Reader Questions Answered

Volume in the Forex Market

Here’s an email question that came in recently which relates to volume in the forex market.

Hello John,

I’m a Forex trader. Is there something equivalent to a buy/sell pressure indicator for the MT4 platform that you know about or can recommend.

My trade plans are less effective when the O/S or O/B conditions last for a long time. One of the indicators I use is the stochastic.

Sometimes it undulates above 80 or 30 so I’m never sure when it undulates if it going to break the high/low of the previous wave.

I’ve seen some buy/sell pressure attempted with tricks for getting the currency’s volume or with number of tics but I don’t think it a reliable way to gather this data. Any thoughts would be appreciated…


Pretty much without exception, the volume figures you see in forex are not actual traded volume. They are tick volume, which indicates how many times a given price changed. While it can sometimes be an interesting indication of how active the market was in terms of price choppiness, it gives absolutely no indication of how much actual buy and selling is being done. As such, any technical indicators based upon tick volume are of dubious value from that perspective.

The only readily available public volume figures that I currently know of are in the futures and forex ETFs. They may, at times, be useful. Just keep in mind that they only represent a tiny fraction of what is done on the spot market.

As for the effectiveness of over-bought/sold trading with Stochastics, keep in mind that they will be good during range-bound periods but will kill you in trending conditions.