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The information content of retail investors' order flow

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2016
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Finance
Issue number2
Volume22
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)80-104
Publication statusPublished
Early online date24/11/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper, we provide evidence that the trading activity of small retail investors carries significant genuine information that can be exploited for the short-term out-of-sample forecasting of foreign exchange rates. Our findings are based on a unique dataset of around 2000 retail investors from the OANDA FXTrade electronic trading platform. Our results are consistent with the view that in the foreign exchange market private information is highly dispersed, but can be extracted by observing customer order flow. Previous studies, however, focused on the information content of costumer order flow of dealers in the interbank market, whose clients are themselves large institutional and professional investors. Our study is the first that analyzes a crowd of small retail investors and shows that even the trading activity of these investors contains, on aggregate, important non-public information that can be exploited for short-term exchange rate forecasting. Our findings lead us to conjecture that retail investors (on aggregate) are not pure noise traders but process dispersed information at least partially in a similar way as large institutional investors and hence place their orders accordingly.