A moving average makes it possible to "smooth" a series of values expressed according to time (time series). It is used to eliminate the least significant fluctuations. Moving averages of order 1, order 2, order 3 etc. are calculated. The order is the number of periods (years, quarters, months...) over which the moving average is calculated.
For example, calculating the moving average of order 3 for a monthly series of turnover figures over the period January 2001-January 2007 consists of calculating, for each month m, the mean turnover over the three months m-1, m and m+1. The calculation is only possible from the second month in the series (here, February 2001) and until the second-last month (December 2006).