## What Is the Simple Moving Average? And How Do Traders Interpret It

In general, moving averages smooth price data that can otherwise be visually noisy. A moving average simplifies price data by smoothing it out and creating one flowing line. Exponential moving averages react quicker to price changes than simple moving averages. In some cases, this may be good, and in others, it may cause false signals.

- The EMA gives more weight to the most recent prices, thereby aligning the average closer to current prices.
- Likewise, a 50-day moving average would accumulate enough data to average 50 consecutive days of data on a rolling basis.
- If the moving average is going up, it is possible that the stock is trending up.
- The two averages are similar because they are interpreted in the same manner and are both commonly used by technical traders to smooth out price fluctuations.
- Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology.

Adjusting the time frame can remedy this problem temporarily, though at some point, these issues are likely to occur regardless of the time frame chosen for the moving average(s). Because you are taking the averages of past price history, you are really only seeing the general path of the recent past and the general direction of “future” short-term price action. Now, as with almost any other forex indicator out there, moving averages operate with a delay. Other weighting systems are used occasionally – for example, in share trading a volume weighting will weight each time period in proportion to its trading volume.

## Common Moving Average Periods

Many people (including economists) believe that markets are efficient—that is, that current market prices already reflect all available information. If markets are indeed efficient, using historical data should tell us nothing about the future direction of asset prices. Other price data such as the opening price or the median price can also be used. At the end of the new price period, that data is added to the calculation while the oldest price data in the series is eliminated.

- A simple moving average is a smoothing tool to display trends for a specific number of periods.
- This is because, once you subtract weekends and holidays, 50 days approximates the number of trading days in a quarter and 200 days approximates a year.
- The functions of an EMA and a WMA are similar, they rely more heavily on the most recent prices and place less value on older prices.
- The final step is to take the closing price minus the prior day EMA times the multiplier plus the prior day EMA.
- Select the EMA from the indicator list on a charting platform, and apply it to your chart.

Moving averages react to data points and are not intended to be predictive like other technical indicators. Moving averages simply follow price action and exponential moving averages react more quickly to new data points than simple moving averages. A moving average is a technical indicator that market analysts and investors may use to determine the direction of a trend.

Recall that, as a general guideline, when the price is above a moving average, the trend is considered up. So when the price drops below that moving average, it signals a potential reversal based on that MA. A 20-day moving average will provide many more reversal signals than a 100-day moving average.

## How do you calculate a simple moving average?

For example, if using a 100-period SMA, the current value of the SMA on the chart is the average price over the last 100 periods or price bars. The SMA value equals the average price for the number of periods in the SMA calculation. While knowing how to calculate a simple average is a good skill to have, trading and chart platforms figure it out for you. You what is cfd trading select the SMA indicator from the list of charting indicators and apply it to the chart. Look at the direction of the moving average to get a basic idea of which way the price is moving. If it is angled up, the price is moving up (or was recently) overall; angled down, and the price is moving down overall; moving sideways, and the price is likely in a range.

One major problem is that, if the price action becomes choppy, the price may swing back and forth, generating multiple trend reversals or trade signals. When this occurs, it’s best to step aside or utilize another indicator to help clarify the trend. The same thing can occur with MA crossovers when the MAs get “tangled up” for a period of time, triggering multiple losing trades. Lag is the time it takes for a moving average to signal a potential reversal.

## Which is better: Simple or exponential moving average?

Note that with an EMA, each data point included in the average decreases in weight over time, until it is ultimately removed as new data points are added that carry higher weights. So in the case of a 10-day EMA, the weight of a new data point on day one would drop to just 6.67% of its initial weight after five closing prices. Simple moving average crossovers are a common way for traders to use moving averages. The chart above uses two moving averages, one long-term (50-day, shown by the orange line) and the other shorter-term (15-day, shown by the yellow line).

## Potential Buy Signal

A crossover to the downside of the 200-day moving average is interpreted as bearish. In this example, the recent data point was given the highest weighting out of an arbitrary 15 points. The lower value from the weighted average above relative best oil etf to the simple average suggests that recent selling pressure could be more significant than some traders anticipate. For most traders, the most popular choice when using weighted moving averages is to use a higher weighting for recent values.

## Trading Strategies Using Simple Moving Average

An exponential moving average is the weighted average of a set of data points where new data points receive greater weight in the average calculation. A simple moving average (SMA) is the average of a stock’s price over a set period of time. When the simple moving median Wealth by Virtue above is central, the smoothing is identical to the median filter which has applications in, for example, image signal processing. The Moving Median is a more robust alternative to the Moving Average when it comes to estimating the underlying trend in a time series.

It can serve as a benchmark when comparing another moving average, such as the 50-day moving average, to it. If the 50-day moving average is above the 200-day moving average, then the stock is considered to be in a bullish position. When the price of a security moves either up or down towards a moving average line, traders use that as a signal that the price might stop or retract at that point.

Reinforced by high trading volumes, this can signal further gains are in store. Moving averages are calculated based on historical data and nothing about the calculation is predictive in nature. At times, the market seems to respect MA support/resistance and trade signals, and at other times, it shows these indicators no respect. Simple moving averages are used to determine price trends over a specific time horizon. 10, 50, and 200-day simple moving averages are often used as default indicators to define a security’s short, medium, and long-term trend.

In contrast, the Moving Median, which is found by sorting the values inside the time window and finding the value in the middle, is more resistant to the impact of such rare events. This is because, for a given variance, the Laplace distribution, which the Moving Median assumes, places higher probability on rare events than the normal distribution that the Moving Average assumes. As a result, the Moving Median provides a more reliable and stable estimate of the underlying trend even when the time series is affected by large deviations from the trend. Additionally, the Moving Median smoothing is identical to the Median Filter, which has various applications in image signal processing.

## Moving Average Trading Uses and Interpretation

One of the simplest strategies relies on the crossing of two or more moving averages. The basic signal is given when the short-term average crosses above or below the longer-term moving average. A golden cross is a chart pattern in which a short-term moving average crosses above a long-term moving average.