What Is VWAP?

A stock's volume-weighted average price, or VWAP, is a popular technical indicator used to identify trends and reversal points on a price chart.

vwap and volume-weighted average price written in white text on digital rendition of person studying financial charts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Investors have plenty of tools in their toolkit to help analyze price charts, including the volume-weighted average price (VWAP). But what is VWAP and how is it used?

VWAP is a technical analysis indicator that combines volume and price to calculate an average value. It provides valuable insights into the average price at which traders buy or sell an asset during a specified time frame.

As such, investors use VWAP to help identify trends and potential price reversal points.

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How is VWAP calculated?

VWAP's calculation follows a straightforward equation: VWAP = ∑(Price × Volume) / ∑Volume (sum of price x volume, which is the total dollar value of all trades over a specific time frame divided by the total volume, or number of shares traded over the same period).

Don't worry! Most trading platforms handle the computation for you, offering real-time VWAP data that can be added as an indicator on your price chart.

What does VWAP tell you?

VWAP is more than just numbers; it's a valuable investment tool guiding your decision-making process.

For instance, the volume-weighted average price serves as a trend indicator. If an asset's current price is above VWAP, it indicates a bullish trend. Conversely, a price below VWAP may suggest a bearish market sentiment.

VWAP can also be used to identify areas of support or resistance for a stock, which can help investors and day traders decide when to buy or sell a security. A level of support is typically that price where buying demand is strong enough to stop any additional selling, while a level of resistance is that price where selling demand is strong enough to halt any additional buying. 

Market participants can use the levels VWAP identifies as attractive opportunities to buy or sell shares. 

How do you use a VWAP indicator?

Although VWAP may sound complex, its underlying principle is simple: It considers the total volume traded and the corresponding price for each trade within a specific time frame.

The result is a weighted average price that offers investors valuable information about market sentiment and price trends.

Picture VWAP as a guiding star when looking for the best entry and exit prices on a trade. Many investors will use the benchmark to determine whether an asset's current price is favorable for their investment decisions.

Investors can select various time frames for VWAP calculations, but because the indicator just averages prices on an intraday basis, it is most popular among day traders. For those interested in longer-term time frames which can provide a broader market outlook, there's the moving volume-weighted average price. 


Is VWAP suitable for all investment styles? VWAP does cater to all investment styles, from conservative to aggressive. Whether you're a value investor or tend to lean more toward growth stocks, VWAP provides valuable insights for your strategy – just make sure you're choosing the correct time frame that aligns with your goals.

Can VWAP be used in conjunction with other investment tools? Absolutely! Many investors combine VWAP with other technical indicators, such as moving averages or the Relative Strength Index (RSI), to confirm investment signals. Experiment with indicator combinations to refine your investment strategy.

Does VWAP apply to various asset classes? Certainly! VWAP is a versatile investment tool, applicable across various asset classes, including stocks, forex, commodities and more. Its adaptability empowers investors across diverse markets.

The bottom line

VWAP can be used as a guiding star among investors, illuminating market trends and potential price reversal points. Integrate it wisely into your investment strategy to enhance your investment prowess.

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Jared Hoffmann
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Jared Hoffmann is a highly respected financial content creator and options expert, holding a journalism degree from San Francisco State University. Formerly a Senior Options and Day Trading Editor and on-air personality at Money Morning, he excels in delivering comprehensive options education, technical analysis, and risk management education to traders.