We have already described many technical analysis tools on our blog. How does MACD work? We will talk about this indicator now. The MACD (‘makdi') indicator was developed almost 50 years ago by Gerald Appel. The author's premise was to create an indicator that measured the strength and direction of a trend in the stock markets.

MACD indicator explained

MACD indicator is used to determine the current trend its strength and the probability of its reversal. It consists of the MACD line, a signal line, and the bar chart. We will discuss these 3 components of the indicator one by one.

how does macd work
MACD lines

The MACD line

The MACD line shows the difference between two EMA moving averages with different periods. When the MACD line crosses the zero line it indicates that there is no difference between them at this moment.

MACD line crosses zero line
MACD line crosses zero line

The larger the difference between two moving averages the further the MACD line is from the zero line.

MACD lines distance from zero line
MACD lines distance from zero line

The signal line

The signal line is a smooth MACD line. By default, the average value of the previous nine periods is used for calculation.

Signal line calculated from 9 periods
Signal line calculated from 9 periods

The signal line act as a slow moving average which is crossed by the fast MACD.

MACD line crosses zero line
MACD line crosses zero line

MACD barchart

The bar chart displays the distance between the signal line and the MACD line. It changes its polarity relative to the zero line depending on the price movement direction. If the price goes upward the bar chart is above the baseline. If it goes downward the bar chart is below it. The MACD barchart is otherwise known as a histogram, as this is the type of chart it uses.

Polarity of a barchart
The polarity of a barchart

How do you read a MACD indicator?

To read MACD is to read the individual components of the indicator. Each component gives information about the current market situation. The standard indicator settings are 12,26 and 9. These are also the recommended settings, most traders use them and they work best.

You can change the indicator settings to set the periods for MACD and signal line moving averages which are measured in the number of candles.

MACD settings
MACD settings

When the signal line intersects the MACD line in an upward direction it indicates the possibility of price enhancement. Conversely, when the signal line intersects the MACD line in a downward direction it suggests a possible price reduction. The main advantage of the MACD indicator is its efficiency and simplicity. We encourage you to read also about combining MACD with PSAR.

Basic interpretation of MACD indicator
How does MACD work

We have discussed all the elements of the MACD indicator today. You are now able to answer the question: How does MACD work? Let what remains be your homework. Switch on the platform, open a chart of your favourite asset and put MACD on it. Find as many intersections of the MACD with the signal line as possible. Find situations where the histogram crosses the 0 line. Observe what happens following these situations. Nothing is more instructive in technical analysis than observation. So observe and draw conclusions. Do not forget to share them in the comments below the article.

We wish you a pleasant trading experience.


IQ option products like CFDs and options are investments that can be risky. This means that if you invest in them, you could lose your money quickly. In fact, 83% of people who invest in CFDs with this provider "IQ Option" lose money. You should make sure you understand how CFDs work and if you can afford to risk losing your money. Remember, this article is not giving you any advice about investing. Any information about what happened in the past or what could happen in the future is just an opinion and not guaranteed to be true. Including examples given in the content displayed.
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Bart Bregman

Author / IQ Option expert: "My name is Bart Bregman, I have 9 years of full-time professional trading experience. I've been trading with IQ Option for more than 7 years, mainly on the shorter time frames doing technical analyses, and have many experience with Binary Options, CFDs, Options, and Crypto trading. There is no such thing as a bad trade! As a digital nomad trader, I'm mostly traveling all over the world. Follow my journey on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bart_bregman/. "

    2 replies to "How does MACD work? How to Read the 3 Components of This Famous Indicator"

    • Manikandan Rangasamy

      what is value of the moving average??


      I’m in

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