What is RSI: A Guide for Traders

Understanding rsi: definition, explanation & strategies for traders

What is RSI?

The Relative Strength Index, commonly known as RSI, is a popular tool used in technical analysis of financial markets. Developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr. in 1978, RSI is a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements. It is primarily used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in a market.

Understanding the RSI

The RSI is calculated using the formula: RSI = 100 – (100 / (1 + RS)), where RS (Relative Strength) is the average gain divided by the average loss over a specified period. The RSI ranges from 0 to 100 and is typically calculated over 14 periods, whether they are minutes, hours, days, or weeks.

An RSI value of 70 or above indicates that a security may be getting overbought or overvalued and may be primed for a trend reversal or corrective pullback in price. On the other hand, an RSI reading of 30 or below indicates an oversold or undervalued condition.

How Traders Use RSI

Traders use RSI to generate potential buy and sell signals. When the RSI crosses above the 30 line, it may indicate a potential bullish price movement and could be a buying opportunity. Conversely, when the RSI crosses below the 70 line, it may indicate a potential bearish price movement and could be a selling opportunity.


Another important concept related to RSI is divergence. When the price of a security is making new highs while the RSI is failing to surpass its previous highs, this is known as a ‘bearish divergence’. This could indicate that the current upward trend is losing momentum and a price reversal could be imminent. Conversely, if the price is making new lows while the RSI is failing to reach new lows, this is known as a ‘bullish divergence’ and could signal a potential upward price reversal.

Limitations of RSI

While RSI is a valuable tool in a trader’s arsenal, it is important to note that it has its limitations. Like all technical indicators, it should not be used in isolation. False signals can occur, and price trends may continue despite an overbought or oversold reading. Therefore, traders often use RSI in conjunction with other technical indicators and chart patterns to increase the effectiveness of their trading strategies.


In summary, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator that can help traders identify potential buy and sell opportunities. It is particularly useful in identifying overbought and oversold conditions, as well as potential price reversals through divergence. However, like all technical indicators, it should be used as part of a comprehensive trading strategy, rather than in isolation.


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