Do you want to understand how strong or weak an overall market trend might be? 

The McClellan Oscillator (MO) is a tool used to assess the market’s scope by calculating the number of stocks that are rising versus those that are falling. It aids in evaluating the underlying strength of a bull or bear market.

Why does the MO matter? This indicator goes beyond tracking simple stock prices. It assists traders in grasping the market mood by displaying if a greater number of stocks are joining in an upward or downward trend. This type of understanding can guide you to make wiser choices on when to purchase, sell, or keep your position.

Decoding the McClellan Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator, made by Sherman and Marian McClellan during the end of 1960’s, is a basic method for studying market breadth. It tries to exhibit the hidden momentum in stock market by focusing on extent of movements happening in it. This includes observing how many stocks are going up versus those that are going down.

The MO is basically a tool that shows market momentum by looking at the difference in speed. It works out this difference by taking away the 39-day rate of change for falling stocks from the 19-day rate of change for rising stocks. This calculation gives a number that moves back and forth across a line of zero, showing understanding about which way the market is going and how strong. Numbers higher than zero mean the market looks optimistic because more stocks are increasing than decreasing, whereas numbers less than zero show a pessimistic market with more stocks falling.

The background for making it was a period where those who study the markets wanted better instruments to grasp the intricate behavior of the stock market, looking past just how prices changed. The McClellans met this demand by creating an oscillator giving a deeper view into the overall condition of the market through observing how groups of stocks acted together. Their new idea gave a different way of looking at things, helping people in trading understand how strong the market changes are and guess better when these trends might change direction.

The McClellan Oscillator works like a tool that shows the difference between stocks going up and those going down, acting as an indicator of what people feel about the market. It is good at noticing small changes in how the market moves, pointing out times when stocks are bought or sold too much, which you cannot always see just by looking at their prices. When you include the rise and fall of market breadth in your analysis, the oscillator helps traders and investors to make better choices by using knowledge from the wide range of the market.

Mechanics of the McClellan Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator uses advanced techniques, like exponential moving averages, to understand the market’s depth. It helps traders see the hidden energy of the market by looking at how many stocks are going up versus those going down. This tool pays special attention to what happens in the New York Stock Exchange for its information.

To build the oscillator, it uses two kinds of EMAs: one is a short-term EMA for 19 days and another is for a longer term, which lasts 39 days. How you calculate the MO comes down to taking away the 39-day EMA that shows how many stocks went down from the 19-day EMA that counts stocks that went up. This technique successfully removes the everyday disturbances from market trends, resulting in a clearer and easier to understand momentum signal.

This calculation for difference shows the main idea of market width—like how wide are the changes in the market, looking at the number of stocks going up against those going down. When an oscillator has a positive value, it means more stocks go up than down, this points to a market feeling that is optimistic. Conversely, a negative value implies that declines are overtaking advances, pointing towards bearish sentiment.

The choice of the MO to use EMAs instead of simple moving averages is intentional. This is because EMAs prioritize newer data, which makes the oscillator quicker to react to fresh market details. This quick response is very important for traders who want to notice and take action on the first signals of market changes or to make sure that current trends continue.

The McClellan Oscillator, with its detailed method, gives a lively perspective on market trends and adds an important level of study for people who want to grasp the intricate patterns of how markets move.

Insights from the McClellan Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator gives traders a lot of valuable information and works like a guide in the huge sea of market data. This indicator that measures momentum shows not just the overall condition of the market but also important warnings about when things are too bought or too sold, which helps traders to expect changes in the market direction with more sureness.

Overbought/Oversold Conditions:

A main understanding from the MO is that it can show when markets are overbought or oversold. When the oscillator gives numbers much higher than zero, usually more than +100, this means the market might be overbought. Very high numbers show that people are too optimistic about the market, and this might not last, which could mean prices will go down soon. On the other hand, if the measure falls a lot under zero, especially lower than -100, it shows that stocks have been sold too much. This situation shows a widespread negative feeling on the market, which could prepare for a positive shift if those selling lose their energy.

Market Reversals:

The MO is highly respected because it can give early signals of market trend reversals. When the readings move quickly from very high or low values towards the zero line, it usually means that the market might change its trend soon. If the line quickly moves up from negative values towards zero, it shows that a downward trend is becoming weaker and there might soon be a change to upward movement. In the same way, when the line goes down fast from positive numbers toward zero, it means that the strength of an uptrend is reducing and this can result in a shift to falling prices.

Additionally, traders pay careful attention to differences between the MO and how market prices move. When there is a bullish divergence, it happens if the market reaches a new low while at the same time, the oscillator shows a higher low; this suggests that there is less strength in the downward trend. On the opposite side, a bearish divergence occurs when the market reaches a new peak but the oscillator shows a lesser high, indicating weaker upward movement. These divergences are important hints that suggest the present trend could be weakening and give traders early notice of possible direction changes.

By understanding these insights well, traders can use the MO to better manage market movements and improve when they choose to enter or leave the market, preparing for what will happen next in the market.

Computing the Pulse: Formula Behind the Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator is based on a simple enough equation, but it reveals a deep understanding of the market’s overall direction and strength. This computation uses the gap between two exponential moving averages of how many stocks are doing well versus not so well in the New York Stock Exchange.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the formula and the calculation process:

  1. Start by discovering the daily net market breadth. This can be done by finding the difference between stocks that increased and those that decreased for every trading day. It gives you a simple idea of how much momentum the market has on that specific day.
  2. Next step, you put two different EMAs onto the net market breadth information: a short-term one that usually spans 19 days and another with a longer span of 39 days. These averages help make the daily changes smoother and give an easier to understand picture of how the momentum in the market is moving.
  • The 19-day EMA keeps track of the quick changes in market depth, showing how traders feel in the short term.
  • The EMA for 39 days gives a wider view of the market’s movement, showing trends in the breadth of the market that last longer.
  • Calculate the oscillator: The MO represents the difference found between these two Exponential Moving Averages. Here is how you can write down its formula:

McClellan Oscillator = 19-day EMA of Net Advances – 39-day EMA of Net Advances

The value that comes out moves back and forth across the line of zero. When the values are positive, it means there is a bullish trend (there are more increases than decreases), which shows that there’s generally more buying happening in the market. Negative values signal bearish momentum (more declines than advances), pointing to prevailing selling pressure.

When traders learn and use this method, they make a strong instrument for measuring the feeling of the market and its movement. The MO shows when things are too bought or sold and also gives clues about where the market might turn around next. It’s an important thing to have for anyone analyzing stock trades. 

The McClellan Oscillator Example

Let us examine how the McClellan Oscillator works in a practical situation by looking at Amazon’s share prices (AMZN) and their changes during these past two weeks, which were quite busy times for the market. In the initial week of April 2024, there was positive news about two key businesses within Amazon that caused its shares to reach new highs not seen in many years. Despite some initial volatility, the stock price quickly rebounded, reflecting the positive market sentiment.

Scenario Setup:

  • Market Start: Following the positive news, the stock of Amazon showed strong staying power. The MO was very important in noticing this rise. This is found by taking the 19-day Exponential Moving Average (EMA) of Net Advances and subtracting from it the 39-day EMA of those same Net Advances.
  • Around April 12, during the middle of this time, Amazon shares hit a record close. This really highlights how well using the MO can work when you are making trading plans.

Action and Chart Analysis:

  • The behavior of the MO started with a drop after there was volatility, but it quickly went up a lot, moving from below zero to above. This clearly shows that the trend is likely to go upwards in terms of buying interest.
  • Trading Strategy: The oscillator showing a good change and the chart that shows strong price recovery indicate it is a good time to start buying. Traders might place stop-loss orders slightly under the recent lowest prices for managing risks well.

Here’s AMZN’s chart with the McClellan indicator: 

Graph depicting Amazon's stock price with an overlay of the McClellan Oscillator. The stock peaks following bullish news, while the oscillator moves from negative to positive, indicating a bullish market sentiment.

Amazon’s stock price graph with the McClellan Oscillator, showing a bullish trend in early April 2024 following key business updates

Reflection and Future Outlook:

Is Amazon a suitable stock for long-term growth? Time will determine this, but applying the MO gives traders extra confidence when dealing with uncertain market conditions.

This example shows that the MO is a very important instrument to notice changes in market size and speed, which helps traders take advantage of main moments for decision-making by matching their plans with the basic movements in the market. 

McClellan Oscillator vs. McClellan Summation Index

The McClellan Oscillator and McClellan Summation Index are both useful market analysis tools. Even though they share the same creators, they work differently and offer unique insights into market behavior.

McClellan Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator is a tool for checking quick momentum in the market. It looks at how many stocks are going up and down on the NYSE to understand overall market movement. For this, it takes two averages that change smoothly over time – one tracks 19 days and the other 39 days of these ups and downs.

This tool gives a quick understanding of the market’s movement and shows when things are too bought or sold. It is very helpful for seeing fast turnarounds and making sure if trends are really changing. A positive value suggests bullish momentum, while a negative value indicates bearish momentum.

McClellan Summation Index

The Summation Index is designed to look at the market breadth over a more extended period. It basically keeps an ongoing sum of the daily figures from the McClellan Oscillator. The index gathers wide information across time, giving a wider view on the basic direction of the market.

This index is important to know the general condition and power of the market. When the Summation Index goes up, it shows a powerful market that many are joining in, but when it goes down, it means the market sentiment is not so good and less people are involved. This is very helpful to check how strong a trend is and find times when the market might be getting tired.


Both indicators come from the same simple information – NYSE stocks going up and down – but the way we figure them out and understand them is very different. The McClellan Oscillator gives us a quick look at how fast the market is moving right now, which helps with decisions about trading in a short time frame. On the other hand, McClellan Summation Index gives a total that adds up over time and shows the more sustained trend and state of the market, which helps with long-term planning and studying trends.

The oscillator and the Summation Index give different perspectives on market breadth, helping traders understand short-term and long-lasting feelings in the market. Knowing the details of both tools lets investors make a more detailed and knowledgeable plan for trading.

Pros and Cons

The McClellan Oscillator, known well for being a market breadth indicator, gives useful understanding of how the market behaves. But as with all tools for analysis, it has its own benefits and limitations.


  • Market Breadth Insight: The oscillator gives a transparent perspective on the market’s foundational robustness or frailty through an evaluation of the range of market motions. This understanding is extremely valuable for judging the general condition of the market.
  • The MO, because it is quick to pick up shifts in the market’s broad activity, can give advanced signals that a change in the overall market direction might be coming. This insight helps those trading to get ready and change their plans as needed.
  • It successfully determines when assets are too much bought or sold, giving traders clear signs to take profits or find places to enter the market when the readings are very high or low.
  • The oscillator is very good at noticing differences between market prices and breadth, which often come before big changes in the trend.


  • False Alerts: The oscillator is strong for analysis but it can still give false signals. Market disturbances and small-time changes might cause misunderstandings if you don’t check more.
  • Due to its reliance on moving averages, this approach naturally comes with a delay in the signals produced, which can occasionally result in missing the best moment to enter or leave a position.
  • For beginners in technical analysis, understanding and using the MO can be challenging. One needs to have a good grasp of market breadth and technical indicators for effective application.
  • The oscillator is good, but it should not be the only tool you use to decide when to trade. If you use it together with different indicators and ways of analyzing the market, your view on what might happen in the market can become stronger.

To sum it up, the McClellan Oscillator can significantly refine market analysis, adeptly indicating market momentum and extremes. Yet, traders should complement it with other analysis methods, like stock trade alerts, to confirm its signals and navigate its limitations.


In the complex area of studying markets, the McClellan Oscillator stands out like a light that gives better knowledge about how markets work, not just looking at simple price changes. This tool can take apart what is happening in the market’s width and it shows traders detailed patterns beneath everything else. It helps them see when things are too bought or sold and allows for guessing when the market might turn around. The oscillator is a very necessary instrument for people who want to move through the ups and downs of the stock market with accuracy.

Yet, the real strength of the MO comes out when it is wisely used together with different indicators and ways of analysis. Although it shows Sherman and Marian McClellan’s creative ideas well, traders need to keep in mind its weaknesses like possible incorrect signals and delays that come from how it uses moving averages in its calculations. By understanding these difficulties and taking a complete view on market analysis, traders can make the most of the MO, which improves how they make decisions and put their strategies into action in their journey to achieve success in trading.

So, when we go deep into market study, the MO becomes an essential tool. It helps light up the way for making smart trade choices. This shows how much we need indicators of market breadth to get a full view of what is happening in the markets. By applying with attention and always learning, traders are able to use the understanding from the MO to move through market situations more confidently and with better strategy. 

McClellan Oscillator: FAQs

How Can the McClellan Oscillator Aid in Identifying Market Turning Points?

The MO is very good at showing the hidden power of the market through its tracking of how many stocks are going up or down. Big movements away from highest points and lowest values, as well as differences between what this tool shows compared to prices in general, might show that a change in direction for markets could be coming soon. If the market reaches new low levels and simultaneously, the oscillator starts going up again then it may suggest there could be potential for a bullish reversal occurring shortly.

Can the MO Be Applied Effectively in Various Market Segments, or Is Its Usefulness Primarily Limited to the NYSE?

Even though it was made for the New York Stock Exchange, we can use the ideas of MO in many markets and sectors. To understand what the oscillator shows, it’s important to collect precise details about how many stocks are going up or down within your chosen market or sector.

What are the Most Common Misinterpretations When Analyzing the MO’s Signals?

People may think that the line crossing zero is always a good time to buy or sell, however this can be incorrect if they don’t look at it in context and use other indicators too like the average directional indecx (ADX). Also, not paying attention to differences between what the oscillator shows and market price shows could cause someone to overlook possible warning signs of trend direction change.

Can the MO Be Used Together with Other Indicators to Create an Improved Trading Strategy, and If Yes, Which Ones?

When you mix the oscillator with other indicators, it can make your trading strategy stronger. For instance, if you use it along with volume indicators such as on-balance volume or trend following tools like moving averages; this could improve the confirmation of signals and potentially result in better decisions.

How Does Market Volume Affect the Accuracy or Reliability of the MO’s Readings?

The MO looks at how many stocks are going up compared to those that are going down. When we also think about the volume of shares traded, it can give us a better idea of what the oscillator is showing. If there’s a lot of trading activity on days with big price rises or falls, this might mean people feel more sure about how much the market changes. On the other hand, low trading volumes might imply that people are not confident in the direction shown by the oscillator. This could make its predictions less dependable.