DEFINITION of 'Best Ask'

The best ask is the lowest quoted offer price from competing market makers for a particular trading instrument. The ask price is effectively the lowest price that a seller is willing to offer for an asset, and the best ask is the most favorable ask price offered at a given time for a particular security. Ask is also known as the offer price.


In financial markets, potential buyers are said to offer their purchase price by stating a "bid" offer or price. The ask is the other side of a transaction. The ask price is the price a potential seller is willing to offer a security for purchase at. Because various broker, agents and investors all have a unique price they're willing to buy and sell at, a range of possible price levels is maintained in an order book or electronically. The best ask is simply the lowest (or best) price someone is willing to sell a basket of securities at.

Example of the Best Ask

For example, wirehouse brokers such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Wells Fargo will all independently come to a selling price they're willing to sell stocks held in inventory at. Naturally, an investor wants to purchase (buy) at the lowest possible price. By adding the instructions to purchase at only the "best ask," they're ensuring the best possible price.

Trouble arises when only a certain amount of a given security is available at the lowest price. For instance, Morgan Stanely may have an ask price of $25.00/share for company ABC's stock, and they're willing to sell 25,000 shares at that rate. If a customer executes an order to purchase 30,000 shares at the best ask price, Morgan Stanley's lot wouldn't entirely fill the order request. Here's where other trading instructions come into play, such as all-or-none and allowance for a trade to be split.

The National Best Bid and Offer (NBBO) are the bid and ask prices that traders and investors typically see. Active traders, short-term traders and day traders often study Level 2 quotes that include all the current bids and asks for a particular trading instrument. The NBBO is continually updated throughout the trading session so that customers have access to these prices.

  1. Best Bid

    Best bid is the highest quoted bid for a particular security ...
  2. Crossed Market

    A crossed market is a situation arising when the bid price of ...
  3. One-Man Picture

    A one man picture is when a security's bid price and ask price ...
  4. Level 3

    Level 3 is the highest level of quotes provided by a trading ...
  5. Bid Size

    The bid size represents the minimum quantity of a security that ...
  6. Buy Quote

    Buy quote is one way of describing the best available price to ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Illegal Interview Questions To Watch Out For

    If you were ever asked any of these questions during an interview you shouldn't have been, because they are illegal.
  2. Investing

    How to Uncover Hidden Investment Fees

    Don't be afraid to ask thorough questions about the fees you are being charged by your financial professional.
  3. Insights

    Tips For Face-to-Face Buying And Selling

    Be aware of these dangers when buying or selling goods in person.
  4. Investing

    Playing hardball when selling your home

    Are you planning on selling your house? Learn these strategies to help you get you a better deal in house sale.
  5. Trading

    An Introduction To Securities Markets

    The global securities market is constantly evolving. Discover the most popular market structures currently in use.
  6. Personal Finance

    Invest in Yourself by Asking for a Raise

    There are many ways to invest in yourself, including asking for a raise, which people often make more difficult than it needs to be.
  7. Personal Finance

    What Are Mortgage Lenders Allowed To Ask Borrowers?

    Seemingly intrusive or irrelevant questions are actually legal for lenders to ask of mortgage applicants.
  1. What do the bid and ask prices represent on a stock quote?

    The bid and ask prices are stock market terms representing the supply, or the shareholder, and demand, or investor, for a ... Read Answer >>
  2. Why are the bid and ask quotes usually so far away from each other in after-hours ...

    The low volumes typically traded through after-hours trading systems can create wide bid-ask spreads. Read Answer >>
  3. When is a buy limit order executed?

    A buy limit order is only executed when the asking price is at or below the limit price specified in the order. Read Answer >>
Trading Center