how to read the macd: What is MACD? A MACD trading strategy example

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At signal crossovers, the trader should prepare to buy or sell the security. At a bullish signal crossover, the trader should consider buying. At a bearish crossover, the trader should consider selling. However, this depends on the nature of the crossover. A crossover at the extreme of the MACD should be treated with skepticism. The MACD line is the difference between the 12-day and 26-day exponential moving averages of the security’s price.


Filtering with MACD means you will miss some good trades. For example, the price may not pull back very far in a strong trend and therefore not register on the MACD indicator as a pullback. A “smart engulfing reversal” pattern then appears at the same level, and again there is bullish MACD momentum.

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As you might’ve already noticed, both indicators show the same type of strength of momentum. Because of this, you can often use the same simple MACD trading strategy for RSI and the other way around. Think of it like this, the momentum indicator shows the strength of price movements. Price momentum means the price is going in a certain direction with a lot of force. At a certain point, the momentum will switch from bull to bear or bear to bull. For this, we need to understand how a MACD bearish divergence or bullish divergence MACD is created.

  • On the other hand, when the MACD line crosses below the signal line, traders tend to consider it a selling opportunity .
  • These tops and bottoms show the intensity of the momentum.
  • Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading may expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses.
  • So, while the signal crossovers can be helpful, they are not always reliable.
  • It’s almost like a visual cheat sheet that shows when the MACD line is above or below the signal line.
  • First, you want the price to move into a market structure, especially a previous support or resistance level.

From the chart above, you can see that the fast line crossed UNDERthe slow line and correctly identified a new downtrend. When a new trend occurs, the faster line will react first and eventually cross the slower line . The 26 represents a moving average of the previous 26 bars.

MACD divergences can also signal a trend change

The average series is also a derivative estimate, with an additional low-pass filter in tandem for further smoothing . The difference between the MACD series and the average series represents a measure of the second derivative of price with respect to time (“acceleration” in technical stock analysis). This estimate has the additional lag of the signal filter and an additional gain factor equal to the signal filter constant. As the D in MACD, “divergence” refers to the two underlying moving averages drifting apart, while “convergence” refers to the two underlying moving averages coming towards each other. It’s common knowledge that the market always returns to the mean and the fast MA always returns to the slow one.

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Once you are done with all the checks, go to the preferred platform, and start trading. All in all, the market is bullish when the MACD is above 0 and bearish when it’s below 0. The second type of Zero Line Crossover to examine is the Bearish Zero Line Crossover. Bearish Zero Line Crossovers occur when the MACD Line crosses below the Zero Line and go from positive to negative. The first type of Zero Line Crossover to examine is the Bullish Zero Line Crossover.

After all, all of the data used in MACD is based on the historical price action of the instrument. Since it is based on historical data, it must necessarily “lag” the price. For these traders, this aspect of the MACD might be viewed as a leading indicator of future trend changes. The signal line is a 9-day (or 9-period) EMA of the MACD line. In other words, it’s a moving average of the difference between two moving averages, or a “slower” version of the difference between a fast and a slow moving average.

Use MACD Along With Other Indicators

Apply tohow to read the macd — it could end up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. You have no idea how many lists they promote to, or which list you are on. You have no idea if there’s a plan to dump huge blocks of shares once the price hits a certain predetermined level. Like anything else you do, test your thesis by paper trading in your StocksToTrade account before you use it live. The Signal Line which is a moving average of the MACD Line. After all, it’s just an average of historical prices.

The moving average convergence divergence is a technical analysis tool used in stock trading created by Gerald Appel in the late 1970s. The MACD is both a trend and momentum indicator/oscillator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of an asset’s price. The MACD line results from subtracting the 26-period exponential moving average from the 12-period EMA. These technical analysis tools are used together by traders. The MACD indicator thus depends on three time parameters, namely the time constants of the three EMAs. The most commonly used values are 12, 26, and 9 days, that is, MACD.

An example of a price filter would be to buy if the MACD line breaks above the signal line and then remains above it for three days. As with any filtering strategy, this reduces the probability of false signals but increases the frequency of missed profit. A “signal-line crossover” occurs when the MACD and average lines cross; that is, when the divergence changes sign. These events are taken as indications that the trend in the stock is about to accelerate in the direction of the crossover. Divergence takes place when the moving averages move away from each other.

  • However, there is no perfect indicator that works all the time.
  • The MACD is not particularly good for identifying overbought and oversold levels.
  • Trading and investing in financial markets involves risk.
  • Depending on your MACD strategy, you may only need to display the histogram as the rest of the indicator might not be useful to you.

Traders may interpret the MACD indicator in various ways, but the more common techniques are crossovers, divergences, and rapid rises/falls. Mr. Pines has traded on the NYSE, CBOE and Pacific Stock Exchange. In 2011, Mr. Pines started his own consulting firm through which he advises law firms and investment professionals on issues related to trading, and derivatives. Lawrence has served as an expert witness in a number of high profile trials in US Federal and international courts.

The defaults are 12 and 26-periods for the EMAs, with the signal line as a 9-period EMA of the MACD line. MACD is one of the best indicators created in the 20th century. It is almost forty years old, and the algorithm hasn’t changed during all that time.

The 1990s were a bull market, so naturally, I made money. I was fortunate enough in my early twenties to have a friend that recommended a Technical Analysis course run by a British trader who emphasized raw chart analysis without indicators. Having this first-principles approach to charts influences how I trade to this day. In the settings window, you can change the periods of the moving averages price, from close to open, high, low and, of course, style. Remember that longer periods are better for bigger timeframes, while shorter periods are better suited to smaller ones.


EMA is similar to Simple Moving Average , measuring trend direction over a period of time. When trading, you can go beyond traditional exchange order types. The architecture of the application allows you to create an unlimited amount of orders, without freezing your balance. Placing an order you can then attach a Stop Loss order and a Take Profit order all at once. And, even better, a Trailing Stop order can provide you a lot more profits, by following the trend for as long as possible.

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