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How Do I Read the Stochastic Indicator?

Stochastic Indicator is another type of overbought/oversold indicator that is very popular among stock traders and futures traders. This indicator was developed by George Lane in 1960s. George Lane assumed that as the price of an instrument increases, the daily closes tend to be closer to the upper end of the recent price range. On the other hand, as the price decreases, the daily closes tend to be closer to the lower end of the recent price range.

The STOCH is plotted as two lines called %K, a fast line and %D, a slow line. These two lines have the following characteristics: %K line is more sensitive than %D; %D line is a moving average of %K.; and %D line triggers the trading signals. Confused? Deal %K as a fast moving average and %D as a slow moving average. At the 80% and 20% levels, "trigger" lines are normally drawn on stochastic charts. When these lines are crossed, a signal is generated. Stochastic bands are what we call the zones above and below these two lines.

Apply the following formula in order to calculate the stochastic indicator. A scale from 1 to 100 is used to plot the results from the calculations of the formulas below:

%K = [(CCP - LOWn) / (HIGHn - LOWn)]*100


CCP - current closing price

LOWn - the lowest low for the previous n trade periods

HIGHn - the highest high for the previous n trade periods

n- typically it is 14, may also vary. The %K value is 0 when the CCP is the lowest for the last n trade periods. Likewise, the %K value is 100 when the CCP is a highest for the last n trade periods.

%D = SMAn %K


SMAn - simple moving average across n periods; typically n=3

When using Stochastic Indicator, you should be able to determine on how and when to trade.

Overbought / Oversold: The market is in an overbought or oversold mood when one of the stochastic lines crosses the 20% and 80% levels. It means that when the stochastic falls below 20% level then rises above it, then we should buy. And we should sell when the stochastic rises above 80% level then falls below it.

Crossover: The STOCH is plotted as two lines, the %K line and the %D line. They are like two moving averages indicators, one of them is fast and the other is slow. When %K crosses down up the %D, we should buy. But when the %K crossed above down the %D, we sell.

Divergences: There is a good signal for buying or selling the security when there is a divergence between the stochastic lines. The market is weak if prices are making a series of new highs and the stochastic is trending lower.

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