What Is the Cumulative Volume Index (CVI)?

The cumulative volume index, or CVI, is a momentum indicator that gauges the movement of funds into and out of the entire stock market by computing the difference between advancing and declining stocks as a running total.

Key Takeaways

  • The cumulative volume index (CVI) looks at whether net capital flows are moving in or out of the stock market.
  • It is a momentum indicator that accounts for advances/declines in the broader market.
  • The CVI will add the advancing stocks less declining stocks to the previous period's CVI value.

Understanding the Cumulative Volume Index (CVI)

The cumulative volume index is a breadth indicator that shows the direction of a market or index, such as the New York Stock Exchange or S&P 500 index. While its name makes it sound similar to the On-Balance-Volume indicator, the difference is that CVI only looks at the number of securities rather than looking at their volume, similar to the Advance/Decline Index.

When reading the CVI, it's important to note that the actual number doesn't matter since it's not normalized (it's just a running total). Traders and investors should instead look at the CVI's trend over time relative to the index's price to interpret its meaning.

Many traders and investors also use CVI in conjunction with other forms of technical analysis, such as chart patterns or technical indicators, rather than using it as a standalone indicator. By doing so, they increase the odds of a successful trade by looking for confirmation of trends and reversals.

How to Calculate the CVI

The cumulative volume index can be calculated as follows:

CVI = PPCVI + ( Advancing Stocks Declining Stocks ) where: PPCVI = Prior Period’s CVI Advancing Stocks = Number of advancing stocks in current period Declining Stocks = Number of declining stocks in current period \begin{aligned} &\text{CVI} = \text{PPCVI} + (\text{Advancing Stocks} - \text{Declining Stocks})\\ &\textbf{where:}\\ &\text{PPCVI} = \text{Prior Period's CVI} \\ &\text{Advancing Stocks} = \text{Number of advancing stocks in} \\ &\text{current period} \\ &\text{Declining Stocks} = \text{Number of declining stocks in} \\ &\text{current period} \\ \end{aligned} CVI=PPCVI+(Advancing StocksDeclining Stocks)where:PPCVI=Prior Period’s CVIAdvancing Stocks=Number of advancing stocks incurrent periodDeclining Stocks=Number of declining stocks incurrent period

Using the CVI

The cumulative volume index is used to determine whether capital is moving in or out of an index. If the CVI is trending lower, traders might assume that a trend is losing momentum and a reversal could be around the corner. If the CVI is trending higher, traders might assume that a trend is gaining momentum and it might be time to trade alongside the trend.

At the same time, traders may also look for divergences or convergences between the price and CVI trend lines. Highs and lows made in the price that aren't reflected in the CVI readings may be a sign of a weakening trend and upcoming correction

CVI Example

The following chart shows an example of a cumulative volume index applied to the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE ARCA: SPY) from March 2020 to March 2021.

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Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2021

In the chart above, you can see that the CVI (depicted by the blue line in the lower panel) decreases into April 2020, but then steadily increases.