Beginner’s Guide to Opening Gaps

Thu Jun 18, 2020, 03:24 pm | by Delaney | No comments

Trading opening gaps is a really popular strategy for new day traders. Gaps are easy to spot—but figuring out what type of gap is occurring can help you figure out if this is a stock that could create a great opportunity. This blog will explain:

  • What opening gaps are
  • The types of opening gaps
  • What filling the gap means
  • How to find opening gaps

What are Opening Gaps? 

Opening gaps occur when a stock’s price opens higher than it closed the previous day. There is almost always a catalyst for this, such as overnight news, or company earnings. This could mean that a new trend is about to start or it could be a sign of a reversal. 

Gaps are “filled” when the price returns to the price of the stock prior to the gap. 

There are four types of gaps

  • Common Gaps 
  • Breakaway Gaps 
  • Runaway Gaps 
  • Exhaustion Gaps 

Common Gaps: Typically, there is no major event that occurs before this gap. The gap “fills” quickly, usually a few days, and average volume usually occurs. These occur naturally in the market. 

Breakaway Gaps: This gap happens when the price gaps above the support/resistance lines. This may come after another type of chart pattern. Increased volume usually occurs, and can be a sign of a new trend. 

Runaway Gaps: This gap occurs when “trading activity skips sequential price points,” according to Investopedia. It happens in the middle of a pattern, signaling that it is likely a large amount of buys/sells are occurring. This usually happens when traders didn’t initially get in at the start of the uptrend, or out of the downtrend. This often happens after a breakaway gap, and may reinforce the current trend. 

Exhaustion Gaps: This gap is a signal that occurs after a consistent price increase, followed by a gap down in price. This usually signals lower demand and a signal to the end of an upward trend. 

Gaps are easy to spot—but the harder part is determining what type of gap it is. Take care in identifying what type of gap occurred, because that can factor into whether or not you make or exit a trade. 

Filling the Gap 

When a gap is filled, that means the price is back to the original level before the gap occurred. A filled gap is common, and can occur in the same day, or take a little longer. Gaps are usually filled due to technical resistance, price patterns or a correction. 

How to Find Opening Gaps in Benzinga Pro

opening gaps in benzinga pro

To find opening gaps in Benzinga Pro, first, open up a new workspace. You’ll want to open up Movers, Signals and Screener. Note, the order you click on the tools is the order they’ll show up in the workspace. 

Here’s how to set up each tool: 

Movers

  • Choose gainers, losers or both. If you’re looking for upward gaps, choose gainers. If you’re looking for downward gaps, choose losers. It depends on your trading strategy, and if you’re interested in shorting stocks.
  • Select Pre-Market Session. With Movers, it is important to make sure you have the right session selected. Once the market opens, switch it over to Regular. 
  • Select Sessions for the period. Session will show you how big the gap is overall, instead of a shorter time frame. 
  • If you care about price and market cap, choose how you’d like to filter those categories. 

Signals

Select the price spike and opening gaps Signals. At the market open, you’ll have all the stocks with opening gaps. After the market opens, the price spikes will alert you. You can also set up desktop, sound and/or synthesized voice notifications. 

Screener 

To set up your screener, you’ll want to adjust the filters that show the results. You’ll want to make sure you have the following categories: 

  • Symbol
  • Price
  • % Change 
  • Change 
  • Volume
  • % Gap 
  • % Change From Open
  • Relative Volume 
  • Average Volume 10 day, 30 day, 60 day and 90 day

If not all of those are showing in the results section, you can click the column tab on the right side of the tool to adjust. 

From here, you can sort depending on how you trade. For example, filtering from % change from open, so you only see what movement happened from the opening bell, not the pre-market session. Most of the results are going to be day trading opportunities, though you may find some that could make a short swing trade. 

If you haven’t yet, start your free, two week trial of Benzinga Pro to find opening gaps.

Final Thoughts

Trading opening gaps can be a great strategy for beginners. It’s easy to spot, especially with tools, but before you make a trade, you need to analyze what kind of gap it is and if there are any news catalysts related to the gap.

Disclaimer: Benzinga is a news organization and does not provide financial advice and does not issue stock recommendations or offers to buy stock or sell any security. Benzinga Pro is for informational purposes and should not be viewed as recommendations. Benzinga Pro will never tell you whether to buy or sell a stock. It will only inform your trading decisions. You can find our full disclaimer located here.