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Relative Strength Index (RSI)

Updated: Apr 26

The relative strength index (RSI) is a momentum indicator used in technical analysis. RSI measures the speed and magnitude of a security's recent price changes to evaluate overvalued or undervalued conditions in the price of that security.

The RSI is displayed as an oscillator (a line graph) on a scale of zero to 100. The indicator was developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr. and introduced in his seminal 1978 book, New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems.

The RSI can do more than point to overbought and oversold securities. It can also indicate securities that may be primed for a trend reversal or corrective pullback in price. It can signal when to buy and sell. Traditionally, an RSI reading of 70 or above indicates an overbought situation. A reading of 30 or below indicates an oversold condition.

How the Relative Strength Index (RSI) Works

As a momentum indicator, the relative strength index compares a security's strength on days when prices go up to its strength on days when prices go down. Relating the result of this comparison to price action can give traders an idea of how a security may perform. The RSI, used in conjunction with other technical indicators, can help traders make better-informed trading decisions.

After the RSI is calculated, the RSI indicator can be plotted beneath an asset’s price chart, as shown below. The RSI will rise as the number and size of up days increase. It will fall as the number and size of down days increase.

As you can see in the above chart, the RSI indicator can stay in the overbought region for extended periods while the stock is in an uptrend. The indicator may also remain in oversold territory for a long time when the stock is in a downtrend.

Overbought or Oversold

Generally, when the RSI indicator crosses 30 on the RSI chart, it is a bullish sign and when it crosses 70, it is a bearish sign. Put another way, one can interpret that RSI values of 70 or above indicate that a security is becoming overbought or overvalued. It may be primed for a trend reversal or corrective price pullback. An RSI reading of 30 or below indicates an oversold or undervalued condition.

Limitations of the RSI

The RSI compares bullish and bearish price momentum and displays the results in an oscillator placed beneath a price chart. Like most technical indicators, its signals are most reliable when they conform to the long-term trend.

True reversal signals are rare and can be difficult to separate from false alarms. A false positive, for example, would be a bullish crossover followed by a sudden decline in a stock. A false negative would be a situation where there is a bearish crossover, yet the stock suddenly accelerated upward.

Since the indicator displays momentum, it can stay overbought or oversold for a long time when an asset has significant momentum in either direction. Therefore, the RSI is most useful in an oscillating market (a trading range) where the asset price is alternating between bullish and bearish movements.

Source: Investopedia, Relative Strength Index (RSI) Indicator Explained With Formula, accessed 27 December 2023, <>

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