Mastering the Intraday Momentum Index (IMI) for Effective Day Trading

The Intraday Momentum Index (IMI) is a technical indicator that combines aspects of candlestick analysis with the relative strength index (RSI).

The Intraday indicator was developed by Tushar Chande to provide investors with a way to find optimal buying and selling days.

intraday momentum index

What are momentum technical indicators?

Investors use technical indicators to estimate when to buy or sell a stock.

Technical analysis, which uses technical indicators, examines the relationship between the stock price and volume over different periods of time.

Indicators, such as the relative strength index (RSI) and Bollinger Bands, seek to generate buy and sell signals without examining the fundamentals of a stock. These are generally considered more useful for short-term traders than for long-term investors.

Momentum technical indicators are tools used by traders to detect potential changes in price and trend.

These indicators examine the relative movements of the price and are based on the principle that “momentum precedes price”.

The main tools for monitoring momentum include moving averages, relative strength indices (RSI) and stochastic oscillators.

These tools are generally used in conjunction with other fundamental or technical analyses, such as chart analysis, to get a balanced perspective on a particular asset.

What is the Intraday Momentum Index (IMI)?

The Intraday Momentum Index analyses the relationship between the opening and closing price of an asset. Essentially, the IMI calculates the sum of all gains on up days (when the close is higher than the open) and compares it to the sum of all losses on down days (when the close is lower than the open) over a given period, usually 14 days.

Like the RSI, the IMI can also be used to identify potential buy or sell signals and to spot divergences which might indicate a change in the asset's price direction.

How is the Intraday Momentum Index interpreted?

The intraday momentum index is a technical indicator used to measure the relative strength of an asset's price in the short term.

Traders often use this indicator to determine if there is any upward or downward trend present, as well as to identify support and resistance levels.

The value of the indicator is calculated by measuring the difference between the maximum and minimum prices during a given period.

  • Values above 70 typically indicate that an asset may be overbought and could be due for a reversal or pullback.
  • Values below 30 suggest that an asset may be oversold and might be poised for an upward correction.

How is the Intraday Momentum Index constructed?

The IMI calculates the sum of all gains on up days (when the close is higher than the open) and compares it to the sum of all losses on down days (when the close is lower than the open) over a given period, usually 14 days.

The Intraday Momentum Index (IMI) is constructed using the following formula:

IMI = [(Sum of gains on Up days)/(Sum of gains on Up Days + Sum of losses on Down days] * 100

Example of the Intraday Momentum Index

The following shows the IMI applied to the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY):

intraday momentum index formula

The graph above shows how oversold or overbought IMI readings can generate buy and sell signals in an index. While these signals are not always accurate, they can provide a higher degree of accuracy than simply using the relative strength index.

Many traders combine this tool with other forms of technical analysis to maximise their chances of a successful trade. For example, they may look for oversold conditions and a breakout of a chart pattern before entering a long position.

What are the drawbacks of using the Intraday Momentum Index?

Like many momentum oscillators, the IMI can generate false signals. For instance, overbought or oversold conditions may persist longer than anticipated, leading traders to enter or exit positions prematurely.

The IMI, by its nature, is a lagging indicator—it relies on past price data. Therefore, it might not accurately predict future market movements and can be slow to reflect rapid changes in market conditions.

The IMI is particularly geared towards intraday and short-term trading. For long-term investors or those using different trading styles, the IMI might not provide significant value.

In addition, it should be considered that:

  • In highly volatile markets, the IMI can be affected by short-term price fluctuations (market noise), which may not necessarily reflect the true market trends.
  • Understanding and interpreting the IMI correctly requires a certain level of trading experience and knowledge, which might be challenging for novice traders.
  • To improve reliability, the IMI should be used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools. Relying solely on the IMI for trading decisions can increase the risk of misinterpreting market conditions.
  • The effectiveness of the IMI can be significantly influenced by the choice of parameter settings, like the look-back period. Choosing an inappropriate time frame can lead to inaccurate assessments of market momentum.

Is the use of the Intraday Momentum Index recommended?

Yes, the Intraday Momentum Index is a useful tool for intraday operations. The IMI is particularly useful for day traders and short-term traders due to its focus on intraday price movements. It can provide insights into the momentum and possible reversal points of an asset within a trading day.

However, the IMI should ideally be used as a complementary tool rather than the sole basis for trading decisions. It works best when combined with other technical indicators and analysis methods to confirm signals and provide a more comprehensive market view.


How does the IMI differ from the RSI?

While the IMI is similar to the RSI in its purpose of measuring momentum, it differs in its calculation by specifically focusing on intraday price movements and incorporating elements of candlestick analysis.

Is the IMI suitable for all markets?

The IMI can be applied across various markets, including stocks, forex, and commodities. However, its effectiveness may vary depending on market liquidity and volatility.

How can a trader mitigate the risks when using the IMI?

Traders can mitigate risks by using the IMI as part of a broader trading strategy, incorporating other indicators for confirmation, applying sound risk management practices, and gaining a thorough understanding of the market conditions under which the IMI is most effective.

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