Resistance level definition

What is a resistance level?

A resistance level is the point on a price chart at which an upward price trajectory is impeded by an overwhelming inclination to sell the asset. If a market price is nearing a resistance level, a trader may opt to close their position and take the profit, rather than risk the price falling back.

The meaning of resistance level stems from market sentiment and trader behaviour, because it is an indication of whether an asset has reached a price level that market participants are unwilling to surpass – i.e. there is resistance from the market.

This means that resistance levels can be a key tool in technical analysis, along with support levels – which are the point at which traders are unwilling to let an asset’s price drop much lower. Traders will often identify areas of support and resistance in order to make decisions on trades, including the positioning of stops and limits. The overwhelming supply created at these levels can effectively become a self-fulfilling prophecy around price points.

The rapid increase in demand, as well as a decrease in supply, will cause a spike in the price – known as a ‘break out’. If an asset does breach its resistance level, then some traders believe it will carry on rising in price, or ‘rally’, until a new resistance level is found. At this point, it is common for the resistance level to become the new support level.

Discover our online trading platform

Take a look at our interactive charts, designed to make technical analysis faster and clearer.

Example of a resistance level

Let’s say you have a long position on shares from company ABC, which are currently trading at CHF50. Previous upward momentum has met a resistance level at CHF55, so you have decided that the next time the market rises to CHF55 you will take your profit from the rise.

The market rises again, so you close your position and a lot of market participants also decide to sell their shares, driving the market down. This sell-off means that the asset has reached a resistance level at CHF55, and will retreat again.

If the market did break through, it would be likely to rally on the back of the increased market confidence and CHF55 would become the new support level at which buyers enter the market.

Build your trading knowledge

Discover how to trade with IG Academy, our series of interactive
courses, webinars and seminars.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y

See all glossary trading terms

Help and support

Get answers about your account or our services.

Get answers

We're here 24hrs a day from 9am Saturday to 11pm Friday.