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Trader Q&A: What Triggers a Buy or Sell?

Schwab’s Trading Services team discusses what can be used as triggers for buying or selling.

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[John] So I think without talking to Lee, I'm not sure if he's talking about a buy or a sell order, or just about why would you—or what would trigger you to put a buy order in or a sell order in, so I'll take the second part first. First of all, if you don't have a trading strategy or a trading plan, I encourage you to have one. That's what should trigger your buy or sell order, something that fits the parameters, whether it be fundamental, technical, or both, and your risk management strategy for you to buy that stock, your reason to buy the stock, or your reason to sell the stock. If you're talking about what triggers a buy or a sell order, there's different types of order types.

A market order is triggered as soon as you place it. Buy me the stock at the next price in the market or sell me the stock at the next price in the market. A limit order, we talked about a little bit earlier, buy me the stock, but only buy it if it goes down to this price. This is the most I'm willing to pay.

[Lou:] And most clients know this, but when you look at a last trade, the last traded price in a stock, that's past tense, so that's history. That's the price the stock traded at last. The price that you're due is the asking price if you're buying and the bid price when you're selling. So when you look at a quote, you will look at a last price at bid and an ask. For a buyer if you're trying to buy it right now, you will get that ask price, assuming there's enough shares and nobody's in front of you. If you're selling, you'll get that bid price, assuming there's enough shares and no one's in front of you as well.


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