Accumulation/Distribution Indicator

Updated on April 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Accumulation/Distribution Indicator (A/D)?

The Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator is a technical analysis tool that measures a financial asset’s buying and selling pressure over a given period. It assesses the strength of price movements by analyzing the volume flow. The A/D indicator aims to identify whether money flows into or out of a particular security.

Accumulation/Distribution Indicator (A/D)

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It considers price and volume data to determine whether buying or selling pressure dominates the market. It is important as this information can help traders and investors gauge the overall market sentiment, confirm the validity of price trends, and identify potential reversals or divergences between the indicator and the asset’s price, providing insights for making informed trading decisions.

Key Takeaways

  1. A/D indicator combines price and volume data to assess buying and selling pressure, providing insights into market sentiment.
  2. Rising A/D values indicate accumulation and potential bullish trends while falling values suggest distribution and potential bearish trends.
  3. Divergences between the A/D indicator and the price chart can signal potential trend reversals or weakening momentum.
  4. The A/D indicator should be used with other technical analysis tools for comprehensive market analysis, considering its lagging nature and potential volume discrepancies.

How Does The Accumulation/Distribution Indicator Work?

The Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator calculates buying and selling pressure values based on the relationship between the asset’s price, volume, and market activity. Let us look at how it works:

  1. Calculating Money Flow Multiplier: The Money Flow Multiplier (MFM) is calculated by comparing the asset’s closing price with the price range (high – low) of the same period. If the closing price is in the upper half of the price range, the MFM is positive; if it’s in the lower half, the MFM is negative.
  2. Calculating Money Flow Volume: The Money Flow Volume (MFV) is obtained by multiplying the MFM by the trading volume for the period. This indicates the amount of money flowing into or out of the asset.
  3. Accumulation/Distribution Line: The A/D line is derived by accumulating the MFV values over a given period. The current A/D value is calculated by adding the MFV of the current period to the previous A/D value. This cumulative total represents the net accumulation or distribution of the asset.
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The formula for calculating the Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator:

Accumulation/Distribution Line (A/D):

A/D = Previous A/D + MFV

Let us look at how its constituents are derived:

Money Flow Volume (MFV):

MFV = MFM * Volume

Where, Money Flow Multiplier (MFM):

MFM = ((CP – Low) – (High – CP)) / (High – Low), If the current period’s closing price is greater than the previous period’s closing price


  • CP=Closing price
  • Low=Low price for the period
  • High=High price for the period
  • If the current period’s closing price is lower than the previous period’s closing price, MFM = 0
    • If the current period’s closing price is equal to the previous period’s closing price, MFM = 1

Also, the A/D line is initially set to zero and then updated with each period’s accumulation or distribution volume.

How To Read?

Let us look at how to effectively read and interpret the Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator:

  1. Trend Confirmation: When the A/D line is moving upward, it indicates accumulation, suggesting buying pressure and a potential bullish trend. Conversely, a downward movement suggests distribution, indicating selling pressure and a potential bearish trend. Confirming the A/D line’s direction with the price trend can help validate the trend’s strength.
  2. Divergences: Pay attention to divergences between the A/D line and the price chart. If the A/D line is trending upward while the price is trending downward, it may signal a potential trend reversal, as buying pressure is increasing despite falling prices. Conversely, a downward A/D trend with an upward price trend could indicate a weakening bullish trend, as distribution is increasing despite rising prices. Divergences can provide early signals of potential trend shifts.
  3. Volume Confirmation: Volume plays a crucial role in A/D analysis. When the A/D line rises, it suggests that buying volume is increasing, strengthening the bullish sentiment. Conversely, a declining A/D line indicates decreasing buying volume and potentially weakening the bullish sentiment. Confirming the A/D line’s movements with volume patterns can help validate the trend’s strength.
  4. Support and Resistance Levels: Analyzing the A/D line about support and resistance levels can provide additional insights. If the A/D line breaks above a resistance level, it suggests increased buying pressure and the potential for further upward movement. Conversely, if the A/D line falls below a support level, it indicates increased selling pressure and the potential for further downward movement.

The chart takes a downtrend; in the chart of Hecla Mining Company, along with the Bollinger Bands, the A/D indicator is used to get confirmatory signals. In many areas, the A/D indicator is showing a down trend but the price has moved up. These are the areas that show divergence, indicating a potential reversal of trend. This is prominent in July-Sep2020, where the A/D line is moving downwards, but the chart has gone up. However, immediately after that, the market showed a downward move, clarifying the concept. The highest point of the uptrend in the chart, after which the market moves down, is the selling or exit point for the trader.

The chart also shows the changes in volume. When the A/D line rises the volume is also quite significant as shown in the volume bars below the A/D indicator. The sell signals are marked with red arrows and the strong buy signals are confirmed with green arrows.

Thus, traders can use this indicator to confirm their positions in combination with other indicators, because that will give a more confident approach. However, it may not be suitable for all kinds of securities.



Let us look at the examples to understand the concept better.

Example #1

Consider a stock called XYZ Inc. listed on a stock exchange. The Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator analyzes the stock’s price movement and potential trends.

Historical trading data for XYZ Inc., including the price and volume for each trading session, is collected. The A/D values are calculated based on this data to assess the buying and selling pressure within the stock.

The A/D indicator combines price and volume data to determine whether the stock is experiencing accumulation or distribution. Also, it considers the relationship between the closing price, the range between the high and low prices for a given trading session, and the volume of shares traded.

Example #2

Consider that the EUR/USD currency pair has been in an upward trend for the past few weeks. Traders and investors have accumulated the Euro (EUR) against the US Dollar (USD) due to positive economic news and improving market sentiment.

During this period, the A/D indicator consistently rises, indicating accumulation. This suggests that buying pressure in the EUR/USD pair increases as more market participants buy Euros. As a result, the A/D line steadily moves higher, reflecting the net accumulation of the currency pair.

Simultaneously, the volume associated with the EUR/USD pair has been increasing, indicating higher participation and interest from traders. This aligns with the rising A/D values, further confirming the accumulation phase.

Traders observing the A/D indicator and its upward trend may interpret this as a positive signal for the EUR/USD pair. Thus, it suggests a potential continuation of the upward price movement as buying pressure remains strong. Some traders may enter long positions, expecting the trend to persist and potentially benefit from further price appreciation.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Let us look at the advantages of using the Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator:

  1. Market Sentiment Analysis: The A/D indicator provides valuable insights into market sentiment by analyzing the flow of buying and selling pressure. It helps traders understand whether accumulation or distribution is occurring, which can assist in identifying potential trends and reversals.
  2. Confirmation of Price Movements: The A/D indicator can be a confirming tool for price movements. When the A/D line aligns with the price trend, it provides additional confidence in the strength and validity of the trend.
  3. Volume Consideration: The A/D indicator incorporates volume data, allowing traders to gauge the strength of market participation. High volume coupled with a rising A/D line indicates strong buying pressure, increasing the probability of a sustainable price trend.

Let us look at the disadvantages of using the A/D indicator:

  1. Lagging Indicator: The A/D indicator relies on historical price and volume data, making it a lagging indicator. It may not provide timely signals for rapid price changes or sudden market shifts.
  2. Overemphasis on Price: While the A/D indicator incorporates volume, it relies heavily on price data. Price movements alone may not accurately reflect market sentiment, potentially leading to false signals or misinterpretation.

Accumulation Distribution Indicator vs On Balance Volume

Let us look at the differences between the Accumulation/Distribution (A/D) indicator and the On-Balance-Volume (OBV) indicator:

ParametersAccumulation/Distribution (A/D) IndicatorOn-Balance Volume (OBV) Indicator
PurposeMeasures buying and selling pressure in a financial assetMeasures cumulative buying and selling pressure
CalculationConsiders price, volume, and market activityConsiders only volume data
Calculation FormulaA/D = Previous A/D + Money Flow Volume (MFV)OBV = Previous OBV + Volume Change
InterpretationIndicates the strength of price movements and confirms trendsShows trend confirmation and potential reversals
Divergence DetectionHelps identify potential trend reversals through price-volume divergencesCan identify divergences between OBV and price
Lagging or Leading IndicatorLagging indicator, based on historical dataThe leading indicator anticipates potential price movements

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are accumulation and distribution indicator in forex?

Accumulation and distribution in forex refer to market participants’ buying and selling activities. Accumulation occurs when a net increase in buying pressure indicates traders are accumulating the currency. On the other hand, distribution happens when there is a net increase in selling pressure, suggesting traders are distributing the currency.

2. What is William’s accumulation/distribution indicator?

The Williams Accumulation/Distribution (WAD) indicator is a technical analysis tool that measures a currency pair’s buying and selling pressure. It considers the relationship between the close price and the trading range to calculate the net accumulation or distribution. The WAD indicator is used to identify potential price reversals and confirm the strength of a trend.

3. Can the A/D indicator be used for all types of financial assets?

The A/D indicator can be used for various financial assets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies. It evaluates the relationship between price and volume, applicable across different markets and assets. However, it’s essential to consider each asset class’s specific characteristics and behavior when interpreting the A/D indicator’s signals.

This has been a guide to what is Accumulation/Distribution Indicator. We explain how to read it, its formula, and comparison with on-balance volume. You can learn more about it from the following articles –

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