1. Common stock
2. Preferred stock
3. Bond fundamentals
4. Corporate debt
5. Municipal debt
6. US government debt
7. Investment companies
8. Alternative pooled investments
9. Options
10. Taxes
11. The primary market
12. The secondary market
12.1 Roles, transactions, & spreads
12.2 The markets
12.3 Securities Exchange Act of 1934
12.4 Customer orders
12.4.1 Market orders
12.4.2 Limit orders
12.4.3 Stop orders
12.4.4 Stop limit orders
12.4.5 Order types summary
12.4.6 Additional specifications
12.4.7 Rules
13. Brokerage accounts
14. Retirement & education plans
15. Rules & ethics
16. Suitability
17. Wrapping up
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12.4.2 Limit orders
Achievable Series 7
12. The secondary market
12.4. Customer orders

Limit orders

Limit orders exist for customers concerned about prices. Unlike market orders, limit orders guarantee transactions will occur at a specific price or better. However, they do not guarantee execution. Let’s work through a few examples.

Buy limit orders

Buy 100 shares of ABC stock @ $50 limit

Trading tape: $51.03… $51.01… $49.99… $49.98… $50.01…

The investor wants to purchase 100 shares of ABC stock, but is unwilling to pay more than $50 per share. Once the stock is trading at that price or below, the order executes. The trading tape reflects available prices for the security, in order from left to right. $49.99 is the first price available at $50 or below, so the order will fill at that price.

Investors use limit orders to seek better prices. For example, if the stock’s price is $55, a customer could place a buy limit at $50. If the order executes, they purchase the security for $5 cheaper per share. However, the order will only execute if the price falls.

Let’s see if you can answer a buy limit order question.

Buy 100 shares @ $75 limit

Trading tape: $75.02… $75.03… $74.97… $75.00… $75.01…

At what price does the order go through?


Answer = $74.97

Buy limit orders fill at the price specified or lower. $74.97 is the first price available that’s $75 or lower.

Here’s a video that dives further into buy limit orders:

Sell limit orders

Let’s look at a limit order from the sell side:

Sell 100 shares of XYZ stock @ $70

Trading tape: $69.95… $69.98… $69.99… $70.01… $69.99…

Although the word ‘limit’ is not there, it’s assumed to be a limit order if a price is specified and nothing else. This is a sell limit order, where the customer requests a sale of 100 shares of XYZ stock at $70 or higher. Once the stock is trading at that price or above, the order executes. With the trading tape provided, the order fills at $70.01, the first price at $70 or above.

Let’s see if you can answer a sell limit order question.

Sell 100 shares @ $30

Trading tape: $30.05… $30.02… $29.99… $29.97… $30.01…

At what price does the order go through?


Answer = $30.05

Sell limit orders fill at the price specified or higher. $30.05 is the first price available that’s $30 or higher.

Here’s a video that dives further into sell limit orders:


Limit orders often take some time for them to execute. Therefore, limit orders can be day orders that cancel at the end of the day if they remain unexecuted, or GTC orders that are canceled when the customer requests.

Key points

Limit orders

  • Seek better prices for investors
  • Guarantee price, but not execution
  • Day or GTC orders

Buy limit orders

  • Execute when the price falls to or below the limit price

Sell limit orders

  • Execute when the price rises to or above the limit price

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