How to Use Open Interest for Intraday Trading?

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  • 31 Oct 2023

Intraday trading, characterized by fast-paced decision-making and short holding periods, demands a comprehensive understanding of various market indicators. One such critical indicator is Open Interest (OI). Open Interest is a valuable tool for intraday traders to gauge market sentiment, identify potential price movements, and make informed trading decisions. So, what is it? Let’s find out.

Open interest refers to the total number of outstanding contracts for a specific financial instrument, such as stocks, futures and options. It represents the cumulative total of all long and short positions not offset by an opposing trade or settled. OI constantly changes as new positions are opened, and existing positions are closed or liquidated.

For example, if Trader A buys 100 shares of stock XYZ, and Trader B sells 100 shares of the same stock, the Open Interest for Stock XYZ would be 100, as there is one open contract. If Trader C enters the market and buys an additional 50 shares, the Open Interest will rise to 150.

When two traders establish fresh positions (one as a buyer and the other as a seller), open interest increases by one contract, reflecting the money flowing into the market.

Conversely, when two traders close existing positions (an old buyer and an old seller), open interest decreases by one contract, indicating money flowing out of the market.

When an old trader transfers their position to a new trader, open interest remains unaffected, keeping the money within the market unchanged.

While the manual calculation of open interest can be cumbersome, the same can be gauged through charts. Open Interest charts visually display the accumulated positions in a given financial instrument over time. These charts are commonly available on various trading platforms and can be an excellent tool for intraday traders. When analyzing an Open Interest chart, consider the following points:

  • Trend Identification: Observe the trend of Open Interest over the intraday period. An increasing trend may suggest a strong consensus among market participants, indicating a potential price trend. Conversely, a declining trend might signify uncertainty or a possible reversal.

  • Price-Volume: Open Interest Relationship: Combine Open Interest data with price and volume information to gain deeper insights. If prices rise with a surge in Open Interest, it could indicate a bullish trend, and vice versa.

Now that we understand what Open Interest is and how to read Open Interest charts let's explore its importance in intraday trading analysis:

  • Market Sentiment: Open Interest can help gauge market sentiment. High Open Interest coupled with rising prices suggests a strong bullish sentiment, while high Open Interest with falling prices may signal a bearish outlook.

  • Trend Confirmation: Open Interest can serve as a confirming factor for price trends. For instance, if a stock's price is increasing, and the Open Interest is also rising, it reinforces the strength of the upward trend.

  • Reversal Indicators: Intraday traders can also use Open Interest to identify potential market reversals. A sudden decline in Open Interest following a prolonged uptrend might indicate that the trend is losing steam.

To make the most of Open Interest in intraday trading, consider these strategies:

  • Confirming Breakouts: When a stock price breaks out from a significant resistance level, check if the Open Interest is rising, too. A surge in Open Interest and a breakout suggest a higher probability of the trend continuation.

  • Divergence Analysis: Look for divergences between price and Open Interest trends. If the price is making higher highs, but the Open Interest is declining, it could be a warning sign of a potential reversal.

  • Options Trading: For intraday traders dealing in options, tracking Open Interest is crucial. Changes in Open Interest for specific options contracts can provide insights into where the smart money is positioning itself.

In Conclusion

Incorporating Open Interest analysis into your intraday trading strategy can significantly enhance your decision-making process. As you gain experience and familiarity with Open Interest charts, you'll begin to discern valuable patterns and trends. Remember that Open Interest is just one piece of the puzzle, and you must use it in collaboration with other technical and fundamental indicators for a well-rounded approach to intraday trading.

So, keep an eye on Open Interest, study its implications, and use it as a valuable tool to stay ahead in the dynamic world of intraday trading. Happy trading!


When both parties involved in a trade establish new positions (one as a new buyer and the other as a new seller), open interest will rise by one contract. Conversely, if both traders are liquidating existing positions (an old buyer and an old seller), open interest will decrease by one contract.

When open interest rises, it typically indicates an influx of new capital entering the market for that particular option. This influx of funds suggests that the current trend is likely to persist. On the other hand, when open interest declines, it often signals that the market is experiencing liquidation, with more investors opting to leave the market.

When the open interest of a particular strike price hits zero, it implies that traders exhibit minimal interest in either buying or selling contracts at that specific strike price.

Open interest is subject to update only after the completion of all trades processed for a specific trade date during overnight processing. Subsequently, this updated data becomes accessible the following morning.

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