Fair Value Gaps vs Liquidity Voids in Trading


Understanding fair value gaps and liquidity voids is essential for traders seeking to navigate the complexities of the financial markets. These concepts, deeply rooted in the Smart Money Concept (SMC), provide valuable insights into the dynamics of supply and demand, helping to identify potential price movements. In this article, we’ll delve into both ideas, exploring their characteristics, differences, and use in trading.

Fair Value Gap (FVG) Meaning in Trading

A fair value gap, also known as an imbalance or FVG, is a crucial idea in Smart Money Concept that sheds light on the dynamics of supply and demand for a particular asset. This phenomenon occurs when there is a significant disparity between the number of buy and sell orders for an asset. They occur across all asset types, from forex and commodities to stocks and crypto*.

Essentially, a fair value gap in trading highlights a moment where the market consensus leans heavily towards either buying or selling but finds insufficient counter orders to match this enthusiasm. On a chart, this typically looks like a large candle that hasn’t yet been traded back through.

Specifically, a fair value gap is a three-candle pattern; the middle candle, or second candle, features a strong move in a given direction and is the most important, while the first and third candles represent the boundaries of the pattern. Once the third candle closes, the fair value gap is formed. There should be a distance between the wicks of the first and third candles.

Fair value gaps, like gaps in stocks, are often “filled” or traded back through at some point in the future. They represent areas of minimal resistance; there is little trading activity in these areas (compared to a horizontal range). Therefore, they are likely to be traded through with relative ease as price gravitates towards an area of support or resistance.

Liquidity Void Meaning in Trading

Liquidity voids in trading represent significant, abrupt price movements between two levels on a chart without the usual gradual trading activity in between. These are essentially larger and more substantial versions of fair value gaps, often encompassing multiple candles and FVGs, indicating a more pronounced imbalance between buy and sell orders.

While FVGs occur frequently and reflect the day-to-day shifts in market sentiment, liquidity voids signal a rapid repricing of an asset, typically following significant market events (though not always).

These voids are visual representations of moments when the market experiences a temporary absence of balance between buyers and sellers. This imbalance leads to a sharp move as the market seeks a new equilibrium price level. Such occurrences are not limited to specific times; they can happen after major news releases, during off-market hours, or following large institutional trades that significantly move the market with a single order.

Liquidity voids are especially noteworthy on trading charts due to their appearance as particularly sharp moves. Though they appear across all timeframes, they’re most obvious following major news events when the market rapidly adjusts to new information, creating opportunities and challenges for traders navigating these shifts.

Fair Value Gap vs Liquidity Void

Fair value gaps and liquidity voids are effectively the same thing in practice; a fair value gap is simply a shorter-term liquidity void. Both indicate moments of significant imbalance between supply and demand. At the heart of both phenomena is a situation where one significantly outweighs the other, leading to strong market movements with minimal consolidation. The distinction between them often comes down to scale and timeframe.

An FVG is typically identified by a specific three-candle pattern on a chart, signalling a discrete imbalance in order volume that prompts a quick price adjustment. These gaps reflect moments where the market sentiment strongly leans towards buying or selling yet lacks the opposite orders to maintain price stability.

Liquidity voids, on the other hand, represent more pronounced movements in a given direction, often visible as substantial price jumps or drops. They can encompass multiple FVGs and extend over larger portions of the chart, showcasing a significant repricing of an asset.

This distinction becomes particularly relevant when considering the timeframe of analysis; what appears as a series of FVGs on a lower timeframe can be interpreted as a liquidity void. On a higher timeframe, this liquidity void may appear as a singular fair value gap. This can be seen in the fair value gap example above.

For traders, it’s more practical to realise that both FVGs and liquidity voids highlight a key market phenomenon: when a notable supply and demand imbalance occurs, it tends to create a vacuum that the market is likely to fill at some future point. Therefore, it’s important to recognise that both these types of imbalances can act as potential indicators of future price movement back towards these unfilled spaces.

Interested readers can take advantage of FXOpen’s TickTrader platform to explore the differences between FVGs and liquidity voids.

Trading Fair Value Gaps and Liquidity Voids

Trading strategies that leverage fair value gaps and liquidity voids require a nuanced approach, as these concepts alone may not suffice for a robust trading strategy. However, when integrated with other aspects of the Smart Money Concept, such as order blocks and breaks of structure, they can contribute significantly to a comprehensive market analysis framework.

Primarily, both FVGs and liquidity voids signal potential areas through which the price is likely to move rapidly to reach more significant zones of trading activity, such as order blocks or key levels of support and resistance.

This insight suggests that initiating positions directly within an FVG or a liquidity void may not be effective due to the high likelihood of the price moving swiftly through these areas. Instead, traders might find it more strategic to wait for the price to reach areas where historical trading activity reflects stronger levels of buy or sell interest. Additionally, these market phenomena can inform the setting of price targets. If there is an FVG or liquidity void situated before a key area of interest, targeting the zone beyond the gap—where substantial trading activity is expected—could prove more effective than aiming for a point within the gap itself.

It's also useful to note the relative significance of these features when they appear on the same timeframe. An FVG, being generally smaller and indicating a discrete order imbalance, is more likely to be filled before a liquidity void. This is because liquidity voids represent more considerable and pronounced market movements that can set market direction, marking them as less likely to be filled within a short space of time.

Limitations of Fair Value Gaps and Liquidity Voids

While fair value gap trading strategies and the analysis of liquidity voids offer insightful approaches to understanding market dynamics, they come with inherent limitations that traders need to consider:

  • Market Volatility: High volatility can unpredictably affect the filling of fair value gaps and liquidity voids, sometimes leading to incorrect analysis or false signals.
  • Timeframe Relativity: The significance and potential impact of gaps and voids can vary greatly across different timeframes, complicating analysis.
  • Incomplete Picture: Relying solely on these phenomena for trading decisions may result in an incomplete market analysis, as they do not account for all influencing factors.
  • Expectations: There is no guarantee that a FVG/void will be filled soon or at any point in the near future.

The Bottom Line

As we conclude, it's essential to remember that while fair value gap and liquidity void strategies provide valuable insights, they’re part of a broader spectrum of SMC tools available to traders. They’re best combined with other analytical techniques to form a comprehensive approach to trading.

For those looking to delve deeper into trading strategies and enhance their market understanding, opening an FXOpen account can be a step toward accessing a wide array of resources and tools designed to support your trading journey.


What Is a Fair Value Gap?

A fair value gap occurs when there's a significant difference between the buy and sell orders for an asset, indicating an imbalance that can influence market prices.

What Are Fair Value Gaps in Trading?

In trading, fair value gaps reflect moments where market sentiment strongly favours either buying or selling, creating potential price movement opportunities.

What Is the Difference Between a Fair Value Gap and a Liquidity Void?

The main difference lies in their scale: a fair value gap is typically a smaller, discrete occurrence, while a liquidity void represents a larger, more pronounced price movement.

How to Find Fair Value Gaps?

Traders identify fair value gaps by analysing trading charts for areas where rapid price movements have occurred. A FVG consists of three candles, where the second one is the largest and the first and third serve as barriers. The idea of the FVG is that it leads to a potential retracement to fill the gap in the future.

Is a Fair Value Gap the Same as an Imbalance?

Yes, a fair value gap is the same as an imbalance in the Smart Money Concept.

*At FXOpen UK and FXOpen AU, Cryptocurrency CFDs are only available for trading by those clients categorised as Professional clients under FCA Rules and Professional clients under ASIC Rules, respectively. They are not available for trading by Retail clients.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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