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Pair trading strategies for TradeStation

Last Updated on 11 September, 2023 by Samuelsson

In this article, we will explore pair trading strategies for TradeStation. Pair trading is a popular trading strategy that involves the simultaneous buying and selling of two correlated securities to take advantage of any temporary price imbalances between them. We will discuss the concept of pair trading, its benefits, and how to implement it using the TradeStation platform. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trader, this article will provide you with valuable insights into pair trading strategies.

What is Pair Trading?

Pair trading is a market-neutral trading strategy that involves taking long and short positions in two correlated securities. The basic idea behind pair trading is to profit from the relative performance of the two securities. When one security outperforms the other, a trader can sell the outperforming security and buy the underperforming security, anticipating a reversion to the mean.

How Does Pair Trading Work?

In pair trading, the trader selects a pair of securities that historically move together. The correlation between the two securities is crucial, as it indicates the strength and direction of their relationship. The trader then takes a long position in one security and a short position in the other. The goal is to capture profits from the price convergence or divergence of the two securities.

Benefits of Pair Trading

Pair trading offers several benefits for traders, including:

Risk Mitigation

Pair trading is a market-neutral strategy, which means it is designed to minimize exposure to overall market movements. By taking both long and short positions, traders can potentially offset the impact of market fluctuations, reducing the overall risk of their portfolio.

Market Neutrality

Pair trading allows traders to focus on the relative performance of two securities, rather than the direction of the overall market. This can be advantageous in volatile market conditions when the performance of individual stocks can deviate significantly from the broader market trends.

Profit Potential in Volatile Markets

Pair trading strategies are particularly effective in volatile markets. Since the strategy aims to capitalize on the divergence and convergence of prices, increased market volatility can present more trading opportunities.

Identifying Suitable Pairs for Pair Trading

To identify suitable pairs for pair trading, traders employ various methods and tools. Some of the common approaches include:

Correlation Analysis

Traders often use correlation analysis to identify pairs that exhibit a strong historical relationship. Correlation measures the statistical relationship between two securities and can range from -1 to 1. A positive correlation indicates a tendency for the securities to move in the same direction, while a negative correlation suggests they move in opposite directions.

Sector-Based Pairs

Pair trading within the same sector or industry can be advantageous as these pairs often share similar fundamental drivers. Traders may consider pairs of stocks within sectors such as technology, healthcare, or energy.

Statistical Tools for Pair Selection

Various statistical tools, such as cointegration and mean reversion tests, can help identify pairs that are likely to exhibit mean-reverting behavior. These tools analyze historical price data and statistical relationships between securities to identify potential trading opportunities.

Implementing Pair Trading Strategies in TradeStation

TradeStation is a popular trading platform that provides robust tools for implementing pair trading strategies. Here’s a step-by-step guide to implementing pair trading strategies using TradeStation:

Creating a Watchlist of Pairs

Start by creating a watchlist of pairs you want to trade. Select pairs that meet your criteria based on correlation analysis, sector-based pairs, or statistical tools. TradeStation allows you to monitor the performance of these pairs and set up alerts for potential trading opportunities.

Setting Up Entry and Exit Rules

Define your entry and exit rules for each pair. This includes determining the spread threshold at which you will initiate a trade and setting profit targets and stop-loss levels. TradeStation provides a wide range of order types and trade management tools to execute your pair trading strategy effectively.

Backtesting and Optimization

Before deploying your pair trading strategy, it’s crucial to backtest and optimize it using historical data. TradeStation’s backtesting capabilities allow you to simulate your strategy’s performance over a specific period, helping you assess its effectiveness and make any necessary adjustments.

Common Pair Trading Strategies

Pair trading strategies can be classified into several categories. Here are three common pair trading strategies:

Mean Reversion Strategy

The mean reversion strategy aims to profit from the tendency of prices to revert to their mean or average values. Traders identify pairs that have deviated significantly from their historical relationship and take positions based on the expectation that prices will converge again.

Momentum Strategy

The momentum strategy involves trading pairs based on the relative strength of their price movements. Traders identify pairs where one security is significantly outperforming the other and take positions with the expectation that the trend will continue.

Statistical Arbitrage Strategy

Statistical arbitrage strategies use advanced statistical techniques to identify mispriced securities within a pair. Traders look for temporary price imbalances and take positions to exploit these inefficiencies.

Risk Management in Pair Trading

Risk management is crucial in pair trading to protect your capital and optimize your returns. Here are some key risk management considerations:

Position Sizing

Determine the appropriate position size for each pair trade based on factors such as account size, risk tolerance, and the specific characteristics of the pair. Avoid overexposure by diversifying your trades across different pairs.

Stop Loss Orders

Implementing stop loss orders is essential to limit potential losses in pair trading. Set stop loss levels based on your risk tolerance and the expected volatility of the pair. Regularly monitor and adjust stop loss orders as the trade progresses.


Diversify your pair trading portfolio by selecting pairs from different sectors or industries. This helps to reduce the impact of specific events or market fluctuations affecting a single sector.

Monitoring and Adjusting Pair Trades

Active monitoring and timely adjustments are critical to the success of pair trading strategies. Consider the following:

Monitoring Correlation and Spread

Regularly monitor the correlation between the pair and the spread, which is the price difference between the two securities. Changes in correlation and spread can indicate potential opportunities or risks.

Adjusting Positions

If the pair’s correlation or spread deviates significantly from historical levels, consider adjusting your positions. This may involve closing the trade or rebalancing the positions to maintain the desired exposure.

Pitfalls and Challenges in Pair Trading

While pair trading can be profitable, there are potential pitfalls and challenges to be aware of:


Over-optimization occurs when a pair trading strategy is excessively tailored to historical data, leading to poor performance in real-world conditions. Avoid overfitting by testing your strategy on multiple market conditions and using out-of-sample data.

Unexpected Market Events

Pair trading strategies can be sensitive to unexpected market events that disrupt the historical correlation between pairs. Economic announcements, political developments, or industry-specific news can impact the relationship between securities.

Liquidity Issues

Pair trading requires sufficient liquidity in the chosen securities to execute trades effectively. Illiquid securities may result in difficulties entering or exiting positions at desired prices, potentially affecting profitability.


Pair trading strategies provide traders with a unique approach to capitalize on the relationship between correlated securities. By understanding the concept of pair trading, identifying suitable pairs, and utilizing the powerful tools offered by TradeStation, traders can implement effective pair trading strategies. However, it is essential to apply proper risk management techniques and continuously monitor and adjust trades to adapt to changing market conditions.


  1. What is the minimum account balance required for pair trading in TradeStation? TradeStation does not impose a specific minimum account balance for pair trading. However, it is recommended to have sufficient capital to meet the margin requirements and effectively manage risk.
  2. Can I use TradeStation for pair trading in international markets? Yes, TradeStation supports trading in international markets, allowing you to implement pair trading strategies across a wide range of global securities.
  3. How often should I rebalance my pair trading portfolio? The frequency of portfolio rebalancing depends on your trading strategy and the characteristics of the pairs you are trading. Some traders may rebalance weekly, while others may prefer a longer timeframe. Regularly monitor the performance of your pairs and adjust as needed.
  4. What are some popular indicators used in pair trading strategies? Common indicators used in pair trading strategies include correlation coefficients, moving averages, Bollinger Bands, and RSI (Relative Strength Index). These indicators help traders identify potential entry and exit points.
  5. Are there any restrictions on short selling when pair trading? Short selling restrictions can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific securities being traded. It is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations and rules of the markets you are trading in to ensure compliance.
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