Auction Market

What is Auction Market?

Auction Market is a stage for buyers and sellers where they can trade stocks by making competing bids and offers, and it is executed at a matching price where the highest bid from the buyer is matched with the lowest offer price from the seller.


Suppose a buyer is interested in buying a share of company ABC ltd. In the market, which is trades at $101 per share. He, puts bids as following $101.05, $101.10, $101.15, $101.20, $101.25, $101.30 similarly seller of who is willing to sell same company share in market place offer price as $101.30, $101.35, $101.40, $101.45, $101.5, $101.55. In this scenario, the highest price that the buyer ready to pay and the lowest price which the seller ready to accept is $101.30; therefore, the trade gets executed on $101.30, and the current share price of ABC ltd will be $101.30. While all other bids of the buyer and ask if the seller remains pending until bids and ask matches and next trades executed in the market.

How does the Auction Market Process Work?

The process is different from one in the OTC market since there is no direct negotiations occur between buyer and seller.


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Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the New York Stock Exchange are examples that are still operating in the auction market open outcry system. An electronic trading method that, more or less still operates on the principle of auction market system but electronically and every buyer and seller gets access to bid and offer price in the market on display and make his or her own decisions. In the same way, reduced cost, improvement in trade execution speed compare to open human outcry speed, an environment which is now less vulnerable to manipulation, and availability of the electronic system to any home computer and smartphones at free of cost compare to open outcry auction market, created popularity for adaptation to electronic trading method.

As time passed with the invention of new technology, all exchanges adapted the method of an electronic trading system. From 2007, even NYSE converted from strictly operating on the auction market to a hybrid market, which operates on both the electronic trading system and the auction market. Some stocks are still traded on the trading floorTrading FloorTrading Floor is a place where traders buy and sell shares, fixed income securities, commodities, foreign exchange, bonds, options, etc. It is the market segment in which dealers trade financial instruments in various exchanges, for example, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).read more, which has an extremely high price.

In the auction market, brokers, which act as buyers and sellers, representing their clients to make competitive bids and offers to make a trade are bound by exchange rules. Many Investors trading in these markets keeps a continuous eye on news and moods of trading pit.

Government Securities Auction

Many governments of various countries hold the auction for their securities in the market, which is open for all public as well as large financial institutions. Bids are mostly accepted electronically and divided into two groups competing for bids and non-competing bids. Where non-competing buyers are given preference and are guaranteed to receive a number of securities subsequent to the amount as per the minimum and maximum limit of the bid amount. In the case of competitive bids, once the auction is closed, bids are reviewed, and competing bids that are listed as per bid price, and the remaining number of securities are sold to bids from higher to lower.

For e.g., the US Treasury holds auctions to finance certain government activities.

Auction Market vs. Dealer Market

The following are the differences between:

DifferencesAuction MarketDealers Market
DefinitionA market where buyers enter competitive bids and sellers enters competitive offers, highest buyer bid, and the lowest seller offer is match and trade in that financial instrument is executed.A financial market system in which numerous dealers post prices at which particular instrument security will be bought or sold.
Current Price matchingThe highest price of a bid from the buyer and the lowest price offered by the seller when matched order is executed.“Dealer”- designated as “market maker” creates liquidity and transparency, showing an electronic display of prices where buyers ‘bids’ and sellers ‘offer’ prices are on display.
Market ContentsFutures and options markets are auction market.OTC securities market and Govt. securities market are the Dealers marketDealers MarketA dealer market is where dealers engage in buying and selling a specific financial instrument using their account electronically without a third party and make the market by quoting the offer price and bid more.
Focus onOrder driven marketsQuote driven markets
ExampleThe buyer of security put bids on the share of the company of ABC ltd. Priced around $250 as $249.2, $249.3, $249.4, $249.5 while seller put offers price on same company share as $249.5, $249.6, $249.7, $249.8. Therefore the highest price bid from the buyer and the lowest price offered from the seller, $249.5, is matched, and the order gets executed, and the current price of the market comes to $249.5.The dealer has enough number of XYZ company available with other market makers at $350/$360 and willing to sell some quantity into the market. So the dealer can post a quote with a bid-ask as $345/$355, so investors looking to buy this security get a $5 discount from the dealer to compare to other market makersMarket MakersMarket makers are the financial institution and investment banks which ensures enough amount of liquidity in the market by maintaining enough trading volume in the market so that trading can be done without any more. Just like that, a seller will prefer to sell to other market makers since the dealer is bidding $5 less price than other market makers offering.


Although innovation in technologies and surveillance policies of various exchanges around the world process of the auction market also changed from open outcry to electronic trading system. The focus of this market is to connect buyers and sellers in the most efficient manner. Although the working method has been changed with time, the principle remains the same for all market operations as per the auction market.

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