Moving Average Technical Indicator

The Moving Average Technical Indicator shows the mean instrument price value for a certain period of time. When one calculates the moving average, one averages out the instrument price for this time period. As the price changes, its moving average either increases, or decreases.

There are four different types of moving averages: Simple (also referred to as Arithmetic), Exponential, Smoothed and Linear Weighted. Moving averages may be calculated for any sequential data set, including opening and closing prices, highest and lowest prices, trading volume or any other indicators. It is often the case when double moving averages are used.

The only thing where moving averages of different types diverge considerably from each other, is when weight coefficients, which are assigned to the latest data, are different. In case we are talking of simple moving average, all prices of the time period in question, are equal in value. Exponential and Linear Weighted Moving Averages attach more value to the latest prices.

The most common way to interpreting the price moving average is to compare its dynamics to the price action. When the instrument price rises above its moving average, a buy signal appears, if the price falls below its moving average, what we have is a sell signal.

This trading system, which is based on the moving average, is not designed to provide entrance into the market right in its lowest point, and its exit right on the peak. It allows to act according to the following trend: to buy soon after the prices reach the bottom, and to sell soon after the prices have reached their peak.

Moving averages may also be applied to indicators. That is where the interpretation of indicator moving averages is similar to the interpretation of price moving averages: if the indicator rises above its moving average, that means that the ascending indicator movement is likely to continue: if the indicator falls below its moving average, this means that it is likely to continue going downward.

Here are the types of moving averages on the chart:

  • Simple Moving Average (SMA)
  • Exponential Moving Average (EMA)
  • Smoothed Moving Average (SMMA)
  • Linear Weighted Moving Average (LWMA)


Simple Moving Average (SMA)

Simple, in other words, arithmetical moving average is calculated by summing up the prices of instrument closure over a certain number of single periods (for instance, 12 hours). This value is then divided by the number of such periods.


Bollinger Bands® (BB)

Bollinger Bands Technical Indicator (BB) is similar to Envelopes. The only difference is that the bands of Envelopes are plotted a fixed distance (%) away from the moving average, while the Bollinger Bands are plotted a certain number of standard deviations away from it. Standard deviation is a measure of volatility, therefore Bollinger Bands adjust themselves to the market conditions. When the markets become more volatile, the bands widen and they contract during less volatile periods.

Bollinger Bands are usually plotted on the price chart, but they can be also added to the indicator chart (Custom Indicators). Just like in case of the Envelopes, the interpretation of the Bollinger Bands is based on the fact that the prices tend to remain in between the top and the bottom line of the bands. A distinctive feature of the Bollinger Band indicator is its variable width due to the volatility of prices. In periods of considerable price changes (i.e. of high volatility) the bands widen leaving a lot of room to the prices to move in. During standstill periods, or the periods of low volatility the band contracts keeping the prices within their limits.

The following traits are particular to the Bollinger Band:

  1. abrupt changes in prices tend to happen after the band has contracted due to decrease of volatility.
  2. if prices break through the upper band, a continuation of the current trend is to be expected.
  3. if the pikes and hollows outside the band are followed by pikes and hollows inside the band, a reverse of trend may occur.
  4. the price movement that has started from one of the band’s lines usually reaches the opposite one. The
  5. last observation is useful for forecasting price guideposts.



Category: Technical Analysis Topics