EMA vs. SMA: What you Need to Know

Exponential Moving Average and Simple Moving Average are terms you should know if you’re ready to learn more about investing. The Exponential Moving Average and Simple Moving Average are alike in that they both measure trends. The two averages are very similar because they can be interpreted in the same manner and are typically employed by technical traders to reduce out rippling prices. But there are a few differences between the two you should make yourself familiar with EMA vs. SMA.

The SMA Calculation

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The SMA’s the most routine average technical analysts utilize. The average is discovered when the sum of a set of prices is divided by the total number of prices found in a particular series. It’s important to note that the SMA doesn’t adjust quickly to price changes as each one of those data points are just one in a whole sequence. For example, a 10 day SMA would have one day that’s weighted as a tenth of that moving average. The SMA is a slower signal and works better on markets such as market indexes or even big cap stocks. Many traders typically use the SMA for longer-term moving averages, easily 50 day or longer. This way they can watch responses of buyers and sellers since SMA are more popular on those time frames.

The EMAv Calculation

The EMA’s a faster average. It is adaptable to current market trends as it focuses on recent prices. The EMA builds off of SMA data but the EMA can work better in fast paced markets. Traders looking to get in and out of the market quickly use an EMA for this very reason.  Some traders have had better success with their backtesting results while applying EMA crossover signals as well. But as is the case with all technical indicators, no single average can provide an absolute guarantee of success in the market.


 Remember, the EMA is naturally quick and adaptable, meaning it turns at a quicker pace than the SMA. On the other hand, the SMA works itself out a bit more slowly. Of course, the actual rate of turn will depend on which period the trader chooses to run it on. Choosing an SMA or EMA really comes down to what it’s function is meant to be. The main difference between these two averages is their sensitivity to data fluctuation in their calculations. Do bear in mind that using measuring averages by themselves to enter trades is known to end badly. 

By now, you’ve realized that there are some differences between these two measurements. But you may be left asking yourself which type of average would work best for you. They can both be very useful when trading but if you become anxious while trading it may be best to employ the swift EMA.  The stalwart SMA works well for traders who like to hold until a trade expiration. Sound advice for all traders though is to educate yourself and stay in control of your risk.