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Reverse Divergence and Momentum

Reverse Divergence and Momentum

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Published by: donotsecret on Oct 12, 2009
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Copyright (c) Technical Analysis Inc
Stocks & Commodities V.15:12 (568-571): Reverse Divergences and Momentum by Martin J. Pring
INDICATORS
Reverse DivergencesAnd Momentum
T
 An oscillator’s failure to confirm the higher high or the lower low of the market is a red flag to most technical traders. Isthere a message when the price diverges from the indicator?This veteran technician thinks there is.
echnical analysts are constantlycomparing prices and indicatorsto see whether they are moving ingear or if there are discrepancies.It’s when discrepancies appearthat an alert to a probable changein trend is given. Most traders arefamiliar with the concept of mo-mentum indicators experiencingpositive and negative divergences
 by Martin J. Pring
with price. For instance, as you can see in Figure 1, momen-tum makes a series of declining peaks as the price works itsway higher. This indicates that the underlying momentum isgradually dissipating, signaling that a peak in the price may beat hand. The opposite set of conditions would be true for adeclining trend. The problem with divergences is that you neverknow how many to expect prior to the actual trend reversal.An unusual but normally reliable discrepancy occurs when
Normaldivergence
ABCABC
Price trendconfirmation
CAABPriceMomentum
Price trendconfirmation
BBAAPriceMomentum
FIGURE 1: NORMAL DIVERGENCE AND PRICE.
 
Momentum makes a series ofdeclining peaks (lower plotline) as the price (upper plotline) works its way higher.This divergence indicates that the underlying momentum is gradually dissipating,signaling that a peak in the price may be at hand. The opposite set of conditionswould be true for a declining trend.
price and momentum switch roles (where the price leads themomentum indicator), the opposite of the normal situation just described. That’s why I refer to this phenomenon as a
FIGURE 2: REVERSE DIVERGENCE.
 
This chart shows a reverse divergence at amarket peak, when price and momentum switch roles, the opposite of the normalsituation shown in Figure 1. The price makes its high at point A, then makes a lowerhigh at point B, but the oscillator makes a higher high at B. The fact that the oscillatorpeaks at B as the price is declining is what makes this a reverse divergence.
FIGURE 3: PRICE TREND CONFIRMATION.
 
Here’s a reverse divergence in actionat a market bottom. Price makes its final low at point A; however, the oscillatorbottoms at point B. This relationship appears to work so consistently because themarket’s movements are determined by many different cyclical components, and anindividual oscillator only reflects a very small part of that picture. The cycle lengthdominating the oscillator will depend on the time span of the oscillator, so the longerthe time span, the longer the cycle.
 
Stocks & Commodities V.15:12 (568-571): Reverse Divergences and Momentum by Martin J. Pring
Copyright (c) Technical Analysis Inc
2
    M    I    K    E    Y    A    P    P    S
reverse divergence
. Figure 2 shows a reverse divergence at amarket peak. See how the price makes its high at point A, thenmakes a lower high at point B, but the oscillator makes ahigher high at B. The fact that the oscillator peaks at B as theprice is declining is what makes this a reverse divergence.Of course, reverse divergences can also fail, so I like to seesome kind of trend reversal in the price as a confirmation. I’veused trendlines in these examples, but a reliable movingaverage crossover† works just as well. Figure 3 shows areverse divergence in action at a market bottom. Note how theprice makes its final low at point A, but the oscillator bottomsat point B. This phenomenon appears to work so consistentlybecause prices are determined by many different cyclicrhythms, and an individual oscillator only reflects a verysmall part of that picture. The type of cycle being reflectedwill, of course, depend on the time span of the oscillator, sothe longer the time span, the longer the cycle.When a price peaks or troughs ahead of the ideal cycleturning point, it indicates underlying strength or weakness,depending on whether it’s in a downtrend or uptrend. Perhapssome other cycle not reflected by the specific momentumindicator being monitored has now become dominant. At anyrate, when the price peaks or bottoms ahead of the oscillator,there is a strong possibility that a trend reversal will materialize.
 
3
Copyright (c) Technical Analysis Inc
Stocks & Commodities V.15:12 (568-571): Reverse Divergences and Momentum by Martin J. Pring
Price trendconfirmation
PriceMomentumMomentum risesPrice atsame level
 
Price trendconfirmation
PriceMomentumMomentumdeclining
Priceat samelevel
Since the price is determined by the interaction of manydifferent time cycles, it’s important to plot several momen-tum indicators with differing time spans for any given situa-tion. This is because the relationship between price andmomentum reflected in the reverse divergence will probablyonly be apparent in one or two of the indicators.Sometimes, the reverse divergence develops in a tradingrange environment. In Figure 4, the price is bumping againsta resistance trendline and each peak is at the same level.However, the oscillator is not constrained by a horizontaltrendline and makes its peak toward the end of the tradingrange. This type of reverse divergence is typically followedby a trend reversal.Finally, another valid form of reverse divergence occurswhen the same sort of pattern develops at a bottom, where theprice keeps falling to the same level of support, but somewherealong the line, the oscillator falls to a new low (Figure 5).
FIGURE 4: REVERSE DIVERGENCE IN A TRADING RANGE.
 
Occasionally, areverse divergence develops while the market is in a trading range. Here, the priceis trading up against a resistance trendline, and each peak is at the same level.However, the oscillator is not constrained by a horizontal trendline and makes ahigher peak toward the end of the trading range. This type of reverse divergence istypically followed by a trend reversal.
FIGURE 5: FALLING TO NEW LOWS.
During a bottoming process, a reversedivergence occurs when the price keeps falling to the same level of support, butsomewhere along the line, the oscillator falls to a new low.
FIGURE 6: BRITISH POUND AND 39-WEEK ROC.
At the end of 1986, you cansee the arrow marking the momentum low is slightly to the right of the arrow markingthe price low. In 1989, the currency was forming the second bottom in a double-bottom formation at a time when the oscillator was touching a multiyear low.
T
O
 
CONSIDER
Bear in mind that the significance of the trend being reversedwill depend on the time span of the oscillator. An oscillatorconstructed from monthly data will have greater trend rever-sal potential than one constructed from daily data. Further,reverse divergences can be observed in many different typesof momentum indicators with a jagged appearance. Ex-amples include the relative strength index (R
SI
), the Chandemomentum oscillator and the demand index. I prefer the rateof change (R
OC
).It’s important to note, however, that reverse divergencesare only valid for raw data because the smoothing processautomatically delays turning points, so the turning point forthe price often occurs after the smoothed momentum hasreversed direction. To get a reverse divergence at a toprequires two peaks for the price and two for the indicator. Itworks the same way for bottoms.
I
N
 
THE
 
MARKETPLACE
Figure 6 features the British pound with a 39-week R
OC
. If you look closely at the end of 1986, you can see the arrowmarking the momentum low is just slightly to the right of thearrow marking the price low. In 1989, the currency wasforming the second bottom in a double-bottom formation ata time when the oscillator was touching a multiyear low.
Since the price is determined by theinteraction of many different timecycles, it’s important to plot severalmomentum indicators with differingtime spans for any given situation.
    M    E    T    A    S    T    O    C    K    F    O    R    W    I    N    D    O    W    S    (    E    Q    U    I    S    I    N    T    E    R    N    A    T    I    O    N    A    L    )

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