What are Trading Indicators? | Explanation and examples 

Explanation and definition of indicators: 

A trading indicator is a mathematical formula that analyzes the past of the chart (candlesticks). Based on probabilities and calculations, it can be used to generate entry opportunities. Indicators can be integrated into any type of trading. 

Trading indicators in a trading platform

What were indicators developed for? 

Trading indicators originally come from stock trading and were developed by stock market experts at the end of the 20th century. In particular, they are nowadays used for technical analysis (also called chart analysis). 

  • Indicators should facilitate the trader’s analysis 
  • There are countless different indicators 
  • Indicators can be adjusted to the chart 

What are the types of trading indicators? 

Nowadays, there are countless different trading indicators. However, in summary, they are divided into categories. There are oscillators and trend (trends). Both can be used for certain methods on the market. 

Types of indicators: 

  • Oscillators: They tell the trader when the market is overbought or oversold. This can be used very well for reversal trades or position closures. 
  • Trend indicators (tendency): You analyze the current trend in the market. Is there a sideways phase or is there a strong trend? The indicator tells you in which trend you are. 
  • Volume: Indicators which are based on the trading volume. Trading volume can be a good indicator of attractive prices. It can also be used to analyze the individual contracts traded. 
  • Fundamental indicators: Fundamental indicators are also described as indexes or data-processing charts. These indicators are not inserted into the chart but are generated externally by data. Generally, this is economic data or data from other traders. 

Top 10: The best trading indicators: 

In the picture above you can see the best trading indicators for me for everyday trading. In combination with these indicators and technical analysis, perfect entries for trades can be generated. Develop effective strategies with the right attitude, which I will tell you in the following texts. 

1. Moving Average 

With this indicator you determine the current trend. It can also be used very well as support and resistance for entries into the trend. If the chart is above the line = uptrend, the chart is below the line = downtrend. Enormous results can be achieved here with the right setting. 

Trading indicator Moving Average 

Read more about the moving average here

2. MACD – Moving Average Convergence/Divergence 

This is another popular trend indicator. It shows you when a new trend has started and when it may end. The crossing of the two lines indicates a change in trend. In my opinion, this indicator is suitable for determining longer-term trends. 

Read more about the MACD here

3. ADXAverage Directional Index 

The ADX is a pointing directional indicator to measure the strength of a trend. Depending on the indicator position, entries or exits can also be timed perfectly. This indicator is best suited for trend markets. In sideways phases it is hardly usable. 

ADX indicator 

Read more about the ADX – Average Directional Index here

4. CCICommodity Channel Index 

The CCI is one of the best known oscillators for measuring trend reversals. Here, the deviation of the value of an asset is related to its statistical average. 

CCI indicator 

Read more about the CCI – Commodity Channel Index here

5. Fear and Greed index 

The Fear and Greed Index is an external indicator that shows market sentiment. It calculates from several data whether there is a greed or fear in the markets. This indicator is perfect for buying and selling stocks. 

Fear and Greed index

Read more about the Fear and Greed Index here

6. Ichimoku 

The Ichimoku cloud includes 5 different indicators that give an insight into the market development. This indicator seems a bit complex at first and needs to be understood. However, in the longer term, it is very suitable for various trading strategies as well as trend following or trend reversal. 

Ichimoku indicator 

Read more about the Ichimoku indicator here

7. Bollinger Bands 

Bollinger bands are very popular among beginners and experienced traders. Bollinger bands show the trend of a trend and its volatility. It is an average price with various standard deviations from it. 

Bollinger Bands Indicator 

Read more about Bollinger Bands here

8. ATRAverage True Range 

The ATR (Average True Range) indicator measures the volatility over a certain period of time. Volatility means how many points of movement the market makes. There are volatile markets and markets with less volatility. The stronger the movements are the more profit or loss can be made. 

ATR indicator 

Read more about the ATR – Average True Range here

9. Parabolic SAR 

The Parabolic SAR indicator is a typical trend following indicator. It is suitable for trailing stops or manual shifting of the stop loss. Through a complicated formula, the points are displayed on the chart. It is well suited for identifying and trading a trend. 

Parabolic SAR Indicator 

Read more about the Parabolic SAR here

10. Pivot Points 

Pivot Points show you 7 different support or resistance levels in the chart. Each separate line has its own calculation according to a formula and deviations from the current price. Many traders pay attention to these points. That is why they work more often as support and resistance. But they can also be used to set targets. 

Pivot Points 

Read more about Pivot Points here

In the following texts I will show you the secret of how to set indicators correctly and you will learn more info about technical analysis. 

Best and secret settings for time periods of trading indicators 

I will now show you how to set indicators correctly for use. Many beginners do not know, but all professionals use it. Since indicators analyze the past candlesticks (candles), the setting has something to do with time. You can set the number of candles which should be analyzed. 

Attention must be paid to important time markers. For example, the price average of a certain time period is important and many algorithms pay attention to it. The time-based candlesticks represent the chart in a certain time period. 

Note: Important times for trading with indicators are: 1 hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, 1 day, 1 trading month, 1 quarter, 1 year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Example of correct indicator settings 

Now, for example, if you are in a 15 minute time frame and want to insert and set a moving average, you should adjust the period correctly. 

  • 4 x 15 minute candles = 1 hour. 6 x 4 x 15 minute candle = 6 hours. For a correct setting in the 15 minute chart for the 6 hour mark, you should use the period (period) 24 (6 x 4). 
  • For setting the average price for a day in 15 minutes time frame you should set the period 96 ( 4 x 24). 

In summary, the setting has an important influence on the indicator. There are no “random” settings which work best. Instead, these are based on facts and the time markers mentioned above. 

Period setting of a trading indicator 

(Tip: The RSI (Relative Strength Index) is also one of the most important technical indicators. Read more here

The best settings for successful trading 

From my experience, the technical indicators work best in the daily chart! This means that a candlestick has the expiration time of a whole day. Generally, one achieves the higher hit rates in the higher time units from my experience. 

For the daily chart, the settings and time marks for a trading month (20 days), a quarter (60 days) and a year (240) are very important! These marks have a special significance. It is interesting that also, for example, investment banks want to show a good quarterly result and thus the marks gain in importance. 

Another example for the daily chart: 

The moving average is perfect for trading in the financial markets. In the daily chart, you then set the moving average to the period 20, 60 and 240. So you have a total of 3 different moving averages displayed in the chart. 

3 averages in the daily chart 

Choose a good broker for your indicators trading 

Nowadays, almost every broker offers indicators on their trading platform. However, there are several differences between the providers. It is especially important to choose a broker with a wide selection and low fees. Indicators and their calculations 

Behind the indicators are complex mathematical formulas. Trade can influence the formulas by the settings and get a different display result.  

Trading with indicators in trend following 

For many traders, trend trading is the best way to consistently earn money on the stock market. For trend following, people like to trade breakouts or resets into a trend. Both methods are very effective. 

  • Breakouts: Trend breakouts are often traded with the indicator “Bollinger Bands”. If the bands pull together, a next breakout is likely. Trend traders wait in a sideways phase for a breakout and then position themselves when the indicator shows it. 
  • Resets in trends: Once an intact trend has been identified, one only has to wait for resets in the chart. Here, too, indicators can provide the right entry points. 

Does trading work without indicators? 

From my experience, trading without indicators works very well. In my opinion, indicators are only a tool to make good decisions. Trading without indicators is also called Price Action. 

Support and Resistance are an easy way to trade without indicators. It can also be used to identify perfect trend reversals. Points are marked on the chart where the price bounced several times. This shows a trader which prices are good and which prices are bad. Upon confirmation, an entry is then sought. 

The problem with indicators is that they usually show possible entries too late. Relying completely on indicators is not a good choice in my experience. Indicators lag behind the market. Reading the chart is therefore indispensable. A trader must learn chart analysis to be successful in the long run. 

In my opinion, the combination of indicators and the chart technique is the right choice. Indicators can be used as a tool for confirmation. 

Help! – Which trading indicator should I use? 

As mentioned above, there are many different indicators. Nowadays it is even possible to program your own. Do not make it too complicated for yourself and do not overload the chart. Some traders can’t see the current price because of all the tools. 

My tip for trading indicators: My recommendation is to design the chart clearly and not to overload it. An overload can quickly lead to an overload.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Test as many options for yourself to get the best result. My recommendation is to: For example, one week use the combination of volume and RSI and in another week change the setup. 

You can continue to use and refine the setup with the best results. You should approach piece by piece. Every trader is different. Therefore, you should find the best setup for you personally and then use it. 

Conclusion and conclusion about the trading indicators 

Indicators are without question a very good invention. With the right setting (explained above), they can be used to present excellent results. As a trader, you need to know how to use the tools properly. 

However, from my experience I can say that these mathematical formulas are not a miracle cure. You can not rely 100% on indicators, but should still perform an independent analysis of the chart. Only those who can correctly interpret the market movements will be successful in the long run. 

Most frequently asked questions:  

What is a trading indicator?  

In most cases, a trading indicator is inserted into the chart or price diagram of a market. The indicator analyzes the past price trend through a mathematical formula and displays this graphically. There are indicators for the trend, trend reversal, volume, volatility and many other properties of the price.  

What are the correct settings for an indicator?  

For an indicator, you should not just use random settings. In the indicator settings you will always find the period. This is the number of past candles that should be analyzed. So the settings depend on the current time unit of the chart display. For example, if you use the 1-minute chart, it may make sense to take a moving average with the period 60. You now have the hourly average price in the 1-minute chart.  

How many trading indicators should I use?  

Less is more is my recommendation. Trading beginners often use too many trading indicators in the chart. Then one loses very easily the overview. From my experience, you should use a maximum of 3 indicators at the same time. You can combine trend indicators, oscillators and volume indicators, for example.  

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