Relative Strength Matrix

The Relative Strength Matrix empowers traders by offering a clear and structured way to identify assets that outperform their peers. This leads to more informed trading decisions and the potential for improved returns, making it an indispensable tool in the world of technical analysis

18 minutes

Introduction: Understanding the Relative Strength Matrix

In the realm of technical analysis, the Relative Strength Matrix stands out as a powerful method for decision-making. This matrix is, essentially, a refined version of the well-known relative strength charts, and it’s designed to provide a structured framework for comparing the relative strength of various assets or securities.

At its core, the Relative Strength (RS) Matrix is all about identifying which assets are outperforming or underperforming their peers. By examining this comparative strength, traders can make well-informed decisions about where to allocate their capital, when to enter or exit positions, and how to manage risk effectively.

The concept revolves around a simple but potent premise: not all assets move in sync with each other or with the broader market. Some assets have a history of consistent outperformance, while others may languish behind. The RS Matrix acts as a spotlight, revealing these distinctions and making them more actionable.

To put it simply, this matrix enables traders to categorize assets into two primary groups:

Leaders: These are assets that have demonstrated stronger performance compared to a chosen benchmark or index. They exhibit relative strength, suggesting they are worthy candidates for further analysis or inclusion in a portfolio.

Laggards: On the other side of the spectrum, laggards are assets that have underperformed in comparison to the benchmark. This category may include assets that are experiencing weakness or facing challenges.

The beauty of the RS Matrix lies in its capacity to organize and visualize this comparative strength data, offering a clear picture of the playing field. By doing so, traders can devise more data-driven strategies and position themselves to harness the potential opportunities presented by strong-performing assets while avoiding the pitfalls of their underperforming counterparts.

We will delve deeper into the creation of the RS Matrix, its interpretation, practical applications in trading, advantages, limitations, and the importance of using this tool judiciously in financial decision-making. Suffice to say the RS Matrix can be an invaluable ally in the pursuit of trading success.

Go to the Relative Strength Charts/Matrix slideshow and demo videos

Origin of the Relative Strength Matrix

The Relative Strength Matrix, a key concept in technical analysis, owes its prominence to the innovative work of Thomas Dorsey. As a prominent figure in the field of finance and investment, Dorsey’s contributions have left an indelible mark on how traders and investors analyze and interpret market data.

Thomas Dorsey, a respected author and financial analyst, is best known for popularizing the RS Matrix in the late 20th century. He realized that traditional technical analysis was often too broad and lacked the precision required for making informed investment decisions. This realization led him to develop and refine the concept of relative strength into the structured matrix that traders rely on today.

Dorsey’s work on the RS Matrix was groundbreaking because it introduced a systematic approach to comparing the strength of different assets within a portfolio or asset class. It was a significant departure from the traditional methods that relied solely on price charts and moving averages.

Under Dorsey’s guidance, the RS Matrix became a vital tool for market professionals and individual investors alike. It offered a way to objectively evaluate asset performance in relation to a benchmark, allowing traders to spot trends and potential opportunities with a higher degree of accuracy.

Dorsey’s contributions didn’t stop at introducing the concept; he also authored several books and articles on the subject, further disseminating the knowledge and importance of the Relative Strength Matrix. His teachings and writings have inspired countless traders to adopt this methodology as a fundamental part of their technical analysis toolkit.

In summary, Thomas Dorsey’s pioneering work on the Relative Strength Matrix has had a lasting impact on the field of technical analysis and trading. His dedication to refining this concept has provided traders with a more structured and data-driven approach to making investment decisions, enhancing their ability to identify opportunities and manage risk in the financial markets.

Constructing the Relative Strength Matrix

A Relative Strength Matrix is a valuable tool used to compare the performance of different stocks or securities within a given group. This matrix provides a visual representation of the relative strength of each stock or security, enabling investors to swiftly discern the top and bottom performers. It serves as a powerful instrument for identifying trends and potential investment prospects.

The RS Matrix, thus, is constructed by evaluating the relative strength of various stocks or securities when compared to one another. This matrix is typically presented in a grid format, with rows representing individual stocks or securities, and columns representing their peer securities. By assessing and charting the relative strength of each stock, this tool provides valuable insights into trends and potential investment opportunities. It effectively highlights the strongest and weakest performers within the group of securities being examined. The construction of this matrix can be done manually or with the aid of specialized software such as ChartAlert.

The RS Matrix empowers users to compare and rank a large number of stocks based on their relative strength charts. Imagine having a list of fundamentally sound stocks and, within minutes, obtaining a ranked list from strongest to weakest in terms of relative strength. For instance, if you have a set of 50 stocks for comparison, ChartAlert can efficiently calculate 2,500 relative strength charts, make comparisons, rank them, and present the results in a user-friendly matrix format.

As Thomas Dorsey likes to illustrate, think of it as a colossal arm-wrestling competition. Each stock competes with every other stock in a relative strength contest, and we calculate the number of buy signals and the number of columns of X’s that each stock achieves in this RS contest. Essentially, the buy signals represent a long-term perspective, while the columns of X’s signify a short-term view. We then arrange the stocks from best to worst based on the number of buy signals they generate relative to each other.

To create this matrix, one must follow a structured process that involves gathering and analyzing data. Here’s a more detailed look at how to construct the RS Matrix:

Step 1: Data Gathering

The first step in constructing a RS Matrix is to gather historical price data for the assets or securities you wish to analyze. You will typically need the following data for each asset:

  • Price Data: This includes the daily, weekly, or monthly closing prices of the asset. It’s important to have a sufficient data history to perform meaningful analysis.
  • Benchmark Data: You’ll also need price data for a benchmark or index against which you want to compare the assets. The choice of benchmark is crucial and should be relevant to your analysis. Common benchmarks include market indices like the NIFTY or the NIFTY500 Index for NSE stocks, or sector-specific indices.
Step 2: Calculating Relative Strength

The core of the RS Matrix is the calculation of relative strength scores for each asset in comparison to the chosen benchmark. To calculate relative strength, follow these steps:

1. Calculate Price Changes: Determine the price change for each asset and the benchmark over the same time frame. Subtract the initial price from the final price.

2. Normalize the Data: Normalize the price changes by dividing each asset’s price change by the benchmark’s price change. This normalization ensures that you’re comparing relative performance rather than absolute price movements.

3. Calculate the Relative Strength Score through Technical Attributes: Dorsey employs a set of criteria to assess the relative strength of stocks, known as positive technical attributes. These attributes rely on the concept of relative strength and serve to rank stocks based on their technical performance. This evaluation comprises five key criteria, with a significant emphasis on relative strength. These criteria are as follows:

  1. A stock’s relative strength (RS) signal compared to the broader market (during a buy signal).
  2. A stock’s RS column compared to the broader market (indicated by X’s).
  3. A stock’s RS signal compared to its peer group (during a buy signal).
  4. A stock’s RS column compared to its peer group (indicated by X’s).
  5. The stock’s point and figure chart, determining if it’s bullish or bearish.

The positive technical attributes reading provides a concise overview of a stock’s technical characteristics, facilitating an easy ranking of stocks based on their technical performance.

An essential component of positive technical attributes is relative strength. Both the RS signal versus the market and the RS column versus the market are integral elements used in computing the positive technical attributes reading. Relative strength is a metric that gauges a stock’s performance relative to a benchmark or index. It aids in identifying stocks that either outperform or underperform the market. Prioritizing stocks with robust relative strength empowers investors to potentially secure significant gains while mitigating the impact of substantial losses.

Positive technical attributes find extensive utility in investment strategies. They assist in identifying stocks exhibiting considerable technical strength. By focusing on stocks with positive technical attributes, investors stand to capture substantial profitable opportunities while minimizing the risk of substantial losses. Furthermore, positive technical attributes serve as a valuable tool to corroborate other technical and fundamental analysis methodologies, thereby aiding in making informed investment decisions.

ChartAlert does not currently offer positive technical attributes, but it is planned for inclusion in a future release of the software.

Step 3: Organizing the Matrix

Once you have calculated the relative strength scores for all the assets, you can organize them into a matrix. The matrix is typically presented in a tabular format, with assets listed along the rows and the corresponding relative strength scores in the columns. The matrix visually represents which assets are the leaders (those with the highest scores) and which are the laggards (those with the lowest scores).

Step 4: Regular Monitoring and Analysis

The construction of the RS Matrix is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Traders and investors should regularly update the matrix to reflect changing market conditions. By consistently monitoring and analyzing the matrix, you can identify shifts in relative strength and adapt your investment strategies accordingly.

In summary, constructing the Relative Strength Matrix involves gathering historical price data, calculating relative strength scores by comparing asset performance to a chosen benchmark, and organizing the results in a matrix format. This matrix serves as a dynamic tool for evaluating the relative strength of different assets, helping traders and investors make more informed decisions in the financial markets.

The Importance of Relative Strength Matrix in Technical Analysis, and how to use the Matrix in trading

The Relative Strength Matrix holds a pivotal role in technical analysis, as it provides traders and investors with a data-driven means of assessing asset performance in comparison to peer stocks and/or a chosen benchmark or index. Understanding the interpretation and importance of this matrix is key to making informed financial decisions. Here’s an in-depth examination:

Identifying Strength and Weakness

The primary purpose of the RS Matrix is to help traders distinguish between assets that exhibit strength and those that demonstrate weakness. This process is pivotal for several reasons:

  • Spotting Market Leaders: Assets with higher scores in the matrix are considered leaders. These are the assets that have, historically, outperformed the chosen benchmark. Identifying leaders can guide traders towards potentially lucrative opportunities, as these assets may continue to outperform in the future.
  • Identifying Laggards: Assets with low scores in the matrix are the laggards. They have historically underperformed the benchmark. Recognizing laggards is equally important, as it can help traders avoid or divest from assets with a history of underperformance.
Trend Identification and Trend Following

The RS Matrix is an essential tool for identifying trends in the market. It measures the relative strength of assets, indicating whether they are in strong uptrends or downtrends. By scanning this matrix, traders can gain insights into current market conditions, allowing them to align their strategies accordingly. Traders who follow trends aim to capitalize on existing market movements. The RS Matrix is a valuable asset in this approach as it pinpoints consistently strong-performing assets. Traders can concentrate on assets with high relative strength scores, as these are more likely to continue their upward trends.

Momentum Trading

Momentum trading is a strategy that involves buying assets that have shown recent strong performance and short-selling assets that have demonstrated recent weakness. The RS Matrix is a natural fit for momentum traders as it identifies the assets with the highest relative strength scores, signifying recent strong performance. Traders can use the matrix to identify assets to go long on (buy) and those to short (sell) based on their scores.

Sector Rotation

Sector rotation involves shifting investments between different sectors or industries based on their relative strength. Traders can use the RS Matrix to identify sectors that are currently outperforming others. By allocating resources to sectors with strong relative strength scores, traders aim to capitalize on prevailing market trends.

Also see: Sectoral Rotation or Relative Rotational Charts

Portfolio Optimization and Asset Allocation

The RS Matrix holds significant utility in the realm of portfolio optimization. It empowers traders and investors to create diversified portfolios with a pronounced bias towards assets boasting robust relative strength indicators. The objective here is to enhance returns while prudently mitigating risks. Asset allocation stands as a pivotal facet of effective portfolio management. The RS Matrix serves as a compass, facilitating the allocation of resources towards assets with a proven history of strength. This methodology is driven by the aim of optimizing returns while preserving the equilibrium and diversity of the portfolio.

Diversification Strategies

Diversification is a also cornerstone of portfolio management. The RS Matrix can inform diversification strategies by highlighting assets from different sectors or asset classes that exhibit relative strength. This approach ensures that a portfolio is not overly concentrated in a single area and can withstand market volatility more effectively.

Risk Management

Efficient risk management constitutes a vital component within the realm of trading and investment strategies. To facilitate this, the RS Matrix offers valuable insights into how assets are faring when compared to a benchmark. This tool empowers traders to make informed decisions aimed at diminishing their involvement with assets that have historically shown weaker performance. In turn, resources can be more judiciously allocated to assets that exhibit relative strength. As a further enhancement to risk management, the RS Matrix plays another pivotal role. By steering clear of or divesting from assets that consistently exhibit low relative strength scores, traders are able to curtail their exposure to underperforming positions. This methodology ultimately serves to mitigate potential losses and safeguard invested capital.

Also see: Stop Loss . . . and its importance in tradingSome ways of setting up stop loss levelsHow to set up stop loss and take profit levels in trading

Combining with Other Analysis

While the RS Matrix is a valuable tool, it’s most effective when combined with other forms of technical and fundamental analysis. Traders can use it in conjunction with indicators like moving averages, trendlines, and other technical tools to gain a more comprehensive view of the markets.

Regular Monitoring

The financial markets are dynamic, and relative strength can change over time. Traders should regularly monitor and update the RS Matrix to stay informed about shifts in performance. Assets that were strong performers in the past may not maintain their relative strength, and vice versa.

In summary, the RS Matrix plays a vital role in technical analysis by helping traders and investors:

  • Identify market leaders and laggards.
  • Optimize portfolios by allocating resources to strong-performing assets.
  • Identify trends and adjust strategies accordingly.
  • Manage risk by minimizing exposure to underperforming assets.
  • Implement effective diversification strategies for long-term stability and growth.

Its importance lies in its ability to provide a structured, data-driven approach to evaluating asset performance, which, in turn, contributes to more informed and strategic financial decision-making in the dynamic world of finance.

Advantages & Limitations of using Relative Strength Charts

Here are some advantages and limitations of using the Relative Strength Matrix in trading:


  • Simplifies Decision-Making: The Relative Strength Matrix simplifies the complex task of comparing asset performance. By organizing data in a structured format, it offers a straightforward way to identify leaders and laggards, streamlining the decision-making process for traders and investors.
  • Identifying Potential Market Leaders and Laggards: One of its primary advantages is its ability to pinpoint assets that have consistently outperformed their peers (leaders) and those that have consistently underperformed (laggards). This information can guide investment decisions, helping traders allocate resources to assets with a higher likelihood of future success.
  • Supports Risk Management: The RS Matrix can be a valuable tool for risk management. By avoiding or divesting from assets with consistently low relative strength scores, traders can minimize exposure to potential underperformers, reducing the risk of substantial losses.
  • Enhances Diversification Strategies: Diversification is a cornerstone of risk mitigation in investing. The matrix assists in diversification by highlighting assets from different sectors or asset classes that exhibit relative strength. This approach ensures that a portfolio is not overly concentrated in a single area, enhancing overall stability.
  • Flexible Application: The RS Matrix can be adapted to various trading and investing strategies, including momentum trading, sector rotation, trend following, and long-term asset allocation. Its flexibility makes it suitable for a wide range of market participants.


  • Past Performance Does Not Guarantee Future Results: The Relative Strength Matrix is based on historical performance data. It’s essential to remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future success. Market conditions can change, and assets that have shown strength in the past may not continue to do so.
  • Solely Price-Based Analysis: The matrix relies heavily on price data, which may not capture all the factors influencing an asset’s performance. Fundamental factors, market sentiment, and external events can significantly impact an asset’s future performance, and these are not considered in the matrix.
  • Benchmark Selection Is Critical: The choice of benchmark or index against which assets are compared is crucial. Different benchmarks can yield different results. Traders must carefully select a benchmark that aligns with their analysis goals and the specific market they are interested in.
  • Limited to Relative Strength Analysis: The matrix primarily focuses on relative strength analysis, and while this is valuable, it may not provide a complete picture of an asset’s prospects. Additional analysis, such as fundamental research or macroeconomic factors, may be necessary to make well-informed investment decisions.
  • Market Noise and Short-Term Volatility: The RS Matrix can be sensitive to short-term price fluctuations or market noise. Traders should be cautious of relying too heavily on very short-term data, as it can lead to erratic results.

In conclusion, the Relative Strength Matrix is a powerful tool, but like any analytical approach, it has both advantages and limitations. Traders and investors can benefit from its ability to simplify decision-making, identify leaders and laggards, support risk management, and enhance diversification. However, it’s essential to use the matrix as part of a broader analysis, consider its limitations, and exercise caution in its application to avoid potential pitfalls.

The Relative Strength Matrix is an invaluable tool for traders seeking an edge in the markets. Its ability to pinpoint relative strength provides a data-driven advantage in asset selection and portfolio management.

It’s essential to remember that while the Relative Strength Matrix is a valuable analysis tool, it is not foolproof. All trading and investment decisions carry inherent risks, and past performance is not a guarantee of future success. Seek professional advice and do thorough research before making any financial decisions.