On Balance Volume (OBV) measures buying and selling pressure as a cumulative indicator that adds volume on up days and subtracts volume on down days. OBV was developed by Joe Granville and introduced in his 1963 book, Granville's New Key to Stock Market Profits. It was one of the first indicators to measure positive and negative volume flow. Chartists can look for divergences between OBV and price to predict price movements or use OBV to confirm price trends.
Granville theorized that volume precedes price. OBV rises when volume on up days outpaces volume on down days. OBV falls when volume on down days is stronger. A rising OBV reflects positive volume pressure that can lead to higher prices. Conversely, falling OBV reflects negative volume pressure that can foreshadow lower prices. Granville noted in his research that OBV would often move before price. Expect prices to move higher if OBV is rising while prices are either flat or moving down. Expect prices to move lower if OBV is falling while prices are either flat or moving up.
The absolute value of OBV is not important. Chartists should instead focus on the characteristics of the OBV line. First, define the trend for OBV. Second, determine if the current trend matches the trend for the underlying security. Third, look for potential support or resistance levels. Once broken, the trend for OBV will change and these breaks can be used to generate signals. Also, notice that OBV is based on closing prices. Therefore, closing prices should be considered when looking for divergences or support/resistance breaks. And finally, volume spikes can sometimes throw off the indicator by causing a sharp move that will require a settling period.
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On Balance Volume can be used both separately and together with other indicators in the Strategy Builder.