What is Momentum Trading: Examples, Benefits and Drawbacks

Discover the core concepts, principles and strategies of momentum trading.
What is Momentum Trading: Examples, Benefits and Drawbacks
3 mins
14 August 2023

What is momentum trading?

Momentum trading is a strategy in which traders try to make gains by capitalizing on the expected patterns in a financial asset's short-term price changes. The goal is to benefit from the strong price movement that aligns with the current trend, which is determined by analysing data over different timeframes. This approach involves using technical analysis and is frequently likened to observing trends in conventional investment markets like currencies, bonds, and commodities.

Elements of momentum investing

The success in the momentum investing strategy relies on a well-structured approach that addresses key elements. These elements are crucial in managing risk, especially considering the volatility and potential pitfalls that can erode gains. Here, we break down the five fundamental elements of momentum investing:

  1. Selection of equities: The foundation of momentum investing lies in the careful selection of which stocks to trade.
  2. Timing risk management: In the realm of momentum, timing is everything. Knowing when to initiate and close trades is critical to optimising returns and minimising risks associated with market fluctuations.
  3. Entry timing: Momentum investors aim to enter trades at the right moment, often at the early stages of a price trend. This requires the ability to spot emerging opportunities and act swiftly.
  4. Position management: Effective position management involves considering factors like spreads between bid and ask prices and determining the optimal holding period for a given trade. It's about balancing the desire for maximum profit with prudent risk control.
  5. Exit points: Momentum investing also places a strong emphasis on setting and adhering to exit points. Consistent chart analysis helps identify ideal moments to exit trades, allowing investors to capture gains and limit losses.

By addressing these elements with diligence and precision, momentum investors can enhance their ability to navigate the market's ebb and flow while striving for consistent and profitable trading outcomes.Top of Form

Momentum trading strategies

There are several momentum trading strategies that traders employ to identify and capitalize on potential opportunities:

Breakout strategy:

Traders look for assets that have broken through key levels of support or resistance. Breakouts can signal the beginning of a new trend, and momentum traders aim to capitalize on the continuation of that trend.

Trend-following strategy:

This involves identifying assets with strong and sustained price movements in a particular direction. Traders aim to enter positions in line with the prevailing trend.

Moving average crossovers:

Trader's use moving averages of different time periods to identify potential buy or sell signals. A crossover of short-term and long-term moving averages may indicate a change in momentum.

Relative strength strategy:

This involves comparing the performance of an asset to its peers or a market index. Assets displaying higher relative strength are considered for potential trades.

Momentum trading - Examples

Ravi, an enthusiastic momentum trader who is intrigued by the dynamics of stock market movements. Ravi is currently analysing two technology stocks, Company A and Company B, listed on a stock exchange. He applies momentum trading strategies to make informed decisions.

In recent weeks, Ravi observes a notable trend: Company A's stock price has been consistently on the rise, while Company B's stock price has been witnessing a downward spiral.

Taking a closer look at these scenarios

Company A (positive momentum): Ravi notices that Company A's stock price has displayed a series of upward movements. This sustained upward pattern indicates positive momentum. According to momentum trading principles, Ravi anticipates that Company A's stock price will likely continue its upward trajectory soon.

Company B (negative momentum):
On the other hand, Company B's stock price has been experiencing a succession of downward movements. This consistent decline points to negative momentum. Ravi interprets this as a signal that Company B's stock price is likely to persist in its downward trend.

Based on his analysis, Ravi decides on the following actions:

Company A: Ravi decides to initiate a buy order for shares of Company A. He expects to capitalize on the ongoing positive momentum, aiming to profit from the anticipated further increase in the stock price.

Company B:
For Company B, Ravi considers adopting a short-selling strategy. By borrowing shares of Company B, selling them at the present higher price, and then repurchasing them at a lower price in the future, Ravi aims to profit from the anticipated continuation of the declining trend.

As a momentum trader, Ravi closely monitors the momentum indicators and market conditions for these stocks. He remains vigilant, ready to adjust his trading strategies promptly if momentum shows signs of shifting unexpectedly.

However, Ravi understands momentum trading, although potentially lucrative, carries inherent risks. The stock market can be unpredictable, and trends might reverse abruptly. To mitigate these risks, Ravi maintains a disciplined approach, conducts thorough research, and exercises prudent risk management practices in his momentum trading endeavours.

Ravi's journey exemplifies how momentum trading involves identifying stocks with recent robust price movements and leveraging that information to make strategic trading decisions, all with the expectation that the prevailing trends will persist for a certain period.

Benefits and drawbacks of momentum trading

Every trading strategy has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and momentum trading is no exception. Here are some of the key pros and cons of this trading strategy:


  1. Momentum trading can be highly profitable for traders who can correctly identify strong trends and market movements.
  2. This strategy can be used for short-term trading and can quickly generate profits if executed correctly.
  3. Momentum trading can be implemented in various markets, including stocks, forex, and commodities, making it a versatile trading strategy.


Momentum trading, like any trading strategy, comes with its own set of risks:

  1. Momentum can change abruptly, leading to sudden reversals in price trends. Traders may find themselves on the wrong side of a trade if momentum shifts unexpectedly.
  2. Assets experiencing strong momentum may become overvalued, leading to potential price corrections.
  3. Entering and exiting trades at the right time is crucial for momentum trading success. Poor timing can lead to missed opportunities or losses.
  4. Choppy or range-bound markets can result in false signals and whipsaw trades, where traders enter and exit positions quickly due to frequent price fluctuations.


Momentum trading is a short-term strategy that seeks to capitalize on the continuation of recent price trends. By identifying assets with strong relative strength and riding the momentum, traders aim to profit from short-term price fluctuations. This approach, like all trading strategies, requires careful consideration of risks and benefits, as well as a disciplined approach to timing and trade execution.


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Frequently asked questions

How do you find the momentum of a stock?

Momentum of a stock is often identified by observing its recent price movements. Traders analyse short-term trends, such as price changes over specific timeframes, to gauge momentum.

What is a high momentum stock?

A high momentum stock is one that has exhibited strong and sustained price movement in a particular direction over a relatively short period. These stocks are actively sought by traders for potential trading opportunities.

How is momentum used in trading?

In trading, momentum is used as a strategy to capitalize on the continuation of recent price trends. Traders identify stocks with positive or negative momentum and make trading decisions based on the expectation that the trend will persist in the short term.