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OBV, developed by Joe Granville in the 1960s, is a technical indicator used to gauge the volume flow in and out of a security. It measures buying and selling pressure by adding or subtracting the day's volume based on whether the price closed higher or lower. 

By analysing the OBV line, traders can gain valuable insights into the strength or weakness of a security's price movement.

Incorporating OBV into your market analysis can provide valuable confirmation of a price trend, divergence between price and volume, and early identification of potential trend reversals. 

 

How Does On-Balance Volume Work?

The on-balance volume (OBV) is a cumulative indicator that takes into account the volume traded on a security. It assigns a positive or negative value to each trading day based on whether the price closed higher or lower compared to the previous day. 

If the price closes higher, the day's volume is added to the OBV line. Conversely, if the price closes lower, the day's volume is subtracted from the OBV line. This calculation creates a line that represents the cumulative volume flow of a security.

The idea behind OBV is that volume precedes price movement. When the OBV line is trending upwards, it indicates that buying pressure is stronger than selling pressure, suggesting that the security price is likely to continue rising. 

On the other hand, a downward trending OBV line suggests that selling pressure is stronger and the price is likely to decline.

It's important to note that OBV is a leading indicator, meaning it can provide insights into potential price movements before they occur. Traders can use OBV to confirm trends, spot divergences, and identify possible trend reversals.

 

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Formula for OBV

The formula for On-Balance Volume (OBV) is a cumulative total of volume, adjusted based on the direction of a security's price. The formula is as follows:

  1. Start with a chosen starting point (OBV on a selected day).
  2. For each subsequent day:
    • If the closing price is higher than the previous day's closing price, then: Current OBV=Previous OBV + Current Volume
    • If the closing price is lower than the previous day's closing price, then: Current OBV = Previous OBV−Current Volume
    • If the closing prices are equal, the current volume is usually not added or subtracted, so: Current OBV=Previous OBV

 

Interpreting On-Balance Volume signals

When analysing On-Balance Volume, there are a few key signals to look out for.

Confirming trends

If the OBV line is moving in the same direction as the price, it confirms the trend and suggests that the price movement is supported by volume. For example, if a security's price is rising and the OBV line is also rising, it indicates a strong uptrend. 

Conversely, if the price is falling and the OBV line is also falling, it suggests a strong downtrend.

Divergences Between Price and OBV

Divergences occur when the price is moving in one direction while the OBV line is moving in the opposite direction. For example, if the price is rising but the OBV line is falling, it could indicate that the buying pressure is weakening and a trend reversal may be imminent. Divergences can provide early warning signs of potential price reversals.

 

Trend Reversals

 

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When the OBV line changes direction, it can signal a potential trend reversal. If the OBV line was previously trending upwards and starts trending downwards, it suggests that selling pressure is increasing and the price may start to decline. 

Conversely, if the OBV line was previously trending downwards and starts trending upwards, it indicates that buying pressure is increasing and the price may start to rise.

 

Benefits of Using On-Balance Volume in Market Analysis

Incorporating On-Balance Volume into your market analysis can offer several benefits.

  • Trend Confirmation with OBV
    On-Balance Volume serves as a powerful ally in confirming price trends. When the OBV line moves in tandem with the price chart, it can reinforce a trader's confidence in the trend's direction. This is particularly beneficial when assessing technical patterns or chart formations to inform trading strategies.
  • Divergence Identification
    OBV is instrumental in spotting divergences between price action and volume. These divergences can signal shifts in market sentiment, potentially foreshadowing a trend reversal. Recognizing such discrepancies early allows traders to preemptively adjust their positions or capitalise on future price movements.
  • Recognizing Accumulation and Distribution
    Understanding accumulation or distribution phases becomes clearer with OBV. An upward-trending OBV line, despite a stagnant or falling price, suggests accumulation indicating buying interest. Conversely, a downward-trending OBV during stable or rising prices may signal distribution, implying selling pressure.

 

Tips for Using On-Balance Volume in Trading

 

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To effectively incorporate On-Balance Volume into your trading strategy, consider the following strategies:

  1. Trend Confirmation: Use OBV to confirm the direction of the trend. When the OBV line is moving in the same direction as the price, it confirms that the trend is strong and likely to continue. This can help traders avoid false breakouts or breakdowns.
  2. Divergence Spotting: Look for divergences between price and OBV. Divergences can indicate a potential trend reversal. For example, if the price is rising but the OBV line is falling, it could suggest that selling pressure is increasing and a price decline may be imminent. By spotting these divergences, traders can adjust their positions accordingly.
  3. Volume Analysis: Analyse the volume trends alongside the OBV line. High volume accompanied by a rising OBV line suggests strong buying pressure, while high volume accompanied by a falling OBV line suggests strong selling pressure. 

By understanding the relationship between volume and OBV, traders can gain insights into market dynamics and make more informed trading decisions.

  1. Use OBV as a Filter: Incorporate OBV as a filter for other technical indicators. By using OBV to confirm or reject signals from other indicators, traders can enhance the accuracy of their trading decisions. 

For example, if a technical indicator suggests a buy signal but the OBV line is declining, it may indicate that the buying pressure is weak and the signal should be disregarded.

 

 Bottom Line

On-Balance Volume (OBV) is a powerful tool in market analysis that can provide valuable insights into the strengths or weaknesses of a security's price movement. 

By incorporating OBV into your trading strategy, you can gain confirmation of trends, and spot divergences, and identify potential trend reversals.

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“When considering “CFDs” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.”

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