DEFINITION of 'At The Market'
An order to buy or sell a stock or futures contract at the prevailing market bid or ask price at the time the order is processed. An at-the-market order is generally executed within minutes of being received and can be placed anytime during market hours. If such an order is received after regular hours, it will be executed as soon as trading resumes.
BREAKING DOWN 'At The Market'
Generally one buys or sells at the market to assure that the desired transaction takes place. When an investor places an order at the market, he or she is willing to forgo price discrimination for speediness of entry to or exit from a futures contract.
During raging bull markets, buy limit orders (orders that are only fulfilled at the limit price or lower) often don't get executed. Likewise, sell limit orders (orders that are only fulfilled at the limit price or higher) are often unconsummated during bear markets. Both scenarios can cause considerable angst to investors.