What Is Gapping?
Gapping happens when a stock or asset price starts higher or below the previous day’s closing without trading activity. A gap refers to a discontinuity in a security’s price chart. Gaps may arise when headlines produce quick market fundamental changes during closed hours, such as an earnings call.
A gap may also refer to the difference in bank borrowing and lending rates. The dynamic gap tracks changes in assets (“money held”) and liabilities (“money loaned”) over time.
Gapping can occur in any instrument with closed and reopened trades. Stocks do this daily. Currency markets trade throughout the week; however, gaps may exist before and after the weekend.
The gap might be partial or complete. Partial gapping happens when the beginning price is within the previous day’s price range but higher or lower than the closing. Full gapping occurs if the open is outside the previous day’s range. Gapping, especially a complete gap, indicates an overnight emotional shift.
Gaps vary in size and location within the asset’s trend. Each sort of gap might be complete or partial. Partial gaps are common since prices don’t shift much. Sometimes, the price doesn’t change much, forming a complete gap. Full gaps are usual for breakaway, runaway, and weariness.
Common gaps occur regularly and are insignificant when the initial price differs significantly from the closing price. The lack of a significant price shift before or after the gap indicates its frequency.
A breakaway gap happens when the price rises over or below solid resistance or support areas on the gap. This can also happen when the price breaks a chart pattern or a tight trading range. The breakaway gap is usually significant and marks the beginning of a decisive trending move. The price usually follows the gap direction for several weeks.
Runaway gaps indicate significant trend strength, causing a gap in the trend direction. In retrospect, there are mid-trend gaps as the trend develops. Significant gaps usually lead to price movement in the gap direction for several weeks.
Exhaustion gaps exist toward the trend’s end. Stragglers join late in a trend after regretting not joining earlier. Few traders can maintain the price movement once the price gaps are more significant in this last wave of demand. A reversal usually occurs within weeks.
Stop losing and gapping.
A trader may see a stop-loss order filled below their desired price for a long position owing to gapping.
A trader may buy a stock for $50 and put a stop-loss order at $45. The firm released an unexpected profit warning the next day, causing the stock to open at $38. The trader’s stop-loss order becomes a market order when the stock’s price drops below $45 and is filled at the $38 open.
To minimize gapping risk, traders should avoid trading before corporate results and news releases that might significantly affect stock prices. In times of intense volatility, limiting position size might reduce gapping losses.
Traders in short positions may experience more significant losses due to gaps beyond their expectations. A trader may short $20 with a $22 stop loss. The stock closes at $18, profitable for the trader, but overnight, another business indicates interest in buying it, and the next day, it opens at $25. It costs $3 per share to kick out the trader at $25, not $22.
Gap Trading Methods
Specific traders utilize gaps for analysis. For instance, a gap early in a trend is usually a breakaway or runaway gap, alerting traders that the price has more to run.
Other merchants have trade gaps. They may fill jobs after a lapse. These methods are “playing the gap.”
Day traders call this tactic “gap and go.” Take a trade on the day the stock gaps with a stop-loss order below the gap bar low. The gap should trade over a strong resistance level on substantial volume to maximize profits. Alternatively, traders might wait for prices to fill the gap and issue a limit order to purchase the stock at the previous day’s closing.
Selling Down the Gap
Similar to the preceding approach, except the trader shorts after a gap down.
The Gap Fades
Contrarians may employ fading to capitalize on gaps. Traders might trade in the opposite direction of the gap because most gaps close over time. A gap up triggers a stop-loss order above the gap bar’s high and a profit objective around the previous day’s closing. Traders purchase, put a stop loss below the gap bar’s bottom, and profit around the previous day’s close for gaps down.
Gaps as Investment Signals
Breakaway and runaway gaps may indicate more trading chances. A longer-term trader may take a position toward a gap, usually higher. They may stay in the trade until an exhaustion gap or trailing stop exists, signaling an exit.
Candlestick technical patterns sometimes use gapping, like the Up/Down Gap Side-by-Side White Lines Pattern or the Upside Gap Two Crows Pattern.
Some stocks have frequent gaps; others have fewer. Most equities may have a gap after earnings or essential company news, such as a takeover offer. A stock may gap if the market moves significantly. If the S&P 500 saw a dramatic move lower one morning, several equities would gap down.
Meta (previously Facebook) stock chart analysis reveals substantial price gaps after earnings releases. The graphic shows various gaps over the stated period.
The chart also shows that breakout gaps don’t have to be trending. A significant gap in the trend may indicate a reversal.
Consider the $217.50 close (chart high, slightly under $220). After a disappointing earnings report, the stock opened at $174.89 (just below the 2nd arrow from the left) the next day. Even with a stop loss, investors who bought Meta at $217 lost roughly 20% overnight, demonstrating the impact of a gap.
A gaping stock needs what volume?
A volume rise on a gap suggests the price will continue in the gapped direction. A breakaway gap with a higher-than-average volume suggests a strong belief in the gap direction. However, fatigue pauses should have a modest volume.
A “Gap and Go” strategy?
Buy into a gap higher with this optimistic technique. This method allows stop-loss orders below the gap’s bottom.
What Determines a Stock Gap Up?
Nobody can predict stock values, but a gap rise may occur following a favorable news announcement, especially if it is unexpected or better than predicted. A gap increase might occur from positive earnings surprises, a firm becoming a takeover target, or a new product.
Investopedia does not offer financial, investing, or tax advice. The material may not be suitable for all investors since it does not consider their investing goals, risk tolerance, or financial situation. Investments include risk, including principal loss.
- A gap arises when a security’s initial price is substantially above or below its closing price with no trading.
- Breakaway, runaway, and fatigue gaps are complete, while common gaps are partial.
- Fully gapped opens are outside the prior day’s pricing range.
- Traders receive cues from different gaps.
- Because typical gaps are tiny and frequent, they offer little analytical information.