Traders who are well-versed in technical indicators are usually better equipped to navigate the financial markets than those who are not. While knowing what technical indicators to use in your approach can help you determine possible entry and exit points, knowing your personal investing goals, risk appetite, and trading style can help you determine a strategy and trading plan.

Hundreds of technical indicators exist, and effective indicators can be used to identify clear signals as part of a strategy. Six of the most popular technical indicators for stock trading will be covered in this article.


When looking for the most effective technical indicators, traders should think about their trading strategy’s goals as well as the current market situation. Individuals trading individual stocks may find it useful to apply indicators to the stock index to which that stock belongs in order to get a holistic view of the larger market.

Six of the most widely used technical indicators for stock analysis are listed below:


Client sentiment data is derived from the execution desk data of a brokerage, which measures live retail client trades to determine possible market directional biases. When sentiment reaches extreme levels, stock traders may begin to believe that a reversal is more likely, which is why it is regarded as both a contrarian and potentially leading indicator.

The IG Client Sentiment Index, a sentiment gauge derived from IG’s execution desk data, for the Dow Jones index is shown below (Ticker: Wall Street). According to the information below, 64% of traders have short positions, implying that the majority of traders expect the price of Wall Street to fall. However, sentiment is bullish, implying that the price of Wall Street may rise as a result of this information. Although it is not advisable to trade sentiment (or any single indicator) on its own, a trader who is trading a DJIA constituent could use this data as a starting point before adding additional indicators.

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The relative strength index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator that determines whether a market is overbought or oversold by measuring the magnitude of price movements. When the RSI falls below 30, a market is considered oversold, and when it rises above 70, it is considered overbought. The RSI is classified as a leading indicator because these key levels could indicate a potential reversal.

The RSI is applied to the daily chart of Uber Technologies in the chart below (Ticker: UBER). The RSI fluctuates between 30 and 70 for a while before dropping below 30. The first signal below the 30 level is a false signal because, despite the fact that the trend appears to be reversing to the upside, the price continues to fall. The second signal appears when the RSI falls below 30 and begins to trend upward. The RSI, on the other hand, does not confirm the reversal until the next day, when it crosses above the 30 line.


Another momentum indicator used to determine overbought and oversold conditions when trading stocks is the stochastic oscillator. Unlike the RSI, which measures price movements in terms of speed, the stochastic measures current price in relation to its price range over time.

The percent K line (the black line) is calculated by comparing the most recent closing price to the lowest low and highest high over a given time period, and the percent D line is the percent K line’s simple moving average (three period Simple Moving Average is the most common).

When the percent K line (the black line) crosses over and above the percent D line in stochastics, this is known as a bullish crossover (the red dotted line). When the percent K line crosses under and below the percent D line, it is a bearish signal. When there is a bullish cross coupled with a move above 20 from below and a bearish signal coupled with a move below 80, the strongest signals will often occur.

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The stochastic indicator is applied to the price chart of the S&P 500 in the image below (Ticker: US 500). A bearish crossover occurs from above the 80 line, as shown on the chart, indicating that the trend may be reversing to the downside. Once the lines cross 80, the reversal is confirmed. Likewise, the bullish crossover occurs below 20 and the reversal is confirmed once the 20 line is crossed.


A simple moving average (SMA) is a lagging indicator that represents a security’s average price over a given time period. In a trending market, the moving average smooths out short-term price fluctuations and makes it easier for stock traders to spot the trend.

In a rangebound market, a moving average can also be used to identify support and resistance levels, as shown in the chart below. When the 50-day MA is applied to the Boeing price chart, it is clear that the 50-day SMA can be seen as potential support even when the stock is trading in a range.


The exponential moving average (EMA), like the SMA, is a lagging indicator that represents the average price of a security over a set period of time. The EMA, on the other hand, gives more weight to recent prices than the SMA, which gives equal weight to all data points in the series, removing some of the lag found with a traditional SMA. This makes the EMA an ideal candidate for trend trading because it allows traders to get a holistic view of the market without missing out on opportunities that a simple moving average might miss due to lag.

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The MACD (moving average convergence/divergence) is a technical indicator that can be used to assess trend strength as well as momentum. The MACD shows a MACD line (blue), a signal line (red), and a histogram (green) that shows how the MACD line and the signal line differ.

The MACD line is the difference between two exponential moving averages (the 12 and 26 period moving averages using default settings), whereas the signal line is usually a 9-period exponentially average of the MACD line. These lines oscillate in and around the zero line, giving the MACD oscillator-like characteristics, with overbought and oversold signals appearing above and below the zero line, respectively.

With reference to Apple, Inc. (Ticker: AAPL) in the chart below:

  • When the MACD line crosses ABOVE the signal line from BELOW the zero line, it is considered a bullish signal.
  • When the MACD line crosses BELOW the signal line from ABOVE the zero line, it is a bearish signal.

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