Limit Order

It is an order to purchase or sell a security at a particular price.

Author: Rohan Arora
Rohan Arora
Rohan Arora
Investment Banking | Private Equity

Mr. Arora is an experienced private equity investment professional, with experience working across multiple markets. Rohan has a focus in particular on consumer and business services transactions and operational growth. Rohan has also worked at Evercore, where he also spent time in private equity advisory.

Rohan holds a BA (Hons., Scholar) in Economics and Management from Oxford University.

Reviewed By: Matthew Retzloff
Matthew Retzloff
Matthew Retzloff
Investment Banking | Corporate Development

Matthew started his finance career working as an investment banking analyst for Falcon Capital Partners, a healthcare IT boutique, before moving on to work for Raymond James Financial, Inc in their specialty finance coverage group in Atlanta. Matthew then started in a role in corporate development at Babcock & Wilcox before moving to a corporate development associate role with Caesars Entertainment Corporation where he currently is. Matthew provides support to Caesars' M&A processes including evaluating inbound teasers/CIMs to identify possible acquisition targets, due diligence, constructing financial models, corporate valuation, and interacting with potential acquisition targets.

Matthew has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in German from University of North Carolina.

Last Updated:December 18, 2023

What Is a Limit Order?

An order to purchase or sell a security at a particular price is known as a Limit Order. You can buy or sell orders at the price you choose by using it. 

Only at the limit amount or less can a purchase limit ticket be fulfilled, and only at the limit price or more can a sell limit order be fulfilled. So if no matching order is possible for the amount you've specified at the price you've set, there is a chance that your order won't be filled in whole.

Although the price is guaranteed, the order fulfillment is not, and limited orders won't be carried out until the security price satisfies the order requirements. As a result, the order is not completed, and the investor may lose out on the trading opportunity if the asset does not reach the predetermined price.

Typically there are two types of orders which are placed at stock exchanges:

  • Market order 
  • Limit order

You may purchase or sell a stock at the best price using a market order. When you submit a buy market order, you wish to purchase a specific share from the exchange at the best price.

Similarly, if you place a sell market order, you wish to sell your shares for whatever price potential buyers are ready to pay.

 If there are interested counterparties, such as buyers or sellers for your sell market order or buyers for your purchase market order, your deal will be complete as soon as it arrives at the marketplace.

However, delay results from the instant order execution (which means you could be paying slightly more money to buy or getting slightly less to sell your stocks).

Key Takeaways

  • These orders specify the highest or lowest cost at which you are ready to finish a trade, whether a buy or sell, while Market orders are executed as soon as orders are placed. This is because they are placed at the current market price.
  • While it's guaranteed that the limit order will be placed, it's not sure that it will be executed; it may be because of the price difference.
  • This kind of trade usually is valid for a set number of days (for example, 30 days) till the order is executed or until the broker terminates the order.

How Limit Orders Work

Using a predetermined price to purchase or sell a security is known as a limit order. For instance, if a trader wants to buy shares of Apple inc but has a restriction of $145, they will only do so at that price or below. 

f the trader has a $145 limit on the number of shares of Apple inc stock that may be sold, no shares will be sold until the price reaches $145 or above.

The investor is assured to pay the purchase limit order price or better when utilizing a buy limit order, but there is no assurance that the order will be honored. If a trader is nervous, it provides them more control over the execution price of an asset.

Points to be noted:

Your limit order will be placed as a market order if your:

  • Buy: the limit price is more than the best offer price
  • Sell: the limit price is less than the best bid price

Limit Orders vs. Market Orders

If a trader makes an order to buy or sell a stock, they have two price execution alternatives: execute the order "at the market" or "at the limit."

A stop loss, on the other hand, specifies the highest or lowest price at which you are ready to purchase or sell. Marketplace orders are operations intended to complete as soon as feasible at the current or market price

Purchasing stocks is like purchasing a bike. With a bike, you may pay the owner's sticker price and get the automobile, or you can negotiate a price and refuse to close the purchase until the dealer matches your price. The share market functions similarly.

Limit Order Example

A fund manager wishes to purchase General  Motors Inc. (GM) shares but believes its present value of around $38 per share is too high and wishes to purchase the share if it falls to a specified price. 

The Fund manager tells his traders to purchase 10,000 shares of General Motors if the value drops below $30, valid until canceled. The broker then sets a purchase order for 10,000 shares with a limit of $650. 

The trader can begin purchasing if the stock falls below that price. The order will be active until the stock hits the Fund manager's limit or the Manager cancels the order.

Furthermore, the Manager wishes to sell Meta Platforms Inc. (Meta) shares but believes the price of around $140 is too low. 

The Manager instructs his trader to sell 5,000 shares should the price rise above $145, good 'til canceled. The trader will then put the order out to sell 5,000 shares with a $145 limit.

How long does a Limit order last?

Your specifications and broker's policy determine the order periodicity. For example, many exchanges limit orders to one-day trading by default; unfilled orders at market closure are canceled without execution. 

Other traders may provide a certain number of days, usually in increments of 30. (i.e., 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days). Finally, some brokers provide limit orders that are regarded as good until filled; the limit order will stay valid until it is completed or canceled by the trader on purpose.

Discrepancies in Order

For a variety of reasons, a limit order may not be filled. As a result, your trade will only be activated when the market price matches your targeted contract sum. 

If a stock sells at or below your buy or sell order, it will most likely not fill unless there is price movement on the security.

It can only be filled if the security is liquid. Your transaction may not be filled if the stock has insufficient shares available at the specified value. 

This is especially typical when placing larger orders on low-volume stocks. In addition, because of volatility, a stock may have difficulty filling on the day of its IPO due to fast price movement.

Special considerations

These orders are more difficult to execute than market orders, which might result in greater transaction fees. However, for small-volume equities not traded on the stock exchange, finding the actual price may be challenging, providing these orders an appealing choice.

They risk that the actual market price will never fall inside its restrictions, causing the shareholder's order to fail to complete. 

Another scenario is that a price target is ultimately attained, but the stock does not have enough volume to execute the transaction when its time arrives. Again, due to the price constraint, this kind of trade may only receive a partial or no fill.

Researched and authored by Arshnoor Kamboj | LinkedIn

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