COMMODITY CHANNEL INDEX (CCI) EXPLANATION & INSTRUCTIONS

Explanation & Definition:

The Commodity Channel Index (CCI) is used to define new trends or cyclical conditions by relating the deviation of an asset’s value to its statistical average.

CCI im EURUSD Stundenchart
CCI in EURUSD Hourly Chart

The CCI was developed in 1980 and was originally designed for trading commodities, an inherently cyclical asset class, but has since been widely applied to all asset classes.

MATHEMATICAL DEFINITION OF THE CCI

The Commodity Channel Index measures the deviation of an asset from its statistical average. It is calculated by taking the “typical price” (TP) of the commodity, subtracting the value of its simple moving average from the same period (i.e., average typical price or ATP), and then dividing that value by the mean absolute deviation (MAD) of the typical price.

To make the values of the CCI more readable, it is multiplied by 66.67 (or 1/0.015). This allows about 75% of the values to be between +100 and -100.

Commodity Channel Index (CCI) = (TP – ATP) / (0.015 x MAD)

The typical price is defined as the sum of its high, low and close during a given period divided by three.

Mean absolute deviation is a way to find the variation in a data set, defined as the average distance between each data point and the mean of the data set.

Interpretation of the CCI Indicator

As an oscillator, the trading indicator is used to identify trend strength and extreme prices. How traders identify this is, of course, up to the analyst. Some might interpret price extremes when the CCI is outside the +100 to -100 boundary, looking for price reversals in those areas.

However, another trader might interpret a CCI above +100 as a breakout indicator and decide to trade with the trend until the CCI falls back below +100. Likewise, a CCI below -100 could be interpreted as a robust downtrend and a signal to enter a short position.

Below is a weekly chart of the EUR/USD, where we see several instances of CCI above +100 and below -100. Areas delimited with vertical lines indicate these cases. The first vertical white line indicates the beginning of a hypothetical trade, and the following vertical line marks the end of this trade.

CCI Indikator im EURUSD Chart
CCI Indicator in the EURUSD Chart

For a trader who interprets the CCI as something closer to a pure oscillator – and therefore a price reversal indicator – we could see trade entries that are opposite to the direction of the indicator. Namely, a potential signal to sell could be generated when the CCI is above +100, and a long trade signal when the CCI is above -100. A trader looking at the CCI as a breakout/trend-following indicator might be inclined to go long when the CCI is above +100 and short when the CCI is below -100.

All four would not have been considered for the price reversal trader. If one were to backtest this particular strategy as such, one would see that its validity is low. One could either tighten the strategy to produce signals above +150 or below -150 or even above/below +200/-200.

For someone using the CCI for trend following, it seems to work effectively and would ideally be tested over multiple assets, market conditions and possibly multiple time frames.

Interpretations of the CCI:

  • Overbought and underbought prices
  • Trend reversals
  • Breakouts
  • Trend following

Use with other indicators in combination

When used in conjunction with other indicators or oscillators, the Commodity Channel Index can be a useful complement to identify potential price extremes and turning points.

For example, if we couple the Aroon oscillator with the CCI, we can generate trading signals in the direction of the prevailing trend if both confirm simultaneously.

Suppose we use the following criteria for a trading signal on a weekly EUR/USD chart:

  1. CCI (100-period) of more than +100 for buy/long signals or less than -100 for short/sell signals
  2. Aroon oscillator of more than +75 for buy/long signals or less than -75 for short/sell signals
CCI und Aroon Indikator in Verbindung
CCI and Aroon indicator in conjunction

The first two trades under these conditions would have been buys; the third would have been a sell; and the last would have been a buy that is still open.

What platform offers trading with the CCI?

For trading with the CCI, the MetaTrader 4/5 trading platform is recommended. You can use this platform on any device and configure the charts universally. Most brokers offer MetaTrader for free by opening an account.

Shortcomings and limitations

No indicator should be used in isolation. All indicators that mathematically transform price and volume data basically lag behind the price itself because so much previous data is included in it. The CCI should ideally be used in conjunction with other forms of technical analysis and/or fundamental analysis.

The CCI essentially tells you that the price of an asset may be out of line relative to its historical average, but there may be legitimate fundamental reasons why this is the case. Sometimes valuations of certain securities – and occasionally indexes or entire asset classes – are subject to very rapid and justifiable changes.

  • Do not use the indicator alone
  • Past events are not an indicator of the future

The CCI, when used as an indicator of a price reversal, can interpret that change as an unsustainable move. But asset prices do not always equate to a price reversal.

If and when more market participants pick up on the idea of a market moving in a certain direction, it will tend to result in a trend. This is why trend following is such a common aspect of technical analysis.

The CCI, as an impulse-based oscillator, falls into a different category. Instead of readings above +100 being considered “overbought”, they could be seen as an indication that an upward move has had a lot of buying behind it and could continue.

While readings above +100 and below -100 may indicate “overbought” and “oversold” conditions, respectively, it is not a reliable signal that price will return to more normal levels. Approximately 75% of CCI readings will be within these specific levels, meaning that only about 25% of the time will a potential trading signal be issued. Given the uncertainty of whether these levels represent breakouts or price extremes, generating signals with other indicators is preferable.

Conclusion on the CCI:

The CCI is perfect for analyzing the chart. It is one of the few oscillators that are truly recommended. Use the CCI to find out a possible trend reversal. Depending on your strategy, you will need to adjust the periods of the indicator. It is possible to trade short-term or longer-term trends with it. The Commodity Indes Channel belongs as an indicator to a professional technical analysis.

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