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Finance Glossary

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200 Day, 50 Day Moving Averages


Moving averages are a series of snap shots of stocks' closing prices over a 50- or 200-day period when the market actually ran (or walked... or crawled).

The charts you see on traders' websites that show a bunch of lines going up and down? Those are the moving averages. Look closely and you'll see a line following the closing prices of a stock and another line either above or below that line. If a stock's price is headed up, there might be what traders call a support line under it. This one shows how low the price will drop before bouncing back up. If a stock is heading to tank-ville, there will be a line drawn above the averages. That one shows how far the stock will jump before it's pulled back down.

The idea is that you can use this info to get an  idea of how the stock's doing and how it might do in the future.

Of course, trying to predict how stocks will do over the long term is a lousy idea. Even financial types in big jets who are paid to predict how stocks will do are right only about as often as the Psychic Friends Network. Stocks don't always follow averages: when they don't they surge past the resistance or support lines, it's called a break out.