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Forex Trading: Breakouts with the Donchian Channel Indicator

The Donchian Channel indicator, also known as the "4-week rule" or "20-day rule," is a simple tool that has proven successful in the trading world. Created in the 1960s by Richard Donchian, a trend-following trader, this indicator serves as the basis for breakout entry and exit methods at extreme price levels over the past 20 days.




Basic Donchian Channel Method

The original Donchian Channel method applies breakout entry and exit at the highest or lowest price levels over the last 20 days. The principle is for traders to open long-term positions according to this rule, commonly used on the daily timeframe. While some traders apply it on lower timeframes like 4H, the results may be less accurate and less recommended.

The Donchian Channel indicator consists of three main curve lines:

  1. Simple Moving Average (SMA) period 20: Represents the average closing price over 20 days.
  2. Highest price over 20 periods: Indicates the highest price level over 20 days.
  3. Lowest price over 20 periods: Indicates the lowest price level over 20 days.

Usage Rules (4-week rule):

  • Breakout Entry (Buy): Occurs when the current bar's closing price is above the highest level over the past 20 days.
  • Exit (Sell): Executed if the price crosses above the highest level over the past 20 days.
  • Breakout Entry (Sell): Occurs when the current bar's closing price is below the lowest level over the past 20 days.
  • Exit (Buy): Executed if the price crosses below the lowest level over the past 20 days.

Application to GBP/USD (Daily Chart Example):

  • Point A: Buy entry and close sell positions if any.
  • Point B: Sell entry and close buy positions if any.
  • Point C: No sell entry as the opening price of the next bar returns above the 20-day low price level, although the closing price is below it.
  • Point D: Buy entry and close sell positions if any.

The Importance of Confirmation and Combination with Other Indicators

Like other technical indicators, the Donchian Channel should be used alongside other indicators as a confirmer. Especially since the Donchian Channel focuses on trends, it can be useful to combine it with oscillators like RSI or Stochastic as confirmers.


This simple yet effective Donchian Channel can be applied well in futures markets, commodities, and especially in the forex market for medium to long-term trading. It's essential to try and test this indicator on various currency pairs and timeframes before integrating it into your main trading strategy.
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