Trend trading is one of the hottest strategies in the current investing world. From commodities to Asian equities, investors of all shapes and sizes are amplifying price movements by trading with the momentum of the market.
However, trend trading is not as simple as just buying when a stock is rising and selling when it is falling. Trend trading relies on key technical indicators to gauge the strength, persistence and likely continuation of any trend that an investor intends to trade on.
Out of the entire technical analysis toolkit, these are the top 4 indicators for trend trading that are essential to success.
Moving averages are the bread and butter of the trend trader. This simple indicator uses a progressive average price for a set number of past day (or hours, months, years, etc). Every point on a moving average line is the average for that day, which makes for a smooth representation of a price’s movement. There are a number of popular configurations for moving averages, but they can be created for any time frame and for any price (closing, high, low, etc).
Traders use moving averages to identify trends, points of resistance and crossovers between different moving average lines, among many other techniques.
Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)
The moving average convergence divergence, or MACD, is an oscillating indicator that fluctuates around zero, and is a measure of both trend and momentum. The calculation of the MACD follows the same logic as a simple moving average, but incorporates additional features to give a better picture of a more recent moving average compared to an older one.
When the MACD crosses over into positive territory it is seen as a buy signal, and the opposite holds for negative territory. The MACD is usually used as a complement for other technical indicators, and not as a stand-alone indicator in trend trading.
Relative Strength Index (RSI)
The relative strength index, or RSI, is an oscillator that attempts to measure excessive sentiment in a trending stock. If a stock reaches 70 out of 100 on the RSI, it is considered to be ‘overbought’ and likely due for a correction. Conversely, a stock is considered oversold when the RSI is below 30.
Many trend traders use the RSI to capture the last few stretches of a strong trend. For example, a stock with a strong trend and an RSI of 60 likely has a little more way to go before stopping or correcting downward. The RSI is considered to be one of the best complimentary indicators available for trend trading.
On Balance Volume (OBV)
Volume is an important complimentary measure that is used to confirm price trends by determining whether they are occurring on a high or low number of trades. Generally a high number of trades accompanying an upward trend is a supporting signal for that trend, and the same for a low number of trades with a downward trend.