DEFINITION of 'Big Figure'
The stem, or whole dollar price, of a price quote. The term "big figure" is most often used in international currency markets, where it is often abbreviated to "big fig." In the U.S., big figure is also referred to as the "handle." The big figure is generally omitted when traders provide quotations in very fast-paced markets, such as the interbank currency market, because the assumption is that it is common knowledge and does not need to be specified.
BREAKING DOWN 'Big Figure'
For example, assume that the Japanese yen is trading versus the US dollar in the interbank spot market at 85.50 (bid) / 85.55 (offered). While the big figure here is 85, interbank traders will quote the price as 50 / 55.
While omitting the big figure is accepted practice in interbank and institutional markets, it is seldom done when dealing with retail investors. Even in the interbank markets, traders may need clarification on the big figure in cases where the exchange rate is moving very rapidly, as for instance, during currency intervention by central banks. The big figure may also need to be clarified when the exchange rate approaches round numbers, such as 86.00 yen or 1.3500 euros to the US dollar.