Volume spread analysis is a school of thought that believes volume plays a crucial role in understanding moves of prices in financial markets. This text will highlight 5 core arguments that solidify this basic premise.
1- Technical analysis is not enough.
An argument in favor of technical analysis is the idea that the securities’ prices may not be linked to their fundamentals. The behavior of financial markets is frequently a result of momentum, confidence, and sentiment. In this sense, traders analyze security price chart to know what is the upside and downside potential.
However, reading the market solely from prices is insufficient. Markets move on supply and demand, and so, volumes are also an important part of the equation.
Volume Spread Analysis is a good way to understand how the concepts of supply and demand influence prices. It allows spotting imbalances between buyers and sellers by looking at prices and volumes.
VSA helps traders understand what the major players are doing and benefit from their actions. When a small trader buys or sells a pair, he/she certainly will not influence the price. However, when a big bank trades millions of a certain currency, this will probably move the market up or down. Usually, these big traders have more information and knowledge about the markets, so it is wise to be on their side. Through volume analysis, traders can know if market makers are buying or selling and take advantage of their positions.
2- It’s all about perceived value.
Fundamental analysis states that we can always grasp the intrinsic value of a financial instrument – stocks, currencies, commodities, etc. An assessment of the economy would allow traders to explain oscillations in prices.
On the contrary, volume-based traders say that to fully know what goes on in the markets, we should rely on perceived values instead of intrinsic value. And what does perceived value mean? This is how different professional traders view a financial instrument. And this is always contextual and acquired through an analysis of volume.
Below you can find the evolution of the price to book value since 2000 of the S&P 500. This metric is considered an approximation of the perceived value. It’s possible to see how traders permanently evaluate companies above their book value, taking in mind other analysis besides the fundamental one.
3- Price and volume are inter-related.
Past prices are an important aspect to understand moves in financial markets. However, the analysis of price is not enough.
A lot of technical analysis theories say we can solely rely on the analysis of price to understand the next move. These can take the form of different theories: Dow theory, Elliot wave theory, harmonic theory, candle-based trade, etc. The bottom line for all these traders is that everything is reflected in prices and different patterns.
Volume spread analysts say that the analysis of price is incomplete. We need to understand where the money is and where it will be in the future. Only then we can try to predict what is going to happen in the markets.
4- The cause of moves is volume.
We already dismissed fundamental and technical analysis as the sole explanations for moves in financial markets. Now, let’s look at how volume spread analysts justify these moves.
In their opinion, we need to look at prices in relation to volume. It is only this interconnection between price action and volume that justifies moves in financial markets.
In the chart below you can observe how major moves in prices or price reversions were always accompanied by volumes higher than normal. An analysis of volume in this situation would help traders identify these movements of prices.
5 – It’s all about understanding the role of different traders in the market.
The 5th core idea is that different kinds of traders carry different sorts of information – and we can base our trading strategy on this idea.
Volume spread analysis tends to emphasize three different types of traders: retail, commercial and professional. Retail traders are those who have small accounts and tend to trade erratically. They do not have any particular trading strategy and traditionally tend to buy and sell when the uptrend/downtrend is exhausted.
Commercial traders are investment banks whose function is to place orders in the market to satisfy clients’ needs. They can also function as market makers. These traders have an impact because they often carry large orders, which usually cause volatility. However, they don’t have any strong rationale supporting their trading decisions.
Professional traders are large traders that are in the game to win, and they are behind most trends. These are the types of traders that volume spread analysis tends to be concerned with – the successful volume trader is the one that detects what these traders are doing.
The following chart illustrates the power of large traders in moving the markets. On the left side, large traders reduced their positions, which caused a downside movement in prices. Prices traded sideways while these traders had stable positions and, when they started buying, prices moved upside. A small trader aware of what large traders were doing could follow their steps and take advantage of this information.
For the past months, Euro/Yen has seen buying between 121.00 – 124.50, shown by the multiple strong signals at this area, and the high volumes at the bottom. It’s a quite loose accumulation pattern, since the market made a lower low at mid April (point 2) than the first bottom at February/2016 (point 1), along with the very significant selling seen on the lower timeframes, on the last rally (point 3). There is also a down trendline nearby, and due to these reasons, I’d be more inclined to trade a break-out of it on a lower timeframe such as H4, where it’ll be easier to manage the trade for a faster exit.
In the 4-hours timeframe, in point 1 VSA marked the bar as Major Supply, and as Supply using multi-timeframe analysis (showing as a circle). In this lower timeframe the most recent buying can be more easily seen, starting in point 2, where the arrows are pointing. Those are either high volume bars (red painted bars), which after a strong fall and price congestion, show demand in a more ‘disguised’ way than the VSA signals, and 2 VSA Demand signals. In point 3 there is another Demand signal, which is also a churn.
It’ll be valuable to see if there is a break-out of the trendline for a long trade, and to be alert for supply signals in the zone of previous supply, painted as the red rectangle. At 24/May (Tuesday) German ZEW Economic Sentiment is being announced, which if positive, could provide a price boost towards 124.670.
In this trade a long was taken at the strong VSA signal, though there was distribution behind. This is seen by the multiple Major Supply signals, with the prices not advancing further. A bit after, there was an upthrust bar (pink bar), showing more supply, and a successful no-demand test (light pink bar).
In the entry point there was some buying, though it wasn’t enough to stop the trend. The buy-stop should also have been set above this bar’s high (https://www.analyticaltrader.com/trading-guide/vsa-trading-setups/trend-trading/supplydemand-background/), which comes as a price confirmation of strength.
After breaking the down trendline mentioned in our latest analysis post, AUDJPY started a healthy uptrend. On the 80.500-80.600 level high volume without any price progress was seen, and on a news event it went down on a wide range, in the 15 minutes timeframe. On a reaction to this down move, while the background was weak, a down reversal appeared (on sensitivity 4, which has the best Rating on this pair/timeframe), where the short was taken. A Minor Supply Signal confirmed the weakness on this reaction. The stop-loss was set above the previous high, and the take-profit near the up trendline, for a +29 pips move.
On the last post I noted that USDJPY was on a trading range, and the closest zone to watch was between 106.200 – 106.300. Prices reached that zone on the Asian session, and did so on wide high volume bars, breaking-out 106.200 to the downside, which also made the background turn to weak. The price was still sustained for a few hours after demand, but a few hours before London’s open, the activity spiked up again and more selling showed up again as a wide-range down bar, closing on its lows. These lower prices didn’t held up for long though, and after one more demand signal from VSA, the prices broke a down trendline and kept the uptrend until heavy supply hit the market and turned it sideways, onto the trading range we are seeing at the present. USDJPY is also getting to the break-out point of 107.600 support, which is important because that is the last point where many sellers got in. I would like to see a small rally after this downtrend, or the background turning weak, to consider taking short positions. Any position will have to be taken at most at tomorrow’s London session and in a low timeframe, as NFP is on Friday.
This pair is near a support, at 79.527, and near a down trendline now at 80.100. Yesterday we have seen more demand above the formed support, though the rally after it failed spectacularly after there was no follow-up to the very high volume candle, with VSA showing a minor Supply signal 2 bars afterwards. The correction is showing low volumes, hinting at a temporary lack of supply, and the background is very strong. Reversals at sensitivity 7 have a good record on this pair and timeframe, even weeks back, and one near the support would be a possible long entry point. The safest would be to wait for the trendline break though, for confirmation. Meanwhile the prices are reaching the demand zone and it’s also important to be on the look-out for selling in the form of wide high volume down bars, like was seen on USDJPY yesterday on a similar occasion. Together with USDJPY, if the price/development confirms it, they could be two good pairs to trade against each other (one long and one short), since they are positively correlated by 50% due to the Yen.
Like I wrote in last Monday’s post, it was likely for the uptrend to continue due to the major shakeout, in the first blue rectangle. After the rally on the Asian session, yesterday by the end of NY session, we have seen one good VSA setup which will often mark as Top Reversal, near a zone of previous supply.
The reason why we commonly should consider this as sign of weakness are:
1. Volumes were decreased on two up bars when this candle tried to break 1.1050 level.
2. On the second try, which is marked in the 2nd blue rectangle, confirmed this as Top Reversal. Combination of two bars give us insight that supply has swamped the demand. First bar is marked up with very high volume and closing on the highs. And the next bar rapidly reverses down on a wide spread and closing on the lows.
The market went down quickly after, which gave no opportunity for a confirmation, in the form of an upthrust or no-demand bars. But as there was an up trendline nearby, its break would be another confirmation (Trendline breakout), of course, if you happened to be watching the markets in the mid of Tokyo’s session! EURUSD kept on downtrending and only more weakness after a significant rally would give another opportunity for a short. Below the support at 1.09394 I expect more demand to show up, as the trades who bought at the shake-out earlier might still be interesting in buying more at those prices.
After the confident 1.42450 and 1.40650 support breakout, prices haven’t managed to make the same thing with 1.38460 support, and now British Pound market tests the 1.40650 resistance level.
During previous 2 weeks bearish market confirmed its sentiment:
In point 1 prices tested 1.43890 resistance level which showed the interest from institutional players and was marked by VSA Indicator as W1 supply signal. Before that, in point 2, market showed, that there were no strong signs of the imbalance near 1.42450 support level which meant, that big players were not going to change its short positions to long ones.
There was a 1.42450 support level breakout on high volume which again showed initial sentiment of the market. As the result of that breakout, the 1.40650 support level went through as well, and the steady downfall of the market stopped at the level 1.3846.
Points 4 and 5 suggest that minor demand signals and low volatility on the bottom of the market is not the sign of the bearish trend finishing. The beginning of a sideways is possible, which is confirmed by neutral background.
Due to the absence of stronger demand signals on the bottom of the market, now it is too early to speak about the change in GBP market sentiment. In current situation it is important to see how the market will behave near the 1.4065 level and above it, if such situation happens. In case of a supply signal near the resistance, or no demand with a volatile down candle after it, it’s possible to take a short position, but only on weak background.
If there is 1.40650 breakout candle on high volume, it will be the time to start searching for long positions.
GBPUSD H4 – Downtrend and VSA
Having tested the 1.10050 short-term support in the point 1, the Euro went above 1.10440 level, and revealed, that there was no smart money interest near the 1.10684 long-term resistance, which was confirmed by low volumes in the point 2. The point 3 is the place where prices went beyond the 1.10440 level, and above average volume on down candle with the supply from VSA indicator showing the bearish sentiment of the market.
In the point 4 there was the 1.10050 and 1.09590 support breakout on high volumes – the good sign of confident bearish trend. Next evidence of down sentiment of the market is the point 5, the place, where prices successfully tested 1.09590 level resistance – it remained unbroken. Moreover, it was the good place for big players to add to short positions – that’s what they did, as the high volume volatile down candle showed. After that the 1.09150 level was went through, and the market eventually paused its down motions by 1.08380 level.
The current market situation can’t be called the end of the bearish trend due to the absence of the strong demand VSA indicator signals and to weak background.
Undoubtedly, there are demand signals in the point 6 and 7, but the volumes are not too high to be stopping volume and the up candle volatility after it, is around average.
So in the current situation the full picture will be seen at the 1.09150 resistance level. In case of high volume breakout candle, previous short positions should be closed and possibly reversed for long positions. If there are supply signals at the 1.09150 resistance level or low volumes near it as no demand signal, it’s possible to open new short positions or to add to current shorts.
From the beginning of February we saw a downtrend on GBP/USD. After 16th February’s support break out on level 1.44000, there was a bear sign on the point 1 and 2. In the point 1, there was a supply candle near mid-term resistance level, which was detected by VSA indicator. Next, a high volume down candle appeared 22 February on the support breakout which approved the bearish sentiment. Then the signs of bearish work were evident in the point 3 and 4.
Point 3 was the first 1.41000 resistance test on high volume, and in the point 4 market showed that there was no demand above the resistance level, but the price is attractive to add to current sell positions or to open new ones, and prices fell sharply breaking out 1.39000 resistance with the support of opening sell positions of institutional investors and other big players.
The situation near the 1.41000 level is represented in top right corner of the screen, where new opening sell positions of big players caused upthrust – breaking the resistance up and then coming back down. After this dynamic trend turned down and it was the best opportunity to open short positions.
There are no bullish signals in the market, so trend tends to continue its step down motion. The possible position opening point will be the area near 1.39000 resistance, so in case of bullish intention absence at the bottom and supply power / no demand signals near 1.39000 level, sell positions are likely to benefit. Resistance tests and upthrusts will be good signals in this case.
During the last 3 days, from 23th February, prices were trapped between 1.10450 resistance and 1.10000 support. Flatting within these levels, big players tested the market for the opportunity to continue the descending motion. 1 and 2 points were the resistance test places, which was shown by the indicator with supply dots. Point 3 was the place where institutional players saw that the market was ready for a small up walk, which showed on the chart as spring in point 4( peak near the bottom edge of the flat range, with prices dipping above the resistance and then coming back down again to below the resistance). After the low volumes showed that there was no demand above 1.10450 resistance level, and prices streamed down signed as low supply by the indicator purple dot, and break out the support on high volume(point 5) which confirmed bearish sentiment of big players.
The high volume down candle after the no demand above mid-term resistance level was a good sign to open sell positions with the stop loss above point 4 candle top. If there are no bullish signals such as the culmination of purchases( prices going down and up on huge, extreme volume), it’s possible to search for signs of supply 1.10000 resistance level for a short entry.
Starting from the end of January, we saw a steep down trend on the
USD/JPY. On the 11th February (zone 4) we can see large volumes at the bottom of the
market and as a result the price moved up and gained the level of 114.840, changing the structure of
the trend. Afterwards the market was stuck in a range (zone 5) and volumes have decreased. Such price
behavior at this zone can be seen as a no demand signal and is interpreted as lack of interest to
buy at the current price from large players, which prevented further price advances.
On the four-hour timeframe chart we have 5 zones, in which we can see the activity of the large players. Zone 1 is the beginning of bearish trend, where there was Major Supply from VSA on the current and above timeframe.
Zone 2 showed a thrust bar (the red bar), a bar that made a lower low than the previous. This pattern means that the large players tested the local level (117.50), and after confirming the lack of interest to raise the price (volumes were low afterwards and the price reversed from that level), bearish trend continued.
In the 3rd zone there is a continuation of the down trend, however there are also few demand signals below that zone. There is a demand on the daily chart and minor demand on 4hour chart. Taking into the account these signals individuallny we could assume, they they indicate the reversal of the market. However we should not forget that in the VSA method it is important to consider the wider picture of price movements in order to understand what is currently happening. It is important examine the background, which was weak a the time. In this context, these could have been locked-in traders getting their stop-losses hit, below the support.
The 4th zone turned out to be the point of the trend change. There are two large candles with a big volume, after which and the price starts to go upwards, breaking the previous structure of the trend. And the 5th zone, as it was mentioned in the beginning of the post, appears to be no demand signal, which led to a continuation of the down trend.
The hourly chart shows an attempt to make the move up (zone 1), which after churn bars, lead to the rapid fall of the price. In the zone 2 there are few bullish signals such as demand and minor demand. Obviously, they must be also interpreted in the context of general background which is weak, so it is too early to talk about the reversal. It is possible that the these signals were the result of hitting the stoplosses of the traders who held long position in the zone 1. At this point, the best solution would be to search for an entry point for a short position if more supply shows up, and at a better price.