V.17:2 (101-106): Moving Averages, First Principles by Brian J. Millard

V.17:2 (101-106): Moving Averages, First Principles by Brian J. Millard
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Moving Averages, First Principles

By Brian J. Millard

Don’t quite understand moving averages, but think that you could benefit from using them? Here’s how to understand and apply moving averages to identifying trends in stocks.

Of all the technical indicators, moving averages are perhaps the most widely used and misunderstood. Incorrectly applied, as is usually the case, they may be responsible for more losses than any other indicator. Correctly applied, however, they can be the most versatile and powerful tools available. The reasons for failure? First, a poor understanding of how stock prices move, and second, a poor understanding of the properties of moving averages.

It is important to note that if the user does not attempt to understand how prices move, then applying any indicator is a haphazard affair. Indicators tend to be developed by trial and error, and without a clear understanding of how they work, using them can lead to disappointing — and disastrous — results.


The point-to-point movement model is based partly on the one put forward by analyst J.M. Hurst a number of years ago and partly on my own research. In this model, stock movement is considered to be composed of random point-to-point movement and complex cyclic movement. Point-to-point movement is simply a generalization of the sampling interval and refers to the change between one data point and the next, such as “tick-to-tick,” “day-to-day,” and “week-to-week,” as well as others.

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