Intraday Trading Strategy: How to Trade the Opening Range

The opening range strategy is used by futures traders all over the world. It was made famous by pit traders who have transitioned to the screen.
The premise of the opening range strategy is finding a timeframe that suits your style of trading and getting long above the top of the opening range and getting short below the bottom of the opening range. Simple enough?

Markets open up for the US session every day at 9:30 AM EST.

Most futures markets actually trade around the clock.  However, you only want to watch and trade during the most active market hours. Find out what the best futures trading hours are and which to avoid here.

The intraday opening range is most commonly defined as any timeframe within the first 10-minutes of the US Open.

At TRADEPRO Academy we stick to a 30-second opening range or a 5-minute opening range. If you hold positions longer, with larger stops, and take profits, you can move the scale-up.

10-minutes, 15-minutes even 30-minutes.

Also, at 10 AM EST, we have a lot of important economic news releases, which increases volatility and volume.

This means the intraday trading opening range is between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM EST. Any timeframe within.

If you hold trades long and are a swing trader, you can wait for the first hour to finish to make a move.

As a day trader, the initial 15 minutes to 30 minutes are often enough to sense the direction of the market.

Intraday Trading Strategy – How to Define the Opening Range

As a day trader, you want to look at the opening range as anything within the first 15 minutes.  If you plan to be a day trader with a few hours holding period, you can look at the first 30 minutes.

Swing traders will definitely want to wait out the initial balance of volume.  The initial balance ends 60 minutes into the US session at 10:30 AM EST.

What you want to do is identify the high of the opening range and the low. This can be done simply on the Sierra Chart.

There is a study on Sierra Chart called the “High/Low for Time Period-Extended”.

In which you set the start time to 9:30:00 and the end time, the end of your opening range, for our example we’ll use 5-minutes. So the end time is 9:34:59.

The trade is simple, once the price action breaks above the high of the opening range, get long. If price breaks below, get short.

You don’t want to do this as soon as it breaks, but you would start to qualify a trade based on your entry criteria. I rely very heavily on order flow and correlation.  Read why market correlation is the best trading indicator.

There are some breakout traders that buy 1-tick above the opening range (buy stop) and sell 1-tick below the opening range (sell stop).

Be cautious with this strategy especially in low volatility markets, such as in the summer.

There is a risk of getting stopped out on the trade before the actual break, that is why those breakout traders use a very tight stop of 1-2 ticks.

the higher probability trade lies in the patience of the break and the pullback into the area.

Best Moving Average Crossover for Intraday Trading

Here is an example of the 5-minutes opening range in the S&P 500 futures:

  • this is a 5-minute chart, so we are looking for the prices after the first few candles (tick chart)
  • The 5M opening range high is 2,880.25
  • The 15M opening range low is 2,875.75
  • at 9:35 price broke above the opening range
  • Bullish trade was possible on retracement back to 5M high
  • Stop-loss placement is when price returns back in the range, or at 2,878.75 in this example

In the opening range trade strategy, especially in volatile markets, you may not get the full pull back and rotations. You may have to be a little more aggressive when it does present you will a pullback opportunity.

Notice in the example below we do get stagnation and a slight pullback in the third candle break, this requires traders to get in just before the retest of the opening range high.

As long as you envision where you stop is, somewhere within the opening range. Not just a tick, but a point even, then it is worth a shot.

Remember in the markets, nothing is a guarantee, you’re given the opportunity. Some opportunity is a higher probability than others.

Intraday Trading Strategy


As we can see from the chart below, the trade provided you ample opportunity to make a profit on the upside:

  • Assuming you took the long at 2,880 and trailed your stop-loss order to 2,887.25
  • You would have still been in the position and trailing!
  • For one contract on ES, at 2887.25 that’s USD $362.25 AND STILL TRAILING!
  • The trade required only a $400 margin to open

I bet you’re all riddled with questions, why that trailing stop? Why not make a profit?

The answer to both is simpler than you may think. Notice the slight pullback and peak that we experience at that level. At 2887.25, that is where price slightly dipped.

If we get below that level, that is a change in the bullish market structure. If we get below that again, you don’t want this long anymore.

At this point, you are looking for a better level for the long, or even switch to the short side.

On another note, why not take the profit?

If you have one lot, you should! If you have multiples on, the rest of the contract size can be trailed higher! Take as much as the market gives you.

On the break above the overnight high, the next trailing stop level is 2888.00, why? That’s where the next peak lower is, and so on.

Intraday Trading Strategy: How to Trade the Opening Range

How to Avoid Head-fakes in the Opening Range Strategy

The example above was a great one of the profit potential when it works.

However, the ES futures are very prone to head fakes, and stop-loss runs in the early part of the session.

What you want to do is to make sure that when an opening range is breached, you still wait for a good opportunity to get into the trade.

Don’t rush the process.

Just because you have a trade idea, it doesn’t mean that it’s worth the risk.

Create your checklist, know your strategy, and be patient.

Your opportunity will come.

Most losses can be reduced and outright eliminated with just a little more patience and discipline.

That’s the secret to trading.

Let us know how you like this intraday trading strategy, and how you tweak it to fit your style.


Good luck and good trading.

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The information contained in this post is solely for educational purposes and does not constitute investment advice. The risk of trading in securities markets can be substantial. You should carefully consider if engaging in such activity is suitable for your own financial situation. TRADEPRO Academy is not responsible for any liabilities arising as a result of your market involvement or individual trade activities.