Updated: 05/08/2024

Mastering CFD Trading Charts: A Comprehensive Guide

understanding cfd trading
.02 Mar 2024
author avatar image Chad Smith

Table of Contents

Contract for Difference (CFD) trading, a cornerstone of the modern financial markets, offers a complex but rewarding landscape for the astute professional. Understanding the nuances of CFD trading, from its conceptual underpinnings to practical chart analysis, is key to make informed market decisions and craft effective strategies. This deep-dive exploration unravels the mechanics of CFD trading, illuminates the intriguing world of chart formations, and analyses real-world narratives to demonstrate how theory intermingles with practice. Whether you are an enthusiastic newcomer or an experienced trader aiming to refine your approach, this journey through the vital chapters of CFD trading promises to add potent tools to your trading arsenal.

Understanding CFD Trading

What is CFD Trading?

CFD Trading, or Contract for Difference Trading, is a financial derivative enabling traders to speculate on the rising or falling prices of fast-moving financial instruments such as commodities, indices, currencies, and shares. The ‘contract’ is an agreement between a buyer and a seller to exchange the difference in price of a financial instrument from the time the contract is open until it is closed. It’s important to note that when trading CFDs, you don’t physically own the asset or instrument you’ve chosen to trade, but you’re rather speculating on price movements.

How Does CFD Trading Work?

CFD trading works by establishing a contract with a broker for the difference in the value of an asset, from the time the contract is initiated to the time it’s closed. For example, if you believe the price of a commodity will increase, you’d enter a ‘buy’ contract. If the price rises as anticipated, you make a profit, but if the price drops, you make a loss.

Conversely, if you believe prices will drop, you’d enter a ‘sell’ contract, also known as ‘going short’. Here, you’d make a profit if the prices drop as anticipated, but incur a loss if the prices rise. The extent of profits and losses is determined by the magnitude of the price movement, making CFD Trading a leveraged form of trading.

Advantages of CFD Trading

One primary advantage of CFD trading is its accessibility to global markets from one platform, allowing traders to speculate across a variety of financial instruments. Additionally, CFDs enable traders to go long or short, hence providing the potential to profit in both rising and falling markets.

Perhaps the most notable advantage is the ability to trade on margin which means traders can open larger positions with a small amount of capital. However, while this significantly increases profit potential, it presents a similar risk for losses.

Risks Associated with CFD Trading

Despite its advantages, CFD Trading is not without risks. Its speculative nature and leverage mean it’s possible to lose more than your initial investment. Market volatility can result in rapid price movements, and if you aren’t able to close your position in time, your losses could escalate swiftly.

Moreover, while trading on margin allows you to access greater capital, it can also increase your losses. In light of these potential losses, it’s essential to implement risk management strategies such as setting stop losses and limit orders, which can help manage potential losses.

Delving into CFD Trading and Financial Markets

Contract for Difference (CFD) Trading is a vital aspect of the financial markets. Its appeal is rooted in its various benefits including flexibility, leverage, and the chance to tap into international markets. It has rapidly grown in popularity amongst individual investors, monetary institutions, and hedge funds. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of CFD trading paves the way to skillfully decipher and harness CFD trading charts. Consequently, this enables forecasting of pricing fluctuations, resulting in more knowledgeable trading decisions.

Grasping the fundamentals of CFD trading lays the groundwork for mastering CFD trading charts. These graphical representations disclose price trends over a predetermined timescale and are an indispensable asset in any trader’s arsenal. They present historical evidence, equipping traders with the capacity to find trading opportunities through analysis of trends, and to formulate trading strategies rooted in the asset’s preceding performance.

An image showing a person trading CFDs on a computer screen

Basics of Trading Charts in CFD Trading

Deciphering CFD Trading Charts

Trading charts are integral to successful Contract for Difference (CFD) trading, offering a visual depiction of market conduct. Knowledge of these charts is fundamental for informed trading decisions. These charts serve as an optical guide, aiding traders in analysing past data and predicting potential shifts in market trends.

Types of Trading Charts in CFD Trading

There are a variety of charts used in trading but the three most commonly utilised charts in CFD trading include line charts, bar charts, and candlestick charts.

Line Charts

A line chart is the simplest form of charting and is frequently used in CFD trading. It represents the closing prices of a particular asset over a specified period. The line is formed by connecting the points representing the closing prices. This type of chart provides a clear visual representation of how the value of an asset has evolved over time.

Bar Charts

Unlike line charts that only display the closing prices, bar charts provide a more comprehensive view of an asset’s price movements. A single bar on the chart represents an asset’s opening price, closing price, and the highs and lows within a stipulated period. The top of the bar indicates the highest price while the bottom indicates the lowest price. The left horizontal line shows the opening price, and the right shows the closing price. Traders choose bar charts when they want to analyse the price range within a specific trading day.

Candlestick Charts

Candlestick charts are another type that traders widely use in CFD trading as they provide a lot of detailed information. Just like bar charts, they represent an asset’s opening price, closing price, and the highs and lows within a certain duration. However, candlestick charts have a ‘body’ which makes it easier to visually differentiate between periods of buying pressure (bullish periods) and periods of selling pressure (bearish periods). If the closing price is higher than the opening price, the candlestick is typically coloured (often green), indicating a bullish period. Conversely, if the opening price is higher than the closing price, the candlestick may be filled (often red), indicating a bearish period.

Reading and Interpreting CFD Trading Charts

Reading and interpreting these charts is essential for successful CFD trading. The data presented on the charts provide a visual reference of how a particular market is performing. Traders need to understand different patterns and indicators to interpret these charts accurately.

The Concept of Trends

Trends play a significant role in trading charts. They represent the general direction in which the prices move over a period. There are three types of trends – upward (bullish), downward (bearish), and sideways. Understanding and identifying these trends on the trading charts can help traders to determine the optimal time to enter or exit a trade.

It is crucial to understand that these charts merely serve as instruments aiding in the formation of trading decisions. They should not be viewed as a guarantee of success, but when used adeptly, they can help mitigate the risks inherent in CFD trading. Hence, constant learning and practicing are indispensable factors to mastering the use of trading charts for CFD trading.

A visual representation of various charts used in CFD trading, including line charts, bar charts, and candlestick charts.

Technical Analysis in CFD Trading Charts

Deciphering Technical Analysis in CFD Trading Charts

Applied to Contract for Difference (CFD) trading charts, technical analysis is all about predicting the trajectory of future prices by probing into historical market data, with a particular emphasis on price and volume.

Underlying this method is the belief that history has a habit of repeating itself. Thus, if a certain pattern preceded a notable shift in price, it is reasonable to treat similar patterns as clues of an impending similar shift in price.

The Relevance of Moving Averages in CFD Charts

One of the primary technical indicators utilised in CFD trading charts is moving averages. These serve to smooth out price data by creating a constantly updated average price. The moving average is usually calculated to identify the trend direction over a certain period, thus filtering out the ‘noise’ from random short-term price fluctuations.

Two common types of moving average are the Simple Moving Average (SMA) and the Exponential Moving Average (EMA). Traders often utilise two moving averages – one short-term (like the 10-day average) and one long-term (like the 200-day average), combining both to generate buying or selling signals.

Relative Strength Index and Its Role in CFD

The Relative Strength Index (RSI), another fundamental tool in technical analysis, helps identify whether a particular market is considered overbought or oversold. It presents this information in the form of an oscillator moving between two extremes: 0 and 100.

Generally, an RSI level of 70 or above suggests a market is overbought (potentially overvalued and might experience a correction or downturn), while a level of 30 or below indicates oversold conditions (potentially undervalued and may see an upward correction). Traders often use the RSI in conjunction with other technical indicators for more robust confirmation of potential trend changes.

Applying Bollinger Bands in CFD Trading Charts

Bollinger Bands, developed by financial analyst John Bollinger, are volatility bands placed above and below a moving average. Volatility is based on the standard deviation, therefore, the bands adjust their width according to market conditions.

By definition, prices are high at the upper band and low at the lower band. The nature of Bollinger Bands assures that trading activities occur between the two bands about 90% of the time. This property makes them highly useful in determining potential overbought and oversold conditions, supporting the decision-making process while trading CFDs.

Wrapping It Up

Collectively, these instruments from technical analysis grant vital perspectives on market inclinations and plausible trading price levels. Despite their utility, none of these methods confidently assures absolute accuracy. It’s pivotal to use these tools as components of an all-encompassing trading scheme. As with all monetary undertakings, CFD trading inherits risks and hence, demands thorough comprehension and rigorous preparation to execute successfully.

Image depicting technical analysis in CFD trading charts

Chart Patterns and Strategies in CFD Trading

Deciphering CFD Trading Charts

Contract for Difference (CFD) trade, a speculative mode of investment, involves traders placing bets on the fluctuation of assorted assets. Understanding the charts and patterns connected to it is crucial for making gainful trades. Essentially, these charts provide a visual display of the asset’s price trajectory over a chosen time frame. Traders engage these charts to spot trends and establish their market assumptions; thereby, refining their trading tactics.

The Double Top Pattern

The double top pattern is a classical reversal chart pattern that typically forms after an extended uptrend. The “double top” refers to the creation of two consecutive peaks roughly at the same price level. The first peak represents the highest point of the trend. After this, the price falls back to a level of support – often called the ‘neckline’. The second peak should reach the same general level as the first. However, when it fails to surpass the first, it confirms the pattern. Often, this implies that the upward trend is losing steam, and a bearish reversal is on the horizon.

The Double Bottom Pattern

In reverse, the double bottom pattern forms after a prolonged downtrend. It involves two consecutive dips or ‘bottoms’ roughly at the same price. The two dips are separated by a peak, a resistance level which has to be breached to confirm a bullish trend reversal. Once the price breaks through this resistance level, often with significant volume, the double bottom pattern is confirmed.

The Head and Shoulders Pattern

Another significant pattern is the head and shoulders pattern. It consists of three parts: a left shoulder, a head, and a right shoulder, with a line drawn as the ‘neckline’. This pattern indicates a bearish reversal after an upward trend. It’s named as such because the pattern resembles a head with two shoulders. It’s completed when the price drops below the neckline after forming the right shoulder. The inverse head and shoulders pattern indicates a bullish reversal after a downward trend.

Chart Patterns and Trading Strategies

These chart patterns form the basis for many trading strategies in CFD trading. For instance, traders might decide to go long when a double bottom pattern forms, indicating that the price has hit a low and might be about to increase. Conversely, the appearance of a double top often indicates that it may be advantageous to short sell.

Traders might put stop-loss orders just below the neckline in a double top pattern or just above the neckline in the double bottom pattern to limit potential losses if the price doesn’t move as expected. For the head and shoulders pattern, a stop loss order could be placed above the right shoulder.

In order to succeed in CFD trading, it’s essential to recognise and understand various chart patterns and to grasp their significance in predicting price movements. As well as this, devising a trading strategy that includes risk management measures such as stop losses is paramount. When used effectively, these patterns can yield profitable opportunities within the CFD trading market.

Illustration of CFD Trading Charts with various patterns and trends

Real-world Application and Case Studies

CFD Trading Charts’ Influence on the Forex Market

CFD trading charts have proven to play a vital role in significant forex market events, such as the Swiss Franc crisis in 2015. The decision by the Swiss National Bank to cease pegging the Swiss Franc to the Euro, and the subsequent soaring value of the Swiss Franc, was monitored closely by traders scrutinising the EUR/CHF pair through CFD trading charts. This analysis forewarned savvy traders of the impending trend, enabling them to make effective decisions to either minimise losses or capitalise on the situation.

The sharp increase in the value of the Swiss Franc was clearly demonstrated in CFD trading charts, offering astute traders the opportunity to take a short position on the EUR/CHF pair. Regrettably, some traders found themselves on the losing end of the deal due to their inability to correctly interpret the changes revealed in the CFD trading charts.

Cryptocurrency and CFD Trading Charts

Cryptocurrencies are another area where CFD trading charts have displayed their utility. Bitcoin, being a highly volatile asset, provides various trading opportunities. CFD charts have been instrumental in allowing traders to predict price movements and strategise accordingly.

In December 2017, Bitcoin demonstrated its all-time high value of nearly $20,000. Traders, by keeping a close eye on CFD charts, were able to identify the price bubble, as the rising trend was not sustainable. Consequently, they could short-sell Bitcoin or hedge their holdings to avert heavy losses.

CFD Trading Charts and Stock Market

CFD charts are equally essential for stock trading. A 2008 financial crisis case study reveals how critical CFD charts can be. When the stock prices plummeted, those who relied on CFD trading charts could identify the bearish market trend early on, allowing time to adjust their strategies accordingly. They could sell their market positions or go short to profit from the falling prices.

In contrast, traders who ignored the warning signs shown by the rapidly falling price lines on the CFD charts found themselves experiencing significant losses. The CFD charts accurately depicted the sudden and severe downtrend, which signaled a looming financial crisis.

Commodity Markets and CFD Trading Charts

In the commodities market, CFD trading charts have proved beneficial as well. In 2008, the oil price shock saw the value of crude oil touch $147 per barrel. This surge was then followed by a swift fall in prices. Traders using CFD trading charts had the tools necessary to observe this drastic price swing, equipping them to buy oil when the prices were low and sell when they spiked.

By studying the data visualized in the CFD charts, traders could perceive the upward and downward price trends and react accordingly. This strategy would not have been possible without the insights provided by the CFD trading charts.


These real-world applications underscore the importance of understanding and utilizing CFD trading charts in predicting market trends and making informed trading decisions. Whether it’s forex, stocks, commodities, or cryptocurrencies, CFD trading charts have repeatedly proven their worth in various market scenarios.

Illustration of trading charts on a computer screen

The intriguing world of CFD trading is sprinkled with numerous challenges and opportunities. Gaining a firm grasp of the intricate trading charts, acknowledging the powers of chart patterns, and mastering technical analysis techniques proves to be a formidable line of defence against market volatility. In the vast arena of financial markets, it is the astute professionals who emerge synonymously competent. Encapsulating real-world case studies has elucidated how theoretical knowledge can be seamlessly applied to practical trading situations. Armed with these insights and understanding, you’re well-positioned to navigate the often challenging waters of CFD trading, ready to weave successful strategies with confidence and precision.

author avatar image
Chad Smith

Chad Smith is the Director of Research & Analysis here at ForexBrokerListing.com. Chad previously served as an Editor for a number of websites related to finance and trading, where he authored a significant number of published articles about trading and the impact of technology in transforming investing as we know it. Overall, Chad is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher with more than 15 years of trading experience, and you can find him teaching his dog how to trade in his free time.