A golden cross and a death cross are exact opposites. A golden cross indicates a long-term bull market going forward, while death cross signals a long-term bear market. Both refer to the solid confirmation of a long-term trend by the occurrence of a short-term moving average crossing over a major long-term moving average.
The golden cross occurs when a short-term moving average crosses over a major long-term moving average to the upside and is interpreted by analysts and traders as signaling a definitive upward turn in a market. Conversely, a similar downside moving average crossover constitutes the death cross and is understood to signal a decisive downturn in a market. Either crossover is considered more significant when accompanied by high trading volume. Once the crossover occurs, the long-term moving average is considered a major support level (in the case of the golden cross) or resistance level (in the instance of the death cross) for the market from that point forward. Either cross may occur as a signal of a trend change, but they more frequently occur as a strong confirmation of a change in trend that has already taken place.
Meaningful Moving Average Crossover
There is some variation of opinion as to precisely what constitutes this meaningful moving average crossover. Some analysts define it as a crossover of the 100-day moving average by the 50-day moving average; others define it as the crossover of the 200-day average by the 50-day average. Analysts also watch for the crossover occurring on lower time frame charts as confirmation of a strong, ongoing trend. Regardless of variations in the precise definition or the time frame applied, the term always refers to a short-term moving average crossing over a major long-term moving average.