Most Active

What Is Most Active?

The term most active refers to stocks whose shares have the highest trading volume on a stock exchange over a given period of time. Most active stocks, which are commonly known as volume leaders, are most often quoted during a single trading day. Corporate news or economic data create market pressure and often fuel investors to buy and sell certain stocks.

Investors may also look at a list of the most active stocks over a week, month, quarter, or year. Those that are heavily traded during a certain period end up on most active lists.

Key Takeaways

  • Most active refers to stocks on an exchange that trade the highest volume of shares over a given period.
  • These stocks often see large price movements and increased volatility that may present trading opportunities.
  • Corporate or economic news often creates market pressure that fuels investors to buy or sell stocks.
  • Stock exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq regularly compile most active stock lists each trading day.
  • People often confuse most actives with active stocks, which trade at above-average ranges.

Understanding Most Active

Most active is a designation that signifies the stocks that achieve the highest trading activity for a specific period of time. This is commonly for a single trading day but may also be for a week, month, or quarter. Most actives typically experience higher-than-normal trading volume due to significantly important new information affecting the stock. This creates a strong impetus among investors to buy or sell shares, resulting in higher trading volume as well as strong momentum.

Indexes and exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq compile a list of most active stocks for each trading day, along with a list of those that make the largest advances and declines. This daily report may be broken down into other categories, including most active by share volume and by dollar volume. This daily data may be compiled into monthly or annual reports, which identify the highest traded stocks over that period.

Most active lists help investors see what names attract the most interest from other market participants throughout the day. As a result, these stocks often see large price movements and increased volatility as a result of trading volume throughout the session that present trading opportunities.

Traders may also monitor the most active pre-market stocks to determine what names may be in play. These stocks can then be further filtered by other characteristics, such as most advanced or declined, to refine a list of possible trading candidates.

Traders often refer to the most active lists published by exchanges as winners and losers, or market movers.

Most Active vs. Active Stocks

The terms active stocks and most active stocks are often used interchangeably. But while may seem similar, they are often used to denote somewhat different things.

The active descriptor in the term most active means there's a lot of trading activity involving that particular stock through the course of the day. An active stock, though, trades at an above-average volume. Unlike most actives, this trend can fluctuate depending on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Price
  • Company performance
  • Any new or timely developments that generate interest in the company or its products and services

Many stocks consistently stay active because they trade at high volume levels each day.

While changes in price can often prompt this activity, a price variation is not necessarily a requirement for a stock to be in the most active category.

Example of Most Active Stocks

As noted above, most active stock lists are commonly compiled by stock exchanges on a regular basis. They are also denoted regularly in the news media.

The table below shows the five most active Nasdaq stocks traded by volume on Sept. 12, 2019. Stocks like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Apple (AAPL), and Micron Technology (MU) that trade millions of shares daily regularly occupy the list.

Image depicting a Nasdaq most active list.

Which Stocks Are the Most Active?

The stocks that garner the most trading volume on a given day, week, or other time period, are considered to be the most active. Different indexes and exchanges, such as the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, issue a daily list of the most-actively traded stocks, as well as the biggest gainers and losers.

Why Are Certain Stocks More Active Than Others?

Major companies are often fairly actively-traded. However, many stocks, including those of smaller companies, can be active on any day based on the news cycle. If a company reports quarterly results, issues a profit forecast,

announces a buyback, merger, or any other corporate news, it may move the stock. Similarly, the competitors of a company that made a big announcement may move in response to that company's news. Additionally, the major players in a given sector or industry may be active on a specific day based on economic or policy developments.

Are the Most-Active Stocks Also the Biggest Gainers?

The most-active stocks are not necessarily the biggest gainers and losers. If a company reports a quarterly profit or other financial news, the shares may move decidedly one way or the other. But some major companies may just drift modestly higher or lower in very active trade simply because they are constantly in demand by market participants.

Article Sources
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  1. Nasdaq. "Most Active Share Volume."

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