What is a 'Most Active List'

A most active list is a listing of stocks with the highest trading volumes on a specific exchange over a defined period, generally one day. The volume of trade measures the total number of shares that have been transacted for a specific security during a specific time period, with higher trade volumes for specific securities generally signifying higher liquidity, better order execution and a more active market for connecting buyers and sellers.

Breaking Down 'Most Active List'

The most active list can include stocks which have had both positive or negative price changes, and sometimes can even include stocks whose overall price change has been close to zero.

Generally, in a bull market, the majority of the stocks on the most active list will generally have positive price changes. On the other hand, in an bear market, the most active list will mostly include stocks with negative price changes.

Indexes and exchanges usually have a list of their most active stocks for the day as well as their most declined stocks for the day. These lists have other nicknames as well, such as winners and losers or hot and cold stocks. Often, these lists will include further details and categorization such as lists of most active stocks by share volume and most active by dollar volume.

Financial analysts will sometimes compile daily data from most active lists into monthly or yearly reports, which list the highest-traded stocks over the course of that period of time.

Reasons for Appearing on Most Active List

The most active lists in the U.S. and Canada generally are made up of the most widely followed stocks on their benchmark indexes, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 in the U.S. and the TSX/S&P Composite Index in Canada.

Sometimes, when companies have some important information released about them, this will result in higher-than-usual trading volumes and an appearance on the most active list.

During earnings season, unfamiliar names can appear on the most active list. This is often because these stocks have either exceeded or missed earnings estimates, which results in higher than usual trading volumes.

Market analysts turn to the most active list and information it provides about trade volume to help them determine whether a market is in bull or bear mode.

Companies such as PayPal, Roku and Broadcom have been some of the consistent names on the most active lists for 2017 and early 2018.

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