Does a downtrend in the market have you concerned? 

The Negative Directional Indicator (-DI) helps you in understanding whether the strength of a downward trend is increasing. This powerful tool indicates when it might be time to sell an asset or seize a chance for short selling.

The -DI plays an important role in a bigger system that smart traders use to know the strength of a trend, whether it’s going up or down. It is very helpful for recognizing strong downward trends. When you grasp the -DI, it helps you to make improved choices and prevents being caught off guard by unexpected changes in the market.

Ready to see how it works? This article will explain the steps for calculating and applying -DI. You’ll understand how to turn it into a strong partner within your trading plan for dealing with the challenging downward trends in the market. 

Exploring the Negative Directional Indicator 

The -DI is a very important part of the directional movement system. This system was created by Welles Wilder to calculate how strong trends are in the market. The -DI looks at how powerful the movements of prices going down are and it works together with the +DI so that people can understand which way the market is moving.

The essential function of the -DI is to aid traders and analysts in understanding how strong bearish trends are. It achieves this by examining the gap between current lows and those from before, combining it with what’s called the average true range for that time period; Wilder was the one who first brought up this idea. The outcome is a number that goes up and down with the market, getting higher when there are more sellers. When the -DI line goes up, especially if it goes over the +DI line, it shows that sellers in the market are becoming stronger and a downward trend is starting to take hold.

The importance of this indicator in technical analysis is that it gives clear signals about how strong downtrends are. For traders who concentrate on short-selling or want to prevent possible losses when the market goes down, the -DI provides useful information. The -DI helps traders by showing not only that a downward trend exists but also that it might get worse, so they can make better choices when starting or leaving trades. It is useful for placing stop-loss or trailing stop-loss orders too, which decreases the chance of losing money if the market quickly goes down.

Furthermore, when looking at the market as a whole, the -DI improves how much a trader knows about how markets move. It gives them something they can measure and see that shows how strong downtrends are. This adds to other tools for analyzing things and assists in creating an all-around plan for trading. This is very helpful in markets that are not stable, because it can be hard to tell the difference between small changes that happen quickly and big drops that continue for a while.

Mechanics of the Negative Directional Indicator

The -DI plays a vital role in the DMS, created by Welles Wilder to help find and make use of patterns in the market. In this system, -DI acts as an opposite to the +DI and offers an in-depth look at how strong downward trends are.

The workings of the -DI come from figuring out the directional movement (DM). To do this for the -DI, you look at how much lower one period’s low is compared to the previous period’s low. When the low of this period is less than the low of last time, it means there is a negative directional movement. To calculate -DI from this, we make it relative to average true range (ATR) so that various market situations fit in. Afterward, we smooth these values over usually 14 days which helps lessen volatility and makes the trend signal easier to understand.

Within the larger framework of the DMS, we utilize the -DI together with +DI and also incorporate the Average Directional Index (ADX). This ADX measures how strong a trend is without considering which way it goes by figuring out an exponential moving average that comes from what’s different between +DI and -DI. These three signs help people who trade to understand how strong and in what direction trends are moving, as well as to measure how much the market moves change and how steady they are.

Grasping how the -DI works in the DMS system helps traders to decide with more detail by looking carefully at trend movements. It’s very important for creating plans that can adjust when market conditions change, especially when there are significant downward trends.

Insights Provided by -DI

The -DI is very important for understanding when the market conditions are going down. It helps to show how strong and lasting these downward trends might be. The -DI measures how much prices move down and looks at this against past data, giving traders useful information that they can use when making choices about their trades.

When traders study the Negative Directional Indicator (-DI), they mainly observe where it is compared to the Positive Directional Indicator (+DI) and how both move alongside the Average Directional Index (ADX). If -DI goes up, especially if it goes higher than +DI, this usually means that sellers are stronger in the market. This shows that there is more pressure to sell and it usually comes before the price of a stock or index goes down more. If the ADX also goes up, it means this trend of falling prices is getting stronger.

On the other side, when the -DI is going down it shows that the strength of sellers is getting less. This could mean that there will soon be fewer price drops or prices might start to become steady. For traders who want to stop betting on falling prices or get ready for a change in the trend, this information is very important.

Additionally, the -DI gives an understanding of how unstable the downward trends are. If this indicator goes up quickly, it might show that there is a strong growth in how much people want to sell because something unexpected happened or because the feelings about the market have shifted. However, if the increases are slow, it could mean that there is a steady growth of negative market strength, caused by economic reasons or conditions over a long period.

When traders combine the -DI’s insights with a wider market analysis and different technical indicators, they get better at understanding how the market behaves. This helps them to decide more wisely on when to start or end trades, place stop-loss orders, and control risk better when the market is going down.

Computational Guide to -DI

-DI is a component of Welles Wilder’s Wilder’s directional movement system and it is important for recognizing how strong the market trends are when they go down. It is necessary for traders to learn how to calculate -DI if they use technical analysis to make trading choices. Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating the -DI, complete with necessary mathematical formulas: 

Step 1: Calculate Directional Movements

The first step involves identifying the directional movements for each trading day:

-DM is found by subtracting the last low from this low only if it’s bigger than taking away the last high from this high. If it does not happen like that, or we get a number less than zero when doing subtraction, then minus DM will be nothing.

Image of the Directional Movements Formula

Step 2: Calculate the True Range (TR)

The True Range is the greatest of the following:

  • The difference between the current high and the current low
  • The difference between the current high and the previous close
  • The difference between the current low and the previous close

Image of the True Range formula

Step 3: Smooth the -DM and TR

Wilder recommended smoothing these values using a modified moving average calculated over a period, typically 14 days.

Step 4: Calculate the -DI

The -DI is calculated by dividing the smoothed -DM by the smoothed TR, then multiplying by 100 to express it as a percentage.

-DI formula

Example Calculation:

Suppose the -DM for a stock over 14 days is calculated and smoothed to be 150, and the smoothed TR for the same period is 300. The -DI would be calculated as follows:

-DI = (150/300) * 100 = 50%

This indicates a significant bearish strength, suggesting that the downward trend is strong.

Knowing and computing the -DI helps traders to have better understanding of market tendencies, assisting them in making choices about the power of bearish movements.

Negative Directional Indicator VS. Moving Averages

In technical analysis, traders often compare the benefits of different indicators to choose one that matches well with their trading style. The -DI and moving averages are both widely used tools; however, they have separate functions and give distinct information about how the market is behaving. Knowing the unique benefits and differences of each can enhance a trader’s ability to make informed decisions. 

Functionality and Focus:

The -DI is made for checking how strong and clear the falling patterns are in the market. It looks at the lowest points of now and before to see if there are signs that show much stronger downward trends happening. This renders the -DI essential for traders aiming to measure a downtrend’s momentum and perhaps predict turnarounds.

On the other hand, moving averages make the price data smooth by making one line that flows. This makes it easier to see where the market trend is going for a certain time. They focus less on momentum and more on understanding how fast and in what direction prices are changing. Moving averages don’t exactly show how strong the price changes are, but they do give a clear picture of the direction prices are going over time.

Response to Market Conditions:

The -DI becomes more active in response to market situations that particularly influence negative trends. It goes up as the market indicates stronger movements downward, giving a distinct indication of growing pressure from sellers. This can be very useful in markets that change a lot, where it is important to know how strong the trends are when you want to sell short or protect your investments.

Moving averages have a delay since they use previous prices. They are helpful to confirm which way the trend is going, but because they react slowly, there might be chances missed or times when you enter or leave the market too late if things move quickly.

Benefits and Applications:

The main advantage of using the -DI compared to moving averages is that it gives specific details about how strong a downtrend is, which can be very important for tactics focused on finding when bearish trends begin or finish. People who trade can apply the -DI to improve their grasp of what people feel about the market and make better decisions on when to enter or exit trades during downward movements.

Moving averages do not show how strong a trend is but give a wider perspective of the market situation. They are good for confirming if trends exist and help to decide where to set stop losses. These averages are adaptable and can be added into different trading plans, which is helpful for traders who want an overall look at market trends.

To summarize, the -DI and moving averages are very useful when doing technical analysis. They work better together, based on what the trader’s plan is and how the market is at that time.

Practical Application: -DI in Market Scenarios

The -DI serves well for spotting and making use of downward trends in the market. You can notice its usage when looking at how Google’s (GOOG) prices changed during 2024.

Case Study: Google Stock Performance in 2024

The price chart of GOOG between January and May 2024 shows a good use of the minus Directional Indicator for finding chances to trade.

Early April Pullback:

At the end of April, Google’s stock price went up quickly when they said they would buy back many of their own shares. This created the biggest rise in its value chart. But this strong positive trend did not last for a long time. Some days after, the talks on Q1 profits showed differences between the big seven tech companies such as Google and Facebook. This made Google’s share price go down a lot after they shared their earnings. The negative Directional Indicator went up fast at this time, showing that more people were expecting the stock prices to fall. When the Negative Directional Indicator (-DI) went higher than the Positive one (+DI), people who were watching this could guess that prices might go down more and decide to sell or lower their current buys.

Below is GOOG year-to-date price chart, featuring the Directional Movement Index (DMI):

Below is GOOG’s year-to-date price chart, featuring the DMI.

GOOG’s YTD Price Chart with DMI, Jan-early May 2024

Mid-May Recovery:

After the company shared its earnings and there was a decrease, the story of the market changed when stock repurchases became the most since 2018. This started an increase in Google’s share price at the beginning of May’s second week, resulting in a significant improvement. The -DI started going down, which meant that the bearish trend was getting weaker, and at the same time +DI went up indicating a stronger bullish trend. Traders might have used this crossing of lines as a signal to change their trades to long positions to benefit from the price increase that followed.


The case study shows that the -DI is good at showing when there are downtrends and how strong they are, giving traders a trustworthy way to make early decisions. When traders use the -DI in their analysis tools, it helps them spot chances to sell or start short trades better, which makes their trading plans work well with the current market situation. 

Pros and Cons

The -DI is an important device for those who do technical analysis, as it helps them understand how strong the downtrends are. Although this indicator can be very useful, there are certain drawbacks that traders need to think about. Here’s an evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of using the -DI:


  • The -DI is very good at finding and measuring how strong downtrends are. It looks at how much prices go down compared to past times, which helps traders understand if a downtrend is becoming stronger or weaker. This skill is especially useful for not leaving short positions too early and for improving the timing when you enter trades before expected market falls.
  • Risk Management: The -DI helps in showing how strong the bearish trends are, which is useful for traders to handle risk. If the -DI goes up and shows that there’s a stronger movement going down, then traders can change their plans to protect against possible losses. They might do this by making stop-loss orders stricter or by using hedging on their positions.
  • Objective decision-making: The -DI method gives a planned way to look at market directions, which lowers the need for personal opinions and feelings. This calculation creates a solid foundation for deciding on trades, making trading plans more disciplined and steady.


  • Like other technical indicators, the -DI is a lagging indicator because it uses old price information. This can make responses to market shifts slow and traders might miss the best times to start or leave trades when the market moves quickly.
  • False Indicators: The -DI is good for seeing trends, but sometimes it gives wrong signals especially when the market moves a lot or prices are steady. This can make traders think there will be downtrends that don’t happen and cause incorrect trading decisions.
  • For people new to trading, understanding and interpreting the -DI might be complicated. If someone reads its signals wrong, it can cause bad choices in trading, especially if they use this indicator alone and don’t check with other information.

Generally, although the -DI is a strong instrument to evaluate the force of downward trends, it’s important for traders to apply it carefully and together with additional indicators and tools like trading signals and market examination methods. This helps make up for its weaknesses and improves the precision of their trade plans.


The Negative Directional Indicator (-DI) is a very useful instrument for traders who focus on finding and making the most of market trends that go down. It helps to know how strong these downward movements are, giving them an edge in dealing with the complicated aspects of different financial markets. The -DI is good for showing how strong the downtrends are, which helps traders decide wisely and improve their chances of making a profit while managing risks.

Traders must know that the -DI, similar to other tools for technical analysis, comes with its own limits. Because it lags and can create false signals, one should not rely on it alone. It is recommended for traders to use the -DI together with different indicators and methods of analyzing the market so they can trade in a more complete way.

The -DI is a tool in trading that, when used carefully and understood deeply by traders, can give them a better understanding of market movements. This understanding aids in managing trades more skillfully and making use of what down markets provide, resulting in more successful exchanges.

Negative Directional Indicator: FAQs

How Does the -DI Differ from the +DI?

The -DI tracks how strong the downward movements in price are. On the other side, the Positive Directional Indicator which is known as +DI keeps an eye on how robustly prices move up. In simple terms, when you see -DI going up it means that those who want to sell are more powerful in the market and when +DI increases it tells us that buyers have stronger influence right now. The two indicators belong to the directional movement index and we use them in combination for evaluating the general direction and power of market trends.

Can the -DI Be Used to Predict Potential Market Reversals?

The -DI is mainly used to measure how strong downtrends are instead of forecasting when they will change. But if the -DI starts going down and at the same time the Positive Directional Indicator (+DI) goes up, this could mean that the current downward trend is getting weaker and there might be a switch to an upward trend soon. People who trade usually search for points where the -DI line crosses over the +DI line because they think these could show when trends might change direction.

What Should Traders Look for When Interpreting -DI Signals?

Merchants need to watch the size and direction shift of -DI compared with +DI and average directional index (ADX). A rising -DI, especially if it goes beyond +DI, shows a stronger downtrend. This trend becomes more important when it goes with a high or increasing ADX, showing that the overall direction of the market is strong. People who trade should watch for differences between -DI and how prices move because these might give early hints about possible changes in the market.

How Effective Is the -DI in Different Market Conditions?

The -DI works best when the market shows a strong trend in one direction. But, its use is not so good when prices are moving sideways or unpredictably because then it can give signals that are not correct. Under these circumstances, it is wise to use the -DI with care and preferably together with additional technical indicators for confirming its signals.

What Complementary Indicators Can Enhance the Reliability of the -DI?

Further confirmation can be gained from trend visualization indicators. The zigzag indicator shows important price swings, which might confirm if the -DI is indicating a significant downtrend. The trend-following line on the supertrend indicator also gives visual confirmation. Moving averages are not typical volume-based tools, but traders can look at them for bigger trend direction. When people use the -DI together with these various indicators, it creates a stronger system to filter signs and find better chances in the falling trend.