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What Is The Life Of A Trade?

Money : Stocks And Shares

The life of a trade can vary a great deal depending on whether the trade involves a listed, Nasdaq or over-the-counter bulletin board security.

Trading is based on supply and demand. When you buy or sell a stock, you are literally trading with another investor someone in your city, across the country or on the other side of the world. An order from you to buy a stock must be matched with a seller's order to sell. If you place an order on the Nasdaq, or one of the many other exchanges, this match may be done electronically.

If your order is sent to the trading room floor of one of the exchanges, the auction process begins. A member of the stock exchange walks to the appropriate trading area where your stock is traded and presents your order. Sometimes there will be a broker in the crowd with a sell order at the same price. In this case your order will be completed or filled. Brokers must often act quickly or risk missing the market. If a broker hesitates, a competitive bid could be placed, driving up the market price for the next trade.

The broker may also hand your order to a specialist. The specialist is a person in each trading area, whose job is to guarantee a fair and orderly market by matching buys and sells or by buying or selling themselves if needed. When an order is away from the market, it can be placed under a specialist's care. From this point on the specialist is in charge of representing your order.

If you placed a GTC order with us, it would stay open until it is filled, canceled by you, or until the last day of the next calendar month. If the order is filled, the broker or specialist will report the fill to us. You can choose to be contacted by phone, fax or e-mail. Of course, if you monitor the Order Status section of the website, you can also see when the order is filled. You will also receive a U.S. Mail copy of your order confirmation and fill. You should check your order confirmation carefully no matter how it is received.

Once the order is filled another process kicks into place; one which is generally invisible to you. First the fill is reported to the Market Data System of the exchange. This system transmits the trade details such as the stock name, the number of shares traded and the price of the trade to all interested parties through the ticker tape. The trade can be seen online, TV or through other media by the investor and other interested parties. The ticker tape will also update the information (sometimes with a time lag) on your Quote Monitor.

The tickets sent to your brokerage firm and the brokerage firm of the person who bought or sold the stock from you is entered into a computer. Over the next few hours, the two trades are matched to make sure they agree. If they do not agree, the brokers meet again to settle any differences. This will not affect your fill. Once agreement is ensured, the settlement process begins. Settlement of the trade generally occurs three business days from the actual trade date. Upon settlement the brokerage firms exchange (usually electronically) the stock certificates and the money for the stock.


By: Gaurav Bora

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