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How to Use Moving Averages to Find the Trend

Take a free trading course with IG Academy. Take a free trading course with IG Academy Our interactive online courses help you develop the skills of trading from the ground up. The SMA moves much slower and it can keep you in trades longer when there are short-lived price movements and erratic behavior. If it follows a golden cross the day moving average crossing above the day moving one , the trend is bullish, and traders will look to buy dips. Daryl Guppy, the Australian trader and inventor of the GMMA, believed that this first set highlights the sentiment and direction of short-term traders.

One sweet way to use moving averages is to help you determine the trend. The simplest way is to just plot a single moving average on the chart. When price action tends to stay above the moving average, it signals that price is in a general UPTREND. If price action tends to stay below the moving average, then it indicates that it is in a DOWNTREND.

Simple Moving Average

The exponential moving average on the other hand gives greater weight to more recent price action. The moving averages that we will be looking at in this lesson are the 10 and 20 exponential moving averages. I prefer exponential over simple as I feel it gives a better indication of what is happening rather than what has happened.

There are many ways in which to use moving averages, but the three methods below are my personal favorite. One thing to keep in mind as we move through the lesson, is that a moving average or moving average combination should never be used alone. There are many variations of moving averages that a trader may use to analyze a trend, but my favorite combination is the 10 EMA and 20 EMA.

Nor is it something you want to rely on by itself. However when used properly, these two moving averages can make identifying a trend much easier. There are several moving averages which carry more weight than others in the market, and the 10 and 20 period moving averages are among them.

Because the periods above are commonly used, the market tends to respect them more than others. This type of dynamic resistance combined with a price action sell signal can be a powerful combination. One of the more common pitfalls among Forex traders is buying or selling too late.

Simply put, all markets normalize after an extended move up or down. A breakout trader would use this as an opportunity to jump on the train and place their stop below the low of the opening candle. At this point, you can use the moving average to gauge the strength of the current trend. In this chart example, we are using the period simple moving average. Far too many traders have tried to use the simple moving average to predict the exact sell and buy points on a chart.

A trader might be able to pull this off using multiple averages for triggers, but one average alone will not be enough. Before we go any further, save yourself the time and headache and use the averages to determine the strength of the move. Now take another look at the chart. Do you see how the stock is starting to rollover as the average is beginning to flatten out? A breakout trader would want to stay away from this type of activity. Now again, if you were to sell on the cross down through the average, this may work some of the time, but in the long run, you will end up losing money after you factor in commissions.

Why would you lose money? Well in the majority of cases, a break of the simple moving average just leads to choppy trading activity. If you don't believe me, try simply buying and selling based on how the price chart crosses up or under a simple moving average.

Remember, if trading was that easy, everyone would be making money hand over fist. I like to call this the holy grail setup. This is the setup you will see in books and seminars. Simply buy on the breakout and sell when the stock crosses down beneath the price action.

Look at how the price chart stays cleanly above the period simple moving average. The brain is a funny thing. I remember seeing a chart like this when I first started out in trading and then I would buy the setup that matched the morning activity.

I would look for the same type of volume and price action, only to later be smacked in the face by reality when my play did not trend as well. This is the true challenge with trading, what works well on one chart, will not work well on another. Remember, the SMA worked well in this example, but you cannot build a money-making system off one play. After the gap, the stock trended up strongly. You must be careful with counter trade setups. If you are on the wrong side of the trade, you and others with the same position will be the fuel for the next leg up.

Now let's jump forward one day to July 1, But what about moving average crossovers as a trigger for entering and closing trades? Let me take a clear stance on this one and say I'm not a fan of this strategy.

First, the moving average by itself is a lagging indicator, now you layer in the idea that you have to wait for a lagging indicator to cross another lagging indicator is just too much delay for me. If you look around the web, one of the most popular simple moving averages to use with a crossover strategy are the 50 and day. When the simple moving average crosses above the simple moving average, it generates a golden cross. Conversely, when the simple moving average crosses beneath the simple moving average, it creates a death cross.

I only mention this, so you are aware of the setup, which may be applicable for long-term investing. Since Tradingsim focuses on day trading, let me at least run through some basic crossover strategies. The first thing to know is you want to select two moving averages that are somehow related to one another.

For example, 10 is half of Or the 50 and are the most popular moving averages for longer term investors. The second thing is coming to understand the trigger for trading with moving average crossovers. A buy or sell signal is triggered once the smaller moving average crosses above or below the larger moving average.

Isn't that just a beautiful chart? The period SMA is the red line and the blue is the period. Let's look when a sell action is triggered. Now in both examples, you will notice how the stock conveniently went in the desired direction with very little friction. Well, this is the furthest thing from reality.

If you look at moving average crossovers on any symbol, you will notice more false and sideways signals than high return ones. This is because most of the time stocks on the surface move in a random pattern.

Remember people, it is the job of the big money players to fake you out at every turn in order to separate you from your money. With the rise of hedge funds and automated trading systems, for every clean crossover play I find, I can probably show you another dozen or more that don't play out well.

This again is why I do not recommend the crossover strategy as a true means of making money day trading the markets. If you have been looking at cryptocurrencies over the last 6 months, you are more than aware of the violent price swings. So, it got me thinking. Are there any indicators that can give a trader an edge, or is bitcoin so volatile that in the end, everyone loses at some point if you try to actively trade the contract?

For this study, I am using the golden cross and death cross strategies, which consists of the period and period simple moving averages. For those of you not familiar with these strategies, the goal is to buy when the period crosses above the period and sell when it crosses below. To make things more interesting, the study will cover the minute time frame, so we can get more signals.

As you can imagine, there are a ton of buy and sell points on the chart. Now, to be clear, I am not a fan for always staying in the market, because you can get crushed during long periods of low volatility. The first trade was a short at 10,, which we later covered for a loss at 11, Herein lies the problem with crossover strategies.

If the market is choppy, you will bleed out slowly over time. I ask this question before we analyze the massive short trade from 10, down to 8, A challenging part of trading is you must trade every time your edge presents itself. That move down is beautiful and you would have reaped a huge reward, but what is not reflected on this chart are there a number of whipsaw trades that occurred prior to the 26th of January.

Do you think you have what it takes to make every trade regardless of how many losers you have just encountered? Oh, how I love the game! The other telling fact is that on the second position you would have exited the trade 2, points off the bottom. Herein lies the second challenge of trading with lagging indicators on a volatile issue. The next move up is one that makes every year-old kid believe they have a future in day trading - simply fire and forget.

After this sell signal, bitcoin had several trade signals leading into March 29th, which are illustrated in the below chart. If you go through weeks of trading results like this, it becomes difficult to execute your trading approach flawlessly, because you feel beaten down.

Due to the volatility of bitcoin, it's apparent that your gainers are far larger than the losers. Much to my surprise, a simple moving average allows bitcoin to go through its wild price swings, while still allowing you the ability to stay in your winning position. The below infographic visualizes the details of this case study.

Now that you have all the basics, let me walk you through my experience day trading with simple moving averages. You could be saying to yourself, "Why do I care about this guy's experience? Mine will be different? In theory, yes, but there are likely parallels between our paths and I can hopefully help you avoid some of my mistakes. Here are the strategy steps. Forex traders often use a short-term MA crossover of a long-term MA as the basis for a trading strategy.

Play with different MA lengths or time frames to see which works best for you. Moving average envelopes are percentage-based envelopes set above and below a moving average. The type of moving average that is set as the basis for the envelopes does not matter, so forex traders can use either a simple, exponential or weighted MA. On the one-minute chart below, the MA length is 20 and the envelopes are 0.

Use settings that align the strategy below to the price action of the day. Then, only trade in that direction. If the price is in an uptrend, consider buying once the price approaches the middle-band MA and then starts to rally off of it.

In a strong downtrend, short when the price approaches the middle-band and then starts to drop away from it. Once a short is taken, place a stop-loss one pip above the recent swing high that just formed.

Once a long trade is taken, place a stop-loss one pip below the swing low that just formed. Consider exiting when the price reaches the lower band on a short trade or the upper band on a long trade. Alternatively, set a target that is at least two times the risk.

For example, if risking five pips, set a target 10 pips away from the entry. The moving average ribbon can be used to create a basic forex trading strategy based on a slow transition of trend change. It can be utilized with a trend change in either direction up or down. The creation of the moving average ribbon was founded on the belief that more is better when it comes to plotting moving averages on a chart.

The ribbon is formed by a series of eight to 15 exponential moving averages EMAs , varying from very short-term to long-term averages, all plotted on the same chart. The resulting ribbon of averages is intended to provide indication of both trend direction and strength of trend. A steeper angle of the moving averages — and greater separation between them, causing the ribbon to fan out or widen — indicates a strong trend. Traditional buy or sell signals for the moving average ribbon are the same type of crossover signals used with other moving average strategies.

Trading Strategies Headlines

A forex trader can create a simple trading strategy to take advantage trading opportunities using just a few moving averages (MAs) or associated indicators. Moving averages are a frequently used technical indicator in forex trading, especially over 10, . Moving averages work when a lot of traders use and act on their signals. Thus, go with the crowd and only use the popular moving averages. #3 The best moving average periods for day-trading. When you are a short-term day trader, you need a moving average that is fast and reacts to price changes immediately. These moving averages are often used by investment banks however the & are the most widely used. The shorter moving average will depend on your preference and how many signals you’re looking to trade. Who Uses Moving Averages. Moving Averages are often the first indicator that new traders are introduced to and for good reason.