Rolling VWAP vs Rolling Pivot Levels as Trend Filters

We‘ve all heard the saying that “the trend is your friend, until it isn’t”. In this post, we’ll look at how Rolling VWAPs and Pivot levels can help us determine the trend. There are of course a variety of ways for defining the trend. The most common approach is simply comparing a number of recent highs and lows. An uptrend will have higher highs and higher lows, a downtrend lower highs and lower lows whereas a set of horizontal highs and lows points to a sideways trend.

Rolling pivot levels vs. ZigZag

Next, we’ll want to distinguish between near-, intermediate- and major trends. Traditionally, anything more than 6 months was considered a major trend, intermediate between 3 weeks and 3 months, and near term trend is anything less than 3 weeks.

As day-traders however, we can consider something as short as a 2-3 day move a major trend. The intermediate will then be a few hours and we’ll look to time our entries with anything less than a 5 min chart (alternatively using a low resolution tick, volume or range chart). A trend following approach will then focus on aligning major with the intermediate trend perspective and use the near term trend to time the entries. In an uptrend, a near term trend “correction” or retracement will be used to locate long entries.

The Regular vs. Overnight Session

An important issue to consider when determining trends in the futures markets is that we’re faced with two main trading sessions: Regular Trading Hours (RTH) and the Night Session. Of course, there’s also the Evening Session, however, when talking about trends, we’ll focus on the Regular and the Night sessions, as they account for more than 95% of the price data.

Rolling pivot levels: Globex vs. Regular

For index, interest rate futures and certain commodities, there will be considerably more volume during hours when the local traders are active. They are mostly physically located in the timezone of the exchange where the contract is traded. For example, looking at the E-mini index futures contract, you’ll want to determine the trend based on what’s going on with the underlying equities in the U.S. stock market. These companies are traded during the RTH session (8.30 AM – 3.15 PM, Central Time).

Rolling pivot levels vs. volume analysis

The price data during the Night Session is mainly an echo of what’s going on in Asian and European markets during their regular hours. In most cases, this information will not be accurate for determining major and intermediate trends for the U.S. equity market.

Therefore, setting higher highs and higher lows, or lower highs and lower lows on a chart that includes both Regular and Night Sessions will be misleading. We will encounter the same problem using a moving average, or any other indicator that includes the low-volume Night Session in its look-back period (such as the ADX for example). Two thirds of the price-data will include information not produced by the underlying assets! The alternative, omitting the Night Session data altogether will produce price gaps and likewise, inaccurate trend analysis.

Regular Session Gaps

Calculating Rolling Pivot Levels

One way of avoiding this is by working with a rolling pivot level calculation as suggested by Mark B. Fisher in his book The Logical Trader. We then take the highest high, lowest low of the past 3 days and the close/settlement of the current Regular Session. If the market trades above this level, we’re in an uptrend, if it’s below, we’re in a downtrend. The ideal trade entry will be in the direction of the major trend when the market retraces towards the value area as represented by the 3 day rolling pivot range, namely the Directional Pivot (DP), Central Pivot (CP) and the Main Pivot (PP).


The Rolling VWAP

The Rolling Volume Weighted Average Price calculation can be applied in a similar fashion. We then use a moving window of the accumulated VWAP over for example the past 3 days. This way we may compare where price is moving in relation to todays 3day rolling average, as well as examine where where the 3 day rolling average was located 1 and 2 days ago. Again, if the price is moving above the rolling average, we’re in an uptrend, if it’s below, we’re in a downtrend. The ideal trade entry is in the direction of the major trend when the market retraces towards the value area as represented by the 3 day rolling VWAP.


For the rolling VWAP, we use price data from the entire ETH session (Regular, Evening and Night Session) as the low volume Sessions will have very little impact on the accumulated average.


To sum up, rolling Pivot levels and VWAP calculations are in a better position to give us accurate trend information. To isolate the RTH session please refer to our premium Session Pivots package. To read more about our premium suite please follow this link. For additional trading resources, you may review the full Indicator Library at