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Simple Moving Average (SMA)

HomeBlogsSimple Moving Average (SMA)

The Simple Moving Average (SMA) is calculated by adding the price of an instrument over a number of time periods and then dividing the sum by the number of time periods. The SMA is basically the average price of the given time period, with equal weighting given to the price of each period.


SMA = ( Sum ( Price, n ) ) / n    

Where: n = Time Period

How to use a simple moving average

There are two main ways to use the simple moving average. The first is trend analysis. At a very basic level, traders and investors use the SMA to assess market sentiment and get an idea of whether the price of a security is trending up or down.

The basic rule for trading with the SMA is that a security trading above its SMA is in an uptrend, while a security trading below its SMA is in a downtrend. For example, a security trading above its 20-day SMA is thought to be in a short-term uptrend. In contrast, a security trading below its 20-day SMA is thought to be in a long-term downtrend. By analysing the SMA, the investor or trader can quickly assess market trends and determine whether the security is trending upward or downward.

Simple moving averages can be useful in spotting trend changes. They can also be used to identify support & resistance levels. Often, during a trend, the SMA will provide a dynamic level of support or resistance. For example, a security in a long-term uptrend may continually pull back a little, but find support at the 200-day SMA. This can also be helpful in identifying trend changes. This method can be used across many markets, including foreign exchange, indices and stock markets.

Simple moving average and technical analysis

Technical analysis is mainly used by short-term traders in strategies such as day trading his form of analysis uses past security price patterns to predict future price movements. In contrast, fundamental analysis is favoured by long-term investors. This style of analysis focuses on economic indicators such as company revenue, profit and growth in order to identify potential investments.

One advantage of the simple moving average is that the tool can be used for both technical and fundamental analysis​. While the two styles are very different, the simple moving average can be used to complement both. For example, a short-term trader that trades using technical analysis may be interested in finding out whether a security is trending up or down over a 10-day period. This trader could analyse the 10-day SMA to determine the trend.

In contrast, a long-term investor that generally uses fundamental analysis might be more interested in buying an upward-trending security after a pullback to the 200-day SMA. This investor could use the SMA to find out how to calculate an attractive entry point.

SMA crossover

Another popular strategy with the SMA is the moving-average crossover. This occurs when a short-term SMA crosses over a long-term SMA. A moving average crossover is often referred to as a golden cross or death cross.

A golden cross occurs when a security’s short-term SMA crosses above its long-term SMA. For example, the classic setup here is when the 50-day SMA crosses above the 200-day SMA. This is a bullish signal and indicates that the price of the security may continue rising. A golden cross can be used as a trading signal to enter a long trade.

The reverse of the golden cross is a bearish indicator known as the death cross. A death cross is identified when a security’s short-term SMA crosses below its long-term SMA. For example, the 50-day SMA might cross over and fall under the 200-day SMA. This is a bearish signal and indicates that the price of the security may continue falling. A death cross may be used as an exit strategy.


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