When To Use And How To Read The MACD Indicator

How to Use the MACD Indicator

For example, a rise above zero indicates the strength of the trend, while a fall indicates its imminent end. Moving averages going into the positive or negative area and crossing the zero mark are also perceived by many traders as evidence of the strength of the current trend. The MACD indicator predicts the price action by analyzing the smoothed difference of the convergence/divergence of two moving averages.

How to Use the MACD Indicator

By analogy with the previous examples, the exit from the market should be carried out at the moment when the next column forms below its predecessor (green circle). However, in this case, the profit will be small (green line). Here I will just briefly remind you https://www.bigshotrading.info/ how to use the MACD divergence indicator using the example of a regular divergence. The best place to enter a trend is when the price pulls back against it. While these are the most popular settings, you can adjust them to your liking on your trading platform.

MACD crossover strategy

The inputs needed to calculate the MACD and the Signal Line are contained in the market data of the instrument. Usually, they correspond to the closing values of the bars you are considering. Notice in this example how closely the tops and bottoms of the MACD histogram are to the tops of the Nasdaq 100 e-mini future price action.

How to Use the MACD Indicator

I left about 70 lines for entering price data, but you can copy the formulas of the last line and stretch the table lower. In MetaTrader MT4, the red line shown by the MACD indicator is usually the signal line. The most popular MACD values are 12 (fast EMA), 26 (slow EMA), and 9 (signal line).

Most Common MACD Potential Buy and Sell Signals

Compared to Stochastic, MACD is considered more useful in trending financial markets. At the same time, the oscillator shows the best results when the market is moving sideways. Two EMAs are used for the MACD calculation that includes two moving average lines the fast and slow.

  • The MACD line moves above and below the zero line to show if the market is bullish or bearish.
  • Divergence occurs when the moving averages move away from each other.
  • An exponentially weighted moving average reacts more significantly to recent price changes than a simple moving average (SMA), which applies an equal weight to all observations in the period.
  • It produces false signals that mislead traders into believing that a trend reversal is imminent, only for the ongoing trend to continue.
  • MACD is a subtraction of the 26-period Exponential Moving Average (EMA) from the 12-period EMA.

By comparing EMAs of different lengths, the MACD series gauges changes in the trend of a stock. The difference between the MACD series and its average is claimed to reveal subtle shifts in the strength and direction of a stock’s trend. It may be necessary to correlate the signals with the MACD to indicators like RSI power. Since the MACD is based on moving averages, it is a lagging indicator. As a future metric of price trends, the MACD is less useful for stocks that are not trending (trading in a range) or are trading with unpredictable price action.


In this way, it may best be used to confirm other signals of a trend. MACD works by tracking three moving averages (MAs) of a security’s price. The indicator uses two simple moving averages (SMAs) and one exponential moving average (EMA) to compare long and short-term price trends. Finally, the MACD indicator is one of the most valuable technical analysis tools, identifying both market trends and momentum. As a result, it can assist in determining trend reversals and defining potential entry and exit points for your deals.

What time frame is best for MACD?

MACD is best used with daily periods, where the traditional settings of 26/12/9 days is the norm. MACD triggers technical signals when the MACD line crosses above the signal line (to buy) or falls below it (to sell).

The MACD is a qualitative indicator that helps us determine the direction, strength, and duration of a trend. For this reason, it can help when we want to filter out market noise and, consequently, reduce the risk of opening positions in the wrong direction. Conversely, the bearish divergence signals a weakening price movement. Therefore, a possible reversal is imminent when a divergence occurs. So, how do you interpret the signals derived from the MACD indicator? There are several effective approaches to determining the prevailing market trend and identifying potential market reversal points.

What is the MACD indicator?

I had a few hundred British pounds saved up (I grew up in England), with which I was able to open a small account with some help from my Dad. I started my trading journey by buying UK equities that I had read about in the business sections of newspapers. 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. To calculate the Signal Line, that is, the line that allows us to get the trading signals, we need to calculate the exponential moving average of the MACD over 9 periods.

A bullish divergence appears when MACD forms two rising lows that correspond with two falling lows on the price. This is a valid bullish signal when the long-term trend is still positive. Furthermore, false positive divergences often occur when the price of an asset moves sideways https://www.bigshotrading.info/blog/how-to-use-the-macd-indicator/ in a consolidation, such as in a range or triangle pattern following a trend. Again, double-check the ADX and whether a trend is in place before acting. MACD is often displayed with a histogram (see the chart below) that graphs the distance between MACD and its signal line.

Abigail Martínez

Licenciada en Ciencia Política y Relaciones Internacionales por el CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas) y Maestra en Políticas Públicas por Macquarie University. Se especializa en análisis político y comunicación estratégica. Colaboradora de The HuffPost México, Gluc MX y ENEUSmx.

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