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4 min Read

Moving averages (MAs) are fundamental tools in a trader's arsenal. They serve as a compass, smoothing out price fluctuations and revealing the underlying trend of an asset. This blog post delves into the world of moving averages, exploring the different types, their functionalities, and how to leverage them for effective trading decisions.

What is a moving average?

A moving average (MA) is a technical analysis indicator that calculates the average price of an asset over a specific period. By taking multiple price points (e.g., closing prices) into account, MAs smooth out short-term volatility and provide a clearer picture of the price direction. There are several types of moving averages, each offering unique characteristics and insights.

Also read: What is a moving average in trading?

Most popular moving averages

  • Simple Moving Average (SMA): The SMA is the most basic type of moving average. It's calculated by simply adding the closing prices of a specified period (e.g., 50 days) and dividing by the number of periods. The SMA reacts relatively slowly to price changes, making it suitable for identifying long-term trends.
  • Exponential Moving Average (EMA): The EMA assigns a higher weight to more recent prices, placing greater emphasis on the latest market movements. This makes the EMA more responsive to recent price changes compared to the SMA, allowing it to capture trends quickly. However, this also means it can be more prone to fluctuations.
  • Double Exponential Moving Average (DEMA): The DEMA is a variation of the EMA that aims to smooth out some of the EMA's volatility. It essentially applies an EMA to the EMA itself, resulting in a smoother and less reactive indicator compared to the standard EMA.
  • Triple Exponential Moving Average (TEMA): Building on the DEMA, the TEMA applies an EMA to the DEMA twice. This further reduces volatility, making the TEMA a very smooth indicator suitable for identifying long-term trends with minimal noise.

Less common but useful moving averages

  • Linear Weighted Moving Average (LWMA): The LWMA assigns weights to each price point within the calculation period, with more recent prices receiving higher weights. This creates a smoother transition than the SMA but is less reactive than the EMA.
  • Smoothed Moving Average (SMMA): The SMMA is another variation that aims to reduce volatility by applying a smoothing factor to the calculation. The smoothing factor determines how much weight is given to the most recent price data.
  • Guppy Multiple Moving Averages (GMMA): This indicator utilises multiple short-term MAs (typically 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, and 15 days) to identify potential trend changes. The relative positions of these MAs can signal bullish or bearish breakout opportunities.

How to choose the right moving average?

The choice of moving average depends on your trading style and goals:

  • Long-Term Trend Following: SMAs with longer periods (e.g., 50-day, 200-day) are suitable for identifying long-term trends.
  • Short-Term Trading: EMAs with shorter periods (e.g., 10-day, 20-day) are better suited for capturing shorter-term price movements.
  • Balancing Responsiveness and Smoothness: DMAs and TEMAs offer a compromise between responsiveness and smoothness, making them valuable for identifying trends while reducing some of the volatility associated with shorter-term EMAs.

Moving averages in your trading strategy

Moving averages can be used in various ways to inform options trading decisions:

  • Identifying Trends: The direction of the moving average (upward, downward, or flat) can indicate the prevailing trend.
  • Support and Resistance: MAs can act as dynamic support or resistance levels, with prices likely to find support at rising MAs and resistance at falling MAs.
  • Crossovers: Crossovers between different moving averages (e.g., a shorter-term EMA crossing above a longer-term SMA) can signal potential trend changes.

Limitations of moving averages

While valuable, moving averages have limitations:

  • Lagging Indicator: MAs are lagging indicators, meaning they react to past price movements. They might not provide timely signals for highly volatile markets.
  • False Signals: Crossovers and other signals generated by MAs can sometimes be misleading, leading to missed opportunities or false entries/exits.
  • Oversimplification: Markets are complex, and relying solely on moving averages can provide an incomplete picture.


Moving averages are powerful tools that simplify price data and reveal underlying trends. By understanding the different types of moving averages, their functionalities, and their limitations, you can leverage them effectively in your trading strategy. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Combine MAs with Other Indicators: Don't rely solely on moving averages. Use them in conjunction with other technical indicators like RSI, MACD, or Bollinger Bands for a more comprehensive market analysis.
  • Consider Market Context: Always factor in the broader market context, news events, and fundamental factors when interpreting moving average signals.
  • Practice and Backtest: Practise using moving averages on historical data to understand how they perform in different market conditions. Backtesting helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy before risking real capital.

The world of moving averages doesn't end here. There are additional variations and combinations you might encounter, such as the Smoothed RSI Moving Average (SMARMA) or the Kaufman Adaptive Moving Average (KAMA). As you delve deeper into technical analysis, explore these variations, but remember, the core principles of trend identification, support/resistance levels, and crossovers remain applicable.

Moving averages are a cornerstone of technical analysis, a vast and ever-evolving discipline. By mastering the basics of moving averages and incorporating them into your trading toolkit, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the ever-changing market landscape. Remember, successful trading requires a combination of technical analysis, fundamental understanding, risk management, and a healthy dose of discipline.