Trade Order Timing – Trading

Different timing mechanisms for executing trades

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What is Trade Order Timing?

Trade order timing allows investors to set the amount of time a trade order is good for. The different types of trade order timing each have different advantages and disadvantages that play along with the different strategies an investor may have or wish to use. The following are the most common types of trade order timing:

  • Market Order (Immediate)
  • Good Until Canceled (GTC)
  • Good Until … Specified Time or Date
  • Good Today (sometimes known as Good Until Close or Day Order)
  • Fill or Kill

The following is the same list, but reordered in terms of how soon trades will execute under that trade order timing:

  • Market Order (Immediate)
  • Fill or Kill
  • Good Today
  • Good Until … Specified Time
  • Good Until Canceled

Trade Order Timing: Market Order

The market order is technically not a timing order, but rather a type of trade order. The nature of the market order, however, dictates that these orders will be executed immediately, at the best available price.

If, for example, a trader wishes to purchase Bitcoin in a market order and the market price is at $2,200 per bitcoin, that is the price the trader will receive. The order will complete immediately, up to the specified volume stated in the market order.

This type of order provides the highest liquidity to the trader, but the lowest amount of control. The best available price in our Bitcoin example, in a rapidly moving market, could be far from the trader’s ideal price where he hopes to enter the market.

Trade Order Timing: Fill or Kill

A fill or kill (FOK) order is intuitively named. By definition, FOK orders will either execute immediately or are canceled if conditions are not met. Usually, fill or kills require the whole order volume to be met at a specified price, otherwise, the order is canceled. However, some trades can be set in such a way that partial order volume can be completed, and the

In our previous example, let’s say the Bitcoin trader wants to purchase 5 BTC in a fill or kill order. Only 2 BTC is available at his specified price, so the order is not filled. Thus, it is canceled entirely.

In an immediate or cancel order, however, the order is filled up to 2 BTC. The remaining 3 BTC on order is canceled.

This type of order provides a good amount of liquidity and control for the trader, depending on the specified price. If the trader is willing to forego a better price for a higher chance at completing the trade, she will be met with higher liquidity. However, if the trader is strictly looking for a specific price, the order may be killed if no seller on the market is willing to trade at that level.

Trade Order Timing: Good Today

A good today, or day order, is exactly as the name implies. Such types of orders are only good for the day they are set and are canceled when the market closes if not met. Again, like an FOK order, most orders need to be filled in full. However, day orders can also be set to fill partially, with the unfilled balance canceled on market close.

Day orders provide a decent amount of control to the trader. A day order is typically not long enough to move the market entirely, therefore it wouldn’t change the strategy of the trader. In other words, it’s much easier to manage market expectations for a day than it is for an entire week.

Trade Order Timing: Good Until Specified

In a good until specified trade order timing, the trader specifies when the order is canceled, if not filled. This type of trade order stays open for the duration of the trade order timing. A longer time period will provide the trader a better chance of the trade being executed, but also exposes the investor to a higher risk of sudden spikes or trend changes.

trade order timing

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Trade Order Timing: Good Until Canceled (GTC)

Finally, the GTC order. Again, its name follows the pattern of the other types of trade order timing and is self-explanatory. The order will be active until canceled by the trader. It works well for diligent traders that are actively managing their orders and can adjust to any changes in the market, canceling the order if needed.

A GTC trade order timing may not work well, however, for traders who wish to set their orders and leave them until completed. The danger is that a trader may forget about the order after a period of time, but it may be filled at a much later date when the trader would no longer wish to enter the market at the price and direction (buy or sell) specified in the order.

We take the example of a bond exchange where two traders are managing their portfolios. Both traders want to purchase a 10% 2-Year A-rated bond from Company X. The current market price is $1,543, but the traders wish to purchase it at $1,500, knowing the bond is slightly over-traded. They both set GTC orders for 100 bonds at $1,500.

In the following week, the company is supposedly undergoing financial hardship, in addition to its creditworthiness dropping. As a result, there is the expectation that the bonds will trade even lower once the market opens. One trader cancels his GTC order entirely. The other trader has forgotten his GTC order.

On market open, 100 bonds are purchased for his order at $1,500, whereafter the market stabilizes around $1,357. This trader is now in the market at a loss, while the trader who canceled their order can put in a new order to purchase the bonds at a more favorable price.

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