How to Trade Correlations for New Traders - AUD/USD vs NZD/USD


Here's a super simple chart, and strategy, which can help you get started in your trading journey.

Trading strongly correlated pairs and looking for divergences is hardly an industry secret. It's a standard technique, and one that is heavily employed by large institutional investors.

Basically, correlation means that certain pairs move in a similar fashion. For AUD/USD (AU) and NZD/USD (NU), they are both based on the USD, and the Australian and New Zealand economies are, broadly speaking, based on similar fundamentals. This means that the factors that impact the price of the AU market, will naturally have similar impacts on the NU market.

The great thing about the AU and NU correlation is that it's long lasting, and strong. For a few decades now, the pairs have had a 80%+ positive correlation (a positive correlation means two markets move in the SAME direction, whereas a negative correlation means that move in the OPPOSITE direction). This strong correlation has held steady through some significant market events. The exception is a period between 2014-2016, where correlation dropped to a low of 15% - but that was due to a variety of factors that are too in-depth to cover here. However, it's worth stating that if the correlation were to drop below 80% in the future, this strategy/technique would no longer be valid.

Hopefully the chart broadly explains things, but in a nutshell:
  • The pairs should move the same.
  • If they don't, e.g. if AU forms higher highs, but NU forms lower lows, that's a correlation divergence. Basically, the markets have moved out of synch for some reason. Often, these are simply short-term phenomenon, and we're counting on the correlation to re-establish itself, allowing us to profit from it.
  • The nature of correlation divergences is that you don't know which pair is going to break first. Therefore, you need a secondary signal in order to make a trade. For example, AU is making higher highs, and NU is making lower highs - which one is going to break? Well, a simple idea is to grab your favourite momentum indicator and look for divergences on either market. On our chart, this plays out in the mid-late April trade. AU is grinding higher, but forming a bearish momentum divergence. Therefore, we're looking for AU to break lower. We can use a moving average, or a trend line break as our confirmation signal to enter the trade. This one worked out wonderfully, but not all of them will.
  • Positive correlations are, like nearly all trading signals, stronger on higher time frames. on a 5min chart, correlations, like the markets themselves, are far more volatile. This is why I would suggest using H4 as your smallest time frame chart, and look at correlations on a Daily basis.
  • A great website to measure/track correlations is https://www.mataf.net/en/forex/tools/cor...

I hope that that all makes sense. I encourage you to try it out for yourself - pick two strongly correlated pairs and start training your brain to look for divergences. And, as with all trading, don't jump on the first correlation divergence you see. You need a secondary confirmation (e.g. momentum divergence, support/resistance ), and then a confirmation signal, before making a trade. Trading success is all about how you do things, not what you do.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.



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