# Williams’ %R Oscillator

Williams’ %R is a momentum oscillator that shows how the price compares to the high and low of a given period . . . and it can help traders identify potential reversals and entry/exit points in the market

7 minutes

#### Introduction

Technical analysis is a popular method of analyzing the price movements of financial instruments such as stocks, currencies, or commodities to identify trends and patterns that can be useful in predicting future price movements.

For traders seeking a straightforward and effective way to identify trading opportunities in the market, the Williams’ %R indicator is worth considering. This momentum oscillator, developed by American trader and author Larry Williams in the 1970s, is similar to other well-known indicators such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic Oscillator.

It measures the current closing price’s level in relation to the high and low of a given period, typically 14 days, and ranges from 0 to -100. A reading of 0 means that the current price is equivalent to the period’s highest high, while a reading of -100 means that the current price is equivalent to the period’s lowest low.

#### How to compute the W%R indicator?

The Williams’ %R indicator is computed as follows:

First, determine the time period over which you want to calculate the indicator. The most commonly used time period is 14, but this can be adjusted based on the user’s preference.

Next, determine the highest high and lowest low prices for the time period selected.

Then, calculate the “R value” for the current period using the following formula:

R = (Highest High – Close)/(Highest High – Lowest Low) x -100

Where:

“Close” is the closing price of the current period.

“Highest High” is the highest high price over the selected time period.

“Lowest Low” is the lowest low price over the selected time period.

Finally, plot the Williams’ %R indicator as a line chart, with values ranging from -100 to 0, where -100 indicates an oversold condition, and 0 indicates an overbought condition.

It’s important to note that the Williams’ %R indicator is a momentum indicator, meaning that it measures the speed at which prices are changing, rather than the direction of the trend. Traders often use this indicator in conjunction with other technical indicators and analysis tools to make more informed trading decisions.

#### How to use the W%R for trading?

The Williams’ %R indicator, also known as the Williams Percent Range indicator, is a momentum oscillator developed by Larry Williams in the 1970s. It measures the level of the current closing price relative to the high and low of a given period, usually 14 days. The indicator ranges from 0 to -100, with 0 indicating that the current price is equal to the highest high of the period, and -100 indicating that the current price is equal to the lowest low of the period. The Williams’ %R indicator can be used in various ways to generate trading signals. Here are some of the most common methods:

Overbought and oversold levels

The Williams’ %R indicator can help traders identify overbought and oversold conditions in the market, as well as potential reversal points. Generally, a reading above -20 indicates that the market is overbought, meaning that the price is too high compared to its intrinsic value and may be due for a correction. A reading below -80 indicates that the market is oversold, meaning that the price is too low compared to its intrinsic value and may be due for a bounce. However, traders should not rely solely on the Williams’ %R indicator to make trading decisions, but use it in conjunction with other indicators and analysis methods.

Bullish and bearish divergences

One way to use the Williams’ %R indicator is to look for divergences between the indicator and the price. A divergence occurs when the indicator moves in the opposite direction of the price, signaling a possible change in momentum. For example, a bearish divergence occurs when the price makes a higher high but the indicator makes a lower high, suggesting that the uptrend may be losing strength. Conversely, a bullish divergence occurs when the price makes a lower low but the indicator makes a higher low, suggesting that the downtrend may be losing strength.

Breakouts and breakdowns

Another way to use the Williams’ %R indicator is to look for breakouts from overbought or oversold levels. A breakout occurs when the indicator crosses above or below a certain threshold, indicating a shift in sentiment. For example, a bullish breakout occurs when the indicator crosses above -80 from below, signaling that buyers are gaining control and pushing the price higher. Conversely, a bearish breakout occurs when the indicator crosses below -20 from above, signaling that sellers are gaining control and pushing the price lower.

Failure swings

The indicator can also show you when a market fails to reach the extreme levels of overbought or oversold, indicating a loss of momentum and a potential trend change. A failure swing occurs when the indicator makes a lower high (in an uptrend) or a higher low (in a downtrend) and then crosses the opposite threshold (-80 in an uptrend or -20 in a downtrend). This signals that the prevailing trend is weakening and that a reversal may be imminent.

While the Williams’ %R indicator can be a useful tool for technical analysis, it should not be used in isolation. Traders should always consider other factors such as trend, support and resistance levels, volume, and market conditions before making trading decisions. Additionally, the Williams’ %R indicator does not provide any information about risk management or position sizing. Therefore, traders should always have a clear trading plan and follow their rules consistently. By using the Williams’ %R indicator in conjunction with other technical analysis tools, traders can gain a better understanding of the market and identify potential entry and exit points.

#### Advantages & Limitations of Williams’ %R indicator

• The indicator is easy to understand and apply, making it suitable for novice traders.
• It can be used in various markets and timeframes, from short-term scalping to long-term investing.
• The overbought and oversold levels can provide a simple framework for identifying potential reversal points and setting profit targets.
• The bullish and bearish divergences can provide early warning signals of a potential trend change.
• The indicator can be combined with other technical analysis tools and fundamental analysis to strengthen trading decisions.

Limitations

• The overbought and oversold levels can remain in extreme territory for prolonged periods, resulting in false signals.
• The indicator is a lagging indicator, which means it may not provide accurate signals during rapidly changing market conditions.
• The indicator can generate false signals during choppy or sideways markets.
• The indicator does not provide information on risk management or position sizing.
• The indicator may not be suitable for all market conditions, and traders should exercise caution and use it in conjunction with other analysis methods.

Keep in mind that no single technical indicator can guarantee trading success. It’s important to use the Williams’ %R indicator in combination with other technical analysis tools and fundamental analysis to make informed trading decisions.

Williams’ %R is a popular momentum oscillator used by traders to detect potential buy and sell signals. It measures if an asset is overbought or oversold and can provide helpful insights on price trend strength and direction. It’s straightforward to use and can be applied to various assets and timeframes. Traders can use it to identify trend reversals and momentum shifts, improving their profitability by making informed trading decisions. Williams’ %R is a helpful tool for traders to comprehend market trends and recognize profitable entry and exit points.

Trading in financial markets, including stocks, options, futures, and forex, carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The use of Williams’ %R indicator, or any other trading indicator, does not guarantee profits or prevent losses. Trading decisions should be based on a combination of technical analysis, fundamental analysis, and risk management strategies. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Before trading, investors should carefully consider their financial objectives, level of experience, and risk tolerance. It is recommended to seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

For examples of customizable Williams’ %R factory scans that can be edited, modified, or revised, and subsequently scanned through ChartAlert’s native stock screener or technical analysis scanner, click here.