What is Volume in Forex?

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 27, 2023

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Volume, as used in forex trading, reflects the level of activity and liquidity in the market. However, determining forex volume can be difficult. Benzinga explains volume in forex, how it works and how to use it in your trading strategies. Learn the factors influencing forex volume and the risks and challenges of analyzing volume data. 

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How Does Volume Work in the Forex Market?

Volume in forex is the number of units of a currency pair traded within a specified period. This metric can be used to gauge the strength and direction of price movements, as well as the dynamics of supply and demand in the market.

As an exclusively over-the-counter (OTC) market, the forex market has no central platform or exchange that records all forex transactions. As a result, traders have to estimate forex volume using various sources and methods. These methods include counting the number of price changes or ticks within a specified timeframe, considering the volume of currency futures and options traded on regulated exchanges like the CME Group or ICE and analyzing the number of forex trades executed through specific brokers or platforms.

Significance of Volume in Forex Trading

In forex trading, volume can help identify market trends by showing whether there is enough momentum and participation behind it. As volume rises, it can indicate that traders are confident in the current trend. Conversely, falling volume suggests they are losing interest or becoming doubtful. For instance, when EUR/USD is in an uptrend with increasing volume, more buyers are entering the market and pushing the price higher. 

Volume can also be a confirmation tool by validating or invalidating potential trade signals. High volume when EUR/USD breaks above a resistance level indicates intense buying pressure and demand that can support further upside. Low volume, when it breaks below a support level, means weak selling pressure and supply that may not sustain further downside. 

Volume can reveal crucial information about the market psychology and behavior of different types of traders. High-volume spikes can indicate panic buying or selling, capitulation, exhaustion or reversal points, while low-volume periods can imply consolidation, indecision or accumulation phases. Volume divergence can show potential trend changes or continuations.

Factors Influencing Forex Volume

Many factors can affect the level and direction of forex volume. Some of these factors are:

Time of Day

Forex trading operates 24 hours a day, five days a week. However, not all hours are equally active and liquid. Forex volume tends to follow a cyclical pattern corresponding to the opening and closing times of major financial centers worldwide. The busiest hours are when two or more markets overlap, such as during the London-New York or Tokyo-London sessions. The least active hours are when only one market is open or during holidays or weekends.

Breaking News

Forex trading is susceptible to news events that can influence the economic outlook and monetary policy of different countries. News events such as GDP reports, inflation data, interest rate decisions, political developments or geopolitical tensions can trigger significant changes in forex volume as traders react to the new information and adjust their positions accordingly. News events can also increase the volatility and uncertainty in the market, leading to higher volume spikes or gaps.

National Economics

Forex trading is the exchange of one currency for another based on the relative value and strength of each currency. Forex volume is influenced by the economic performance and conditions of different countries, as well as their trade and fiscal policies. For example, if a country's economy grows faster than expected, its currency may appreciate and attract more buyers, resulting in higher volume. Conversely, a slowing economy may cause a country’s currency to depreciate and attract more sellers, resulting in lower volume.

International Economics

Forex trading is also affected by the economic interactions and relationships between countries, such as trade balance, capital flows, foreign exchange reserves or currency interventions. For example, if a country has a large trade surplus with another country, it may increase its demand for the other country's currency, resulting in higher volume. On the other hand, a country with a large trade deficit with another country may increase the supply of its currency, resulting in lower volume.

Technical Levels

Forex trading is also influenced by the technical analysis and chart patterns traders use to identify potential entry and exit points and support and resistance levels. Technical levels can act as magnets or barriers for price movements, depending on whether they are broken or respected. For example, if a price breaks above a resistance level with high volume, it may signal a bullish breakout and attract more buyers, resulting in higher volume. In contrast, if a price bounces off a support level with low volume, it may signal a bearish rejection and attract more sellers, resulting in lower volume.

Volume Trading Strategies

Trading strategies that incorporate volume as a key indicator are popular. Some of the most commonly used volume-based trading strategies include:

  • Volume breakout: This volume trading strategy involves looking for price breakouts accompanied by high volume, indicating strong momentum and conviction behind the move. Traders can go long when the price breaks above a resistance level with high volume or short when the price breaks below a support level with high volume. Stop-loss orders can be used to safeguard positions in case of reversals or false breakouts.
  • Volume divergence: Volume divergence identifies situations where the price and volume are moving in opposite directions, which can indicate a potential trend change or continuation. Traders can look for bullish divergence when the price is making lower lows, but the volume is making higher lows, which suggests that selling pressure is weakening and buyers are gaining control. Conversely, they can look for bearish divergence when the price is making higher highs, but the volume is making lower highs, suggesting that buying pressure is fading and sellers are taking over.
  • Volume oscillator: This strategy uses a technical indicator that measures the difference between two moving averages of volume, such as the Chaikin Money Flow (CMF) or the On Balance Volume (OBV). The volume oscillator can identify the direction and strength of the volume trend and possible overbought or oversold conditions. Traders can use the volume oscillator to confirm price signals or generate trade signals based on crossovers or divergences.

Risks and Challenges in Analyzing Volume

While volume can be a powerful tool for forex trading, it also comes with risks and challenges. The forex market is susceptible to manipulation by large institutional traders with access to high leverage and liquidity. These traders can use their influence to create artificial volume spikes or gaps that can mislead other traders into entering or exiting trades based on false signals. For example, a large trader can buy or sell a large amount of currency quickly to create a sudden price movement that triggers stop-loss orders or margin calls from other traders.

Another challenge is finding reliable and consistent sources of volume data that cover a large portion of the forex market. Different sources and methods of estimating forex volume may produce different results that may not reflect the true market activity and liquidity.

Some of the ways to overcome these challenges are:

  • Using multiple sources of volume data to cross-check and confirm signals
  • Using other technical tools, such as trend lines, support and resistance levels, moving averages and oscillators to complement and validate volume analysis
  • Using fundamental analysis, such as economic data releases, news events and market sentiment, to understand the context and drivers of volume changes
  • Practicing and testing different volume strategies on demo accounts before using them on live accounts

Mastering Volume Analysis in Forex Trading

Volume can help forex traders identify market trends, confirm trade signals and understand market psychology. However, volume analysis in forex is not as straightforward as in other financial markets, as forex volume is not directly observable and varies depending on different sources and methods. Therefore, traders must be aware of and adequately mitigate the risks and challenges in analyzing volume data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How to determine volume in forex trading?

A

Volume in forex trading is typically determined by counting the tick movements in the market. The greater the number of tick movements, the higher the volume.

Q

Does volume matter in forex?

A

Yes, volume does matter in forex trading. It provides traders with more information about the strength of a trend or the likelihood of a reversal, even though it’s a more complex metric in forex compared to other markets like stocks.

Q

How does the volume indicator work for forex?

A

The volume indicator measures the amount of money flowing in and out of a currency pair, showing the strength of the market participants’ interest in the price movement of the pair. A high volume indicates a high demand or supply for the pair, while a low volume suggests a lack of interest or conviction.

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