Two days is a long time in trading.

And when brokers close up for the weekend from late Friday evening, it can leave your trades open to sudden and wild swings in trading sentiment.

It can make for a bit of a restless weekend!

This was the exact situation a reader found himself in recently…

I’ve got this trade that’s well into profit. My usual strategy is to trail the stop loss so I can lock in some of the profits and then give the trade chance to turn into a long-term position. But what do you think I should do ahead of the weekend now? Should I keep the trade open or take some early profits?

This trader was in a situation where good profits were already there on paper. He could close the trade now and walk away with the loot – but this wasn’t his normal modus operandi. He said that he likes to try and let his trades carry on running wherever possible and let the market take him out when it finally triggers his trailing stop loss.

What should he do?

The big risk here is that market sentiment will move wildly while the broker is closed for the weekend. You see this reflected on the chart with a ‘gap open’. It’s where there’s a gaping hole between the close on Friday evening and the open on Sunday night.

That’s plenty of time for the opening price to move through any stop loss or take profit orders you have in place!

Take the opening gap for the EURUSD last week…

Imagine how unexpected losses caused by the market gapping-over the trader’s stop loss here. I’m sure it would cause you a few headaches.

What we want here is a systematic and methodological approach to dealing with a problem like this…

For this trader I think it would be best if he decides on a course of action that he can apply every Friday, whether there is any known geopolitical stuff in the pipeline at that time or not.

This way he’ll always know exactly what to do in terms of pre-weekend housekeeping. It leaves nothing down to a decision made in the heat of the moment.

It still comes down to personal preference of course. There’s no single ‘right way’ to prepare for the weekend just as there’s no single ‘right way’ to find entry points for your trades.

But let’s look at the 3 main options you have when Friday night looms and you still have trades running…

1) Tighten stops and do nothing special.

This is the default setting. All we’re doing here is applying the normal trading strategy: tighten the stop loss to lock in early profit at the appropriate time and leave the trade to run as normal.

Yes, the risk is that an occasional gap open might skew the result… now and then you’ll get a trade that shows a slightly bigger loss or less profits than you anticipated because of a gap open. You might even get trades that gap past your original target price so you actually get filled with greater profits than expected!

But with a good money management and position sizing policy in place no single trade should ever have the opportunity to make too much of an unexpected dent on your account. In fact, a small amount of ‘slippage’ on your entry and exit prices should be priced-in over the course of a series of trades as part of your ‘real world’ expectations anyway.

So that’s option 1: do nothing special ahead of the weekend and accept the odd skewed result as part of your long-term campaign.

Here’s option 2…

2) Close all open trades before the close on Friday.

This is the kind of approach I’d recommend for shorter term traders. It provides security against gap opens and it gives you peace of mind that nothing terrible can happen to your positions while the market is closed, so you can at least enjoy a relaxing and stress-free weekend!

But remember, we’re looking for ways to stay in trades for the long term here. So how can we achieve that when we close out the trades each Friday?

One tactic you might use is to close all your open positions at a set time each Friday – I like to use 7pm – and then reopen the position at a set time on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Yes, there’s going to be a difference in price when comparing your exit on Friday and re-entry on Sunday – sometimes it’ll cost you and sometimes you’ll gain – but you might consider that a small payoff against security and peace of mind over the weekend.

There’s one downside to this approach, and it’s a bit psychological in nature… it can be tough to re-enter a trade that has already made a profitable 50 or 60 pip move without you being on board!

Luckily, there’s a third way we can prepare for the weekend. A kind of ‘halfway house’ that gives some security and still keeps you involved and committed to your trade.

3) Hedge your bets.

Take half the position off on Friday night and re-enter the other half on Sunday: it reduces your exposure to an adverse move over the weekend but maintains your presence in the market.  And it can be mentally much easier to amend and adjust an open position than to completely re-enter 100%.

And the beauty of this approach is that you can scale the slice of the position held over the weekend to suit your own tolerance to risk… you might only hold onto 30% of the overall trade, or even 10%.

But I’d certainly think about keeping a part of the original trade live however small. It can really help maintain that connection to your original plan and overcome any subconscious reluctance to jump back in on Sunday night.

Be Prepared: Market Moving Data Coming This Week (London Time)

Wednesday 3rd May:
08:55     EUR      German Unemployment change
09:30     GBP      Construction PMI
13:15     USD      Non-farm employment change
15:00     USD      ISM Non-manufacturing PMI
15:30     USD      Crude Oil Inventories
19:00     USD      Interest Rate Decision & Fed statement

Thursday 4th May:
09:30     GBP      Services PMI
17:30     EUR      ECB Draghi speaks

Friday 5th May:
13:30     USD      Employment numbers!
18:30     USD      Yellen speaks

Monday 8th may:
– No big reports

Tuesday 9th May:
15:00 USD JOLTs Job Openings

Keep an eye on the evening reports this week. Don’t let them catch you unprepared – make sure you’ve taken care of any open trades beforehand.

And don’t forget it’s US job numbers on Friday afternoon too!

Until next time, happy trading.