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What are Technical Indicators

Technical analysis is an essential aspect of trading that involves the use of various tools to analyse market data and make informed trading decisions. Technical indicators are some of the most common tools used by traders to evaluate market trends and determine entry and exit points for trades. These indicators are mathematical calculations based on the price and/or volume of an asset, and they help traders identify potential trends and patterns in the market.

There are many technical indicators available, and each one serves a specific purpose. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular technical indicators used by traders.

Technical indicator overview

A technical indicator is a tool that uses past data like prices, volume, and open interest to help traders predict future trends in the market. It works by using a mathematical formula to create a series of data points that can be compared to the price chart for analysis. By understanding the behaviour and psychology of investors, these indicators can give clues about future price trends.

There are many different types of technical indicators available, including things like momentum readings, volume patterns, and moving averages. By using these tools, traders can potentially profit from market movements.

Why use technical indicators?

Indicators have three primary roles: to provide warning signals, to validate other technical analysis tools, and to make predictions about future price movements. When used as a warning signal, an indicator can indicate the need to examine price action more closely. For example, if momentum is slowing down, it may indicate a need to monitor for a possible break in support. On the other hand, if there is a significant positive divergence, it may indicate the need to look for a resistance breakout.

Indicators can also be used to verify the accuracy of other technical analysis tools. If a price chart shows a breakout, a corresponding crossover in the moving average could confirm the breakout. Lastly, some traders and investors believe that indicators can be used to anticipate future price movements.

Types of technical indicators

There are two basic types of technical indicators: oscillators and overlays.


An oscillator is a technical indicator that moves back and forth between point A and point B and will usually signal “buy” or “sell.” The Williams %R, Stochastic and Relative Strength Index (RSI) are some examples of oscillators. There are two common oscillators: The leading indicator assesses the present state of the market in order to give an idea of what is expected to occur in the future. Typically, leading indicators are employed alongside lagging indicators.

Leading indicators

Lagging indicators are metrics that rely on recent past events, such as the MA, EMA, and MACD. By utilising both of these oscillators in combination, a more precise analysis of market sentiment is obtained, leading to improved forecasting of potential price shifts.

Why do traders use oscillators?

Because they swing within a generally defined range, traders and investors use oscillators to define price changes within ranging markets. Oscillators work based on the idea that if momentum changes and begins to slow, fewer buyers (if in an uptrend) or fewer sellers (if in a downtrend) are willing to trade at the current price. A change in momentum tends to signal that the current trend is weakening.

If the price is going to change direction after the previous trend has run its course, an oscillator will signal a possible trend reversal.

Technical analysts may consider the use of multiple oscillators on a single chart unnecessary because their mathematical formulas, function, and appearance are very similar.


Overlays are used on stock charts to show data on the same scale as prices, with overlay indicators plotted on top of the price data. Below are a few examples of overlays.

Popular technical indicators

Combining Several Technical Indicators

Technical analysts analyse technical indicators separately to identify potential shifts in each indicator’s behaviour. The behaviour of some technical indicators becomes significant due to structural changes within different financial markets. This leads to a wide variety of technical indicator combinations, some of which are complicated to comprehend and employ, while others are more straightforward, especially when weights are given to each indicator.

One instance of a technical indicator combination is the Commodex Trend Index, which includes other subjective types of technical analysis, such as fast and slow-moving average crossovers, open interest, volume momentum, and liquidation.

Want more Technical Analysis?

IronFX provides expert technical analysis and courses designed to help anyone grasp the fundamentals of technical analysis and expand their knowledge. Check out the IronFX School resources and start reading our Forex Blog for the latest on market news and analysis.

Lagging indicators


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