What 'prior pivot points' are and how to use them

Spread betting expert John C Burford explains what 'prior pivot points' (PPPs) are and how they can alert you to a major change of direction in the markets.

Tramlines are parallel lines that enclose all trading activity within the channel between the tramlines. The upper tramline is a line of resistance, while the lower line is a line of support.

Eventually, either support or resistance gives way and the market moves through one of the tramlines.

But before the market enters the trading channel, it will make a series of minor lows or highs.

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I have found that these points can have a mighty influence on the market in the future as it trades within the channel!

In fact, many times, they act as a pivot' for one of the tramlines.

That's why I refer to them as prior pivot points or PPPs.

Let me walk you through a great example with crude oil:

Image removed.

(Click on the chart for a larger version)

To the left of the chart, you can see that the market is declining. Then it experienced a good bounce, only to decline again past the vertical yellow line I have drawn in.

The market then embarked on a slow-grind, upward march with many overlapping minor waves.

There was a head-fake on 23 April, but crude recovered to trade back within the channel.

I was able to draw tramlines describing this trading channel (between the yellow lines). The lower one (second tramline down) fell nicely across many of the minor lows, while the upper one passed over the three major highs (red arrows).

This upper tramline also passed through the low marked PPP. This PPP lies outside the trading channel, as do all PPPs.

Also, my PPP is a low, and my red touch-points are highs. The PPP must be opposite to the tramline touch-points a PPP-low must go with highs, and a PPP-high must go with lows.

The PPP anchored the upper tramline in a vice grip and determined the positioning of my other tramlines perhaps for days to come.

This is powerful information to have access to.

I have found that my tramlines are much more secure if they have a PPP.

After that, crude plunged down breaking the tramline as marked by my right-hand yellow vertical line. In fact, at that point the market was challenging the fourth tramline quite a plunge in two days and since tramlines act as targets, this was an area to watch.

Let me give you another example. Here is a good PPP on the chart for the S&P:

Image removed.

(Click on the chart for a larger version)

Even from so long ago, this PPP has anchored my upper tramline with two lovely touch-points (red arrows).

So look for possible PPPs when searching for tramlines.

If you're a new reader, or need a reminder about some of the methods I refer to in my trades, then do have a look at my introductory videos:

The essentials of tramline trading

Advanced tramline trading

An introduction to Elliott wave theory

Advanced trading with Elliott waves

Trading with Fibonacci levels

Trading with 'momentum'

Putting it all together

Don't miss my next trading insight. To receive all my spread betting blog posts by email, as soon as I've written them, just sign up here .

John is is a British-born lapsed PhD physicist, who previously worked for Nasa on the Mars exploration team. He is a former commodity trading advisor with the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and worked in a boutique futures house in California in the 1980s.


He was a partner in one of the first futures newsletter advisory services, based in Washington DC, specialising in pork bellies and currencies. John is primarily a chart-reading trader, having cut his trading teeth in the days before PCs.


As well as his work in the financial world, he has launched, run and sold several 'real' businesses producing 'real' products.