What is 'Time and Sales'

Time and sales, or T&S, shows volume, price, direction, date and time for each trade and is a real-time data feed of trade orders for a security

BREAKING DOWN 'Time and Sales'

Time and sales is a detailed account of trading activity for a particular security. For a historical perspective, time and sales is akin to reading ticker tape for an individual stock. It is a real-time display of the share volume, price, direction, date and time for each trade. It's used in technical analysis. For example, time and sales data would indicate that a buy order for 76 shares of XYZ stock was made on the NASDAQ at 12:31:54 for $65.84.

Time and sales data is most frequently accessed via a trading platform, and is displayed in the time and sales window. The window displays a running tally of trades for shares of a particular stock in a table format. Each of the primary components of time and sales are arrayed in columns: date/time, price, volume and direction. The rows of data are often color-coded in order to indicate whether the trade occurred on, in or outside the bid or ask. Many trading platforms allow investors to customize the display of time and sales data, for example by adding volume or price filters.

How Investors Strategize Using Time and Sales Data

Investors follow a number of different strategies and tools when deciding which stocks to buy and sell. Those using fundamental analysis attempt to determine the intrinsic value of a share by examining a company’s financials, while investors using technical analysis attempt to forecast prices by plugging price movements and trading volume into statistical models. One technical analysis technique used by investors involves analyzing time and sales data.

Using time and sales data complements the use of charts and graphs for estimating share price movement. For example, bar charts and candlestick charts show trading ranges for a given period of time in aggregate, and are used to see handle, double bottom, and Hikkake patterns. This provides a broad view of price and volume trends. When coupled with the more granular trade information from time and sales, the investor can create a more detailed picture of a security's trends.

Investors can use time and sales data to determine whether to execute a trade of their own. The number of data updates that arrive from real-time feeds can catch novice investors off guard. One initial strategy is to watch the direction, volume, and price for a short period of time in order to get a feel for things. At this point the investor can look for several different cues, including spikes in volume or a significant change in the number of trades. Investors using a time and sales data approach will likely have more success with stocks that have strong volume.

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