Moving Average Convergence Divergence

Whether you're a crypto enthusiast looking to enhance your trading skills or a seasoned pro aiming to refine your strategy, incorporating Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) into your toolkit is a step in the right direction.

Below, you’ll get a clear and comprehensive guide of what is the MACD indicator all about, how it works, and how it can help you see what's going on in the crypto market. 

What is the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) Indicator?

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a momentum oscillator that provides a more in-depth view of market trends, helping traders recognize potential trends, reversals, and buy or sell signals.

MACD shows the relationship between two moving averages of a security's price and has three components:

  1. MACD Line
    The MACD Line represents the difference between the 12-period and 26-period EMA. When the MACD Line crosses above the Signal Line, it generates a bullish signal, suggesting a potential uptrend. Conversely, when it crosses below the Signal Line, it generates a bearish signal, indicating a potential downtrend.
  2. Signal Line 
    This is the 9-period EMA of the MACD Line that helps confirm trend changes and provides entry and exit signals.
  3. Histogram 
    The histogram is the visual representation of the difference between the MACD Line and the Signal Line that reveals a trend’s strength level.

Moving Average Convergence Divergence

How Does the MACD Indicator Work?

MACD is calculated by subtracting the 26-period Exponential Moving Average (EMA) from the 12-period EMA:

MACD = 12-Period EMA − 26-Period EMA

The result is known as the MACD line. Additionally, a 9-period EMA of the MACD line is plotted as the signal line.

The MACD is best used with daily periods, where the traditional settings of 26/12/9 days are recommended.

How to Interpret MACD Signals

The most common interpretations of the MACD values are:

  • A positive MACD indicates that the 12-period EMA is above the 26-period EMA, which means that the price is in an uptrend.
  • A negative MACD indicates that the 12-period EMA is below the 26-period EMA, which means that the price is in a downtrend.

MACD Practical Applications in Trading Crypto Assets

Here are MACD’s practical applications in the world of crypto trading:

  1. Identify trend reversals
    One of the primary uses of the MACD indicator is to identify potential trend reversals, which traders use to enter or exit positions. 
    When the MACD line crosses above the signal line, it generates a bullish signal, indicating a potential upward trend (buying opportunity). Conversely, when the MACD line crosses below the signal line, it generates a bearish signal, suggesting a possible downward trend (time to sell). Traders often use these crossover points to enter or exit positions.
  2. Confirm trends
    Traders can rely on the MACD indicator to confirm the strength of an existing trend. When the MACD line diverges from the price chart, it suggests a weakening trend, which can serve as a warning sign to traders. When the MACD line converges with the price chart, for instance, the line rises sharply, this indicates a strengthening trend, providing traders with confidence in their positions.
  3. Identify overbought and oversold conditions
    Overbought and oversold conditions can lead to potential reversals in crypto markets. The MACD histogram is an excellent tool for identifying these conditions. When the histogram reaches extremely high levels, it suggests that the cryptocurrency may be overbought, and a correction could be imminent. Conversely, when the histogram shows extremely low levels, it’s a sign that the cryptocurrency may be oversold, presenting a potential buying opportunity.
  4. Spot divergence signals
    Divergence analysis with the MACD indicator can help traders anticipate trend changes. A bullish divergence happens when a crypto asset’s price moves in the opposite direction of the MACD indicator. This signal can reveal a potential trend reversal.

For example, if the Ethereum price shows a lower low and the MACD doesn’t show the same, this is a typical situation of a MACD bearish divergence. It means the downward trend can soon end and there’s a high chance for a reversal.

Using MACD in Combination with Other Technical Indicators

MACD and Relative Strength Index (RSI)
Combining MACD and RSI is a common technique to confirm or reject divergence signals. For instance, if both the MACD and the RSI show a bullish divergence, this increases the probability of a bullish reversal. Instead, if the MACD and the RSI show conflicting signals like one shows divergence and the other doesn’t, you can’t reach a clear conclusion regarding your trading decision.

MACD and Bollinger Bands
Crypto traders and investors can use the MACD and Bollinger Bands together to confirm or reject breakout and overbought/oversold signals.
For example, if both the MACD and Bollinger Bands indicate a breakout to the upside, the bullish trend will likely continue.
But if both indicators show an overbought condition, this suggests a potential pullback or reversal.

MACD and Stochastic Oscillator
Traders can use the MACD and the stochastic oscillator together to confirm or reject crossover
and overbought/oversold signals.
For instance, if both the MACD and the stochastic oscillator show bullish crossovers,
the probability of a bullish continuation increases. But if both indicators show oversold conditions, this implies that a bounce or reversal may be near.


In the world of cryptocurrency trading, mastering the use of the MACD indicator can be a game-changer. It provides valuable insights into potential trend reversals, confirms existing trends, and assists in setting strategic stop-loss and take-profit levels.

You can use the MACD indicator in any time frame and with any security, but it’s mostly recommended for trend-following and momentum strategies.

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