Technical Analysis

Oscillating indicators

Trending indicators are exactly that, they show potential trends in currency pairs. The most profitable trades occur when you’re able to identify and trade of the back of trends. The two main indicators are the Moving average and Bollinger bands.

Moving averages smooth the price data to form a trend following indicator, the issue is that this smoothing is based on past pricing so they do not show potential future prices. Yet the simple advantage is that moving averages help smooth price action and filter out the noise. The two most popular types of moving averages are the Simple Moving Average (SMA) and the Exponential Moving Average (EMA). These moving averages can be used to identify the direction of the trend or define potential support and resistance levels.

A simple moving average is formed by computing the average price of a security over a specific number of periods. Most moving averages are based on closing prices, a 5-day simple moving average is the five day sum of closing prices divided by five. As its name implies, a moving average is an average that moves, old data is dropped as new data comes available and this then causes the average to move along the time scale.

Exponential moving averages reduce the lag by applying more weight to recent prices. The weighting applied to the most recent price depends on the number of periods in the moving average. There are three steps to calculating an exponential moving average. First, calculate the simple moving average. An exponential moving average (EMA) has to start somewhere so a simple moving average is used as the previous period's EMA in the first calculation. Second, calculate the weighting multiplier. Third, calculate the exponential moving average.

The length of the moving average depends on the analytical objectives. Short moving averages (5-20 periods) are best suited for short-term trends and trading. Chartists interested in medium-term trends would opt for longer moving averages that might extend 20-60 periods. Long-term investors will prefer moving averages with 100 or more periods. Some moving average lengths are more popular than others. The 200-day moving average is perhaps the most popular. Because of its length, this is clearly a long-term moving average. Next, the 50-day moving average is quite popular for the medium-term trend. Many chartists use the 50-day and 200-day moving averages together. Short-term, a 10-day moving average was quite popular in the past because it was easy to calculate. One simply added the numbers and moved the decimal point.

Moving averages can also act as support in an uptrend and resistance in a downtrend. A short-term uptrend might find support near the 20-day simple moving average, which is also used in Bollinger Bands. A long-term uptrend might find support near the 200-day simple moving average, which is the most popular long-term moving average. If fact, the 200-day moving average may offer support or resistance simply because it is so widely used.

Bollinger Bands are volatility bands placed above and below a moving average. Volatility is based on thestandard deviation, which changes a volatility increase and decreases. The bands automatically widen when volatility increases and narrow when volatility decreases. This dynamic nature of Bollinger Bands also means they can be used on different securities with the standard settings. For signals, Bollinger Bands can be used to identify M-Tops and W-Bottoms or to determine the strength of the trend.

Bollinger bands are typically based on a 20-period moving average. This moving average runs through the middle of the two bands. The upper band is plotted two standard deviations above the 20-period moving average. The lower band is plotted two standard deviations below the 20-period moving average.

A standard deviation is a statistical term that measures how far various closing prices diverge from the average closing price. Therefore 20-period Bollinger bands tell you how wide, or volatile, the range of closing prices has been during the past 20 periods. The more volatile the currency pair, the wider the bands will be. The less volatile the currency pair, the narrower the bands will be.

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