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Ulcer Index (UI) Indicator – Trading Strategies and Tips

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ulcer index indicator

The Ulcer Index (UI) indicator is a risk assessment tool that measures the depth and duration of price declines from previous highs, providing insights into downside volatility.

It can be used to evaluate the risk levels associated with a certain investment, helping traders make informed decisions and risk-adjusted performance. A higher Ulcer Index reading indicates greater downside risk, while a lower reading suggests lower risk.

  • The Ulcer Index indicator was designed to assess the magnitude and duration of price declines from their previous highs.
  • It can also be used to identify overbought and oversold conditions.
  • The UI indicator best suits long-term investors looking to buy an asset following a significant price decline.
  • The greater a drawdown, the greater the increase in value.

This guide covers everything you need to start integrating the UI indicator into your trading system, from how to install it to how to use it in your strategies.

What is the Ulcer Index (UI) Indicator and How Does It Work?

The Ulcer Index (UI) technical analysis indicator assists in gauging the downside risk associated with price declines and offers meaningful insights into the market’s dynamics.

It was designed to assess the magnitude and duration of price declines from their previous highs. Its purpose lies in equipping traders and investors with a clear understanding of the potential risks involved in a particular investment. By utilizing this indicator, market participants can gain valuable insights into a given security’s volatility and downside potential.

In terms of display, the Ulcer Index indicator is available on a separate window on the main chart. It visually represents the downside risk, allowing you to observe the patterns and trends associated with price declines. By monitoring the Ulcer Index alongside other technical indicators, such as moving average crossovers or Relative Strength Index (RSI) readings above or below certain thresholds like 70 or 30, you can elevate the quality of your trading decisions. 

As the Ulcer index measures the downside risk of assets, it is, therefore, usually used by long-term investors who utilize the swing and position trading strategies. Once a trader notices a spike in the Ulcer index indicator’s values, it is a signal to buy the asset. However, most short-term traders do not use the indicator as it is mostly used as a statistical measure by long-term investors to determine the relative risk of assets.

ulcer index indicator

Now, let us examine the intricacies of calculating the Ulcer Index. The Ulcer Performance Index calculation is based on a specific formula considering the percentage decline and the time elapsed since the previous high.

Here’s the Ulcer Index calculation

  • Percentage Drawdown = [(Close – 14-period High Close)/14-period High Close] x 100
  • Squared Average = (14-period Sum of Percentage Drawdown Squared)/14 
  • Ulcer Index = Square Root of Squared Average

It is important to note that the Ulcer Index indicator adopts a parameter range of 0 to 4, with 2 serving as the average or zero level. Consequently, a higher reading on the Ulcer Index denotes a greater downside risk, whereas a lower reading indicates a lesser degree of risk. By default, the Ulcer Index employs a 14-period calculation, although this can be adjusted according to your preferences and trading style.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Ulcer Index lies in its adaptability. The indicator may be displayed in different formats depending on the trading platform or charting software employed. Some platforms may present it as a line graph, while others may adopt a histogram or a separate sub-chart. Regardless of the format, the underlying principle remains consistent — providing valuable insights into downside risk.

While the Ulcer Index proves beneficial for traders across different timeframes, it holds particular favor among long-term investors who invest in stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. This is attributed to the fact that long-term investors are more concerned with comprehending the overall risk and potential drawdowns associated with their investments.

How to Use the Ulcer Index Indicator in Trading

Generally speaking, the Ulcer Index (UI) primarily serves as a crucial tool in risk assessment, particularly in scenarios where investors consider standard deviation as a factor in making investment decisions. However, because of this risk assessment feature, it is rarely used as a trade entry indicator.

However, there are ways to use the UI indicator for trade entries with a reasonable level of success.

Use the Ulcer Index Indicator to Buy the Dip

The most conventional way of using the Ulcer Index indicator is to buy an asset when you notice an unusual spike in the Ulcer Index values. Conversely, you can short-sell when the indicator drops significantly.

Since the Ulcer Index calculates the time period and the percentage drawdown compared to the asset’s previous highs, it essentially suggests a recovery in price. Therefore, when this happens, the UI indicator provides a strong signal for a price reversal.

However, as the Ulcer Index indicator is not the most reliable indicator and often generates false signals, it is highly recommended to use it with other technical analysis tools. One such tool could be Fibonacci support and resistance retracement levels.

In the example below, you can see how the price reversed sharply after the UI’s value spiked. In that scenario, you should buy with a stop loss below the lowest level of the previous price swing and set a take-profit order at one of the Fibonacci resistance levels.

Ulcer index price reversal

The Upside Turning

As mentioned, the Ulcer Index is not the indicator you want to turn to when looking for trade entry signals. However, we’ve found a technique that works well enough to be able to help you with some trade signals, especially for short-term traders.

But before we move to the trading rules, this strategy can be easier to trade when the indicator is on your chart instead of its separate window. You can do this on TradingView by hovering on the indicator line until your arrow cursor turns to a pointer cursor. Then click and drag the indicator onto your main chart.

You will then see the indicator overlays on the price chart:

Ulcer index on price chart

The image above is what your chart looks like afterward. The indicator levels appear on the left bar, while the price levels appear on the right bar.

Now, here are the rules you need to follow to utilize this strategy:

  1. Wait for the indicator to enter the red zone and carefully watch the line. Typically, the line should progressively record lower levels. 
  2. The moment the indicator records a level higher than what it was previously, sells. The price is likely to reverse.

Take note that this technique only works on bearish trades. But if you think about it, it makes sense because the farther above the price goes over the highest point within the indicator’s period, the deeper the indicator sinks. So, if the indicator reaches a bottom, it means the price has reached a peak.

Ulcer Index Indicator Trading Strategy Tutorial

The Ulcer Index (UI) indicator is a valuable tool for traders, providing insights into risk assessment and volatility analysis. In this section, we will guide you through a trading strategy using the UI indicator. By following the steps outlined below, you can effectively trade financial assets using the UI indicator.

Step 1: Add the Indicator

The first step is to add the UI indicator to your chart. Here’s how to do it on Tradingview:

  1. Click on the “Indicators” button located at the top of the chart.
  2. Type “Ulcer Index” in the search box and select it from the available options.
  3. The indicator will now be visually represented on the chart.
ulcer index add the indicator

Remember that if you’re on MT4 or MT5, you must download and install the indicator manually before using it.

Step 2: Find Trading Signals and Enter a Trade

As previously mentioned, the ideal way to use the Ulcer Index indicator is to buy once the price significantly falls and the indicator’s value increases sharply. In that scenario, you’ll buy the asset with a tight stop loss below the lowest level of the previous bearish price swing. 

To avoid false signals, you should add other technical analysis indicators, such as the RSI and Fibonacci support and resistance levels.

Ulcer index indicator how to trade

As shown in the GBP/USD chart above, we use the Relative Strength Index indicator to confirm the buying signal. A buying signal is given whenever the Ulcer index indicator provides a buying signal and the RSI hovers below the 30 level.

Step 3: Place a Stop Loss and Take Profit Target

At last, you must plan your trade and trade your plan. And, as we always say, one of the best techniques to find trade exit levels is using Fibonacci retracement levels. In the example below, we drew Fibonacci retracement levels to find crucial levels to exit the trade easily.

UI indicator sl and tp

Looking at the chart above, you can see that stop loss could be placed at the closest Fibonacci support level below our entry level. As for a take-profit order, determining your exit level can be more flexible. Essentially, you can place your take-profit order at the closest resistance levels, although this very much depends on your trading style.

Ulcer Index (UI) Indicator – Pros and Cons

As a trader, having the right tools at your disposal is essential. The Ulcer Index (UI) indicator is one such tool that can provide valuable insights into risk assessment and volatility analysis. However, like any trading indicator, it has its pros and cons. Here are some benefits and limitations to take note of:

Benefits of Using the UI Indicator

There’s no doubt that the UI Indicator can supercharge your trading experience, especially if you are a long-term trader. It provides a deeper understanding of the risk associated with different stocks, mutual funds, and other financial instruments. This helps in making informed decisions and effectively managing risk.  

The UI indicator is also a powerful tool for technical analysis, validating trading signals, and enhancing overall analysis when used alongside other indicators and chart patterns. Of course, those are just a few of the benefits; here are even more benefits to consider:


  • The UI indicator helps measure risk and drawdown levels in trading, enabling informed decision-making and effective risk management
  • It allows for easy comparison of volatility levels among forex pairs and financial instruments, aiding in evaluating and selecting stocks based on risk tolerance and trading preferences
  • The UI indicator serves as a powerful tool for technical analysis, validating trading signals, and providing a comprehensive view of market dynamics

Limitations of the UI Indicator

The UI indicator also has certain limitations that traders should be aware of. Firstly, the UI is a lagging indicator that relies on past price data, which may not always capture real-time market conditions. 

Also, the customization of parameters in the UI indicator introduces subjectivity, as different traders may choose different settings, leading to inconsistent interpretation of signals. 

In sum, here are some of the flaws of the UI indicator.


  • Relying solely on the UI indicator for trading decisions may provide a partial picture of market dynamics.
  • The UI indicator is based on past price data, making it a lagging indicator that may not always reflect real-time market conditions
  • It is quite difficult to use the indicator for short-term trading strategies

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways
  1. The Ulcer Index (UI) indicator is a powerful tool for measuring risk and comparing volatility in trading.
  2. Using the UI strategy, you can identify levels where the price is about to reverse to the upside.
  3. It is best to use the UI indicator with other momentum indicators such as the RSI, and MACD. Another technical analysis tool that works effectively with the UI indicator is Fibonacci support and resistance levels.
  4. While the UI indicator has limitations, such as being a lagging indicator and subjective parameter settings, it can still enhance trading performance when used in conjunction with other indicators and analysis techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions About Trading the Ulcer Index Indicator

Here are some of the most common questions about the Ulcer Index indicator:

What does the Ulcer Index indicator measure?

The Ulcer Index indicator measures risk and drawdown levels in trading. Much like the Sharpe ratio which measures risk-adjusted return (or risk-free return), the UI indicator is a risk measure tool that provides insights into the volatility and potential downside risk associated with stocks or financial instruments.

How do you trade with the Ulcer Index Indicator?

To trade with the Ulcer Index indicator, you can follow a strategy that focuses on the turning point of the indicator. When the Ulcer Index falls into the red zone, you can sell when the line rises from its previous level. Additionally, you can buy the dip once you notice a significant increase in the indicator values.

What is the Ulcer Index of a portfolio?

The Ulcer Index of a portfolio measures the risk and drawdown levels of the portfolio as a whole. It takes into account the performance of multiple stocks or financial instruments within the portfolio to assess the overall risk and volatility. A lower Ulcer Index suggests lower drawdown risk and potentially more stable performance for the portfolio.

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Risk Disclosure: The information provided in this article is not intended to give financial advice, recommend investments, guarantee profits, or shield you from losses. Our content is only for informational purposes and to help you understand the risks and complexity of these markets by providing objective analysis. Before trading, carefully consider your experience, financial goals, and risk tolerance. Trading involves significant potential for financial loss and isn't suitable for everyone.

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