What Is a Lagging Indicator within the Stock Market?

Whether you’re investing or day buying and selling, the extent to which you analyze alternatives performs a big position in your returns. This is true whether or not you give attention to shares, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), foreign exchange, cryptocurrency, or another asset class. 

You can use technical evaluation to research worth actions and decide the most effective instances to enter or exit a place in monetary markets. There are two varieties of indicators to search for in a worth chart: lagging indicators and main indicators. 

Lagging indicators are extra in style amongst long-term traders as a result of they’re used to determine long-term traits, fairly than to attempt to predict the rapid future. But what precisely are lagging indicators and what do they let you know?

What Is a Lagging Indicator within the Stock Market?

A lagging indicator is a kind of technical indicator traders and merchants use to outline and make sure long-term traits. They are known as lagging indicators as a result of they use historic knowledge that can assist you decide the path and veracity of a development, whether or not a inventory is overbought or oversold, and the most effective time to enter and exit positions. 

You personal shares of Apple, Amazon, Tesla. Why not Banksy or Andy Warhol? Their works’ worth doesn’t rise and fall with the inventory market. And they’re loads cooler than Jeff Bezos.
Get Priority Access

Technical lagging indicators make it simple to see patterns in a inventory’s worth motion. Investors and merchants use lagging indicators to outline traits and make sure buying and selling alerts given by different indicators. 

For instance, say a inventory you’re contemplating shopping for has dropped in worth and now seems to be undervalued. You can use a lagging indicator to see when the downward development is beginning to gradual, suggesting {that a} reversal within the development is on the horizon. 

How Lagging Indicators Work

Lagging indicators outline market traits by assessing historic inventory worth knowledge. Every indicator is totally different, however the concepts behind them are related. 

Typically, these indicators use the closing costs of shares over a time period to make it simpler to see and perceive traits by removing the minute-by-minute volatility of the inventory market. 

For instance, a lagging indicator might common closing costs over a 30-day interval to create a extra steady line on a chart that clearly exhibits the path of the inventory’s development over that interval. 

Some lagging indicators are generally known as oscillators, that means they monitor a worth or sign line (equivalent to a shifting common) because it strikes between two extremes. Typically, when the sign line or worth nears the very best excessive within the oscillator, the inventory is claimed to be overbought — maybe a good time to promote. On the opposite hand, when the value or sign line is close to the low finish of the spectrum, the indicator produces an indication to purchase the inventory as a result of it’s doubtless oversold. 

Types of Lagging Indicators

There are a number of varieties of lagging indicators out there. Some, like shifting averages, use a single line plotted on a worth chart. Oscillators use two extremes with a sign line within the center that can assist you analyze worth traits and determine vital actions. 

Simple Moving Average (SMA)

A easy shifting common (SMA) is the typical worth of an asset over a predetermined time period. 

The easy shifting common makes it simple so that you can weed out the noise brought on by worth volatility and see market traits in a smoother line to find out the path and veracity of a development.

For instance, a 200-day SMA is the typical worth of an asset over the previous 200 days plotted on a line graph. At the shut of every buying and selling session, the brand new closing worth is added to the typical and the oldest inventory worth is eliminated.  

If you have a look at a 200-day SMA and the inventory is clearly trending up, it’s a bullish sign that confirms a long-term upward development. If the 200-day SMA is clearly trending down, it’s a bearish sign that confirms a long-term downward development. 

Moving Average Crossover

You can discover shifting common crossovers by plotting two separate shifting averages with totally different time durations on the identical worth chart and on the lookout for the place they cross — therefore the title. 

When the short-term shifting common crosses above the long-term shifting common, it’s a bullish sign that you need to use to verify an upward development. When the short-term shifting common crosses under the long-term common, it’s a bearish sign, confirming a downtrend. 

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

The shifting common convergence divergence indicator (MACD) is a momentum oscillator that makes use of a 26-day exponential shifting common (EMA), a 12-day EMA, and a 9-day EMA that can assist you decide the path and momentum of a development. 

You can use the oscillator to search out a number of potential indicators of inventory worth motion. Look for crossovers and the way the strains converge and diverge to study extra in regards to the historic motion of the inventory. 

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

The relative energy index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator that strikes up and down between two excessive values — zero and 100. Analysts use the typical positive factors and common losses over a predetermined time period to calculate the RSI. 

A inventory is usually thought-about oversold when it trades with an RSI of 30 or under and overbought when it trades with an RSI of 70 or above. Some traders might alter these figures to twenty and 80 to keep away from a excessive prevalence of false positives. 

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are one other momentum oscillator that makes use of historic knowledge to assist outline a development out there. The indicator is used together with different technical indicators to find out if a inventory is overbought or oversold. 

Bollinger Bands are made up of three strains plotted on a inventory chart primarily based on an SMA and customary deviations from the SMA that produce the extremes of the oscillator.  

Users typically search for breakouts — factors at which the value of an asset is increased or decrease than the higher or decrease bands. These alerts counsel the value has moved abnormally far in a single path or the opposite and are often adopted by vital motion. 

Stochastic Oscillator

The stochastic oscillator compares a inventory’s closing worth to its excessive and low costs over a time period, usually 14 days. The concept behind the oscillator is {that a} inventory on a robust uptrend will shut with a present worth that’s close to its highest excessive for the interval. Conversely, a inventory that’s trending down will shut at costs close to its lowest low for the interval. 

The stochastic oscillator studying ranges from zero to 100. Stocks with a studying of 20 or under are usually thought-about oversold and shares with a studying of 80 or above are usually thought-about overbought. 

Lagging vs. Leading Indicators

Lagging indicators and main indicators are very totally different, though merchants and traders usually use each sorts, they usually’re usually primarily based on the identical knowledge. 

Lagging indicators use historic knowledge to verify long-term traits and inform you of overbought or oversold situations. They’re merely an evaluation of the previous fairly than an try to predict the longer term. 

Leading indicators are the precise reverse. They use historic knowledge, however to not outline a development however fairly to aim to point future worth actions. They’re the crystal balls of the inventory market. 

Leading technical indicators are sometimes used to search out alternatives, however like every try at predicting the longer term, they’re not 100% correct. These indicators use cues like volatility, momentum, and investor sentiment to supply alerts, however they’re all too typically false alerts. 

That’s why it’s vital to make use of each varieties of indicators together with each other. When you employ a number one indicator, it’s finest to make use of a lagging indicator to verify the findings. 

For instance, if a number one indicator alerts a inventory is heading for an upward reversal, it’s best to contemplate double-checking the outcomes utilizing the stochastic oscillator or Bollinger Bands. If the lagging indicators present an oversold inventory that’s shedding downward momentum, your main indicator might have hit the nail on the top. 

On the opposite hand, in case your lagging indicators level to continued downward momentum, you’ll have discovered a false sign. 

Pros & Cons of Lagging Indicators

Lagging indicators are in style instruments that traders and merchants alike use, however there are at all times execs and cons to think about. Lagging indicators are not any exception to the rule. 


If one thing is in style within the inventory market, it’s usually as a result of it provides market members a leg up. That’s true with lagging indicators. Some of essentially the most thrilling perks of utilizing them embody:

  1. Simplicity. Most lagging indicators are simple to make use of and perceive. These instruments are used that can assist you make sense of the volatility out there and clearly outline traits within the easiest method attainable.  
  2. No Calculations Necessary. Many lagging indicators are in style instruments accessible on the click on of a button in your favourite inventory chart, so there’s no want to fret about studying intricate math to make use of them.  
  3. More Accurate. Lagging indicators are usually extra correct than main indicators as a result of they make no try to predict the longer term. They merely define the path and momentum of worth motion and go away the predictions as much as the analysts who use them.  
  4. A Long-Term Focus. Lagging indicators are historic in nature and centered round a long-term focus. Long-term investments and trades are statistically extra profitable than short-term trades, making long-term targeted instruments constructive additions to an investor’s or dealer’s toolbox. 


These indicators might look like a shiny new toy on Christmas morning, however as you employ them, you’ll discover they’ve their limitations. Some of the largest drawbacks to lagging indicators embody:

  1. Delayed Feedback. These indicators depend on historic knowledge, so there’s a pure delay within the outcomes you get from them. If you solely use the lagging kind of indicator, likelihood is you’ll miss alternatives related to short-term worth adjustments. 
  2. Improper Use. These indicators are designed to verify the momentum and path of a development, however they don’t predict the longer term. Beginners typically use them as buying and selling alerts with out confirming their outcomes, resulting in losses. 
  3. History Doesn’t Always Repeat Itself. Lagging indicators are in style as a result of there’s a normal perception that historical past tends to repeat itself out there. That will be the case more often than not, however not at all times. Past efficiency isn’t at all times a sign of future motion.  
  4. Multiple Tools Necessary. These indicators aren’t designed for use by themselves. They’re most correct when a number of lagging and main indicators are used collectively to verify outcomes.  


Should You Use Lagging Indicators?

No matter what asset you’re occupied with and whether or not you’re investing or buying and selling, these historic indicators have the potential to increase your profitability. The market is a unstable place and it’s tough to see alternatives by the minute-by-minute ups and downs in a inventory chart. 

Lagging indicators clean the volatility so you possibly can simply decide the path of a development. Most of those indicators additionally provide you with clues in regards to the momentum of the development. Strong momentum suggests the development will doubtless proceed, whereas weakening momentum factors to a coming reversal. That’s useful data irrespective of how you discover alternatives out there. 

The key right here is to know what these indicators do for you, what they don’t do, and use them as meant. 

Never use a lagging indicator to foretell the longer term or as a sole sign supplier. These indicators are designed to enhance your probabilities of profitability by confirming traits and alerts from different indicators. 

Also, don’t be shy in regards to the variety of indicators you employ. There’s no disgrace in utilizing just a few totally different instruments to make sure you don’t make your strikes primarily based on false alerts. 

Lagging Indicator FAQs

Lagging indicators are an attention-grabbing, but advanced subject. Anything having to do with historic monetary knowledge usually is. The finest option to find out about one thing advanced is to ask questions. 

What Are the Best Lagging Indicators?

There are hundreds of lagging indicators on the market and the most effective one for me might not be the most effective for you. The indicators talked about above are the most well-liked, however it’s best to discover your choices to see what suits finest together with your technique. You might discover your calling is monitoring Fibonacci retracements or analyzing exponential shifting averages (EMAs). 

Why Are Lagging Indicators Important?

Lagging indicators are vital as a result of they make it simple to outline traits — not simply the path of these traits, however the momentum too. This data can show invaluable as you make your strikes out there. 

Are There Lagging Economic Indicators?

Yes, there are a number of lagging financial indicators. Rather than monitoring historic inventory worth motion as their central knowledge factors, lagging financial indicators monitor basic financial knowledge.

Investors typically preserve an in depth eye on indicators like gross home product (GDP), retail gross sales, unemployment charges, Federal Reserve rates of interest, and even new house gross sales when making funding selections. 

All these lagging indicators use historic financial knowledge to make it simple to find out the well being of the economic system. 

Of course, the inventory market strikes up essentially the most when financial situations are constructive. So you need to use knowledge from lagging financial indicators to make selections like when and the way to modify your asset allocation or whether or not now is an effective time to make a cyclical funding. 

Final Word

Most profitable traders and merchants use lagging indicators whatever the investing or buying and selling technique they make use of. These data-driven indicators are full of data that may improve your profitability out there. 

Although these are vital instruments to make use of as you analysis alternatives, they’re not meant for use in a vacuum. Combine them with main indicators and basic evaluation to get a whole image of potential investments earlier than making your strikes.