Trading 101: What Is RSI?

The RSI is a popular momentum indicator, which traders use to help spot changes in market trend on all time frames.

Trading 101: What Is RSI?

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a momentum indicator that is widely used by traders to offer insights into market conditions and price action. Understanding how to calculate and interpret RSI readings can help traders to identify overbought or oversold conditions, confirm trends, and generate potential buy or sell signals.

What Is The RSI Indicator?

The RSI is a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements. Developed by J. Welles Wilder, the RSI compares the magnitude of recent gains and losses over a specific time (typically 14 periods), to identify potential overbought or oversold conditions in a market for that time frame. It ranges from 0 to 100, with values above 70 suggesting overbought conditions and values below 30 indicating oversold conditions.

How To Calculate RSI

Calculating the RSI involves a series of steps. First, average gains and losses are calculated over the selected period. The average gain is the sum of gains divided by the number of periods, while the average loss is calculated in a similar manner for losses. Then, the relative strength (RS) is determined by dividing the average gain by the average loss. Finally, the RSI is obtained by applying a formula that normalizes the RS within the 0 to 100 range.

Understanding RSI

RSI readings provide valuable insights into market conditions. When the RSI surpasses 70, it suggests that the asset may be overbought, and a potential reversal or corrective pullback could occur. Conversely, RSI values below 30 indicate oversold conditions, indicating a potential upward price correction. Traders often use these extreme readings as signals to enter or exit positions.

Bitcoin daily chart with RSI
In mid-April, price increased but RSI did not show a higher high from its mid-March peak, indicating faltering momentum: Bearish divergence.

Additionally, the RSI can generate bullish or bearish divergences. A bullish divergence occurs when the price forms a lower low, but the RSI displays a higher low, indicating a potential trend reversal to the upside. (In other words, while price is moving lower, the momentum of that move is decreasing, suggesting that it might soon turn around.) Conversely, a bearish divergence occurs when the price forms a higher high, but the RSI shows a lower high, suggesting a potential trend reversal to the downside.

Using RSI In Trading

Traders use the RSI in various ways. One common approach is to use it to confirm price trends or identify trend reversals. For example, when the RSI confirms an uptrend by consistently staying above 50, it reinforces bullish sentiment. Conversely, if the RSI consistently remains below 50 during a downtrend, it strengthens the bearish view.

Moreover, traders may employ the RSI as a signal for entering or exiting trades. When the RSI crosses above 30, it may indicate a buy signal, while a cross below 70 could suggest a sell signal.

In the crypto world, RSI is commonly used. However, it's important to remember that the volatility of crypto markets means that overbought and oversold conditions can last for longer than they might in other asset classes. As with other indicators, it's important to combine RSI analysis with other technical tools and signals to provide a greater degree of confidence.

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to REX Wire.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.