What Does Most Active Mean?

Most active refers to stocks on an exchange that trade the highest volume of shares over a given period. The most common period used to evaluate a stock’s activity is a single trading day; however, investors may also look at a list of the most active stocks over a week, month, quarter, or year.

Key Takeaways

  • Most active refers to stocks on an exchange that trade the highest volume of shares over a given period.
  • The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ compile a list of most active stocks each trading day.
  • Most active stocks often see large price movements and increased volatility that may present trading opportunities.

Understanding Most Active

Most active is a designation that signifies the stocks that have achieved the highest level of trading activity, as measured by volume, for a given day or other specified period. 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.

Most Active vs. Active Stocks

While the terms "active stocks" and "most active stocks" may seem similar, they are often used to mean somewhat different things. The "active" descriptor means there's a lot of trading activity involving that particular stock through the course of the day. An active stock trades above-average volume, and this trend can fluctuate depending on a variety of factors, such as price, company performance, and any new or timely developments that generate interest in the company or its products and services. Many stocks consistently stay "active" because they trade high volume levels each day.

Usually, "most active" stocks experience higher-than-normal trading volume due to significantly important new information affecting the stock. This creates a strong impetus among investors to either buy or sell the stock, resulting in higher trading volume and often strong momentum as well.

Exchanges and Most Active Stocks

Indexes and exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq compile a list of most active stocks for each trading day, along with a list of stocks making the largest advances and declines. Traders may refer to these lists as winners and losers or market movers.

This daily activity report often breaks down further into categories, such as the most active by share volume and most active by dollar volume. Financial analysts and websites often compile this daily data into a monthly or yearly report, which identifies the highest traded stocks over that period, usually as evaluated by volume.

Trading Most Active Stocks

Traders typically view a list of the most active stocks throughout the trading day to see what names are attracting the most interest from other market participants. As a result, most active stocks often see large price movements and increased volatility throughout the session that present trading opportunities. Traders may also monitor the most active pre-market stocks to determine what names will likely be in play during the day. Most active stocks can then be filtered further by other characteristics, such as most advanced or declined, to refine a list of possible trading candidates.

Practical Example of Most Active Stocks

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

Image depicting a Nasdaq most active list.
Nasdaq.com.