What is Relative Strength in Investing? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Relative Strength? Understanding the Basics

April 30, 2023

Relative strength (RS) is a widely-used technical analysis tool essential for any trader or investor serious about making informed decisions. In simple terms, relative strength is a measure of the performance of one asset compared to another or to an index. This metric can provide valuable insights into market trends, help identify potentially profitable investment opportunities, and assist with risk management.

This article will explore the basics of relative strength, how it works, and why it’s so important for traders and investors. We’ll discuss using relative strength effectively in your investment strategies and provide real-world examples to illustrate its practical applications.


Table of Contents
What is relative strength?
How relative strength works
Understanding the relative strength index (RSI)
The benefits of using relative strength in trading and investing
How to incorporate relative strength into your investment strategy
Real-world examples of relative strength in action
Common misconceptions about the relative strength
Potential drawbacks of using relative strength
Tips for effectively using relative strength in your investment decisions


 RS: The inner workings

It is a metric that compares the price performance of one asset to another. This comparison is typically made by dividing the price of one purchase by the price of another or by a benchmark index. The resulting ratio is then plotted on a chart, creating a relative strength line that can help identify trends and potential buying or selling opportunities.

It is often used in technical analysis to evaluate the strength of a particular asset or sector compared to the broader market. This metric can be calculated over different periods, from days to years, depending on the specific analysis performed.


 How relative strength works

RS  works by comparing the performance of one asset to another. This comparison between stocks, sectors, or an asset and a benchmark index can be made. The resulting ratio can then be plotted to create a relative strength line.

Should the relative strength line trend upwards, the first asset outperforms the second. If the close strength line is trending lower, the second asset exceeds the first. By analyzing the direction and slope of the relative strength line, traders and investors can identify potential buying or selling opportunities.


Understanding the relative strength index (RSI)

The relative strength index (RSI) is a frequently employed technical indicator that gauges the potency of an asset’s price action concerning its own previous performance. The RSI is computed by contrasting an asset’s average gain and loss over a designated period, usually 14 days.

The RSI is plotted on a scale ranging from 0 to 100, with levels above 70 indicating an overbought condition and below 30 showing an oversold condition. Traders and investors frequently utilize the RSI to recognize potential trend reversals or to confirm existing trends.

The benefits of using RS in trading and investing

It  can provide many benefits for traders and investors, including:

– Identifying potential market trends and investment opportunities

– Helping to manage risk by comparing the performance of different assets

– Improving investment performance by focusing on assets that are outperforming their peers

– Providing a way to evaluate the strength of a particular sector or industry relative to the broader market


 How to incorporate relative strength into your investment strategy

There are several ways to integrate RS into your investment strategy, including:

– Using relative strength to identify potential buying or selling opportunities

– Comparing the relative strength of different sectors or industries to identify potential trends or market shifts

– Evaluating the relative strength of an asset compared to a benchmark index to help manage risk

– Combine this indicator with other technical analysis tools, such as moving averages or MACD, Stochastics, etc., for signal confirmation

– Using RS as a screening tool to identify stocks or assets that are outperforming their peers


 Real-world examples of RS in action

To better understand the practical applications of this metric, let’s look at some real-world examples:

Imagine you are keen on investing in the technology sector but uncertain about which stocks to purchase. By contrasting the relative strength of various technology stocks, you can recognize the ones that outperform their peers and may be worth considering for investment.

Suppose you are contemplating purchasing a specific stock but are apprehensive about the market’s general well-being. By contrasting the stock’s relative strength to a benchmark index, such as the S&P 500, you can ascertain if it is better or worse than the broader market.

– Finally, suppose you are interested in trading a particular currency pair but are unsure if it is overbought or oversold. By analyzing the currency pair’s relative strength index (RSI), you can identify potential trend reversals or confirm existing trends.

Common misconceptions about  RS

Some common misconceptions about relative strength are essential to address:

– It is not a solitary indicator and should be employed with other technical analysis tools.

Relative strength does not guarantee future performance and should not be relied on as the basis for investment decisions.

– The time frame used to calculate relative strength can significantly impact the results and should be chosen carefully based on the specific analysis.

 Potential drawbacks of using This Indicator

While RS can be a valuable tool for traders and investors, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:

– The results can be highly dependent on the time frame and assets being compared, making it essential to consider the specific analysis being performed carefully.

–  It does not provide any fundamental analysis of an asset, such as earnings or financial ratios, which can be necessary for long-term investments.

– The metric can be affected by sudden or unexpected market events, making it essential to use caution when interpreting the results.

Tips for effectively using relative strength in your investment decisions

– Use relative strength with other technical analysis tools to confirm buy or sell signals.

– Be careful when interpreting the results of relative strength, as the time frame and assets being compared can significantly impact the results.

– Use RS to identify potential trends and investment opportunities, but always perform additional research and due diligence before making investment decisions.



RS is a powerful tool for traders and investors looking to make informed investment decisions. By comparing the performance of different assets, sectors, or industries, traders and investors can identify potential trends, manage risk, and improve investment performance. Nevertheless, it is crucial to utilize relative strength in combination with several other technical analysis tools and to consider the specific analysis performed carefully.



Question Answer
Can r RS be used for long-term investments? It can provide valuable insights for long-term investments. Still, it should not be relied on as the sole basis for investment decisions. Fundamental analysis, such as earnings and financial ratios, should also be considered.
How does RS compare to other technical analysis tools? It is one of many technical analysis tools available to traders and investors. It is often used with other tools, such as moving averages or MACD, to confirm buy or sell signals.
Can relative strength be used to manage risk? It can be used to manage risk by comparing the performance of different assets and sectors. By focusing on assets outperforming their peers, traders can reduce their exposure to underperforming assets and manage risk in their portfolios.
What is the best time frame to use for calculating RS? The best time frame for calculating relative strength will depend on the specific analysis. Shorter time frames may be more appropriate for intraday trading, while more extended time frames may be more appropriate for longer-term investments.
Can RS be used to compare assets from different sectors or industries? It can be used to compare assets from different sectors or industries. However, it is essential to consider each sector or industry’s unique characteristics and risks when performing the analysis.


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