At The Market (ATM)

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Definition of 'At The Market (ATM)'

At The Market (ATM) is a type of futures contract order that you can place with your broker. This is an instruction to your broker to execute the trade immediately at the market price. Technically this is the best price available in the market.

Most trades these days are executed on electronic exchanges. Typically you will enter your instructions to execute a trade from your computer from a trading platform or from a browser. One of the options the software or web site will give you is how to place the order. These options will be order types such as (1) at-the-market or (2) limit etc.

Once a buy or sell order is entered at-the-market it will immediately get queued with all other at-the-market orders and be executed at the best available price. This does not mean that you will get the price you see on your screen because other orders queued ahead of yours may have bought or sold all the orders that you saw at those prices and when your order is filled it might be at a worse price. It is also possible to get a better price than that which you see on your trading screen if an at-the-market buyer or seller comes in aggressively ahead of you and in the opposite direction.

In the stock market an at-the-market order will simply be referred to as a market order. They are synonymous. Order types seen in the stock market are typically: Market, Limit, Stop, Stop Limit, Trailing Stop

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