What is VWAP in Trading?

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what is vwap in trading

Volume-Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a widely used technical analysis indicator in the trading world. It calculates the average price of a financial instrument, such as stocks or cryptocurrencies, by taking into account both price and trading volume. By considering volume, the calculation provides a more accurate representation of the true market value, offering valuable insights to traders and investors.

Day traders, institutional traders, and market makers alike frequently utilize the VWAP indicator in their strategies. This is because it helps them gauge whether they are buying or selling at fair prices relative to the overall market activity. Given its popularity, understanding the concept and application of VWAP is essential for those involved in any form of trading.

Key Takeaways

  • VWAP is a vital technical analysis indicator that considers both price and trading volume.
  • It caters to the needs of various traders and offers valuable insights into fair market value.
  • Understanding and implementing VWAP in trading strategies can potentially enhance decision-making.

Understanding VWAP

Volume-Weighted Average Price

VWAP, or Volume-Weighted Average Price, is a frequently-used trading indicator that calculates an average price for an asset, taking into consideration both its price and trading volume. It is most commonly used on intraday charts for day trading and helps traders understand whether they are buying or selling an asset at a reasonable price. By comparing the current market price with the VWAP, traders can make more informed decisions about their trades.


The calculation of VWAP involves dividing the total value of the financial instrument traded in a specified period by the total trading volume during that period. This results in a single value representing the average price at which the asset is traded throughout the day, giving more weight to the prices at which larger quantities were traded.

VWAP Indicator

As a technical analysis tool, the VWAP indicator serves as a reference line on intraday charts, indicating the trend and providing potential support or resistance levels for price action. Traders often use the VWAP as a dynamic benchmark that helps them determine whether a financial instrument is overbought or oversold. When the price is above the VWAP line, it might suggest that the asset is overbought, and when it’s below the line, it could signal that it’s oversold.

VWAP Formula

The formula for calculating VWAP is:

VWAP = (Σ (Price * Volume)) / Σ Volume


  • Σ (Price * Volume) refers to the sum of the products of each price and its corresponding trading volume during the specified period.
  • Σ Volume denotes the sum of the total trading volume during the same period.

By using this formula, traders can gain insight into the market by evaluating the VWAP. With a firm understanding of the Volume-Weighted Average Price, they can better position themselves to make more educated decisions about their trading strategies.

VWAP in Trading

Uses for Traders

Volume-Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a widely-used trading indicator that represents the average price of a security over a specified trading period, with more considerable weight given to prices associated with higher trading volumes. Traders use VWAP as a benchmark to analyze the market impact, compare their trade execution performance, and measure the liquidity of a security. Moreover, it aids traders in making informed decisions about when to buy or sell shares and identifying potential opportunities when prices deviate from the VWAP line.

Strategies for Day Traders

Day traders implement several strategies using VWAP to ensure they trade in alignment with the market’s average price. These strategies include breakout trading, where traders enter long positions when the price exceeds the VWAP line, and pullback trading, where traders look for a price retracement towards the VWAP line before entering a long position. Additionally, day traders often incorporate other indicators and moving averages to improve the effectiveness of their trading strategies.

VWAP Bands

VWAP bands are standard deviation bands calculated around the VWAP line, providing traders with an understanding of the security’s price volatility. Traders can use these bands to identify overbought and oversold conditions in the market and take advantage of potential price reversals. Furthermore, VWAP bands can help traders validate the strength of a breakout or anticipate a potential trend reversal.


Despite its popularity, VWAP has some limitations that traders need to consider. First, it is primarily an intraday indicator, meaning its effectiveness diminishes for longer trading periods like swing trading or investing. Second, the indicator’s calculation is a historical measure of price movements, and it doesn’t provide any predictive value for future price trends. Lastly, the indicator can lag during high-volatility market conditions, leading traders to rely on other tools and analysis methods to supplement their decision-making process.

VWAP and Technical Analysis

Support and Resistance

VWAP is used in technical analysis as a tool to identify key support and resistance levels. It calculates the average price weighted by volume during a specific time period. Short-term traders and institutions use these levels to determine optimal entry and exit points when profit opportunities may occur. Support levels are identified when the price approaches the VWAP from below or is at the typical price, while resistance levels are recognized when the price is above the VWAP.

Momentum Trading

Momentum trading is a popular trading strategy that involves taking advantage of market trends, such as bullish or bearish trends. VWAP plays a crucial role in this strategy, as it helps traders identify the momentum in the market. When the price is above the VWAP, it indicates a possible bullish trend, since more trading volume occurs at higher prices. Conversely, if the price is below the VWAP, it suggests a bearish trend, as the majority of trading takes place at lower prices.

Moreover, in a sideways market, when the price consistently fluctuates around the VWAP, it may be indicative of a lack of clear direction. In such scenarios, traders can use the VWAP to carefully assess the market trend for potential trading opportunities.

Candlestick Patterns

Candlestick patterns are another important aspect of technical analysis used in conjunction with the VWAP. By analyzing the relationship between the candlesticks and VWAP, traders can make informed decisions on their short-term trading strategies. For example, when a particular candlestick pattern appears near the VWAP, it could signal an impending reversal or continuation of the current trend.

Some common candlestick patterns used in combination with VWAP are:

  • Bullish Patterns: Hammer, Engulfing, Morning Star, and Inverted Hammer.
  • Bearish Patterns: Hanging Man, Shooting Star, Evening Star, and Dark Cloud Cover.

Using these candlestick patterns along with the VWAP can help traders to better understand the market’s sentiment and make effective short-term trading decisions.

In summary, VWAP is a valuable technical analysis tool that offers insight into support and resistance levels, market momentum, and potential trading opportunities. By incorporating VWAP into their strategies, traders can increase their chances of success in the dynamic world of trading.

VWAP and Institutional Trading

Portfolio Management

VWAP is an essential tool for institutional trading, as it provides a benchmark for portfolio management. Portfolio managers and investment banks utilize VWAP to evaluate their trade executions and analyze their trading performance accurately. The purpose of using VWAP in portfolio management is to minimize the market impact of their trades, ensuring that buying or selling large positions doesn’t result in significant price disruptions.

Institutional traders, such as hedge funds, utilize VWAP as a proxy for the average market price throughout the trading session. They compare their trades to the VWAP, aiming to buy below the average price and sell above it. By managing risks and minimizing adverse price movements, portfolio managers achieve superior execution of buy and sell orders, maximizing returns for their clients.

Market Impact Strategy

Market impact strategies are crucial for institutional traders in terms of minimizing costs and effectively executing buy or sell orders. When trading large volumes in short timeframes, the use of VWAP allows institutions to mitigate market impact by efficiently distributing the volume of trades across the trading session. The objective is to avoid dramatic price fluctuations and ensure a smoother execution of trades.

Institutions often analyze deviations from the VWAP using deviation bands, which provide trading signals and entry points for their strategies. When prices move away from the VWAP, traders can implement stops and targets to protect their positions and capitalize on opportunities.

It is essential to note that while VWAP is widely used by institutional traders, it might not be suitable for all investment types, especially those with long-term horizons. VWAP is primarily an intraday trading tool, making it most effective for day traders and short-term traders with a focused timeframe.

In summary, VWAP is a vital indicator in institutional trading, particularly in portfolio management and market impact strategies. By monitoring the VWAP and adjusting their trades accordingly, institutions can achieve better trade execution and minimize market impact, ultimately leading to improved performance for their clients.


The Volume-Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a significant trading tool for assessing the average price at which a security has traded throughout the day. It is calculated by dividing the cumulative share price by the cumulative volume on an intraday basis, providing a benchmark for comparing trade execution quality.

VWAP is often employed by both institutional and retail traders for various purposes. Market participants such as hedge funds use the VWAP indicator to help them measure performance and identify trading opportunities. The VWAP formula can be utilized in various styles, like the implementation of Moving Average (MA) lines and Bollinger Bands for analyzing price action and market trends.

Some traders might execute a buy order when the security’s price is below the VWAP, considering it an advantageous entry point. Conversely, traders may also sell when the price crosses above the VWAP, interpreting it as a sign of weakening demand. Nevertheless, it’s essential to acknowledge that the VWAP has limitations as it only accounts for historical prices and volumes, which might not always predict future performance.

In summary, the Volume-Weighted Average Price is a valuable trading tool that helps assess the quality of trades, making it an essential component of modern market analysis techniques. Despite its limitations, when combined with other indicators like Bollinger Bands and Moving Averages, it can be a powerful asset in a trader’s toolbox.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the VWAP formula calculated?

The Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) formula is calculated by dividing the sum of the product of volume and price for each transaction by the total volume traded over a given time period. The VWAP ratio can be expressed as:

VWAP = (Σ (Volume x Price)) / Σ Volume

This provides a benchmark for comparing a security’s market activity and trading performance.

What does VWAP tell you in trading?

VWAP provides insights into the liquidity and market activity of a security. It serves as a benchmark to evaluate trade execution performance and helps traders identify entry and exit points for their trades. A security trading above its VWAP indicates buying pressure, while trading below its VWAP suggests selling pressure.

What are the best settings for VWAP in day trading?

In day trading, VWAP is typically calculated based on a single trading day. The default settings can be used for day trading, as the VWAP values automatically reset at the beginning of each new trading day. Adjustments to the time frame can be made to suit personal preferences and trading styles, but the default settings are generally considered sufficient.

How do traders utilize the VWAP indicator?

Traders use the VWAP indicator as a tool to gauge market sentiment, measure liquidity, and evaluate trading performance. They often look for opportunities when the price deviates significantly from the VWAP, expecting that the price will eventually revert back to the VWAP level. Additionally, institutional traders use VWAP as a benchmark to assess the efficiency of their trade executions, minimizing market impact and costs.

How can VWAP be applied in forex trading?

While VWAP is mainly used in equity trading, it can be applied to forex trading by adapting the formula to incorporate forex data. The calculation remains the same, but instead of using stock volume and price data, price and tick volume data are considered within a specific time frame. Forex traders can use VWAP to identify potential support, resistance, and entry/exit points for their trades.

How do you read a VWAP chart?

A VWAP chart is typically displayed as a line on a security’s price chart. The VWAP line represents the average trading price of the security, weighted by volume, throughout a particular time period. To read the chart, traders look for deviations from the VWAP line as potential trading opportunities. If the price is above the VWAP line, it implies a bullish sentiment, and if it’s below the VWAP line, it indicates bearish sentiment.

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