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Category Archives: Guest Articles

Volume Spread Analysis (VSA)

This article was kindly provided by Leonardo Barata of analyticalvsa.com who is an active VSA trader. VSA is a trading method that is favored by many traders. I do not trade VSA myself but you may find it interesting. If you like this article please share it. This article is for entertainment value only, and is not a recommendation to trade VSA.

What is volume spread analysis?

Volume Spread Analysis is a methodology originated in early 1900s, by Richard D. Wyckoff (1873-1934), a successful Wall Street trader and later known as the man who made a fortune in the 1929 market crash. Other very successful traders such as Richard Ney would use this methodology as well, only under a different name. This methodology, which is also called the Wyckoff method, was put in more modern terms by Tom Williams, a former syndicate trader based in London, in the 1960s. For the deep insights on the markets that it provides, and the fact that it can be applied to virtually any liquid market, VSA made a name for itself in trading communities.

Understanding VSA.

To understand what VSA is about, we must first understand who are the people who are making money in the markets, and how are they doing it. Like in any other business, there are specialists: some traders specialize in energy futures, others may specialize in the Japanese Yen pairs, others day-trading forex or stocks, and so on. And who are them? These are institutional traders, pit traders, syndicate traders and market-makers, which make a living speculating on the markets. If only we could know what those specialists are doing, then we could trade almost anything without having to do all the fundamental analysis and without looking at all the factors that influence the prices. Well, it turns out we can, and this was exactly Wyckoff’s breakthrough!

The role of volume.

The quantity that represents the activity in the market and is widely available (though not widely used impressively) is the volume. And one thing about the traders who consistently make money in the markets over the years, is that they’ve been able to accumulate a lot of it, and will make large trades to earn a significant amount of money for them. So the volume is the starting point of our analysis, and will show if there is a significant activity (or lack of) in the market, which will be very important to determine what the professionals (smart money) are doing.

Spread’s importance.

But Volume Spread Analysis as the name implies, not only uses volume but also the spread (bar’s high – low). The bar’s spread gives clues as to what type of activity is happening: for example, a low-spread up bar with high volume, indicates there was a lot of selling by the professionals and buying by the public: they prevented the price from going upper by dumping their positions in the market, which the public was happy to absorb. Another example: if there was an widespread down bar with high volume, and the next bars are up, it means there was actually buying on that down bar. Why would the prices go up if that was true selling? The smart money uses the public euphoria to dump or to open their positions, as not to turn the prices against themselves.

Charts examples:

accumulation

The end of the 2008 stocks bear market: Right before the bear market ended, there was accumulation (professional buying) evident in Dow Jones Industrial Average and other indexes. Signals of distribution were also evident before the bear market started in 2008.

The gold top: right before the bear market in gold, and after all the buying euphoria by the public, gold finally collapsed after signs of heavy distribution.

distribution

Learn more and get VSA indicators on our volume spread analysis website.

About the author: Leonardo Barata is a forex and stocks VSA trader and developer.