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Relative Strength Index (RSI) – Why RSI Divergence, Overbought, & Oversold Conditions Fail Terribly?

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

When it comes to stock market trading, there are two schools of thought. One is Fundamental Analysis, and the other one is Technical Analysis.

Fundamentalists are more concerned about the company's management, various products, Sales, Price to earnings ratio, ROE, Cash flow, Debt to equity ratio, Competition, etc. However, Technical analysts merely consider the analysis of past behavior of prices to interpret their study.

Any person who wants to learn technical analysis will be introduced to two indicators at the beginning – Moving Average (MA) and Relative Strength Index (RSI).

This article will deal with why the traditional RSI strategy does not work and provides an alternative method that gives excellent results in all the markets.


  1. What is RSI Indicator?

  2. How RSI is Calculated? - RSI Formula

  3. What is RSI Divergence?

  4. RSI Overbought and Oversold

  5. Why it is a Bad Idea to use Traditional RSI Divergences and Overbought/Oversold Conditions?

  6. RSI Hidden Divergences

  7. Conclusion

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What is RSI Indicator in the stock market?

The relative strength index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator used that measures the magnitude (both speed and change) of recent price changes.

J. Welles Wilder developed it, and it was first time introduced in the book "New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems" in 1978.

The RSI oscillates between zero and 100, and traditionally people consider that the stock is in an overbought situation when the RSI is above 70 and oversold when RSI is below 30. Many systems generate trading ideas by looking for divergences and failure swings.

Below are the two traditional characteristics of RSI which are used by many Traders to take the trades:

  1. Bullish and Bearish Divergences

  2. Overbought and Oversold conditions (30 and 70 rule)

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How RSI is calculated - RSI formula

The basic formula for RSI is below:

RSI = 100 – [100 / ( 1 + (Average gain / Average loss ) ) ]

The average gain or loss used in the above formula is the average percentage gain or loss during a look-back period.

RSI uses 14-days as the standard period to calculate its value. Anyone can change these settings.

What is RSI Divergence

There are two types of divergences:

1. RSI Bearish Divergence

2. RSI Bullish Divergence

RSI Bearish Divergence

Image 1 – JSW Steel chart showing RSI Bearish Divergence
Image 1 – JSW Steel chart showing RSI Bearish Divergence

As per traditional definition, when the price makes Higher High and RSI makes Lower High, this condition is recognized as Bearish Divergence, and it is good to take Short trades (or exit if you are holding Long positions) at this point.

RSI Bullish Divergence

Image 2 – Nifty chart showing RSI Bullish Divergence
Image 2 – Nifty chart showing RSI Bullish Divergence

When the price makes a lower low, and when RSI makes a higher low, this condition is recognized as Bullish Divergence. It is advisable to take Long trades (or close if you are carrying Short positions) at this moment.

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RSI Overbought and Oversold