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Choosing Time Frames: How to Select a Trading Time Frame?

A multitude of factors are necessary to take into account when entering the world of CFD trading. One of these is your trading time frame; below we will delve into the meaning & significance of trading time frames as well as offer some useful tips that may assist you on your trading journey.

Choosing a trading timeframe

What is a Time Frame in Trading?

To navigate markets, traders must adeptly recognise and navigate underlying trends. Understanding the duration of a trend and the opportune moments to enter or exit a trade requires delving into the concept of trading time frames.

Time frames denote the duration of a trend within a market, providing actionable insights for traders. Immediate time frames, relevant to day traders and high-frequency trading, offer real-time opportunities. However, it's crucial to consider other time frames which can validate or contradict trends, spanning from minutes to weeks.

Trends encompass primary, intermediate, and short-term categories, often coexisting within multiple time frames. Thus, conflicting trends may emerge within a stock, such as a primary uptrend amidst intermediate or short-term downtrends.

Traders who are new to the CFD arena often fixate on a single time frame, overlooking the more influential primary trend. Conversely, traders may focus on the primary trend while neglecting precise short-term entry points. Understanding the interplay of different time frames is pivotal for optimal trading results. Explore further to find out how to ascertain the ideal time frame for your individual trading strategy.

Why Do Time Frames Matter?

Understanding the significance of time frames in CFD trading is paramount as it delineates the duration during which investment decisions are made, profoundly influencing one's approach and outcomes. Whether one is a short-term trader capitalising on daily or intraday fluctuations or a long-term investor navigating broader market trends, the chosen time frame profoundly shapes risk management strategies, the development of trading methodologies, and overall trading success. Here's why your trading time frame matters:

Firstly, the trading time frame plays a pivotal role in decision-making and defines the length of the investing horizon. Long-term investors scrutinise market patterns over months or even years, while short-term traders look for daily or intraday price movements to exploit volatility. Aligning the time frame with individual trading styles, financial goals, and risk tolerances is imperative as it determines the relevance of market fluctuations and the analytical tools employed, crucial for crafting individually-tailored personal trading strategies.

Analysing various time frames allows for a more comprehensive understanding of a stock's market dynamics. By considering short-term trends, medium-term swings, and long-term investment perspectives, traders can develop a holistic view, aiding in informed decision-making. Moreover, analysing multiple time frames serves to confirm trends. When short-term uptrends align with medium and long-term trends, it reinforces the conviction in the strength of the prevailing trend, enhancing confidence in trading decisions.

Furthermore, different time frames facilitate the identification of optimal entry and exit points. Short-term traders may utilise intraday charts to fine-tune their entries and exits while corroborating these decisions with higher time frames for a broader perspective. Additionally, incorporating multiple time frames may enhance risk management. Traders can set tighter stop-loss levels based on short-term trends while accommodating wider fluctuations when considering long-term trends, thus minimising potential losses.

Moreover, markets exhibit varying behaviours across different time frames, necessitating adaptability in trading strategies. Traders who analyse multiple time frames are better equipped to adjust to changing market conditions, ensuring flexibility and resilience in their approach. Furthermore, analysing multiple time frames helps filter out false signals prevalent on shorter time frames. Confirmation from higher time frames reduces the likelihood of being misled by short-term market noise, enhancing the accuracy of trading decisions.

Lastly, multiple time frames offer insights into market sentiment at different levels. Short-term sentiment may diverge from longer-term sentiment, and understanding these nuances is invaluable for decision-making. By comprehensively analysing various time frames, traders can navigate the complexities of the market with confidence and precision, maximising their trading success.

What Are the Main Time Frames?

Trading time frames in CFD trading encompass various styles catering to different trader preferences and objectives.

Day Trading

Day trading, a popular approach, involves opening and closing positions within a single trading day. Traders operating in this timeframe, typically utilising 15-minute to 1-hour charts, seek to gain exposure to short-term market fluctuations while avoiding overnight exposure.

Position Trading

Position trading, the longest-term strategy, entails holding positions for weeks, months, or even a year, aiming to capture longer market trends. Position traders rely on daily, weekly, or monthly charts, emphasising fundamental analysis to identify and exploit long-term trends effectively.

Swing Trading

Swing trading adopts a medium-term perspective, with positions held open for several days to weeks. Making use of charts like those that show movements in one-hour increments, swing traders aim to identify price swings within this timeframe, often managing multiple positions concurrently to diversify risk.

Each trading timeframe offers distinct advantages and requires tailored strategies. Understanding these variations enables traders to align their approach with their objectives, risk tolerance, and market conditions.

What Is Multi-Time Frame Analysis?

Multi-timeframe analysis, commonly employed by traders across various markets including CFD trading, involves examining different timeframes to gain a comprehensive understanding of market conditions before making trading decisions. Rather than focusing solely on one timeframe, traders assess multiple timeframes to obtain a more holistic view of the market.

This method offers traders numerous benefits, such as refining trading strategies, determining optimal entry and exit points, managing risk more effectively, and increasing the likelihood of making well-timed trades. Essentially, multi-timeframe analysis aids in optimising trades by providing a broader perspective of market dynamics.

Let's look at a detailed example of how this may work in practice:

Say a trader is considering trading on Apple (AAPL) shares. They decide to apply multi-timeframe analysis via platform charts to assess the market before making a trading decision.

  • Long-term Analysis (Weekly Chart): The trader starts by examining the weekly chart of Apple. to identify the long-term trend. They notice that over the past several months, Apple's stock price has been consistently rising, indicating a bullish trend. Additionally, they observe that Apple recently broke above a key resistance level, suggesting further upward momentum.
  • Intermediate-term Analysis (Daily Chart): Next, the trader zooms in Apple's daily chart to analyse intermediate-term trends and potential entry points. They observe that within the broader bullish trend, there have been periodic pullbacks and consolidations. Currently, Apple's stock price is consolidating near a support level, indicating a potential buying opportunity.
  • Short-term Analysis (Hourly Chart): Finally, the trader examines the hourly price movements of Apple shares to fine-tune their entry and exit points. They notice that on the hourly time frame, the stock price is exhibiting intraday volatility, with short-term fluctuations around key support and resistance levels. By monitoring the hourly chart, the trader can identify optimal entry points during temporary dips and exit points during short-term rallies.

Based on this multi-timeframe analysis, the trader decides to open a long position on Apple shares near the support level identified on the daily chart, anticipating a continuation of the bullish trend. They then set a profit target based on the resistance levels identified on both the daily and weekly charts, aiming to capture potential gains as Apple's stock price continues to rise. Additionally, they place a stop-loss order below the support level on the daily chart to manage risk in case the trade goes against them.

By making use of multiple time frames in their analysis, this hypothetical trader is able to tailor their trading strategy to the price movements of the CFD's underlying asset, although a resulting profit is never guaranteed.

Different Time Frames’ Advantages & Disadvantages

Now let's take a look at the benefits and drawbacks offered by different time frames when CFD trading:

  • Long-term trading offers reduced risk exposure as positions are held over extended periods, allowing traders to weather market fluctuations until corrections occur, thereby minimising overall risk. Additionally, long-term traders may benefit from market trends, which provide stability to their portfolios and filter out false signals and market noise. Moreover, long-term trading may require less monitoring. Furthermore, long-term trading typically demands more capital due to prolonged holding periods and higher costs.
  • Medium-term trading presents the opportunity for traders to capitalise on larger price movements. With more time for research and analysis, medium-term traders can make better-informed trading decisions. Moreover, medium-term trading shields traders from false signals and market noise, fostering clearer decision-making. Nonetheless, holding positions for longer periods exposes medium-term traders to greater market risk compared to those confronted by short-term traders. Additionally, medium-term traders may encounter fewer trading opportunities than their short-term counterparts, and emotional discipline is crucial to resist short-term temptations and adhere to targets.
  • Short-term trading offers the potential for capturing more small market movements, mitigating risk by holding positions for shorter durations and getting exposure to intraday price movements. However, multiple trades may incur more transaction fees, resulting in higher trading costs for short-term traders. Moreover, constant market monitoring is required to identify entry and exit points, making short-term trading more time-consuming. Short-term traders must navigate through various signals, including false ones, to avoid losses, necessitating careful analysis amidst market noise.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trading Time Frame

When selecting a timeframe for CFD trading, several factors come into play:

  • Risk Tolerance: Short-term trading often involves tighter stop-loss orders due to smaller price movements. Less experienced traders may struggle to remain composed following multiple losses in a short timeframe. Conversely, longer-term trading necessitates wider stop-loss orders but provides more breathing room for trades to develop.
  • Experience Level: Short-term trading demands a higher level of experience and skill due to the rapid pace of market shifts. Mistakes made in short-term trading can result in significant losses compared to swing or position trading. Beginners may find it more suitable to start with longer timeframes, providing ample time to make informed decisions.
  • Trading Strategy Alignment: Your chosen timeframe should align with your trading strategy. Short-term strategies typically rely heavily on technical analysis, while longer-term strategies may incorporate fundamental analysis. Short-term traders may opt to avoid trading around news events to mitigate risk and stress.

How to Choose a Trading Time Frame

Here are a few tips that may assist you in deciding which time frame to focus on when trading CFDs:

  • Start with Demo Trading: Experiment with various trading time frames in your free, unlimited demo account to grasp the dynamics of each timeframe without risking real money. Keep track of your performance with each strategy to make informed decisions about the most suitable trading style for you.
  • Lifestyle Considerations: Select a timeframe that suits your schedule and personality. Short-term trading may appeal to individuals who can devote more daily time and aim to become experts in market patterns. Alternatively, swing trading may be preferable for those who can monitor the market regularly and are comfortable with less concern about short-term price fluctuations.
  • Consistency: Once you've chosen a timeframe, stick with it consistently. Frequent switching between time frames can lead to confusion and potential mistakes. While both short-term and longer-term trading offer opportunities for profit and losses, the skills required for success in each style differ significantly.

Choosing the right time frame for CFD trading is a personal decision that should align with your trading objectives, style, risk tolerance, and lifestyle. Developing your knowledge and experience in a certain time frame can be a good way to navigate the world of CFD trading.


In conclusion, the choice of trading time frame in CFD trading is a critical decision influenced by various factors such as risk tolerance, experience level, and alignment with trading strategy. Each time frame offers distinct advantages and drawbacks, requiring traders to carefully consider their preferences and objectives. From the fast-paced environment of short-term trading to the stability of long-term investing, each approach necessitates a tailored strategy and commitment. Through demo trading, lifestyle considerations, and consistency in approach, traders may be better positioned to navigate the many complexities of CFD trading.

In order to put all we’ve learned here about time frames into practice, check out Plus500’s CFD trading platform.


What is the one common time frame for position trading?

A common time frame for position trading is based on a longer-term, with traders often using daily, weekly, or even monthly charts to identify and capitalise on enduring market trends, aligning with their longer investment horizon and fundamental analysis.

What timeframes do swing traders usually use?

Swing traders typically use medium-term timeframes, such as one-hour, four-hour, or daily charts, to capture price swings over several days to weeks, allowing for a balanced approach that combines short-term volatility with longer-term trend analysis.

How do I choose a timeframe?

When choosing a timeframe, consider factors such as risk tolerance, experience level, and alignment with your trading strategy; experiment with different timeframes in a demo account to understand their dynamics and select one that suits your schedule, personality, and objectives, ensuring consistency in your approach for optimal results.

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