We're all set for a new experience. To visit the old Ventura website, click here.
Ventura Wealth Clients
3 min Read

Technical analysis is a cornerstone of active trading, and a diverse array of tools empower traders to identify patterns and make informed decisions. Among these tools, the moving average (MA) stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness. This blog delves into the world of moving averages, exploring their calculation, interpretation, and potential benefits for traders.

What is the moving average indicator?

Unlike traditional bar or candlestick charts that depict price movements over time, moving averages focus on the trend by filtering out minor price fluctuations. Developed centuries ago, moving averages are calculated by averaging a security's price over a specific period. This average price is then plotted as a line on the chart, smoothing out the choppiness of the price movements.

How to calculate the moving average?

There are various types of moving averages, but the most common is the simple moving average (SMA). Here's how it's calculated:

  • Define the Look-Back Period: This is the number of past price points you want to include in the average. Common look-back periods include 50 days, 200 days, and any timeframe relevant to your trading strategy.
  • Sum the Closing Prices: Add the closing prices of the security for the chosen look-back period.
  • Divide by the Look-Back Period: Take the sum of the closing prices and divide it by the number of prices included (look-back period).

For example, to calculate a 50-day SMA, you would add the closing prices of the past 50 days and then divide that sum by 50. The resulting value represents the average closing price over the past 50 days.

Types of moving averages

While the SMA is the most common, other moving averages offer variations:

  • Exponential Moving Average (EMA): This type assigns more weight to recent prices, giving a greater emphasis to newer data points compared to the SMA. This can be useful for identifying trends that are rapidly changing.
  • Smoothed Moving Average (SMMA): This is a variation of the SMA that applies additional smoothing techniques to further reduce volatility in the moving average line.

Interpreting moving averages

Moving averages offer valuable insights for traders:

  • Identifying Trends: A rising moving average suggests an uptrend, while a falling moving average indicates a downtrend. The slope of the moving average line can also provide clues about the strength of the trend.
  • Support and Resistance: Moving averages can act as dynamic support and resistance levels. A price that consistently finds support at a particular moving average might indicate buying interest at that level. Conversely, resistance might be encountered at a moving average that has acted as a barrier in the past.
  • Crossovers: When a shorter-term moving average crosses above a longer-term moving average (golden cross), it can be a signal of a potential trend reversal and vice versa (death cross).

How to use the moving average in trading?

Traders can leverage moving averages in various ways:

  • Trend-Following Strategies: Identify potential entry and exit points for options trading based on the direction of the moving average and its slope.
  • Confirmation of Other Indicators: Use moving averages alongside other technical indicators like MACD or RSI to confirm trend signals and identify potential trading opportunities.
  • Setting Stop-Loss Orders: Moving averages can be used as trailing stop-loss levels, helping to manage risk during volatile market conditions.

Advantages of using moving averages

  • Simplicity: Moving averages are easy to calculate and interpret, making them suitable for both experienced and beginner traders.
  • Trend Visualisation: Moving averages effectively smooth out price data, providing a clear picture of the underlying trend direction.
  • Versatility: Moving averages can be adapted to various trading styles and timeframes.

Limitations of moving averages

  • Lagging Indicator: Moving averages are based on past prices and can lag behind current market movements.
  • False Signals: Moving averages can generate false signals, especially during periods of high market volatility or choppy price action.
  • Limited Information: Moving averages don't provide insight into the volume or momentum behind price movements.


Moving averages offer a simple yet powerful tool for traders of all experience levels. While they have limitations, their ability to identify trends, gauge support/resistance, and generate potential trading signals makes them a valuable addition to any technical analysis toolbox. Remember, moving averages are most effective when used in conjunction with other technical indicators and proper risk management practices. So, consider incorporating moving averages into your trading strategy and see if they can help you analyse your options trading better.