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What is a Call Market?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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A call market is a market in which transactions only take place at specific times or intervals, and the price of goods is determined by the market, rather than the activities of buyers and sellers. This type of market can be less volatile than a so-called “auction market” in which people buy and sell continuously, but it can also be difficult to navigate. As a general rule, this technique is used when trading volume is low and there are very few players involved.

In a call market, people put in requests to buy and sell a commodity, and market analysts look at the requests to find the optimal market clearing price which will satisfy the most number of orders. Once the price has been determined, the transactions take place all at once. While the buyers and sellers have some influence over the market price because they indicate how much they are willing to pay or accept for a tradable commodity, they do not have the final say.

Call markets can be used to trade a wide variety of commodities, and they are utilized all over the world. People who trade in such markets need a different approach from people who work in continuous markets, as a call market requires very different strategies. It's less easy to make mistakes in a call market, because of the reduced volume of trading and the overall reduction of chaos on the market floor, but this doesn't make it impossible to make a poor decision, and it can take more time to counteract bad trades when trades only take place at set times.

In the auction or conventional market, orders are filled as needed, with people buying and selling with the traders who will offer the best prices. As a result, the market value tends to fluctuate wildly, and it can seesaw radically several times over the course of a day as people jockey for the optimal market position. Call markets tend to experience less radical swings, and they can be less stressful to navigate.

Typically, the market clears in a call market at the time that the orders are filled, which is another contrast with auction markets. When the market clears, the supply has precisely met the demand, and no one is looking to sell or buy a commodity. Over time, interest in buying and selling will appear again as people's market positions change.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By BoniJ — On Sep 25, 2011

@Misscoco - I don't know much about the call market either. I imagine that if you have a stock broker that he/she will let you know that a call market is coming so that the customer can figure out what buy or sell price he will order.

When the market is slower than usual, traders choose prices and put in their orders and then a price is set that kind of equalizes the buy and sell prices customers put it.

Just about everything about the stock market is confusing. I think you have to be involved with it to begin to understand it.

By Misscoco — On Sep 25, 2011

I have traded stocks in the auction market and my buy or sell orders have always been taken. But it's true that regular trading is kind of unnerving the way the market goes up and down.

I don't quite understand the call market. Is the entire market, including global markets all involved, or are just some kinds of stocks sold this way when things are slow? Who declares it's going to be a call market? How do traders know when a call market is coming?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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