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What is the Absolute Breadth Index?

The Absolute Breadth Index (ABI) is an essential metric in market analysis. It serves as a barometer of market movement size, distinguishing itself by disregarding the direction of price fluctuations. This article aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of the Absolute Breadth Index and its implications for investors and traders alike.

Defining the Absolute Breadth Index

The Absolute Breadth Index is a market breadth indicator. It is computed using the absolute value of the difference between the number of advancing and declining stocks. The ABI's uniqueness lies in its non-directional approach—it indicates the scale of market movements without taking into account the direction of prices.

The concept of market breadth is instrumental in a plethora of technical analysis techniques. It provides traders with an understanding of the entire market's movement. By juxtaposing the number of advancing stocks with declining ones or comparing new highs and new lows, traders acquire a broader and more nuanced perspective of the market—distinct from the straightforward numbers furnished by major stock market indexes.

ABI and Market Volatility

A larger ABI signifies heightened market volatility. Conversely, a smaller breadth indicates less substantial market movements or lack of a clear market direction. When the number of advances or declines significantly diverges from each other, it suggests the presence of widespread market trends.

The ABI, in contrast to other analysis tools, only indicates the increase in breadth. For instance, the Advance-Decline Line employs breadth in a directional way, while tools like the Arms Index consider trading volumes in advancing or declining stocks.

To normalize these numbers for historical comparisons, the ABI is articulated as a percentage. This percentage is derived by dividing the breadth by the total number of securities traded in the market on a specific day or week.

Practical Applications of ABI

Despite its focused perspective on market volatility, the ABI does present some practical applications for investors. For example, an investor maintaining a long straddle position with options on a market index might find the ABI useful, since a long straddle primarily concerns itself with increased breadth rather than the movement's direction.

ABI and Technical Analysis

In the realm of successful technical analysis, the capacity to detect and leverage directional shifts is crucial. Traders use technical indicators like the ABI to forecast future prices and verify a particular indicator's effectiveness for a specific security.

It's important to note that no single indicator works well for every security. The ABI, when viewed in isolation, may not be entirely beneficial, but when paired with other tools—such as artificial intelligence (AI) offerings—it can be incredibly powerful. AI can provide traders with innovative trade ideas, analyze signals for optimal trades, and aid investors in making calculated, emotionless, and efficient trading decisions.

The Absolute Breadth Index is a valuable tool in a trader's arsenal. While it primarily depicts volatility, it can also be a potent component of a comprehensive, multi-faceted market analysis approach. A nuanced understanding of ABI and its implications can potentially enhance trading strategies and improve investment outcomes.


The Absolute Breadth Index (ABI) is a market breadth indicator, calculated using the absolute value of the difference between the number of advancing stocks and declining stocks to indicate the size of market movement without considering price direction.

Larger ABI numbers will indicate more volatility. When breadth is smaller, it means that the market isn’t experiencing significant movement, or movement in a definitive direction. When advances or declines pull away from the other, it indicates the presence of market-wide trends.

Market breadth is used in a slew of technical analysis techniques because it gives traders an idea of how an entire market is moving: by comparing the number of advancing issues to the number of declining issues, or new highs and new lows, traders see a bigger picture (and from a different viewpoint than just the numbers from the major stock market indexes).

Other analysis tools use breadth in a directional way, such as the Advance-Decline Line; others may include trading volume in either advancing or declining issues, such as the Arms Index, and others may apply oscillators. The Absolute Breadth Index, however, only shows us that breadth has increased.

To standardize these numbers for historical comparisons, the ABI is expressed as a percentage when the breadth is divided by the total number of issues traded in the market on that day or week. It was intended to be used with the NYSE, but exclusivity may cause the information to be clouded, as stocks account for only about 50% of the securities traded on the NYSE.

The ABI has limited applications because of its focus on market volatility, but investors may still find it useful. An investor who holds a long straddle position with options on a market index, for example, might consider an ABI since the long straddle is not concerned with the direction of movement, only that breadth has increased.

Successful technical analysis requires the ability to recognize and capitalize on directional shifts. Traders use technical indicators like the Absolute Breadth Index to make predictions about future prices. They verify how well a specific indicator works for a particular security.

There is no single indicator that works well for every security, and the ABI is not entirely useful in a vacuum. But while it may only depict volatility, it is very useful if used in conjunction with other tools, like the artificial intelligence offerings from Tickeron. A.I. can provide trade ideas to traders, help analyze signals to execute advantageous trades, and assist investors with making rational, emotionless, and effective trading decisions.

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