How to Trade Volatility with ES Futures

Volatility is a measure of how much the price of an asset fluctuates over time. It can be a source of risk or opportunity for traders, depending on how they approach it. In this blog post, we will explore how an ES futures day trader can utilize technical indicators to find volume and volatility to determine when to enter and exit trades.

What Are ES Futures?

ES futures are contracts that track the performance of the S&P 500 index, which is widely considered a benchmark for U.S. stocks. When the S&P 500 moves up, ES futures move up, too, and vice versa. ES futures trade on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Globex platform, and they have a tick size of 0.25 points, which means each tick movement is worth $12.50 per contract. ES futures are very liquid and popular among day traders, as they offer ample volume and volatility on a given day.

How to Find Volume and Volatility

Volume and volatility are two key factors that day traders should pay attention to when trading ES futures. Volume is the number of contracts traded in a given period, and it indicates the level of interest and activity in the market. Volatility is the degree of variation in the price movements, and it reflects the level of uncertainty and risk in the market.

One way to find volume and volatility is to use technical indicators, which are mathematical calculations based on price and/or volume data that provide visual signals on a chart. Some of the common technical indicators that day traders use to measure volume and volatility are:

  • Volume indicator: This indicator shows the amount of trading activity in each bar or candlestick on the chart. It can help identify areas of high or low interest, as well as confirm price trends or reversals.
  • Average true range (ATR): This indicator measures the average range of price movement over a specified period, such as 14 bars. It can help estimate how much the price can move in a given day, as well as identify periods of high or low volatility.
  • Bollinger bands: This indicator consists of a simple moving average (SMA) and two standard deviations above and below it. It can help gauge the volatility of the price relative to its historical average, as well as identify potential breakout or reversal points.
  • Stochastic oscillator: This indicator compares the closing price of a bar to its range over a specified period, such as 14 bars. It can help determine whether the price is overbought or oversold, as well as indicate momentum shifts or divergence.

How to Use Volume and Volatility to Trade

Once you have identified the volume and volatility levels in the market, you can use them to plan your entry and exit points for your trades. Here are some general guidelines on how to use volume and volatility to trade ES futures:

  • Look for high volume and high volatility periods: These periods indicate strong market sentiment and direction, which can provide profitable trading opportunities. You can use indicators such as ATR and Bollinger bands to find these periods, as well as look for large price movements or gaps on the chart.
  • Follow the trend: The trend is your friend, as they say, so you should trade in the direction of the prevailing trend. You can use indicators such as SMA or volume indicator to identify the trend, as well as look for higher highs and higher lows (uptrend) or lower highs and lower lows (downtrend) on the chart.
  • Use stop-loss orders: Stop-loss orders are orders that automatically close your position at a predetermined price level if the market moves against you. They can help you limit your losses and protect your profits in case of sudden price reversals or spikes in volatility. You can use indicators such as ATR or Bollinger bands to set your stop-loss levels, as well as use trailing stops to adjust them according to the market conditions.
  • Take profits when appropriate: Taking profits is as important as cutting losses, so you should have a clear exit strategy for your trades. You can use indicators such as stochastic oscillator or Bollinger bands to find potential profit-taking points, as well as look for signs of exhaustion or reversal on the chart.


Trading volatility with ES futures can be a rewarding but challenging endeavor for day traders. By using technical indicators to find volume and volatility levels, you can improve your chances of success and reduce your risk. However, you should also be aware of the risks involved in trading futures, such as leverage, margin calls, slippage, and market gaps. Therefore, you should always practice proper risk management and discipline when trading ES futures.

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