. 

Runaway/Exhaustion Gaps: Runaway/exhaustion gaps are similar to breakaway gaps in that they signal a sudden breakout in prices that indicate an end to current trends – but these gaps differ in one important way: Their formation signals that momentum has run out, suggesting rates will soon return to more normal levels. 

These gaps often accompany news announcements related to industry leaders such as Apple or Microsoft – high-profile companies with big moves can move markets overnight (which causes these sorts of runaway/exhaustion gaps).

Common Gaps

Gaps are areas on a stock price chart where the price of a security moves sharply up or down, with little or no trading in between. A gap typically forms when the demand for stock changes, and there needs to be more liquidity for all buyers and sellers in the market to execute their trades simultaneously.

Gaps can occur in any direction – down, up, or sideways – and are usually most visible on candlestick charts due to their lighter coloring. Gaps generally indicate strong movements in either direction, as they show that there is a sizable shift in sentiment among traders who eagerly bought or sold without hesitation. There are three common types of gaps often seen on price charts: 

Common Gaps, Breakaway Gaps, and Runaway Gaps. Common gaps happen when prices trade within the normal trading range, but an abrupt change in price movement causes the gap. This kind of gap often signals that more downside (or upside) movement will follow, with the trend continuing until it reaches a resistance level. 

They can also occur at market opening if news events cause investors to react drastically to recent developments while high volumes of buying or selling quickly fill the gap. Breakaway gaps occur early during a new trend, signaling an increased momentum as prices move away from long-term support or resistance levels. 

This type of gap is usually followed by short-term pullbacks as traders reevaluate their positions and enter new ones depending upon how they feel about their outlooks from here forward out; Thus indicating higher volatility ahead!

Finally, Runaway gaps occur near the end of strong trends as buyers rush into long positions, heavily pushing prices higher (or lower). These kinds of gaps confirm the strength of emerging trends yet tend to exhaust quickly shortly after appearing before causing more sporadic trading conditions going forward until another breakout occurs sometime later down the line, seemingly completing one market cycle process altogether at it was

Breakaway Gaps

Breakaway gaps are the most common gaps in trading. They occur when a price moves sharply away from a trading range. For example, if the current price range is $20 to $22, a breakaway gap would be any price above or below $20 or $22. These gapped prices can create clear areas of support and resistance and often mark the beginning of a new trend. Breakaways tend to show strong momentum and move far from where they began. Breakaway gaps are relatively easy to identify because large volumes often accompany them on spikes.

Runaway Gaps

A runaway gap, also known as an exhaustion gap, occurs at the end of a trend and signals that the current trend is coming to an end. This gap typically forms in an up-trend when prices break above the previous day’s high. The result is a more pronounced move in the given direction with increasing volume as traders rush to take advantage of what appears to be a one-way move. Runaway gaps signal that trend followers may have reached their buying levels and therefore signal that the current trend may be nearing its end and could soon reverse.

Exhaustion Gaps

Exhaustion gaps are so named because they typically occur near the end of an extended price move in one direction or the other as if buyers and sellers have “exhausted” themselves trying to push the market in their respective favor. After rallying significantly in a certain direction, an exhaustion gap closing near its extreme indicates that the activity has become so lopsided the current players in that direction are finished, and the opposing side is preparing to take control. This type of gap could also be considered a warning sign before a larger trend reverses.


How to Trade Gaps

Trading gaps is a popular trading strategy as it allows traders to take advantage of the price gap between two consecutive trading days. Trading gaps can lead to huge returns. However, it also involves high risk. In this article, we will discuss how to trade gaps and the best strategies to do so.

Identifying Gaps

Gaps occur on a technical chart when the trading price of a security jumps significantly higher or lower than the previous day’s closing price. Gaps can offer opportune moments for traders to make quick profits by entering the gap or selling/buying on either side. The easiest way to identify a gap is to simply look for a large blank space between two consecutive bars on an OHLCV chart. 

Gaps may present themselves in different sizes and shapes and represent various movement types within a market. For example, there are breakaway gaps that signal the beginning of a trend, runaway gaps that signal continuing momentum within a trend, exhaustion gaps that signify an imminent reversal in trend, or common gaps that do not necessarily signal anything specific in particular.

Generally, any gap can be seen as an area with significantly ignored buying or selling pressure within the market environment. Successful trading involving gaps requires a keen knowledge of how they typically “play out,” how they react over time to opening price levels and how they interact with other resistant/supportive levels (such as average true ranges). By recognizing these patterns, experienced traders can identify favorable opportunities arising from gaps.

Analyzing Gaps

Regarding trading gaps, savvy traders have various strategies and analysis tools to help them determine the best course of action. For any gap-trading strategy, timing is of the essence — gaps are short-lived phenomena, and a trader must be able to capitalize on them before they close. When analyzing a stock before attempting to trade a future gap, investors should look at its volatility and strength, comparing it with its peers. 

For instance, the higher the stock’s volatility compared to its peers, with all other variables being equal, the more likely there will be larger up or down gaps when news events or reports are released. 

Similarly, stocks exhibiting increasing strength relative to their sectors may be more prone to higher intraday or after-hours gap-ups than weaker peers. In addition to these factors, traders should pay attention to daily volume and technical patterns (such as channels and trendlines) that could forecast potential gaps due to imminent release. 

When trading a current gap in progress, these tools can also help estimate where levels of support or resistance may exist for the asset price. Finally, bearish or bullish divergences can indicate an upcoming reversal from which gaps may form after an extended period of sideways trade. Forecasting future market movement around any gap can greatly increase your chances for success as an investor.

Entering a Trade

Once you’ve identified a trading opportunity and decided to trade the gap, there are a few steps you can take to ensure a successful trade.

1. Set your entry price: you should enter the trade at any price within the gap range. This means it should be higher than the previous day’s closing price and lower than the new opening price.

2. Set your stop loss: because gaps tend to be volatile, it is important to set a stop loss before entering the trade. This will help protect your capital in case of an unexpected move in either direction while trading.

3. Plan for potential scenarios: Recognize that there is potential for gaps to close, so it can be helpful to plan for this scenario as well – including potentially closing out for a profit if the gap does close or setting profit targets at points in between where gaps started and closed in past trades.

4. Keep an eye on news and potential catalysts: Gaps are often created due to news or other extraordinary events, so staying up-to-date on market developments is important to manage your trades around these catalysts effectively.

Tips for Trading Gaps

Gaps in trading occur when there is a difference between a security’s closing and opening price. When trading gaps, it is important to understand the underlying cause and use technical indicators to determine the market’s direction. This article will cover some tips for trading gaps and how to use them to your advantage.

Use Stop-Loss Orders

Gaps in trading can be a great opportunity to profit if you know how to identify and capitalize on them. It is important to use stop-loss orders to maximize your chances of successfully trading gaps. 

A stop-loss order is placed with a broker that automatically closes out your position if the security reaches a specific price level (avoiding further losses). Stop-loss orders are especially important when trading gaps because it is difficult to predict how far the security may move in either direction. Stop-loss orders can also offer protection from entering into trades that don’t meet your criteria for success.

Depending on the type of gap you are trading, you may set up stop-loss orders at different levels or points away from the price you’ve entered into the trade. When using stop-loss orders, it is important to remember that no trade will move in only one direction; therefore, consider setting up both buy and sell stop orders at levels where the potential losses would be minimal compared to the potential profits if things go as planned with your trade.

Don’t Expect the Gap to Fill

It is a common misconception that all gaps be filled or ‘closed’ eventually; therefore, trades should be placed in anticipation of such movement. This is not true, especially in intraday trading. A gap could occur for numerous reasons – from news-related events to financial discrepancies, seasonality, or technical indicators.

No matter the cause of the gap, it does not mean the security will return to its original position just because it moved away from it. In any case, whilst a gap may close quickly if initial resistance becomes support, there is no guarantee a gap will fill unless the price action correlates with either technicals or fundamentals. 

Therefore traders should always focus on price action rather than the expectation of an eventual fill to make profitable decisions and take advantage of opportunities presented by short-term gaps. When prices break down below their original positions and create assumptions of false trading levels, immediate support should be avoided since these gaps persist for much longer and are often followed by accelerated bearish momentum – these are known as breakaway gaps.

Use Technical Analysis

Gap trading is a popular strategy that many traders use to capitalize on expected changes in the stock price. To be successful with this strategy, traders need to understand the technical analysis process and how it helps them identify profitable trade opportunities. Technical analysis utilizes charting tools such as trend lines and moving averages to identify potential buy and sell signals.

By studying chart patterns and interpreting various indicators, traders can look for patterns that may indicate an opportunity for a gap trade. Some key characteristics of technical analysis include looking for breakouts from long-term consolidation or sideways trading; reversals from prior highs or lows; or gaps caused by news events like earnings reports, mergers, or FDA approval. 

Monitoring these charts over time allows a trader to identify commercial opportunities resulting from these moves. Technical indicators such as support/resistance levels, oscillators, and momentum can help traders make better decisions regarding entries/exits when trading gaps.

For example, suppose a trader spots an upward gap in the market on higher volume with overbought conditions on the oscillators. In that case, this could indicate that there may be further upside potential available with high-probability trades. The overall goal of technical analysis is to capitalize on short-term movements in the markets while avoiding false signals altogether, seeking profitable entry/exit points when trading gaps, and managing risk exposures accordingly based on current market conditions.


The bottom line is that understanding gaps in trading can help you be a better, more informed investor. Gaps often occur when there is an important news release or new information, and they can tell you whether the market is reacting positively or negatively to the news. By watching for gaps and analyzing them, you can develop actionable insights about the markets and devise a more effective trading strategy. In addition, depending on your time frame, trading styles, and risk tolerance, your approach to gap trading may differ from others’ strategies. No matter what technique you employ, being aware of gaps in the market can help you understand the direction and sentiment of prices, so you make more informed decisions.