Monday, December 07, 2009

What Waning Market Volume Tells Us

After pushing to the overnight highs in early trade, the ES futures retraced a good portion of that move, returning to its volume-weighted average price (VWAP; red line above) around 1106.75. If you go back to the relative volume norms posted recently, you'll see that today's trade has fallen short of the norms thus far, with only about 204 thousand contracts traded in the first half hour; 146 thousand in the second; and 97 thousand in the third period. That tells us that longer time frame, more directional, participants are not active so far--and are becoming less active. That leaves the market relatively dominated by liquidity providers, contributing to a choppy, rangy trade. Seeing that dynamic emerge by comparing current volume to recent norms can help traders fade intraday moves (realizing that there's not enough participation to sustain trends) and stand aside from slow, choppy conditions.