What is a market order?

Buy and sell shares as soon as possible at the best available price

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Written by Support
Updated over a week ago

Market orders are the most straight forward way to buy and sell shares. They are aptly named because, just like in a market, you're buying and selling shares in real time (or when the markets next open). Unlike limit orders, you don't pick the price you're willing to buy or sell shares for (see more differences between market and limit orders).

Market orders are completed as soon as possible at the best available share price 

What does that mean? If you're in Hatch and you look at a company (say, Lululemon) you'll see the current share price, which at time of writing is $235.90 USD per share. 

The share price changes every time an order is placed, so the price you see when you place the order (e.g. $235.90) is just an estimate. When you place a market order to buy or sell shares, your order will be matched to best available opposite order to give you the best price.  This is all done in real time, and the shares are traded a lot, so the share price usually doesn't change that much from the estimate you see in Hatch (especially if the US markets are open).

Placing market orders when the markets are closed

When you place a market order while the markets are closed, it will be completed at the opening share price. Since off-hours trading and demand for shares can change overnight, the price may change a bit by the time the markets open. Sometimes it might only be a few cents, but it can change more if a major overnight event has a big impact on demand for the shares. 

For example, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal made news on Saturday March 17, 2018. On Friday the 16th, the day closed with Facebook sitting at $185.09 a share. When the markets reopened on Monday, they had a significant drop down to $177.01 a share, because demand for the shares dropped significantly overnight due to the bad news. 

Obviously those events are unusual, and buying shares for less than you expect can be a good thing (Facebook's share price was sitting at $221 in mid January of 2020). If you want to make sure you only buy shares for a price you specify, you might be interested in limit orders.

Maximum order limit to single buy and sell orders

There are some restrictions on the orders that you place through Hatch. If you place a buy order for more than 20,000 shares or a sell order for more than 50,000 shares, the order will be cancelled. In addition, a single buy or sell order will be cancelled if it exceeds US$1.5 million.

If you wish to buy more than 20,000 shares or sell more than 50,000 shares, you will need to place more than one order (additional orders can only be placed after the initial order has been filled). Similarly, if you are placing a dollar amount buy or sell order that exceeds $1.5 million USD, you will also need to place more than one order.

All order types available through Hatch:

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