Order Imbalance

DEFINITION of 'Order Imbalance'

A situation resulting from an excess of buy or sell orders for a specific security on a trading exchange, making it impossible to match the buyers' and sellers' orders. For securities that are overseen by a market maker or specialist, shares may be brought in from a specified reserve to add liquidity, temporarily clearing out excess orders from the inventory so that the trading in the security can resume at an orderly level. Extreme cases of order imbalance may cause suspension of trading until the imbalance is resolved.


BREAKING DOWN 'Order Imbalance'

Order imbalances can often occur when major news hits a stock, such as an earnings release, change in guidance, or merger and acquisition activity. Imbalances can move securities to the upside or downside, but most imbalances get worked out within a few minutes or hours in one daily session. Smaller, less liquid securities can have imbalances that last longer than a single trading session because there are fewer shares in the hands of fewer people.

Investors can protect themselves against the volatile price changes that can arise from order imbalances by using limit orders when placing trades, rather than market orders.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Limit Order

    An order placed with a brokerage to buy or sell a set number ...
  2. Buyers/Sellers On Balance

    1. A ratio based on aggregate market orders for securities that ...
  3. Thin Market

    A market with a low number of buyers and sellers. Since few transactions ...
  4. The number of shares being offered for purchase at a specified ...
  5. Bid

    1. An offer made by an investor, a trader or a dealer to buy ...
  6. Tick

    The minimum upward or downward movement in the price of a security. ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    Understanding Order Execution

    Find out the various ways in which a broker can fill an order, which can affect costs.
  2. Professionals

    How Brokers Can Avoid A Market-Maker's Tricks

    Ensure that you and your clients are getting the best deal by avoiding these three pitfalls.
  3. Active Trading Fundamentals

    The Stop-Loss Order - Make Sure You Use It

    It's a simple but powerful tool to help you implement your stock-investment strategy. Find out how.
  4. Products and Investments

    The One Thing Your Portfolio Must Always Have

    Portfolio diversification is essential in any situation, but especially so as the market finally returns to fundamentals.
  5. Stock Analysis

    Are U.S. Stocks Still the Place To Be in 2016?

    Understand why U.S. stocks are absolutely the place to be in 2016, even though the year has gotten off to an awful start for the market.
  6. Term

    Understanding Market Price and Its Changes

    An asset’s or service’s market price is the current price at which it can be bought and sold.
  7. Options & Futures

    What Does Quadruple Witching Mean?

    In a financial context, quadruple witching refers to the day on which contracts for stock index futures, index options, and single stock futures expire.
  8. Professionals

    Is A Stockbroker Career For You?

    Becoming a stockbroker requires a broad skill set and the willingness to put in long hours. But the rewards can be enormous.
  9. Investing Basics

    How to Pick A Stock

    The first step in picking stock is to determine your goals.
  10. Investing Basics

    5 Tips On When To Buy Your Stock

    Buying stocks that make you money can be a satisfying experience for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the impact it has on your bottom line.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What's the difference between a stop and a limit order?

    Different types of orders allow you to be more specific about how you'd like your broker to fulfill your trades. When you ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do stop or limit orders protect you against gaps in a stock's price?

    Many individuals are hesitant to invest in the stock market because of the large gaps in prices talked about in the news. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Where do penny stocks trade?

    Generally, penny stocks are traded through the use of the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) and through pink sheets. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Where can I buy penny stocks?

    Some penny stocks, those using the definition of trading for less than $5 per share, are traded on regular exchanges such ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does the stock market react to changes in the Federal Funds Rate?

    The stock market reacts to changes in the federal funds rate in various ways depending on where it is in the business cycle. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the requirements for being a Public Limited Company?

    The requirements for an entity to be considered a public limited company (PLC) include registration requirements, establishing ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  2. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  3. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  4. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  5. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center