Stock, Commodity or Bond prices do not move in a straight line. All fluctuate with changing variables including but not limited to economic, political, competitive, human or technological factors. Identifying price trends is the underlying basis of technical analysis and critical to traders and investors whether it is over a short, medium or long term basis. To do this, the technical analyst has hundreds of technical indicators at their disposal that are now also woven together in trading algorithms, AI (artifical intelligence) and trading BOT's that operate independent (largely) of any human.
Today we are going to discuss 'moving averages" which track trendlines. There are only 3 potential trendlines for any security which is Up, Down or Sideways. Moving averages track and chart prices - over different timelines - and with different formulas. For example, a simple moving average charts the closing prices of stocks over periods such as 20, 50, 100, 200 or 400 or more days. An exponential moving average places more emphasis and wieght on recent price changes than past price changes. These moving averages can be used to track micro, medium and macro trends and trends within trends. Certain moving averages are better suited or more accurate depeding on the timeline being measured. As the name suggests "moving average trend lines track "averages" which inevitably do not account for unexpected sudden events. They are "reactionary" pattern indicators and predictive only to a certain extent. As such they have value for investors or traders but they are not absolute.
Moving indicators track trends and the convergence of various moving indicators can provide "confirmatory strength" signals of a trend or additional weighting to the preponderance of a trend. Again, while no signal is written in stone, they must be understood in the context of "probability analysis" and historic metrics which in turn provide "odds". On a relative basis, these odds can determine risk and positioning in time and over time. For example if a 20 day average crosses a 50 day moving average or a 50 day average crosses a 200 day moving average to the upside or the downside, these can be indicative of a supporting trend and it's strength or weakness.
Trends can be tied to Dow Therory which recognizes different trends within market cycles. Recognizing trends and separating fake from true trends over different time frames requires years of experience and understanding of the elements comprising technical indicators. In addition different trading styles - ranging from agreesive to conservative- will use technical analysis in different ways to influence their investment decisions.