How We Made An 11% Gain On A 6-Day Hold With $UNG (ETF trading strategy)
Oct 03, 2012
Yesterday, we sold our position in US Natural Gas Fund ($UNG) for a nice gain of 11% (nearly $1,000 based on our $50,000 model ETF trading account). In today’s ETF analysis and commentary, we will do an educational technical review of the trade setup, walking you through from the date of our buy entry to the date of our sale. Although subscribers could simply follow the exact entry and exit points of our ETF picks every day, without worrying about the methodology behind the trade setups, having a clear understanding of our ETF trading strategy will enable one to ultimately become a more successful swing trader by having more belief and confidence in our trading system.
The UNG trade setup was originally presented to subscribers in the September 24 issue of The Wagner Daily. On that day, we presented exactly the following commentary and chart of UNG (presented in blue text):
Unlike our stock trading strategy, which focuses primarily on Breakouts and Pullbacks in uptrending markets, we afford ourselves a bit more diversity with our ETF trading strategy because we also seek to take advantage of ETFs reversing from downtrends. This is particularly true with ETFs that have a low correlation to the direction of the broad market, such as currency, commodity, fixed income, and international ETFs. One ETF we are stalking for potential short-term buy entry now is U.S. Natural Gas Fund ($UNG). The technical analysis of the trade setup is shown on the daily chart below:
For trend reversal plays, we typically wait several months after the ETF has formed a significant low, which enables the 20, 50, and 200-day moving averages to each be trending higher and above one another. Buying before that happens often leads to a negative result. However, in the case of UNG, a very important factor driving this setup is the close proximity of the 200-day moving average.
As a long-term indicator of trend, the 200-day moving average usually acts as a brick wall. If an ETF or stock is trying to move above that resistance level, it typically requires at least several attempts. However, when the breakout above the 200-day MA eventually happens, it is normally quite powerful, at least in the near-term.
In the case of UNG, notice it has already pulled back after several attempts to break the 200-day MA, but has formed a ‘higher low’ each time in the process. Odds of a breakout above the 200-day MA are increased after several ‘higher lows’ have already been formed, as is the case with UNG. If it convincingly rallies above its 200-day MA on this attempt, it will probably move sharply higher in the near-term. However, because this ETF is well off its 52-week high, it is NOT a trade setup we want to hold for the long-term. Rather, this is intended to be a very quick, momentum-based “pop” above the 200-day MA. Estimated holding time if it triggers for buy entry is only 2 to 5 days.
That day, we added UNG to our “official” ETF trading watchlist as a potential trade entry. Trading in a tight range on September 24, UNG did not trigger our buy entry. However, the trade setup remained on our watchlist the following day, and triggered our buy entry on September 25, as it rallied above its 200-day moving average. After it broke out above resistance that day, buyers immediately stepped in and bullish momentum propelled the ETF sharply higher for six consecutive days (and still counting). The current daily chart of UNG below shows the subsequent price action after our September 25 buy entry:
When we first explained the trade setup on September 24, we said our estimated holding time for the swing trade would be just 2 to 5 days because we were only looking for a “very quick, momentum-based ‘pop’ above the 200-day MA.” As you can see on the chart above, that is exactly what happened, as UNG rocketed to within just 15 cents of our original price target in 5 short days.
Because UNG came so close to hitting our target on October 1, we notified subscribers that we would be selling UNG at market on yesterday’s (October 2) open. Gapping slightly lower on the October 2 open, we sold UNG at $22.07 in our model ETF trading account, locking in a solid 11% gain with a holding period of 6 days. Although UNG reversed higher yesterday and actually went on to trade through our original price target of $22.58 later in the day, we have absolutely no regret for making the decision to sell on the open, which turned out to be 51 cents lower than the price target. Given that the ETF exploded higher for five straight days after our buy entry, we were simply not willing to take the risk of UNG nearly hitting our price target, but then immediately pulling back substantially. Remember that our original plan was to sell the quick, momentum-based pop, without holding through an eventual and inevitable pullback.
Even though we have closed this trade, UNG could still move much higher in the intermediate-term. The rally over the past week was a breakout above a valid base of consolidation, which could set into motion a new intermediate-term uptrend for this ETF. As such, UNG is now on our radar screen for potential re-entry after it either pulls back or forms a bull flag chart pattern. There is a good chance we will be able to re-enter the trade at a slightly lower price, or possibly near the current price, but with a more positive reward to risk ratio after UNG undergoes at least a near-term correction.
As you probably know, we follow a disciplined, rule-based trading system, but a bit of common sense and discretion is often required. Many traders, particularly newer ones, make the mistake of getting greedy, or letting their ego rule their decision making process, which often results in a highly profitable trade turning into a moderately profitable trade (or worse). We hope you found this review of the UNG swing trade to be informative, as well as a good reminder of a key psychological aspect of successful trading.