What Is a Bid-Ask Spread? Short Guide

What Is a Bid-Ask Spread? Short Guide

The extent to which the asking price for a particular asset exceeds the bid price is known as the bid-ask spread. The gap between the highest bidder a buyer is ready to pay for an item and the lowest cost a seller is prepared to take is known as the bid-ask spread.

The bid price is paid by those who want to sell, while the asking price is paid by those who want to purchase.

Bid-Ask Spreads: An Overview

A security’s price is the industry’s estimation of its worth during any given moment, and it is distinct. To comprehend the reason a “bid” and an “ask” exist, one must consider the two key parties in any commercial transaction: the price taker (trader) and the market maker (counterparty).

Traders, many of whom are hired by brokerages, attempt to sell assets at a specific price (the asking price) and will attempt to buy securities at a specific price (the bid price). If an investor makes a trade, he will take one of these two rates, based on if they want to purchase or sell the asset (ask price) (bid price).

The spread is the main payment of trading (outside commissions), and it is taken by the trader through the natural cycle of order processing at the bid and ask prices. When commercial brokerage firms say their revenues come from traders “crossing the spread,” they’re referring to this.

The level of the “bids” and “asks” can affect the bid-ask spread significantly if a small number of people place limit orders to buy an asset (resulting in lower bid prices) or if a small number of sellers place limit orders to sell, the spread may widen dramatically. As a result, while setting a purchase limit order, it’s crucial to keep the bid-ask spread in mind to ensure that it executes effectively.

Market participants and experienced traders who see imminent risk in the markets may increase the spread between their best bid and best ask at any given time. If all traders do this for a particular asset, the stated bid-ask spread will be greater than customary. High-frequency traders and market participants try to profit by taking advantage of variations in the bid-ask spread.

The Relationship Between the Bid-Ask Spread and Liquidity

The amount of the bid-ask spread fluctuates from one asset to the next mostly due to the liquidity of each asset. The bid-ask spread is widely used as a proxy for market liquidity. Some trades are far more liquid than others, and their lower spreads should reflect this. In a nutshell, transaction initiators (price takers) seek liquidity, while counterparties (market makers) provide it.

Money, for instance, is the world’s largest liquid asset, and the bid-ask spread in the currency market is one of the smallest (one-hundredth of a percent); in other words, the spread may be measured in fractions of pennies. Less liquid assets, such as small-cap equities, may have spread ranging from 1% to 2% of the asset’s lowest ask price.

The market maker’s estimated risk in offering a deal might also be reflected in bid-ask spreads.

The Bid-Ask Spread’s Components

A very liquid market for any investment is one of the fundamental parts of the bid-ask spread, which ensures an opportune exit point to earn a profit. Furthermore, to be able to produce a spread, there needs to be some interaction between supply and demand for that security.

Traders need to use a limit order instead of a market order since it allows them to choose the entry point and not miss out on the spread opportunity. Because two deals are being done at the same time, there is a cost associated with the bid-ask spread.

The Author

Oladotun Olayemi

Dotun is a financial enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class financial content, including crypto, blockchain, market, and business, to educate and inform readers.