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Indicator Guide > Indicator Basics > Indicator Signals
Trading Education > Indicator Basics > Indicator Signals

Indicator Basics: Signals


If price reverses direction when it reaches a moving average (or trend line) we say that price has respected that moving average (or trend line).

This is significant as it confirms that price is trending.

Respect Up-trend


If price fluctuates around a moving average, frequently crossing above and below, this is referred to as whipsawing.

Price whipsawing around a moving average signals that price is ranging.



Many indicators tend to imitate the peaks and troughs on the price chart with a series of similar highs and lows. Divergence occurs when the indicator fails to imitate the pattern on the price chart, a sign of trend weakness and likely reversal.

In an up-trend, if price makes a new High (a higher peak than the last) but the indicator fails to do so, that is a bearish divergence.

In a down-trend, if price makes a new Low (a lower trough than the last) but the indicator does not, a bullish divergence occurs.


Unless supported by other indicators, ignore weaker divergences where:

  • Price makes an equal High (a double top) and the indicator makes a lower High or price makes an equal Low (a double bottom) and the indicator makes a higher Low; or
  • Price reaches a new High and the indicator makes an equal High or price reaches a new Low and the indicator makes an equal low; or
  • Peaks or troughs are only marginally different in height (if you need a ruler to distinguish which is higher).

Failure Swings

Failure swings, in overbought or oversold territory, signal that a trend is weakening and likely to reverse. They also add weight to other signals and are identified by either:

  • A trough [LL] below the oversold level,
  • followed by an intervening peak that does not reach the overbought level,
  • then a higher second trough [HL].
  • To complete the failure swing the indicator must then rise above the intervening peak.


  • A peak [HH] above the overbought level,
  • followed by an intervening trough that does not reach the oversold level,
  • then a lower second peak [LH].
  • To complete the failure swing the indicator must then fall below the intervening trough.
RSI: Failure Swings

This pattern of highs and lows is identical to a trend reversal on a price chart.

The signal is strongest when the second peak (or trough) is also above the Overbought level (below the Oversold level), though this is not essential for a valid failure swing.

Triple Divergence

A triple divergence only occurs where a divergence has given an incorrect signal. Instead of reversing direction, price has made a new, higher High (in an up-trend) or lower Low (in a down-trend). If the indicator repeats its signal by making another lower High (in an up-trend) or higher Low (in a down-trend), this is an even stronger signal than the original divergence.

Triple Divergence

Classic Divergence

George Lane (Stochastic indicator) identified a weaker form of triple divergence where the third peak is higher than the second.

Classic Divergence

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