Price priority 

Price priority 

The trading of securities on the financial market, which is a sophisticated ecology, must be governed by a set of rules to be efficient and equitable. One such regulation essential in ensuring that investors get the best price for their transactions is the idea of price precedence. The market’s ability to trade securities fairly and efficiently depends on price priority.  

 In addition to ensuring that prices accurately represent the supply and demand for the assets, it also helps to avoid manipulation. Price priority supports fair competition and decreases information asymmetry by placing the best price first, which benefits individual investors and the overall economy. 

What is price priority? 

Price priority is a rule that states that when numerous buy or sell orders are received by an exchange simultaneously for a specific security, the order with the best price is given priority which means that the business will match the sell order with the highest price with the buy order that is prepared to pay the highest price if there are several buy orders for stock at various values. The exchange will match the buy order with the lowest price, with the sell order asking for the lowest price if there are several sell orders for stock at various values. The best price is always attained for each transaction, thanks to the price priority principle. 

Understanding price priority 

Price priority is crucial in the financial markets to ensure efficient and ethical trading. The order with the best price is executed first when numerous orders for the same security are received by an exchange at once, then the next best price, and so on.  

Price priority helps to save trading costs by matching orders based on the best available price. It encourages transparency by guaranteeing that market participants can see the best pricing for a particular asset. Price priority, however, may result in reduced market liquidity, especially during extreme volatility, making it challenging for investors to buy or sell assets at the price they prefer.  

 When multiple purchase or sell orders are placed at the same price, it can also cause price volatility in the market. Exchanges must carefully control pricing priority to ensure it functions appropriately and encourages honest and successful trading. 

Usage of price priority 

Price priority is applied in a variety of ways to ensure fair and effective trading: 

  • Price priority is used by US stock exchanges, including the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), to match purchase and sell orders for equities. If several orders arrive at once, the exchange matches them based on the best price, ensuring that buyers and sellers get the best possible bargain. 
  • When there are numerous orders to purchase or sell an option at the same price, the charges with the highest price priority are the ones that are executed first. The sequence of execution for the remaining orders is determined by which option has the best price, which takes precedence. 
  • Price priority is also used in the US bond markets to decide which orders are carried out first. The order with the best price is given precedence when multiple purchase or sell orders are received for a particular bond, ensuring that both buyers and sellers obtain the most excellent price.

Example of price priority 

The following gives a practical example of how pricing priority works.  

Say a stock is trading at US$ 50 per share at the moment, and there are currently two purchase orders and one sell order on the market: 

 Order 1: A purchase request for 100 shares at US$ 50 each. 

Order 2: A buy request for 200 shares for  US$ 49.50 each. 

Order 3: A sell request for 500 shares for US$ 50.25 each. 

 In this case, the exchange would match Order 1, the buy order promising to pay the highest price, with Order 3, the sell order with the highest price. The buyer would pay US$50.25 per share, and Order 1 for 100 shares would be the first to be filled. Following the execution of Order 3 for 100 shares at the same share price of US$50.25, there would still be 400 shares available for sale under Order 3.  

 The next best-buy order, Order 2, offering US$49.50 per share, would match the exchange’s remaining sell order of 400 shares. Accordingly, Order 2 for 200 shares would be carried out, and the buyer would be charged US$50.25 for each share. Last but not least, the outstanding sell order for 200 shares would still be pending execution in the market. Price priority in this illustration ensures buyers and sellers receive the best price possible for each transaction and that orders are carried out in the order of the best prices supplied. 

Pros and cons of price priority 

The following are the pros of price priority: 

  • Price priority guarantees market players receive the most outstanding price feasible for their trades, fostering market fairness. 
  • Price priority aids in lowering trading expenses and boosting market effectiveness by matching orders based on the best available price. 
  • Price priority ensures that market participants see the best prices currently being offered for specific security, which encourages market transparency. 

 The following are the cons of price priority: 

  • Price priority can result in reduced market liquidity, especially during extreme volatility, making it challenging for investors to buy or sell assets at the price they want. 
  • When multiple purchase or sell orders are at the same price, price priority can also cause price instability in the market. 
  • Price priority is also used in the US bond markets to decide which orders are carried out first. The order with the best price is essential when multiple purchase or sell orders are received for a particular bond, ensuring that buyers and sellers obtain the best price. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A regulation in the financial markets known as the “price priority rule” states that when multiple purchase or sell orders for the same securities are received by an exchange simultaneously, the order with the best available price must be filled first. 


Priority stock, commonly referred to as preferred stock, grants holders of the stock preference over ordinary shareholders concerning dividend payments and asset distribution in the case of liquidation. 

Usually, price priority is not regarded as a line item. Instead, a trading rule or principle governs how to buy and sell orders on financial markets. 

A priority offer is provided to a select set of people or organisations, giving them preference over the general public in purchasing a specific good or investment opportunity. 

Market supply and demand factors are critical in deciding the price of an investment. Other factors that affect an investment’s cost include the state of the economy, interest rates, solid earnings and growth expectations, political changes, and investor attitude. 

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