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Thin and Thick Markets: An In-depth Look Arbitrage Trading: Bridging the Market Price Gap
2 mins read

Slippage in Trading: Understanding the Invisible Impact on Your Trades

Introduction

In the complex universe of trading, there are numerous terms that every aspiring trader must master. Slippage, a term often shadowed by the more prominent market jargon, is a critical concept to understand. This article, part of our Trading Terminology series, offers an in-depth exploration of slippage, helping you to understand and manage its potential impact on your trading decisions.

What is Slippage?

In the financial markets, “slippage” refers to the difference between the expected price of a trade and the price at which it is actually executed. It can occur during both market entry and exit.

Imagine you’re looking to buy a stock currently priced at $100. You place your order, but by the time it’s executed, the stock’s price has increased to $101. This $1 difference is an example of slippage. Similarly, slippage can occur when selling assets.

Causes of Slippage

Slippage primarily happens due to three reasons: market volatility, liquidity, and order type.

  1. Market Volatility: Volatile markets experience rapid price movements. During these times, the gap between the expected price and the actual execution price may widen, increasing the likelihood of slippage.
  2. Liquidity: Assets with low liquidity are prone to slippage because the lack of buyers and sellers can cause significant price deviations when orders are placed.
  3. Order Type: Market orders (orders to buy or sell at the best available price) are more susceptible to slippage than limit orders (orders to buy or sell at a specific price or better).

Slippage: The Double-Edged Sword

Contrary to what many may believe, slippage isn’t always negative. Negative slippage occurs when a trade is executed at a worse price than expected, as in our earlier example. However, positive slippage is also possible. This happens when trades are executed at a better price than anticipated. For instance, if you placed a market order to sell a stock at $50, and it ends up selling at $51, you’ve experienced positive slippage.

The Slippage Effect on Trading

While slippage is generally seen as a natural part of trading, excessive slippage can erode potential profits. Therefore, active traders, especially those engaged in high-frequency or algorithmic trading, should monitor slippage closely to minimize its impact on their trades.

Mitigating slippage might involve using limit orders instead of market orders or avoiding trading during particularly volatile market periods. In addition, choosing to trade more liquid assets can help decrease the potential for slippage.

The Bottom Line

Understanding slippage is a vital step in mastering trading strategies. While it’s impossible to eliminate slippage entirely, through informed decisions and strategic trade planning, traders can aim to minimize its potential impact on their trading activities.

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Thin and Thick Markets: An In-depth Look Arbitrage Trading: Bridging the Market Price Gap