How to Use the Stochastic Indicator in Forex Trading

How to Use the Stochastic Indicator in Forex Trading

The stochastic oscillator is a simple momentum indicator widely used in forex trading to identify potential trend reversals. Developed by George C. Lane in the late 1950s, this momentum oscillator analyzes past price movements to forecast price changes in the future. If you’re wondering what a stochastic indicator is and how it makes you trade better, this article will help you out! 

Forex Trading with Stochastic Indicator: Key Takeaways

Forex traders can benefit from using stochastic indicators in a number of ways:

1. Identifying potential overbought or oversold conditions: Stochastic indicators can assist forex traders in identifying when currency pairs are overbought or oversold, pointing to a potential trend reversal.
2. Generating buy and sell signals: Stochastic indicators play a crucial role in generating buy and sell signals by analyzing the intersection of the indicator line and the signal line. For example, when the indicator line crosses above the signal line, a buy signal may be generated, and when the indicator line crosses below, a sell signal may be generated.
3. Confirming trend direction: Stochastic indicators can be helpful in determining a trend's direction. For example, an upward-trending market and an upward-trending stochastic indicator can be indicators that the trend will persist.
4. Identifying potential trend reversals: Stochastic indicators can also be used to determine when a trend might be reversing. For example, when the stochastic indicator begins to trend downward during an uptrend, it may be a sign that the trend is about to reverse. 

It's important to note that while stochastic indicators can be useful, they should not be relied upon exclusively. Making trading decisions should always be guided by both technical and fundamental analysis.

Stochastic Indicator Explained 

The stochastic oscillator, also termed the stochastic indicator, is a popular trading analysis tool used for forecasting potential trend reversals. It also identifies overbought and oversold levels in currencies, stocks, indices, and many other trading investments based on price momentum. 

A stochastic oscillator is a great tool for measuring the price momentum of an asset. Momentum measures the acceleration of price movement, and stochastic indicators are based on the principle that price momentum changes before the actual price movement of an instrument. Thus, the indicator can be used to predict upcoming trend reversals. 

How to Use the Stochastic Indicator in Forex Trading

The stochastic indicator is useful for both experienced traders and those who are learning technical analysis. Stochastic oscillators can improve trading accuracy and identify profitable entry and exit points by combining them with other technical analysis tools such as moving averages, trendlines, and support and resistance levels. 

Stochastics is a tool for measuring price momentum. As an example, visualize a rocket rising in the sky - before it turns down, it first must slow down. There is always a change in momentum before a change in price. 

How does Stochastic Indicator Work?  

The Stochastic oscillator measures the change in prices based on a scale from one closing period to the next in order to predict whether a trend will continue into the next.  

According to the Stochastic oscillator’s theory: 

  • When it’s an uptrend, the price will stay the same or higher than its previous closing price. 
  • When it’s a downtrend, the price will likely remain the same or lower than the previous closing price. 

Based on the high-low range of a set number of past periods, the indicator calculates where a particular instrument’s closing price falls within the range of its high-low range. Usually, 14 previous periods are used. The indicator attempts to predict price reversals by comparing the closing price to previous price movements. 

There are two lines in the stochastic indicator, which can be applied to any chart. 0 to 100 is the range in which it fluctuates. Using this indicator, you can see how the current price compares with the highest and lowest price levels over a specified period. Usually, 14 individual periods make up a previous period. A weekly chart, for example, will have 14 weeks. In the case of an hourly chart, this corresponds to 14 hours. 

The stochastic indicator appears as a white line below the chart when it is applied. The white line represents the %K line. Additionally, a red line will show the three-period moving average of %K. It is also abbreviated %D. 

  • When the stochastic indicator reaches a high level, it indicates that the instrument’s price closed near the top of its 14-period range. Whenever the indicator is at a low level, it indicates the price closed at the bottom of the 14-period range. 
  • As a general rule, the stochastic indicator will show prices at or near the high in an upward-trending market. On the other hand, when prices are trending downward, they will close near the lows. The closing price slipping away from the high or low is an indication that momentum is slowing down. 
  • Using the stochastic indicator, you can identify when a trade is overbought or oversold. It can also be used to predict the reversal of a trend. Traders use the indicator in a variety of ways. 
  • Furthermore, the indicator performs best in broad trading ranges and slow-moving trends. 

As trends develop, traders are constantly looking for ways to capitalize on them. As a result, momentum oscillators can help forecast when the market’s momentum is slowing down or shifting up, which is often a precursor to major changes in the market. Thus, traders using stochastic can see these shifts in trend on their chart, sometimes even at the very beginning of the move.

How do you Read the Stochastic Oscillator

Stochastic oscillators represent recent prices on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lower limits of the recent time period and 100 represents the upper limits. Indicators that read above 80 indicate the asset is near the top of its range, while those that read below 20 indicate the asset is near the bottom. 

How to Calculate the Stochastic Indicator? 

There are two main formulas used to calculate the stochastic indicator: the fast stochastic formula and the slow stochastic formula. 

The fast stochastic formula is as follows: 

%K = 100 [(C - L14) / (H14 - L14)] 


%K = the fast stochastic indicator  

C = the most recent closing price  

L14 = the low of the 14 previous trading sessions  

H14 = the highest high of the 14 previous trading sessions 

Example for Fast Stochastics:  

Stochastics are most commonly used in periods 5 and 14. For volatile markets, periods of 5 or 9 are used, while for the rest of the markets, periods of 14 are widely used. 

The %K line can be calculated by using the formula above assuming a period of 5, a highest high of 30, the lowest low of 10 and a current close of 20: 

%K = [(20-10)/ (30-10)] *100

Based on a range (i.e., period) of candlesticks, the %K identifies where the price closed. For example, when the reading is above 80, the current closing price is near the highest high in the range, which is actually the highest price of the last five candles. Conversely, if the reading is below 20, it indicates the lowest closing price of the last 5 candlesticks, which is the lowest low in the range. 

The second line, %D, is calculated by smoothing %K. This is the three-period simple moving average of %K: 

%D = SMA (%K,3) 

This is known as a Fast Stochastic.

The slow stochastic formula is as follows: 

%D = 3-day SMA of %K 


%D = the slow stochastic indicator  

%K = the fast stochastic indicator  

SMA = simple moving average 

The %K line is plotted alongside the %D line to create the stochastic indicator. The %D line is typically used as a signal line to generate buy and sell signals, with a buy signal being generated when the %K line crosses above the %D line, and a sell signal is generated when the %K line crosses below the %D line. 

Example for Slow Stochastics:

Many traders prefer smoothing the %K and %D lines in order to detect early signals produced by fast stochastics. Whereas Slow Stochastics is calculated by taking an additional 3-period Simple Moving Average of %D and %K: 

%K = SMA(%K,3) 

%D = SMA(%D,3) 

A Stochastic Oscillator ranges from 0 to 100. When the latest closing price equals the lowest price of the price range over the chosen time period, the reading is 0. 

The latest closing price is equal to the highest price recorded for the price range over the chosen time period if the reading is 100. Accordingly, readings over 80 indicate that the market is extremely overbought, while readings below 20 indicate that the market is extremely oversold.

How to identify Buy and Sell Signals using a Stochastic Indicator? 

Buy signals are generated when both %K and %D lines drop below 20 oversold levels. You can also wait for the %D line to rise above 20 for more affirmative signals. 

Conversely, when both %K and %D lines rise above 80, a sell signal is generated. Further confirmation can be gained by waiting for %D to drop below 80, if necessary. Many traders do not initiate entries until %K falls below the overbought level or rises above the oversold level instead of %D. The fastest signals are derived from the %K line, and not the %D line. 

There are times when traders may use 30 and 70 levels and the 20 and 80 extreme levels. In sideways markets, a Stochastic Oscillator might provide timely signals if trend-following indicators fail.

How Stochastic Indicator used in Forex Trading?  

A stochastic oscillator is a useful tool for identifying potential trades if you wish to become an active forex trader. Furthermore, there are a number of reasons why forex traders use stochastic oscillators. 

1. Stochastic Overbought/Oversold Strategy 

The Stochastic technical indicator tells forex traders when the market is overbought or oversold. In forex trading, traders typically look for readings above 80 or below 20 on the %K line to identify potential overbought or oversold conditions. Overbought readings suggest the market may be due for a correction, while oversold readings indicate the market may be due for a rebound. 

Stochastic Indicator Forex Education

A Stochastic is a graph with a scale of 0 to 100. A Stochastic line above 80 (the red dotted line) indicates an overbought market. And if the Stochastic line is below 20 (the blue dotted line), then the market may be oversold. In general, forex traders sell when the market is overbought and buy when it is oversold. 

Forex traders also use the stochastic indicator to confirm a trend’s direction or to look for divergences between the indicator and the price action of the currency pair in addition to identifying overbought and oversold conditions. On the basis of the intersection of the %K and %D lines, they can also generate buy and sell signals. 

There is, however, a risk of overbought and oversold labels being misleading. Just because an instrument is overbought doesn't mean its price will fall. Similarly, when an instrument is oversold, its price won't rise automatically. When the price trades near the top or bottom of its range, it is considered overbought or oversold. There can be a long period of time between these conditions. 

2. Stochastic Divergence Strategy 

Using the stochastic indicator in conjunction with a divergence strategy is also a popular trading strategy. This strategy looks for new highs and lows in an instrument’s price but a lack of new highs and lows in the stochastic indicator. There is a possibility that the trend is about to reverse at this point. 

Stochastic Indicator Forex Education

When the stochastic indicator touches a higher low, and the price of an instrument makes a lower low, this is called a bullish divergence. As a result, selling pressure has decreased, which suggests that a reversal upwards is about to happen. In a bearish divergence, a higher high is made by an instrument’s price, but a lower high is made by the stochastic indicator. It indicates that upward momentum has slowed, and a downward reversal is about to occur. 

Stochastic Indicator Forex Education

The divergence strategy requires that trades be made only after the price has actually turned around, confirming divergence. An instrument’s price can continue rising or falling while divergence is occurring for quite some time. 

3. Stochastic Crossover 

Another popular strategy used by traders is the stochastic crossover. When the two lines cross in an overbought or oversold area, this occurs. 

A buy signal is generated when an increasing %K line crosses above the %D line in an oversold region. Sell signals are formed when decreasing %K lines cross below overbought %D lines. Markets that are range-bound tend to have more reliable signals. A trending market makes them less reliable. 

As a general rule, traders use a trend-following strategy to ensure that the stochastic indicator stays in one direction. There is still validity to the trend as evidenced by this. 

4. Stochastic Bull/Bear Strategy 

Stochastics are also often used to identify bullish and bearish trade setups. When the stochastic indicator makes a higher high, but the instrument’s price makes a lower high, it is a bull trade setup. In this case, momentum is increasing, and the price of the instrument could rise in the near future.  

Traders often buy after a brief price pullback when the stochastic indicator has dropped below 50 and then risen again following the pullback. When a stochastic indicator makes a low, but the instrument’s price makes a high, a bear trade setup occurs. Consequently, the instrument’s price may move lower due to increased selling pressure.  

In many cases, traders will place a sell trade after a brief price rebound. Traders need to understand the limitations of the stochastic indicator. Technical analysis tools are not foolproof. The indicator can produce false signals from time to time. This can happen frequently during volatile market conditions. 

Stochastic Oscillator VS Relative Strength Index (RSI) 

When it comes to Forex technical analysis, both the relative strength index (RSI) and stochastic oscillator are price momentum oscillators. While the theories and methods underlying each of them are different, they are often used together.  

While stochastic oscillators assume closing prices will move in the same direction as the trend, RSI measures the velocity of price movements to determine overbought and oversold conditions. In other words, RSI measures the speed of price movement, whereas stochastic oscillator formulas work best in consistent trading ranges. 

Markets that are trending are more useful for the RSI, and markets that are range-bound or sideways are more useful for the stochastic.

Stochastic Oscillator Summed Up 

You should decide how you want to use the stochastic oscillator based on your personal preferences, trading style, and goals. Despite this, there are a few important points to keep in mind when using a momentum indicator: 

  • As a momentum indicator, the stochastic oscillator compares a price’s closing price to its previous trading range over time. 
  • Based on the idea that market momentum will change direction faster than volume or price increases, it’s a leading indicator. 
  • A stochastic oscillator consists of two lines on a price chart: the indicator itself (%K) and the signal line (%D). 
  • This oscillator operates on a scale of 0 to 100, which makes it a bound oscillator. In overbought markets, readings over 80 indicate overbought conditions, while readings under 20 indicate oversold markets. 
  • Generally, stochastic oscillators are used to detect divergences between the market price and the oscillator – points where the oscillator shows a different signal from the market price. 
  • This method can also be used to identify bullish and bearish set-ups, indicating increasing momentum in opposite directions. 
  • It is often compared to the relative strength index (RSI), another momentum indicator. The RSI, however, is based on the speed at which prices change, rather than historical data. 

When used with caution, stochastic oscillators can be powerful trading tools. To avoid making mistakes, the stochastic oscillator should be used in conjunction with other technical indicators such as the RSI and Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD).

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Stochastic Indicator Oscillator – FAQ 

How does the stochastic indicator used in forex trading?

Forex traders use stochastic oscillators to pinpoint potential trend reversals and to compare a security’s closing price to its price range over a given time period. Most commonly, the stochastic indicator can be used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools to help identify potential entry and exit points in the market.

How to read stochastic in forex?

A stochastic indicator is scaled from 0 to 100. Whenever the high-low ranges of the instrument are above 80, it indicates the instrument is nearing its peak. When the reading is below 20, the instrument is near the bottom of its high-low range. It is typically used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in the market.

Is stochastic good for day trading?

Stochastics is one of the most popular indicators used by day traders because it reduces the possibility of entering a position based on a false signal. Fast stochastics are like speedboats, agile, and able to change directions quickly based on market movement.

Is stochastic good for scalping?

With the help of a stochastic oscillator, it is possible to perform scalping in a more efficient manner. As the term stochastic implies, it refers to a point where the current value of the price is compared with that of its range over a recent period of time. A stochastic attempts to identify potential turning points by comparing the price of a security with its recent range.

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