Pretty Good Oscillator

The world of financial markets is vast and complex, with a multitude of indicators available to help traders make informed decisions. One such indicator is the Pretty Good Oscillator (PGO), also known as the PG oscillator, created by Mark Johnson. The Pretty Good Oscillator is a price-based indicator that measures the distance of the current close from its N-day Simple Moving Average (SMA) expressed in terms of an Average True Range (ATR) over a similar period. In this article, we will delve into the workings of the Pretty Good Oscillator, its calculation, interpretation, and how it can be used to generate buying and selling signals.

Pretty Good Oscillator
Pretty Good Oscillator

Understanding the Pretty Good Oscillator (PGO)

The Pretty Good Oscillator is a technical analysis tool designed to provide insights into the momentum and volatility of an asset’s price movement. It combines the concepts of moving averages and the Average True Range to create an oscillator that oscillates around a centerline, offering traders indications of potential price trends and reversals.

Calculating the PGO

To calculate the Pretty Good Oscillator, the following steps are involved:

  1. Calculate the N-day Simple Moving Average (SMA) of the asset’s closing prices. The default period for N is typically set to 14, but this can be adjusted based on a trader’s preference and the market’s characteristics.
  2. Subtract the current period’s closing price from the N-day SMA calculated in step 1.
  3. Compute the N-day Exponential Moving Average (EMA) of the Average True Range (ATR) over the same period used in step 1. The ATR measures the asset’s volatility and helps account for market fluctuations.
  4. Divide the result from step 2 by the result from step 3.

The formula can be summarized as follows:

PGO = (Closing Price – N-day SMA) / EMA(ATR)

The resulting value represents the Pretty Good Oscillator’s line, which fluctuates above and below a zero centerline.

Interpreting the PGO

The PGO indicator oscillates around the centerline, just like many other momentum oscillators. When the PGO line crosses above the centerline, it suggests that the price is moving upward, indicating potential bullish momentum. Conversely, when the PGO line crosses below the centerline, it suggests that the price is moving downward, indicating potential bearish momentum.

The amplitude of the PGO line’s movements is also significant. Larger movements away from the centerline indicate stronger momentum, while smaller movements suggest a less significant price trend. As with any oscillator, extreme values might indicate potential overbought or oversold conditions, signaling possible price reversals.

Utilizing the PGO for Trading Signals

Traders can employ the Pretty Good Oscillator to generate buying and selling signals, aiding them in making well-informed trading decisions. Here’s how to interpret the PGO for potential trading signals:

  1. Crossovers with the Centerline: When the PGO crosses above the centerline from below, it generates a bullish signal, suggesting the possibility of an uptrend. Conversely, when the PGO crosses below the centerline from above, it generates a bearish signal, indicating the potential for a downtrend.
  2. Divergence with Price: Divergence occurs when the PGO’s direction disagrees with the price movement. For example, if the price is making lower lows, but the PGO is making higher lows, it could indicate a potential bullish reversal. Conversely, if the price is making higher highs, but the PGO is making lower highs, it could signal a potential bearish reversal.
  3. Overbought and Oversold Conditions: Extreme readings on the PGO, well above or below the centerline, may indicate overbought or oversold conditions, respectively. Traders can use these indications as potential signals to enter or exit positions.
  4. Confirmation with Other Indicators: To increase the reliability of PGO signals, traders often combine it with other technical indicators or chart patterns. For instance, they may use the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) or Relative Strength Index (RSI) to corroborate the PGO signals.

Limitations of the PGO

While the Pretty Good Oscillator can be a valuable tool for traders, it is essential to recognize its limitations and use it in conjunction with other indicators and analysis techniques. Some of the limitations include:

  1. Whipsaw Signals: As with any oscillator, the PGO can generate whipsaw signals, especially in ranging markets. Traders should exercise caution and consider the prevailing market conditions before relying solely on PGO signals.
  2. Not Suitable for Trendless Markets: In choppy or trendless markets, the PGO’s signals may be less reliable and more prone to false indications.
  3. Subjectivity in Parameter Selection: The default period for the PGO is 14, but traders can adjust this value based on their preferences. However, different periods may lead to varying results, potentially causing confusion.
  4. Doesn’t Consider Fundamental Factors: The PGO is purely a price-based indicator and does not take into account fundamental factors that may influence the market.

Incorporating Risk Management

As with any trading strategy, risk management is paramount when using the Pretty Good Oscillator. Traders should implement proper risk controls to protect their capital and minimize potential losses. This may include setting stop-loss orders based on the PGO signals or the underlying price action. Additionally, position sizing based on the level of risk an individual is comfortable with is essential to manage overall portfolio exposure.


The Pretty Good Oscillator, created by Mark Johnson, is a valuable price-based indicator that combines moving averages and Average True Range to provide insights into an asset’s momentum and volatility. Traders can utilize the PGO to generate buying and selling signals, helping them make informed decisions in the dynamic world of financial markets.

As with any technical analysis tool, it is crucial to use the PGO in conjunction with other indicators and analysis methods. Additionally, understanding the prevailing market conditions and considering fundamental factors is essential to make the most of the PGO’s signals.

Remember that no single indicator can guarantee profits or predict market movements with absolute certainty. The Pretty Good Oscillator is a great tool when used judiciously, but prudent risk management and a comprehensive trading strategy are equally vital for success in the markets. By combining technical analysis with risk management and a disciplined approach, traders can enhance their probability of success and navigate the markets more confidently.

Free Forex Robot