Volume Based Forex Systems. Can it be Done ?

When you analyze the forex market one of the first things that becomes clear is that the finding of true volume information is very hard if not actually impossible. Since the forex market has no central exchange it would require a person to track all of the largest banks in the worlds in order to know the real volume and magnitude of the transactions being done. Doing this in a real-time fashion to get volume data like that of stocks or futures would be a gigantic task that would most likely be frustrated by the complexity and “disorganized” nature of the foreign exchange market. So the question becomes, is there any way to measure volume ? is there any way to design a system based on volume information ? During this post I will share with you some of what I have learned about this problem and the best solutions that we have to tackle this issue.
Even though there is no such thing as a source of true volume information in forex trading, we could find a property that is correlated with trading volume which allows us to trade it in a way similar to how we would actually trade “true volume”. The only property which has been studied extensively and which does show a strong correlation with true volume (at least we know this from other markets) is the tick number which corresponds to the number of times price is refreshed on your trading platform. This means that if during an hour there are 50 price quotes, then this hour is bound to have much less volume than an hour where there are 1000 price quotes.

Our problem here would be to use this tick volume information in a manner that is as less broker dependent as possible. Since different brokers have different feeds, filtering and liquidity providers it becomes impossible to actually use values of absolute volume as the starting point of any given trading strategy. A system that would attempt to use tick volume absolute values would certainly fail since these values are totally broker dependent and there is no way in which they can be related with actual market inefficiencies.

However the most interesting part comes when we realize that tick volume does go into predictable cycles and that we could build an indicator that normalizes this values so that we can have an “oscillator” that describes tick volume movement relative to the past X bars. This indicator would be similar to the stochastic oscillator used on price charts with the difference that it would use tick volume data. The oscillator would move to high regions when we are trading near the volume tick high of the past X periods and to low regions when we are trading near tick volume lows. By obtaining volume information that is relative and does not rely on the absolute tick volume values of the instrument we are trading we can make sure that broker dependency would be diminished and the design of profitable trading systems could start to happen.

Such an indicator could be used in several ways to find and exploit possible inefficiencies. For example, we could trade breakouts when volume drops below a certain oscillator threshold or we could attempt to trade continuations whenever there a price action movement with enough tick volume towards a given side. We could in fact also use volume information to find meaningful situations where patterns that would normally not be very interesting become relevant when they happen within the high regions of the tick volume oscillator.


Certainly it is important to see that although there is no exact true volume information in forex the fact that we do have tick volume information and the fact that this tick volume is proportional to true market volume could allow us to develop successful systems since we have a totally new dimension of information which we don’t have when we look exclusively at price charts. However it is very important here to realize that normalization of tick volume information is necessary in order to avoid broker dependency and such other problems that would make system development with absolute tick volume information a total nightmare.

The article right after mine on the last issue of currency trader magazine explores the use of some tick volume information and indicators for the development of long term profitable strategies showing that this indeed can be done, leading to very interesting results. Now it is my turn to see if Metatrader 4 is up to the task :o)

If you would like to learn more about automated trading and how you too can develop your own likely long term profitable systems please consider joining Asirikuy.com, a website filled with educational videos, trading systems, development and a sound, honest and transparent approach to trading systems. I hope you enjoyed this article ! :o)

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