Most literature written on technical analysis, more specifically technical indicators, begins with Moving Averages. The reason for this is simple; they are considered by most analysts the most basic and core trend identifying indicators. As its name would suggest a moving average calculates an average of price range over a specified period. For example, a 10 day moving average gathers the closing prices of each day within the 10 day period, adds the 10 prices together and then of course divides by 10. The term moving implies that as a new dayâ€™s closing price is added to the equation, the day that is now 11 days back is dropped from the equation.

The example above outlines what would be considered a Simple Moving Average. There are at least 7 varieties of moving averages, but generally the average Forex trader is focused on just one of the following three: Simple Moving Averages, Exponential Moving Averages, and Weighted Moving Averages.

Before examining the various calculations and types of moving averages it is essential that we as traders understand what a moving average is trying to tell us. Its message is really quite simple, and is primarily focused on market expectations. A moving average calculating the last 30 days of prices in the market essentially represents a consensus of price expectations over that 30 day period. The example below shows a moving average line across a basic candlestick chart.

Understanding a moving average is at times as simple as comparing the marketâ€™s current price expectations to that of the marketâ€™s average price expectations over the time frame that you are viewing. The average gives us a bit of safe zone, or a range that traders globally are comfortable trading within. When prices stray from this safe zone, or from the moving average line a trader should begin to consider potential entry points into the market. For example, a price that has risen above the moving average line typically implies a market that is becoming more bullish, traders are on the up, and with such will come good opportunities to buy. Just the opposite, when prices begin to fall below moving average lines the market is becoming visibly bearish; traders should thus be looking for opportunities to sell.

Notice the angle of the moving average shown above at various points across the chart. Moving averages not only give traders a much smoother look at the true trend of the market, they also offer keen directional insight found in the angle of the moving average line. Erratic sideways markets tend to be represented by moving average lines that are flat or sideways, whereas markets that are beginning to trend strongly in one direction or another will begin that trend with a very angled moving average line. Remember, it is one thing to look at a completed moving average line and determine at what point would have been an excellent entry into the market, it is another thing to spot the angle of the line as it is developing and at that point wisely enter the market. A true technical analyst is after what the moving average can tell him or her about the coming hours or days of the market, not what the moving average can prove about what should have been done in the past. That said, look for angles!

Simple Moving Averages

Calculating simple moving averages is really quite simple (no pun intended). As was outlined in the beginning of this section the sum of all closing prices is divided by the number of days in the equation. With each new day the now oldest day that is no longer a part of the time frame is subsequently dropped from the equation. A simple moving average is considered a lagging indicator. In fact, the simple moving average perhaps epitomizes the meaning of lagging indicator in that its visual data often comes a bit after the fact, and can be hard to act on.
Nevertheless, simple moving averages are key to understanding the markets general feel of where the price rage should be trading at, or the safe zone that we referred to earlier. When prices begin to break away from the moving average line in conjunction with a sharply angled moving average line â€“ basic mathematics is predicting a move up or down in the market. The notable down side is that when observing lagging indicators, this prediction often comes too late; thus the reasons for other types of moving averages, averages that more heavily weigh recent data and can offer quicker predictions