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Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP)


The Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a trading benchmark used by traders that gives the average price a security has traded at throughout the day, based on both volume and price. It is important because it provides traders with insight into both the trend and value of a security. This is calculated by multiplying the price of each trade by its volume, then dividing by the total volume.


The phonetic pronunciation of the term “Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP)” is:Volume: /ˈvɒl.juːm/Weighted: /ˈweɪ.tɪd/Average: /ˈæv.ər.ɪdʒ/Price: /praɪs/VWAP: /viːˈwæp/

Key Takeaways

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  1. The Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a trading benchmark used by traders that provides the average price a security has traded at throughout the day, based on both volume and price. It is significant because it gives a real-time snapshot of a security’s true market value.

  2. VWAP is especially used by algorithmic traders and institutional investors who aim to lower market impact by executing trades near the VWAP. They commonly use VWAP for order execution due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness.

  3. Despite its advantages, it is important to note that VWAP is a single-day indicator, and is reset at the open of each new trading day. As a result, it may be less suitable for long-term investors who require price information over a longer timeframe.


Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a critical benchmark used by traders and investors to gauge the market trend and make buying and selling decisions. It’s calculated by taking into account both the price of each transaction and the volume of those transactions, providing a more accurate measure of the market’s average price. VWAP is important because it gives a snapshot of the true market price, helping traders and investors better understand where a security is trading relative to its average price. This can influence trading strategies, providing a key indicator for optimal execution and risk management, particularly for larger orders where market impact is a significant concern.


Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) serves an essential purpose as a benchmark for investors and brokers seeking to gauge the quality of a particular trade, or series of trades. It allows individuals and companies to see an average price for a security, giving them insight into the most relevant prices during a specified time period. This information is often used to inform buy or sell decisions as it can indicate whether a trade was executed in-line with the market. Also, in algorithmic trading, VWAP is frequently used to ensure that trades are executed close to market averages to minimize market impact and slippage costs.Furthermore, VWAP offers essential data for investors aiming to minimize transaction costs. Brokers often use the VWAP of a security to determine if a trade has been executed effectively for their clients. If a buy trade is executed below the VWAP, or a sell trade above it, the broker can argue they’ve provided a favourable exchange for their client. In essence, VWAP offers brokers and investors an efficient marker to determine whether they are receiving a fair and advantageous deal on their securities trades.


Example 1: Stock TradingAn investor wants to buy 1000 shares of Company A, but they would like to minimize the impact of their purchase on the market price of the stock. Therefore, they use the VWAP to gauge the average price at which most transactions have occurred over a given period. Using the VWAP as an execution benchmark, the investor can spread out their orders throughout the day, buying when the price is below the VWAP and avoiding purchases when the price is above VWAP to reduce potential market impact.Example 2: Mutual Fund PerformanceA mutual fund manager invests in a variety of stocks and other securities. To accurately measure their performance, they use the VWAP of each asset in their portfolio. This allows the manager to see if their trading is efficient – are they getting better prices than the VWAP or not? The performance can be assessed based on how costs are managed with the VWAP, providing investors with a more accurate picture of how well the fund is being managed.Example 3: Algorithmic TradingIn algorithmic trading, VWAP is often used as a benchmark to schedule trades. For instance, a trading algorithm might be programmed to break up a large order into smaller pieces that are traded over time, with the goal of achieving a final average price that is as close to the VWAP as possible. This reduces the risk of market impact, which can move the price against the trader and increase the cost of the trade.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP)?

Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is a trading benchmark used by traders that gives the average price a security has traded at throughout the day, based on both volume and price. It provides a measure of the average price at which a stock is traded over the trading horizon.

How is VWAP calculated?

VWAP is calculated by adding up the dollars traded for every transaction (price multiplied by number of shares traded) and then dividing by the total shares traded for the day.

What is the significance of VWAP in trading?

VWAP is often used as a trading benchmark by investors who aim to be as passive as possible in their execution. Many believe it represents the true average price of a stock in a given time period. This can aid investors to assess market direction and market depth.

Is VWAP only applicable for day trading?

Although commonly used in day trading to provide a clear view of the trend and true average price for a day’s trading period, VWAP can also be calculated for longer trading periods.

How can VWAP be used to improve trading strategy?

VWAP can be used as a trend confirmation tool. If the price is below VWAP, this may indicate a downtrend, and if it’s above, it suggests an upward trend. Traders can choose to trade in the direction of the prevalent trend to increase the success rate of their trades.

How does VWAP differ from a simple moving average (SMA)?

While SMA only takes into account the price of a security, VWAP also factors in the volume of transactions. This can give more weight to periods with higher volume, making it potentially more accurate and reliable.

Can VWAP be used for all types of securities?

Yes, VWAP can be used for any security that has trading volume data. This includes stocks, futures, ETFs, mutual funds, and commodities.

Does VWAP have any limitations?

While a useful tool, VWAP does have its limitations. For instance, it may not be as useful late in the day on a stock that trades heavily at the open. Also, as a lagging indicator, it may not be adaptable to fast-changing market conditions.

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