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What is a Liquid Market?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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In a liquid market, assets can be easily converted without considerable price fluctuation, and with a minimal decline in worth. A liquid market is a type of market that possesses a high level of stability, and low spreads between asking and selling prices. A high trading volume exists in a liquid market, because large numbers of buyers and sellers are ready and willing to trade at any time during market hours.

Liquid markets ordinarily contain a large number of liquid assets. When an asset can be sold quickly and without losing value, it usually is considered to possess a high level of liquidity. As a general rule, the more easily an asset can be converted to cash, the more liquid the asset is. Money is the most liquid type of asset. Stocks, money market securities, government bonds, and blue chips are also usually considered liquid assets.

Typically, liquid markets do not contain illiquid assets. An asset may be characterized as illiquid if it cannot be converted easily, if it possesses uncertainty in value, or if it lacks a regular exchange market. An illiquid asset is usually more difficult to trade than a liquid asset. Real estate investments are often considered illiquid assets because they cannot be easily bought or sold. A large block of stock is another example of an illiquid asset, because its market value would most likely be impacted if it were sold.

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A liquid market is the opposite of a thin market. Thin markets can be volatile, and are characterized by few offers to buy and sell assets. As a result, a substantial spread generally exists between an asset’s asking price and any bids offered on the asset. In a thin market, sudden changes in supply and demand often materially impact the value of an asset.

While no market is automatically a liquid market, markets that trade stocks, bonds, futures, and currency typically possess the characteristics of a liquid market. Speculators and market makers influence the degree to which these and other types of markets remain liquid. Since speculators and market markers buy and sell assets in order to profit from price fluctuations, they frequently supply the necessary capital for making market liquidity possible.

The foreign exchange market is one of the largest and most liquid markets. The foreign exchange market facilitates the buying of one currency in exchange for another currency. Currency value can be impacted by political uncertainty, inflation, interest rates, and other factors. While all currencies may be traded on the foreign exchange market, the most common currencies traded are those from countries with stable economies.

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