The fact that we can construct artificial spreads with mean-reverting properties is one of the major attractions of this style of trading. If you don’t have access to crypto, you can purchase directly using the tools in the “Buy Crypto” section. Partners such as Simplex and Moonpay make it easy to purchase USDT using a credit card, allowing you to trade. CFI is the official provider of the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification program, designed to transform anyone into a world-class financial analyst. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.

  1. These pairs are often a crypto versus a stablecoin such as BTC/USDT.
  2. To have a better reading of these ratios, we need to use one special trading indicator.
  3. The pairs trader attempts to capitalize on market imbalances between 2 or more financial instruments, such as stocks or funds, in anticipation of making money when the inequality is corrected.
  4. Fortunately, using market-neutral strategies like the pairs trade, investors and traders can find profits in all market conditions.

For many investors, the crypto market can be tough to get your head around. These handy trading indicators will help you make sense of it all. Past performance of a security or strategy does not guarantee future results or success.

Pairs trading is essentially taking a long position in one asset. At the same time, you take an equal-sized short position in another asset. They can be anything from two stocks, currencies, commodities, options or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Using a large set of data from 1967 to 1997, the trio found that over any six-month trading period, the pairs trade averaged a +12% return. To distinguish profitable results from plain luck, their test included conservative estimates of transaction costs and randomly selected pairs. In addition, with pairs trading you are paying the spread twice, and thus increasing your trading costs. Finally, the ‘anomaly’ in the ratio that gave rise to the pairs trade in the first place may go on for longer than planned, or continue to increase, resulting in an unsuccessful trade or one that is stopped out. The strategy has reduced directional risk, since a trader that goes long or short faces the possibility that the market will move in an opposite direction to that of the trade. But in pairs trading the second position is a hedge against the first, cutting back on the risk.

Fundamental and technical analysis for pairs trading

Formulate pre-determined filters to extract viable candidates from noisy datasets. Is the trader much more comfortable with statistics, fundamentals or technical analysis? Once a pool of trade candidates is determined, the next step is to narrow down the specific trades to buy and sell. Traders must take this into account when designing the pairs trade strategy. One reason is that over the short-term market prices are fairly random and noisy. There is nothing to prevent a stock from gyrating aimlessly within a price range.

Five Tips for Formulating Pairs Trade

We buy $100 worth of Z (blue line) and short $100 worth of EWU (red line). Then the number on the y-axis is the change in price since the left most point. As a stitched together chart of all the most actively traded contracts. I don’t recommend you run this strategy live unless you understand it very well. If you find potential in your visual test, you can then move on to testing the strategy using code.

Pairs Trading can be called a mean reversion strategy where we bet that the prices will revert to their historical trends. For instance, in pairs trading, we have a distribution of spread between the prices of stocks A and B. We can convert these raw scores of spread into z-scores as explained below. A stationary process has very valuable features which are required to model pairs trading strategies. For instance, a stock might move 1% a day on average, while a cryptocurrency coin moves 5% a day on average. Buying and shorting $1,000 on each will bias the impact of your pairs trade towards the cryptocurrency.

Quantitative hedge funds do this and they might have thousands of stocks and make thousands of trades in their high-frequency strategy. Another way to do this is to run a “pairs” trading strategy that consists of more than 2 assets per strategy. To do stocks pairs trading well, we should have many pairs (maybe hundreds) running at appropriately low position sizes.

With the rapid evolution of markets and advancement in technology, arbitrage opportunities have become scarcer and the margins – slimmer. In addition, the strategy can be successful in up, down and sideways markets. The strategy is not dependent on market direction, but rather on the correlation between the two markets. The relative performance free forex software of the two markets is the key element, and not just whether the market goes up or down, as is the case for those traders that only go long or short. Firstly, the matching of a long position with a short one in a correlated instrument creates an immediate hedge, with each part of the trade acting as a hedge against the other.

It also helps in the mitigation of risks as the pairs strategy involves dealing with two securities so if one is underperforming then there are chances that the other absorbs the losses. For the pair of stocks to be traded in a pairs trading strategy, it is required that the time series is stationary. A stationary time series makes effective and precise predictions. The strategy monitors performance of two historically correlated securities.


Pairs trading is a well-known trading strategy used in several markets, including ETFs, currencies, equities, and futures markets. It involves opening one long position and one short position for two financial securities in order to lower your market risk. These financial securities can come from the same or separate markets as long as they are positively correlated. Pairs Trading Strategy involves being neutral to the direction of the market. This article looks at what pairs trading is, how it works, and its advantages and disadvantages (pros and cons).

In the case of a pairs trading strategy, the two stocks or the financial instruments need to be trending at a similar mean price and remain close to each other. But, on certain occasions, one of the instruments may go through a short period of deviation from another in terms of price. Pairs trading was first introduced in the mid-1980s by a group of technical analyst researchers that were employed by Morgan Stanley.

For instance, in this case, if the equation above is stationary, that suggests that the mean and variance of this equation remain constant over time. For each stock of A bought, you have sold n number of stocks of B. In general, the lower the expected return, the smaller your bets.

Example of Paris Trading

However, relying on mean reversion in pars trade can be risky because markets are dynamic and change frequently. The expectation of a trader that their pair’s trading correlation will return to its initial value after buying and selling the position can sometimes prove incorrect. Therefore, you must have a sound risk management strategy in place in case your pair’s trade methods do not produce the profit that you had anticipated. Choosing cryptocurrency pairs to implement an arbitrage trading strategy can be complicated.

One of the main keys to pairs trading is finding strong correlations between financial instruments, thus building a foundation for further analysis. The empirical data are then dissected to unearth information that allows the trader an efficient and methodical way of executing successful trades. Pairs trading is a strategy that tends to use statistics to identify relationships, assist in determining the direction of the relationship, and then ascertain how to execute a trade based on the data. The pairs trader attempts to capitalize on market imbalances between 2 or more financial instruments, such as stocks or funds, in anticipation of making money when the inequality is corrected. Pairs trading was first introduced in the mid-1980s by a group of technical analyst researchers that were employed by Morgan Stanley, the multinational investment bank and financial services company. The pairs trade strategy uses statistical and technical analysis to seek out potential market-neutral profits.