In our last lesson we looked at the two main types of moving averages, the simple moving average and the exponential moving average. In this lesson we are going to look at some of the ways that traders use moving averages to pick their entry and exit points in the currency, commodities, and equities market.
As moving averages are lagging indicators they tend to work well in identifying and following a trend and not to work well in ranging or trend less markets. Because of this traders will often use them to trade with the trend as well as to identify potential areas of support or resistance which may result in a continuation or reversal of a trend.
The most basic way that traders will use moving averages is to identify and then trade with the trend of a particular instrument. Although most traders will probably want to use the moving average in conjunction with some of the things that we have learned so far and some of the things we will learn in future lessons, the most basic way to trade using just the moving average is to buy when the price of a financial instrument breaks above the moving average line and sell when the financial instrument breaks below the moving average line. For confirmation traders will often wait for a full bar to close above the moving average line before entering long and a full bar to close
below the moving average line before entering a short position.
Example of Trend Following Using Moving Averages:
A second way that traders use moving averages is to identify areas of support or resistance and then trade the break of these levels, looking for a potential reversal of the trend. When a financial instrument has shown a particular moving average level to be significant from a support or resistance standpoint in the past by testing the moving average line several times, and then breaks that level, traders will often see this as a warning sign that the trend is reversing and position themselves accordingly.
Example of Trading Support and Resistance Breaks Using Moving Averages:
The last way that traders will using moving averages is by plotting a longer term moving average and a shorter term moving average on a chart and trading the cross over. The idea here is that the shorter term moving average will be faster in identifying changes in the trend and therefore traders will look to get long when the shorter term moving average crosses above the longer term moving average and short when the shorter term moving average crosses below the longer term moving average
Example of Moving Average Crossovers: