Day Trading Indicators

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 23, 2024

If you're a beginner or experienced trader in stock, forex or any other market, you have probably become familiar with technical indicators used in day trading. Day trading indicators are powerful tools that streamline real-time analysis and interpretation of market trends. With the right combination of indicators, you can seamlessly anticipate market movements, take calculated risks and make more informed day trading decisions. 

Day trading indicators can significantly improve your chances of success. However, with so many options available, choosing the most effective and ideal indicator for your trading strategies can take time and effort. Benzinga explores some of the most popular day trading indicators and how you can use them to improve your trading strategies.

The Best Day Trading Indicators

Day traders buy low and sell high, profiting from short-term market fluctuations. An adequate and accurate analysis of the market conditions and potential price movements is essential to improve the chances of success. Technical indicators are used for technical analysis. Here are some of the most effective technical indicators you must acquaint yourself with as a day trader.

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a technical indicator used to measure the magnitude and speed of price movements in the market. It is a vital momentum indicator that ranges from 0 to 100 and is calculated using a formula that considers the average gains and losses over a specified period. The RSI is commonly used to identify overbought and oversold conditions in a market. An RSI above 70 is seen as overbought, indicating that a price correction or pullback is imminent. Conversely, suppose the RSI value drops below 30. In that case, it is seen as oversold, suggesting that the asset may be undervalued and could undergo a price rebound.

You can use the RSI to generate buy and sell signals based on divergences between the indicator and price. For example, if the RSI is trending upwards while the price is trending downwards, it may indicate a potential trend reversal and a buying opportunity. When the RSI shows a downward trend while the asset price continues to rise, a trend reversal is imminent, which means a selling opportunity.  Another excellent aspect of its usefulness is in determining support and resistance levels. If a stock is in an uptrend, it will usually stay above the 30 level and can even go beyond 70. During a downtrend, the RSI usually remains below 70 and can decrease to 30 or even lower. 

Moving Average Convergence Divergence 

The MACD is another excellent momentum oscillator. However, unlike the RSI, it uses two exponential moving averages (EMAs) to track the momentum of an asset's price. The MACD line is the difference between the 12-period and 26-period EMAs, and it is used to identify changes in the trend of an asset's price. The signal line is a 9-period EMA of the MACD line, and it helps generate buy and sell signals. 

Suppose the MACD line crosses over the signal line. In that case, it is viewed as a bullish signal, suggesting that the asset's price could increase. If the MACD line crosses beneath the signal line, it is seen as a bearish signal, suggesting that the asset's price may decrease. The MACD's position relative to the zero line can guide traders on which signals to follow. If the MACD is above zero, a buy signal may be generated when it crosses the signal line. If the MACD is below zero, a possible sell signal may be generated when it crosses below the signal line.

Traders can look for divergences between the MACD and the asset price. If the price of a security is making new lows while the MACD is making higher lows, this bullish divergence could signal a potential trend reversal. By keeping track of the MACD lines, you can identify possible changes in the direction and strength of the market trend and generate buy and sell signals.

On-Balance Volume

On-Balance Volume (OBV) is a technical indicator that uses volume flow to predict asset price changes. OBV calculates the cumulative sum of volume, where each day's volume is added or subtracted depending on whether the price closes higher or lower than the previous day's close. The idea behind OBV is that changes in volume often precede price changes, so by tracking the cumulative volume, traders can identify when buying or selling pressure is increasing or decreasing. 

OBV is often used to confirm trends or identify potential trend reversals. If the OBV is rising along with the price, it suggests the trend is strong, while the divergence between the OBV and the price may signal a potential reversal. OBV can also signal institutional and retail investors' presence in the market and differentiate the volume generated by each group. The accumulation/distribution line (A/D line) is an excellent alternative to OBV. It uses price and volume data to calculate whether money flows into or out of an asset. A rising A/D line suggests accumulation (buying pressure). A falling A/D line means distribution (selling pressure). 

Average Directional Index

The Average Directional Index (ADX)  measures the strength of a trend and can tell you if a security is trending or trading sideways. Like most other indicators, the ADX ranges from 0 to 100. A value below 20 is typically interpreted as a weak trend, while a value above 50 is considered a strong trend. When the ADX is between 20 and 50, it indicates a moderate trend. The main ADX line on the indicator is complemented by two additional lines, +DI (positive directional indicator) and -DI (negative directional indicator). These lines, often colored red and green, represent the trend direction. 

Most expert traders rely solely on buy or sell signals generated by the +DI and -DI. For instance, when the -DI crosses above the +DI and the ADX is above 20, it is typically considered a sell signal. A weak trend is often characterized by rapid crisscrossing between -D1 and +D1. You can also identify potential trend reversal using ADX. For instance, if the ADX has been rising steadily and then starts to fall, it could indicate that the current trend is losing strength, and a reversal may be imminent. Based on that, you can decide to go long or short or avoid trading. 

Aroon Indicator

The Aroon Indicator is another essential and powerful technical analysis tool for day trading. Like the ADX, it helps traders identify whether an asset is trending and how strong the trend is. The Aroon Indicator consists of two lines, the Aroon Up line and the Aroon Down line, which move between 0 and 100. The Aroon Up line measures the strength of an uptrend by indicating the number of days since the asset's price reached its 25-day high. The value is 100 for an asset currently at its 25-day high. A lower Aroon Up value signifies a weaker trend.  

The Aroon Down line measures the strength of an asset's downtrend by considering the number of days since it hit its 25-day low. Similar to the Aroon Up line, the Aroon Down line also indicates strong negative sentiment as its value approaches 100. When the Aroon Up line falls within the 70 to 100 range and the Aroon Down line is between 0 to 30, the asset may experience significant price growth. When the Aroon Up line falls within the range of 0 to 30, and the Aroon Down line increases, it indicates that the asset may continue experiencing frequent price drops.

Average True Range

Average True Range (ATR) measures the volatility of an asset by analyzing the difference between its high and low prices. It considers the most recent price movements over a specified period, usually 14 days, and generates a value that reflects the average price range of the asset over that timeframe. 

Traders use the ATR indicator to assess an asset's volatility level and set stop-loss orders and profit targets based on the expected price movement. When the ATR value is high, it means the asset is experiencing greater price volatility, and traders may set wider stop-loss orders to allow for the increased price movement. When the ATR value is low, it indicates that the asset is experiencing lower price volatility, and traders may set tighter stop-loss orders.

Exponential Moving Average (EMA)

The simple moving average (SMA) is often regarded as the go-to technical analysis tool for beginners thanks to its customizability, simplicity and excellent ease of use — to get an idea of price trends, you look at the direction of the lines. However, the EMA is a superior alternative. Unlike SMA, it gives more weight to recent prices than older ones when calculating an asset's average price over a specific period. The EMA reacts more quickly to price changes than the simple moving average and is considered to be more accurate. 

The calculation of the EMA involves using a multiplier that increases in value based on the number of periods used in the calculation, which results in more recent prices having a more significant impact on the average price calculation. Like most indicators in this list, the EMA can help you identify oversold and overbought market conditions, support and resistance areas, reversals or continuations of the direction of the trend.

Where to Find Trading Indicators

Many websites and trading platforms publish trading indicators. Some sources include:

Benzinga Pro: A real-time stock market news and analysis platform that provides traders with various tools, including a customizable news feed, real-time market data and advanced charting capabilities. The platform also features an economic calendar, stock screener and various trading ideas and alerts.

TradeZella: TradeZella is a trading journal that gives you more than the journal and a place to track a few investments. When you sign up with TradeZella, you gain access to:

  • An all-encompassing online trading journal 
  • Analytics tools to help optimize your strategies, monitor performance and make informed trading decisions

TradeZella is especially helpful as you can check your playbook to see past trades, look into your own habits and study wins or losses. Along with these tools and bits of information you can also learn more about risk management, read through in-depth reporting and other actionable insights.

TradingView: An online platform that provides charting and analysis tools for traders. It offers technical indicators, chart types and drawing tools to help traders make informed decisions. Additionally, TradingView allows users to create and share their custom indicators and strategies with the community.

MetaTrader: A trading platform for forex and other financial markets. It provides traders with tools for technical analysis and algorithmic trading, allowing for the customization of indicators and charting styles. MetaTrader 5 is currently one of the most advanced trading platforms. 

NinjaTrader: Another excellent trading platform that offers advanced charting capabilities, order execution options and customization options for indicators and strategies. It supports multiple asset classes and provides access to market data and third-party apps.

StockChart: A web-based platform that provides interactive financial charts for stocks, futures and currencies. The platform prides itself on its simplicity and relatively clean data and is often used by traders and investors to analyze market trends and make informed trading decisions.

Researching and testing different indicators is essential to find the ones that work best for your trading style and goals. Some brokers may offer proprietary indicators or tools that'll be helpful in your analysis. Remember that adequate interpretation and analysis of the charts is a crucial recipe for success. 

To make the most of your trading charts, choose a timeframe and indicator that is ideal for the asset you're trading and that fits your strategy. Analyze the price action for patterns, trends and support/resistance levels. Confirm your analysis with indicators and monitor news events that could impact the asset's price. Finally, make a trading decision based on your analysis and manage your risk.

Should Every Trader Complete a Technical Analysis?

Completing a technical analysis is not mandatory. Some traders may rely on fundamental analysis or a combination of both. However, technical analysis can provide valuable insights into price trends, patterns and levels of support and resistance, which can help inform trading decisions. Although beginner traders may find it more beneficial for understanding market trends and identifying potential entry and exit points, expert traders can, despite their more profound understanding of market dynamics, use technical analysis to refine their trading strategies and confirm their analysis. The choice of analysis method depends on the individual trader's preferences, trading style and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the best indicator for day trading?


The best indicator for day trading will depend on the individual’s specific trading strategies and asset class.


How many indicators should day traders use?


The number of indicators you should use depends on your strategy or preferences. A combination of a few indicators often works best. 


About Chika Uchendu

Chika Uchendu is an investing writer and investment platform analyst passionate about helping people learn more about managing their finances, making informed investment decisions, and navigating the complex landscape of investment platforms to find the best options for their financial goals and needs. He has over 8 years of experience writing compelling articles for various reputable publishers across diverse topics. When he’s not writing content, he’s wrangling and analyzing data to help businesses make informed decisions.