Online Trading Concepts

Moving Average Crossovers

Moving average crossovers are a common way traders use Moving Averages. A crossover occurs when a faster Moving Average (i.e. a shorter period Moving Average) crosses either above a slower Moving Average (i.e. a longer period Moving Average) which is considered a bullish crossover or below which is considered a bearish crossover.

The chart below of the S&P Depository Receipts Exchange Traded Fund (SPY) shows the 50-day Simple Moving Average and the 200-day Simple Moving Average; this Moving Average pair is often looked at by big financial institutions as a long range indicator of market direction:

moving average crossover of 50 day and 200 day simple moving average

Note how the long-term 200-day Simple Moving Average is in an uptrend; this is a signal that the market is quite strong. Generally, a buy signal is established when the shorter-term 50-day SMA crosses above the 200-day SMA and contrastly, a sell signal is indicated when the 50-day SMA crosses below the 200-day SMA.

In the chart above of the S&P 500, both buy signals would have been extremely profitable, but the one sell signal would have caused a small loss. Keep in mind, that the 50-day, 200-day Simple Moving Average crossover is a very long-term strategy.

For those traders that want more confirmation when they use Moving Average crossovers, the 3 Simple Moving Average crossover technique could be used. An example of this is shown in the chart below of Wal-Mart (WMT) stock:

three simple moving average crossover buy and sell signals

The 3 Simple Moving Average method is usually interpreted as follows:

  1. The first crossover of the quickest SMA (in the example above, the 10-day SMA) across the next quickest SMA (20-day SMA) acts as a warning that prices are reversing trend; however, usually a buy or sell order is not placed yet.
  2. The second crossover of the quickest SMA (10-day) and the slowest SMA (50-day) finally triggers the buy or sell signal.

There are numerous variants and methodologies for using the 3 Simple Moving Average crossover method, some are provided below:

A Moving Average crossover technique that uses 8+ Moving Averages (exponential) is the Moving Average Exponential Ribbon Indicator (see: Exponential Ribbon).

Moving Average crossovers are important tools in a traders toolbox. In fact crossovers are included in the most popular technical indicators including the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator (see: MACD). Other moving averages deserve careful consideration in a trading plan:

Next Page - Exponential Moving Average

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