Note: Use a market order to guarantee a fill. A market order is the fastest and most reliable way to get in out of a trade. A market order is appropriate if getting filled is more important than getting a certain price.

A market order is the most basic type of trade order. It instructs the broker to buy (or sell) at the best price that is currently available. Order entry interfaces usually have "buy" and "sell" buttons to make these orders quick and easy, as shown in Figure 1. Typically, this type of order will be executed immediately. The primary advantage to using a market order is that the trader is guaranteed to get the trade filled. If a trader absolutely needs to get in or out of a trade, a market order is the most reliable order type. The downside, however, is that market orders do not guarantee price, and they do not allow any precision in order entry and can lead to costly slippage. Using market orders only in markets with good liquidity can help limit losses from slippage.


Figure 1 - A market order is the most basic type of trade order. Order entry interfaces usually have "buy" and "sell" buttons to make these orders quick and easy. Image created with TradeStation.

Ideally, a market order to buy is filled at the ask price, and a market order to sell is filled at the bid price. It is essential to remember, however, that the last-traded price is not automatically the price at which a market order will be executed. This is especially true in fast-moving or thinly traded markets.

For example, a trader may place a market order to go long 1000 shares of ABC stock when the best offer price is currently $20.00 per share. If other orders in the queue are executed before this trader's order, the market order may fill at a higher price. It is possible, also, that parts of the order will execute at different prices. In this example, half of the order might execute at the best offer price and the other could fill at a higher price. A market order does not guarantee price - it only guarantees a fill.


Next: Introduction To Order Types: Limit Orders »



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