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19 May, 2024

Stochastic Oscillator: A Tool for Momentum Trading

Stochastic oscillators are widely recognized as a popular momentum indicator utilized in the field of technical analysis.

Suchet Dhindsa Salvesen
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Suchet Salvesen
Suchet Dhindsa Salvesen Suchet Salvesen Expert Author
Suchet is a Norwegian economist, entrepreneur, and investor, serving as the CFO and COO of Brainfund. With over a decade of experience in global expansion, venture capital, and emerging technologies, he earned his MBA from the NMBU School of Business & Economics. He held dual bachelor's degrees from the University of South-Eastern Norway. His career...
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A stochastic oscillator is a technical indicator used in technical analysis (TA) that tracks price momentum. It’s primarily used to generate overbought and oversold signals, spot trends, and predict price reversals.

“Developed in the 1950s, the stochastic oscillator is a momentum indicator that measures the relationship between a closing price of the security to its price range over a given period of time.”

How to Use the Stochastic Oscillator Indicator, 2021, St. John’s University

Understanding The Stochastic Oscillator

BTC/USDT Price Chart Featuring Stochastic Oscillator
BTC/USDT Price Chart Featuring Stochastic Oscillator | Source: Binance.com

The stochastic oscillator indicator is part of a big family of what are called “momentum indicators.” In trading technical analysis (TA), momentum often refers to the rate of change and size of a price move. Momentum indicators like the stochastic oscillator evaluate these factors and predict future price outcomes.

“The stochastic oscillator ranges from 0 to 100. A lower number for the stochastic oscillator indicates a low stock price and a higher number indicates a high stock price.”

Paik et al., 2024

In normal market conditions, momentum grows and then shrinks as buyers and sellers trade in search of a fair market value for an asset. Trends form while momentum grows, and price reversals usually occur when the momentum starts to shrink.

An asset is said to be overbought if price momentum (i.e., buy pressure) begins to dwindle and vice versa. It is considered oversold if sell pressure starts to wane.

Exploring the Origins of The Stochastic Oscillator

The stochastic oscillator was developed by George Lane, a technical analyst and academic, in the 1950s. Lane was one of the first published researchers to tackle the use of stochastics in securities trading.

His “most important indicator” as he once remarked, is designed to track price momentum by comparing the price’s closing position on a specific timeframe to its highest and lowest levels over several previous periods (i.e., candles) — normally 14.

The Stochastic Oscillator Formulation 

Formula: %K = ((C – L14) / (H14 – L14)) × 100

To understand what the stochastic oscillator is and how it works, let’s analyse its mathematical formula: 

  • %K is the stochastic oscillator value
  • C is the closing price for the latest period
  • L14 is the lowest price traded over the last 14 periods (14 is standard but it can be changed manually)
  • H14 is the lowest price traded over the last 14 periods (it can also be adjusted manually)

By making this calculation for every period on the chart the changes to the stochastic oscillator can be mapped on a continuous linechart. 

The stochastic oscillator’s parameters can also be tweaked to adjust the indicator’s sensitivity to price data changes and provide better trading signals in a variety of market conditions.

Stochastic Oscillator Parameter Settings (Set to “Fast”)
Stochastic Oscillator Parameter Settings (Set to “Fast”) | Source Binance.com

How To Read Stochastic Oscillator Indicator?

Learning how to read the stochastic oscillator can greatly enhance your trading skills. 

The stochastic oscillator chart most commonly displays as a continuous line oscillating between the ranges of 0 and 100. As prices move up and down on the charts, trends will form and so will overbought and oversold conditions. Traders can use the stochastic oscillator to spot both by looking at how this line has moved in the past as well as its current position.

A positive trend signal can be derived when the momentum line crosses the midline of the indicator (i.e., 50) to the upside and vice versa; Negative trends can be established when it crosses down the midline.

Overbought and oversold conditions are indicated by the momentum line hitting 80 and above, and 20 and below, respectively. 

Conclusion 

While it is a powerful indicator, the stochastic oscillator must always be used in conjunction with other indicators to filter out inaccurate signals, which it is known to produce. Combined with other oscillator momentum indicators like the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Money-flow Index (MFI) as well as TA methods such as the Fibonacci retracement, the stochastic oscillator can help produce strong and accurate trading signals.

Article Sources

How to use the stochastic oscillator indicator. St. John’s University. (2021, May 6).

Paik, C. K., Choi, J., & Ureta Vaquero, I. (2024). Algorithm-based low-frequency trading using a stochastic oscillator and William%R: A case study on the U.S. and Korean indices. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 17(3), 92.

Suchet Dhindsa Salvesen
Written by

Suchet is a Norwegian economist, entrepreneur, and investor, serving as the CFO and COO of Brainfund. With over a decade of experience in global expansion, venture capital, and emerging technologies, he earned his MBA from the NMBU School of Business & Economics. He held dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of South-Eastern Norway. His career spans roles at NextToMe, Get, and Conax before joining Everipedia, now Brainfund, in 2017.

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