In many cases, a golden cross may be considered a bullish signal. How come? The idea is simple. We know that a moving average measures the average price of an asset for the duration that it plots. In this sense, when a short-term MA is below a long-term MA, it means that the short-term price action is bearish compared to the long-term price action.
Now, what’s happening when the short-term average crosses above the long-term average? The short-term average price goes higher than the long-term average price. This indicates a potential shift in the direction of the market trend, and this is why a golden cross is considered bullish.
In the conventional interpretation, a golden cross involves the 50-day MA crossing above the 200-day MA. However, the general idea behind the golden cross is that a short-term moving average crosses over a long-term moving average. In this sense, we could also have golden crosses happening on other time frames (15-minute, 1-hour, 4-hour, etc.). Still, higher time frame signals tend to be more reliable than lower time frame signals.
So far, we’ve considered a golden cross with what’s called a simple moving average (SMA). However, there is another popular way to calculate a moving average called the exponential moving average (EMA). This uses a different formula that puts a higher emphasis on more recent price action.
EMAs can also be used to look for bullish and bearish crossovers, including the golden cross. As EMAs react more quickly to recent price movements, the crossover signals they produce may be less reliable and present more false signals. Even so, EMA crossovers are popular among traders as a tool for identifying trend reversals.
A death cross is basically the opposite of a golden cross. It’s a chart pattern where a short-term MA crosses below a long-term MA. For example, the 50-day MA crosses below the 200-day MA. As such, a death cross is typically considered to be a bearish signal.
Typically, a death cross happens in three phases:
- The short-term MA is above the long-term MA during an uptrend.
- The trend reverses, and the short-term MA crosses below the long-term MA.
- A downtrend starts when the short-term MA stays below the long-term MA.
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