Definition Bid Ask


A small bid-ask spread is called “narrow.” Narrow bid-ask spreads make it easier for new participants to enter the market. Remember, you only need to focus on the bid vs ask pricing at critical price levels and to gain a better understanding of how the security trades before investing your money. The one thing I will caution you against trading are low volume stocks with large spreads. These securities will lure you in with large price moves in a matter of days.

cap stocks
bid ask spreads

The bid-ask spread can also be stated in percentage terms; it is customarily calculated as a percentage of the lowest sell price or ask price. A bid-ask spread is the difference between the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay for an asset and the lowest price that a seller is willing to accept. For example, if an investor wanted to sell a stock, he or she would need to determine how much someone is willing to pay for it. It represents the highest price that someone is willing to pay for the stock.

What’s the Difference Between Bid and Ask?

In the case of a stock, if one believes that the price is expected to go up, the buyer would buy the stock at a price that he believes is appropriate or fair. The buyer wants to buy the stock at this price is termed as a bid. In the future, when the prices go up, the buyer now converts into a seller. He will now quote a price to sell in which he believes maximum profit can be made. The bid price is the highest amount of money a buyer is willing to pay for a particular commodity.

When a advertising in paid classifieds order is placed, there’s no guarantee that the trader placing the bid will receive the number of shares, contracts, or lots that they want. Each transaction in the market requires a buyer and a seller, so someone must sell to the bidder for the order to be filled and for the buyer to receive the shares. If the bid price for a stock is $19 and the ask price for the same stock is $20, then the bid-ask spread for the stock in question is $1.


Other times, to ensure a good fill, I’ll leave the buy order at $2.20 and hope that market comes back to my price and I get filled. By the end you understand what they are, how to analyze them and learn what to look for to give you a higher probability of success with your trades. Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Morningstar Index quotes are real-time.

On the other hand, when the security is seldom traded , the spread will be larger. For example, the bid-ask spread of Facebook Inc., a highly traded stock with a 50-day average daily volume of 25 million, is one cent. On the other hand, securities with a “wide” bid-ask spread—that is, where the bid and ask prices are far apart—can be time-consuming and expensive to trade. The x-axis is the unit price, the y-axis is cumulative order depth. Bids on the left, asks on the right, with a bid–ask spread in the middle. Being a market maker isn’t easy, and it’s definitely not recommended to everyone — it often involves owning a significant amount of an asset you are planning to trade.

Limit Orders

Stocks function in a similar fashion if a security has a large spread. For example, if you bought a stock for $100 dollars that has a bid ask spread of $95 by $100, you would be forced to take a 5% loss just to get out of the position. The bid-ask spread can give you a powerful yet simple advantage in trading stocks.

  • If the price moves the wrong way fast, my order could execute far outside my planned trade setup.
  • That includes brokerage fees and the entry and exit prices for trades.
  • For example, options or futures contracts may have bid-ask spreads that represent a much larger percentage of their price than a forex or equities trade.
  • A close spread is a sign of relative stability in a stock’s price.

However, both rates independently do not make much sense and have to be used in coordination to understand the entire picture better. However, bond quotes are often given in terms of yield rather than price, because the yield tells the expected return on the bond through maturity. The bid yield is the yield figure that you get when you consider what your long-term return would be if you paid the bid price for the bond.

Hype is generally found in hot sectors or around stocks that are exciting to traders and investors. During the middle of the day, stocks are normally much less liquid. This generally causes the bid-ask spread to be wider in the middle of the day compared to the open and close. Instead, you only really need to watch the bid-ask spread when a stock is at a pivotal point. That’s when a stock is trading at a price with above-average significance. Sarah’s trading edge is mainly in low float stocks that have low trading volume.

By contrast, assets with a wide bid-ask spread may have a low volume of demand, therefore influencing wider discrepancies in its price. The bid price represents the maximum price that a buyer is willing to pay for a share of stock or other security. The ask price represents the minimum price that a seller is willing to take for that same security. A trade or transaction occurs when a buyer in the market is willing to pay the best offer available—or is willing to sell at the highest bid. Oftentimes, there is a spread between the bid and ask in the marketplace. This is the difference between the amount quoted by the buyer and seller for the purchase and sale of stock.

Bid and ask is a very important concept that many retail investors overlook when transacting. It is important to note that the current stock price is the price of the last trade – a historical price. On the other hand, the bid and ask are the prices that buyers and sellers are willing to trade at.

If you focus on these three areas, you will be able to discern with some degree of certainty if price will hold or break. This bias one way or another is not likely to reveal itself in the price chart but rather in the pricing and order flow. One you can develop headaches from straining your eyes, but even more concerning is the risk of over trading. Again, you protect yourself against the risk of slippage and poor order execution by placing a limit order. To give you a sense of spread sizes, here are a few Level 1 screenshots from Tradingsim. So, if the two numbers are different, how are trades ever executed?

#2 Limit Orders

The last price represents the price at which the last trade occurred. From equities, fixed income to derivatives, the CMSA certification bridges the gap from where you are now to where you want to be — a world-class capital markets analyst. Bid price is the price a buyer is willing to pay for a security. Speaking of affordability, the bid at this writing is still shy of $7000 with five days to go.


Clearly not all options are created equal and some stocks will have better option spreads than others. MSFT is another highly liquid stock and the spreads there are very good also at only $0.21 or about 0.09%. With an instrument like SPY, that’s not really a concern because the spread is so tight, but with other instruments with a wide spread it’s crucial to get a good fill price. When looking at a particular instrument for trading, it is important to check the bid-ask spread.

The bid price is the highest price that a market participant is willing to pay for any given asset. Those spreads can be narrowed or widened on purpose by your CFD broker if they choose to do so as their risk management tool to fulfill your CFD orders. The amount of the spread is important to all types of traders, but especially day traders who may need to exit a position within minutes to a few hours.

Trader interest can build and fade in relation to the amount of hype around the stock. This example demonstrates how traders can use bid-ask analysis as one step in the multi-step process of finding potential trades. Make sure to have something similar in your own trading plan. Imagine a day trader named Sarah who trades small-cap and penny stocks for a living. If you’re able to see supply or demand outstripping each other through the bid-ask spread, you may be able to find an excellent trade setup before the stock price moves. The stock market is similar, but instead a single seller, there are often multiple sellers trading against multiple buyers.

What Factors Affect Bid Price and Ask Price?

Market makers take on risk by holding shares to buy or sell. They can disperse their shares between the bid and the ask and profit on the difference. The bid is the highest current price on record that a trader is willing to pay for one share. Bid PriceBid Price is the highest amount that a buyer quotes against the “ask price” to buy particular security, stock, or any financial instrument. Spreads have been decreasing in the retail market due to the increasing use and popularity of exchanges and electronic systems. It enables small traders to get a competitive price, which only large players got in the past.

This is in no way a comprehensive, but these are the most obvious ones you should be aware of when placing trades. That’s where the Breaking News Chat tool on the StocksToTrade platform comes in. Two of the stocks have news — there are some hot news catalysts. Great sign … but now Sarah has to decide which stock is best to trade.

Leave us a comment