What Is The Money Flow Index?

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The Money Flow Index (MFI) is an oscillator that uses both price and volume to measure buying and selling pressure. Created by Gene Quong and Avrum Soudack, MFI is also known as volume-weighted RSI. MFI starts with the typical price for each period. Money flow is positive when the typical price rises (buying pressure) and negative when the typical price declines (selling pressure). A ratio of positive and negative money flow is then plugged into an RSI formula to create an oscillator that moves between zero and one hundred. As a momentum oscillator tied to volume, MFI is best suited to identify reversals and price extremes with a variety of signals.


Calculation


There are several steps involved in the Money Flow Index calculation. The example below is based on a 14-period Money Flow Index, which is the default setting in SharpCharts and the setting recommended by the creators.

Typical Price = (High + Low + Close)/3Raw Money Flow = Typical Price x VolumeMoney Flow Ratio = (14-period Positive Money Flow)/(14-period Negative Money Flow)Money Flow Index = 100 - 100/(1 + Money Flow Ratio)First, notice that Raw Money Flow is essentially dollar volume because the formula is volume multiplied by the typical price. Raw Money Flow is positive when the typical price advances from one period to the next and negative when the typical price declines. The Raw Money Flow values are not used when the typical price is unchanged. The Money Flow Ratio in step 3 forms the basis for the Money Flow Index. Positive and Negative Money Flow are summed for the look-back period (14) and the Positive Money Flow sum is divided by the Negative Money Flow sum to create the ratio. The RSI formula is then applied to create a volume-weighted indicator. The table below shows a calculation example taken from an Excel spreadsheet.

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Click here for an MFI calculation in an Excel Spreadsheet.

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Interpretation


As a volume-weighted version of RSI, the Money Flow Index (MFI) can be interpreted similarly to RSI. The big difference is, of course, volume. Because volume is added to the mix, the Money Flow Index will act a little differently than RSI. Theories suggest that volume leads prices. RSI is a momentum oscillator that already leads prices. Incorporating volume can increase this lead time.

Quong and Soudack identified three basic signals using the Money Flow Index. First, chartists can look for overbought or oversold levels to warn of unsustainable price extremes. Second, bullish and bearish divergence can be used to anticipate trend reversals. Third, failure swings at 80 or 20 can also be used to identify potential price reversals. For this article, the divergences and failure swings are be combined to create one signal group and increase robustness.


Overbought/Oversold


Overbought and oversold levels can be used to identify unsustainable price extremes. Typically, MFI above 80 is considered overbought and MFI below 20 is considered oversold. Strong trends can present a problem for these classic overbought and oversold levels. MFI can become overbought (>80) and prices can simply continue higher when the uptrend is strong. Conversely, MFI can become oversold (bearish divergence and failure swing formed in August-September. The stock moved to a new high in September, but MFI formed a significantly lower high. A bearish failure swing occurred as MFI became overbought above 80 in late August, failed to reach 80 with the September bounce and broke the prior lows with a decline in late September.


Conclusion


The Money Flow Index is a rather unique indicator that combines momentum and volume with an RSI formula. RSI momentum generally favors the bulls when the indicator is above 50 and the bears when below 50. Even though MFI is considered a volume-weighted RSI, using the centerline to determine a bullish or bearish bias does not work as well. Instead, MFI is better suited to identify potential reversals with overbought/oversold levels, bullish/bearish divergences and bullish/bearish failure swings. As with all indicators, MFI should not be used by itself. A pure momentum oscillator, such as RSI, or pattern analysis can be combined with MFI to increase signal robustness.

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Using with SharpCharts


The Money Flow Index is available as a SharpCharts indicator that can be placed above, below or behind the price plot of the underlying security. Placing MFI directly behind the price makes it easy to compare indicator swings with price movements. The default setting is 14-periods, but this can be adjusted to suit analysis needs. A shorter timeframe makes the indicator more sensitive. A longer timeframe makes it less sensitive. Users can click the green arrow next to “Advanced Options” to add horizontal lines for custom overbought and oversold levels. Two lines can be added by separating the numbers with a comma: (10,90).

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Click here for a live version of the chart.

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Suggested Scans



MFI Oversold


MFI Overbought


This scan searches for stocks that are above $20 per share, trade over 100,000 shares per day and have overbought Money Flow Index (>90). Consider this a starting point for further analysis and due diligence.

AND AND 100000> AND 20> AND 90>For more details on the syntax to use for Money Flow Index scans, please see our Scanning Indicator Reference in the Support Center.


Further Study



Technical Analysis for the Trading ProfessionalConstance Brown
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