MACD Indicator What it’s saying about stocks now

This bullish crossover can often correctly predict the reversal in the trend, as shown below, but it is often considered riskier than if the MACD were above zero. Notice how the moving averages diverge away from each other in the above chart as the strength of the momentum increases. The MACD was designed to profit from this divergence by analyzing the difference between the two exponential moving averages (EMAs). Specifically, the value for the long-term moving average is subtracted from the short-term average, and the result is plotted onto a chart. The periods used to calculate the MACD can be easily customized to fit any strategy, but traders will commonly rely on the default settings of 12- and 26-day periods.

  1. This is seen on the Nasdaq 100 exchange traded fund (QQQQ) chart below with the two purple lines.
  2. Moving Average Convergence/Divergence or MACD is a momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs) of a stock price.
  3. The indicator can be interpreted in several ways, but the more common methods are crossovers, rapid rises/falls, and divergences.
  4. By monitoring the intersections and distances between these lines, traders can identify potential buy and sell signals.
  5. A large number of false signals can result in a trader taking many losses.
  6. Anna Yen, CFA is an investment writer with over two decades of professional finance and writing experience in roles within JPMorgan and UBS derivatives, asset management, crypto, and Family Money Map.

Sometimes it can happen that MACD isn’t a reliable trading signal, and one can’t automatically assume that divergence absolutely confirms it. Double checking, several reverses are preceded by divergence or don’t result in a reversal after all. When the line crossed from above, the trader could take a short position and net a profit when the prices began to climb again.

How is MACD Calculated?

Traders often combine this analysis with the RSI or other technical indicators to verify overbought or oversold conditions. Moving Average Convergence/Divergence or MACD is a momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs) of a stock price. Convergence happens when two moving averages move toward one another, while divergence occurs when the moving averages move away from each other. This indicator also helps traders to know whether the stock is being extensively bought or sold.

Drawbacks of MACD

The zero line is also significant because it can act as support and resistance. As you can see in the chart below, a cross through the zero line is a very simple method that can be used to identify the direction of the trend and the key points when momentum is building. The chart above depicts Wells Fargo’s (WFC) daily price chart data from April 2020 to June 2021. In November 2020, we can see that the RSI reading has risen above 70 and that the MACD has turned positive. MACD default settings used by the majority of traders while entering trades are 12-day EMA, 26-day EMA, and 9-day EMA. When the 12-day EMA is below the 26-day EMA, the MACD value is negative.

Because the MACD is the dollar value between the two moving averages, the reading for differently priced stocks provides little insight when comparing a number of assets to each other. Traders should be aware that the whipsaw effect can be severe in both trending and range-bound markets because relatively small movements can cause the indicator to change directions quickly. A large number of false signals can result in a trader taking many losses. When commissions are factored into the equation, this strategy can become very expensive.

Namely, if the crossover indicates an entry point, but the MACD line indicator is below the zero line (negative), market conditions are still likely to be bearish. On the other hand, if a signal line crossover suggests a potential exit, but the MACD line indicator is above the zero line (positive), market conditions may still be observed to be bullish. In sum, the various signals generated by MACD appear to have been bearish over the past several weeks, suggesting the short-term trend may continue to be down.

Gerald Appel developed this indicator in the 1960s, and although its name sounds very complicated, it’s really quite simple to use. Read on to learn how you can start looking for ways to incorporate this powerful tool into your trading strategy. The MACD evaluates the connection between two Exponential Moving Averages, whereas the RSI monitors price movement concerning recent price highs and lows. In the chart below, the two EMAs applied to the price chart correspond to the MACD (blue) crossing above or below its baseline (red dashed) in the indicator below the price chart. The MACD histogram illustrates the difference between MACD and the signal line. The histogram is made of a bar graph, making it visually easier to read and interpret.

A bullish crossover happens when the MACD line crosses above the signal line signifying an entry point for traders (buy opportunity). Conversely, a bearish crossover occurs when the MACD line crosses below the signal line presenting as an exit point (sell opportunity). Crossovers can last a few days or weeks, depending on the movement’s strength. Because the MACD indicator tracks past pricing data, it falls into the lagging indicator category.

Conversely, when the MACD line crosses below the signal line, it might be time to sell. Additionally, if the MACD rises/falls to extreme levels, What is pending order it can signify overbought or oversold conditions. Divergence between MACD and price movements can also indicate potential reversals.


The MACD indicator helps traders identify trends in the market and can be used to generate buy and sell signals. It measures the momentum behind these trends, allowing you to determine if a trend might be gaining or losing steam. As shown on the following chart, when MACD falls below the signal line, it is a bearish signal indicating that it may be time to sell.

To avoid unreliable signals, use MACD with momentum indicators and price actions to guide your trading decisions. One reason traders frequently lose with this setup is that they enter a position on a signal from the MACD but exit it based on the movement in price. Remember, price is the ultimate indicator, with momentum indicators (the MACD histogram is a price derivative and not the price itself) only manipulating price data. Therefore, it is recommended to use price action to assist with trading decisions when using the MACD. MACD helps reveal subtle shifts in the strength and direction of an asset’s trend, guiding traders on when to enter or exit a position.