What’s a 52-week High and Low?

A stock’s 52-week high and low are its maximum and minimum closing prices within the last year (52 weeks). Investors use these metrics to guide trading decisions and define long-term support and resistance levels.

Understanding 52-week highs and lows

Also called a 52-week range, the 52-week high and low represents a stock’s highest and lowest closing prices in a year. With each passing week, the scale shifts forward, removing the oldest week and updating the appropriate number(s).

It’s important to note that each number is based on closing, not intraday, prices. It’s not uncommon for a stock to breach its high or low intraday and retreat by close.

As such, the 52-week high also denotes a stock’s resistance level, or highest price in a given period. Conversely, the 52-week low serves as its support level, or lowest price.

Traders often use the 52-week range as technical indicators to gauge a stock’s current value or predict future price movements. Many rely on these long-term resistance and support levels to determine potential entry (buy) and exit (sell) points.

52-Week High and Low Example

For a brief example, let’s look at Microsoft’s 52-week performance between December 16, 2021 and December 15, 2022.

Graphical user interface, chart, applicationDescription automatically generated

Source: MarketWatch

As we can see, Microsoft hit its 52-week closing high on December 27, 2021 at $342.45. Around ten months later, Microsoft plunged to its 52-week closing low of $214.25 on November 3, 2022. Therefore, its 52-week range is $214.25 to $342.45.

How does a 52-week high and low affect you?

Some traders believe that a stock will generally trade within its 52-week range short-term, and a breakout (breach) can therefore spur increased trading activity.

Traders may see a stock that tops its 52-week high intraday but closes below resistance as unable to breakout. This can trigger losses as investors set take-profit orders to maximize gains. But if it sets a new 52-week high, traders may pile on a rally, potentially raising the resistance level.

Conversely, if a stock hits a new 52-week low intraday but closes above support, bargain hunters may swoop in. This can result in profits if the stock’s price climbs again. But if the stock breaches the 52-week low, traders may sense a bearish decline ahead. Some may initiate stop-loss orders to circumvent potential declines, resulting in a new support level as the price drops.

Note that the exact trade (buying, selling or shorting) depends on whether investors see the stock reversing or charging ahead. Acting on current sentiment can even spark a self-fulfilling prophecy where prices either cross or retreat from the respective 52-week barrier.

What this means for you

Traders may rely on a stock’s 52-week high and low to guide their investments. While these numbers provide resistance and support levels, they’re ultimately imperfect metrics. After all, it’s impossible to guarantee a stock’s future behavior.

Accuracy aside, we at Q.ai believe that modern investors shouldn’t have to waste their time on complicated technical analysis. That’s why our artificial intelligence does the hard work for you, from scanning charts to investigating hot trends.

If you’re ready to invest like a hedge fund from the comfort of your couch, our Investment Kits make the seemingly possible, possible.

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