Three of the Best MACD Trading Strategies

FXOpen

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is more than just a mouthful—it's a versatile trading indicator that has stood the test of time. This article unpacks the intricacies of this indicator and dives deep into three specific strategies that leverage the MACD with other powerful tools like the Stochastic Oscillator and Hull Moving Averages. Read on to sharpen your trading skills and enhance your toolkit.

Understanding the MACD Indicator

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence is a momentum indicator developed by Gerald Appel in the late 1970s. It is designed to identify changes in the strength, direction, momentum, and duration of a trend in a stock's price. It’s composed of three main components: the MACD line (blue), the signal line (orange), and the histogram.

The MACD line is calculated by subtracting a long-term exponential moving average (EMA) from a short-term EMA. The signal line is a 9-day EMA of this line. When these two lines cross, it often suggests a potential entry or exit point. The histogram represents the difference between the MACD line and the signal line, offering further insights into market momentum.

When creating an MACD strategy, indicators like the Stochastic and moving averages are often used. However, many also use simple price action alongside the MACD. Below, we’ll cover three strategies that use these indicators and price action to find and exploit market opportunities. If you’d like to follow along, head over to FXOpen’s free TickTrader platform, where you’ll find each tool discussed here waiting for you.

MACD Stochastic Strategy

The MACD Stochastic strategy utilises both the MACD and the Stochastic Oscillator to enhance trade decision-making. While the MACD is predominantly a trend-following momentum indicator, the Stochastic Oscillator is used to gauge overbought (above 80) or oversold (below 20) conditions. The objective of this combined MACD oscillator strategy is to look for concurring signals from both indicators within a few candles of each other, achieving more reliable entries and exits.

Entry

  • In a bullish entry, traders often look for the MACD line to cross above the signal line. Concurrently, the Stochastic Oscillator should cross above 20 from an oversold area.
  • In a bearish entry, the MACD line should cross below the signal line. Similarly, the Stochastic Oscillator should cross below 80 from an overbought area.

Stop Loss

  • Stop losses are typically positioned above a nearby swing point for bearish entries and below a swing point for bullish entries.

Take Profit

  • Profit-taking is usually considered at nearby support levels for bearish positions and resistance levels for bullish positions.
  • Alternatively, some traders may opt to exit the trade when a MACD crossover in the opposite direction occurs.

MACD with Hull Moving Averages Strategy

The blending of MACD and Hull Moving Averages (HMA) aims to refine the basic MACD moving average strategy by reducing lag and improving responsiveness. This combination is often cited as one of the best MACD trading strategies, leveraging the strengths of both indicators. The Hull Moving Averages used here are the 21-period and 50-period HMAs. Just like with the MACD, traders look for a crossover event, but in this case, both from the MACD and the HMA and preferably within close proximity of each other.

Entry

  • For bullish prospects, traders may look for the MACD line to cross above the signal line around the same time the 21-period HMA crosses above the 50-period HMA.
  • Conversely, in bearish positions, the MACD line should cross below the signal line close to when the 21-period HMA crosses below the 50-period HMA.

Stop Loss

  • Traders often set stop losses either above or below a nearby swing point.
  • An alternative approach could be to place the stop loss just beyond the 50-period HMA.

Take Profit

  • Traders commonly consider taking profits at nearby support (short) or resistance (long) levels.
  • Another approach may be to close the position when an opposite crossover event occurs in the HMAs.

MACD Histogram Divergence with Candlestick Patterns Strategy

When it comes to the best MACD for day trading setups, incorporating its histogram with candlestick patterns, such as doji, hammer, and engulfing candles, can offer compelling insights. This MACD histogram strategy revolves around spotting divergences between the histogram and price action, followed by confirmation via specific candlestick formations.

Divergence Criteria

A divergence occurs when price action makes higher highs while the histogram makes lower highs, or vice versa.

Entry

  • Traders might seek a bullish entry on the close of a hammer or bullish engulfing candle when a bullish divergence is observed on the histogram.
  • For bearish entries, the close of a hammer or bearish engulfing candle following a bearish divergence is often considered.
  • While a MACD crossover is not essential, some traders prefer to wait for this additional confirmation.

Stop Loss

  • Stop-loss levels may be placed above a nearby swing point for bearish positions and below it for bullish ones. Given that a reversal has not yet been confirmed, traders may prefer a slightly wider stop loss.

Take Profit

  • Take-profit levels are often set at nearby support (short) or resistance (long) levels.
  • Another option is to exit the trade after a MACD crossover in the opposite direction occurs.

The Bottom Line

Mastering the MACD can significantly bolster your trading toolkit. By combining it with other indicators like the Stochastic Oscillator and Hull Moving Averages, traders can refine their strategies for more nuanced market entries and exits. These methods may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but they do offer compelling approaches worth testing. If you're eager to put these strategies into practice, consider opening an FXOpen account, where you can access a range of tools to optimise your trading experience.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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