Price discovery is an activity in which market prices are determined, chiefly by interactions between sellers and buyers. Learn more on the subject of price discovery, for example what it is, how it works and why it matters within trading.

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Callum Cliffe | Financial author, London

What exactly is price discovery?

Price detection – also known as the purchase price discovery mechanism or price discovery process – is also really a way of deciding the location cost of an advantage through connections between sellers and buyers.

Generally, the balance between sellers and buyers is an powerful index of supply and demand within market; and also demand and distribution are all significant driving factors of price motions. This balance can be viewed if studying rates of service and immunity on the price graph. Quantities of immunity indicate the stage of which demand has begun to fall to get an advantage, which brings down the price. Support suggests the point of which requirement starts to grow to get an advantage, which pushes up the price – both presuming that distribution remains constant.

Using those numbers, traders and market analysts may view if sellers or buyers have been leading in market at any 1 time. That is necessary advice, since it can empower traders to effortlessly judge regions of price discovery; this can be areas where there’s an balance in supply and demand to get an advantage. This ends in an area price for your advantage.

How does price discovery work?

Price detection empowers buyers and sellers to establish the market prices of funding resources. That is only because the mechanics of price discovery determine exactly what sellers are ready to just accept, and what buyers are prepared to pay for. Because of this, price discovery is more worried about choosing the exact balance price that eases the best liquidity for this advantage.

Price discovery fits buyers and sellers depending on the size, number, location and validity of the advantage. 1 means that these distinct facets are ascertained will be through auctions. Penny markets allow several sellers and buyers to compete before middleground – or selling price – is now found. Now, the marketplace is going to soon be liquid as sellers and buyers are matched readily.

What determines price discovery?

There really are quite a few factors that determine the amount of price discovery. Herewe’ll consider:

  1. Supply and need
  2. Attitudes to hazard
  3. Volatility
  4. Available info
  5. Market mechanics

Supply and require

Supply and demand are the two biggest factors that determine an advantage ‘s price and in turn, dictate the way essential cost discovery mechanisms are available for traders. By way of instance, if demand is more than the supply, the purchase price of an advantage increase as buyers are ready to pay for more as a result of its lack – that calms sellers.

Equally, if distribution is significantly greater requirement afterward buyers obtained ‘t be prepared to pay as much as they perhaps would if supply was low. This is because an asset with high supply but low demand is easily available to purchase. As a result, the price often favours buyers.

In a market where supply and demand are relatively equal, then the price is said to be in equilibrium as there is an equal number of buyers and sellers – meaning that prices are fair to both parties. Price discovery enables traders to determine whether buyers or sellers are dominant in a market and what a fair market price is at any one time.

Attitudes to risk

A buyer or seller’s attitude to risk can greatly affect the level at which a price is agreed between two market participants. For instance, if the buyer is willing to take on the risk of a fall in price for the potential reward of a large rise in price, they might be willing to pay a little more in order to secure their exposure to a market.

This would mean that the price was set higher than an asset’s intrinsic value might otherwise dictate. In such a scenario, the asset is overbought, and it could expect a fall in the coming days or weeks. Risk can be calculated through a risk-to-reward ratio, and it is important for both buyers and sellers to keep their risks to an acceptable level by using stops and limits on their active positions.

Learn more about managing your risk


Volatility is linked to risk, but they are not the same. Volatility is one of the main factors which determines whether a buyer chooses to enter or close a position in any particular market. Some traders will actively seek out volatile markets as they offer the potential for large profits. However, they could also incur a large loss. With CFDs, however, traders can speculate on markets rising as well as falling. This means that they have the opportunity to profit, even when the markets are bearish.

When markets are highly volatile, it is important to keep assessing prices and discovering what is the right price to pay for an asset. For example, if a market is falling currently but has been on an uptrend for the past few days, it is up to a trader to assess – through technical analysis and fundamental analysis – whether that change in an asset’s price is because of a shift in the balance of supply and demand or whether it is down to other factors.

Available information

The amount of information available to both buyers and sellers can determine the levels at which they are willing to buy or sell. For example, buyers may wish to wait for key market announcements – such as the outcome of Bank of England or Federal Reserve meetings – to be made public before determining whether they wish to buy into a position or not.

In turn, these meetings and their outcome could increase demand or reduce supply, which means that asset prices might change in line with any changes that are highlighted in these market announcements.

Keep up to date with market announcements withForexmn’s economic calendar

Market mechanisms

Price discovery is different to valuation – which is the analytical process of determining the current or future intrinsic value of an asset or company. This is because, price discovery works off market mechanisms which seek to establish the market price of an asset rather than its intrinsic value. As a result, price discovery is more concerned about what a buyer is willing to pay, and a seller is willing to accept, rather than the analytics behind what determines an asset or company’s price.

In this way, price discovery is more reliant on market mechanisms such as the microeconomic – supply and demand for example. With price discovery, investors have confidence that the price is being quoted at the true market price, and that it the price is fair in the sense that it is an agreement between buyers and sellers. The reduced uncertainty surrounding an asset’s price in turn, increases liquidity while in some instances, it also reduces cost.

Price discovery examples

In the chart below demand is decreasing as supply is increasing. Typically, this means an asset’s price will fall. As the graph shows, the two lines representing demand and supply eventually cross, representing a level that both buyers and sellers agree is a fair market price for an asset.

As a result, the asset will begin to trade at this level until there is a shift in the levels of supply and demand, which will require another period of price discovery.

Why does price discovery matter in trading?

Price discovery matters in trading because supply and demand are the driving forces behind the financial markets. In markets that are constantly in a state of bullish and bearish flux, it is important to constantly reassess whether a stock, commodity, index or forex pair is currently under or overbought, and whether its market price is fair to both buyers and sellers.

By assessing this, a trader can determine whether an asset is currently trading above or below its market value, and they can use this information as the basis of whether to open a long or short position.

Price discovery summed up

To help you understand price discovery, we’ve summed up a few key points:

  • Price discovery is the means through which an asset’s price is set by matching buyers and sellers according to a price that both sides find acceptable
  • It is largely driven by supply and demand
  • It is a useful mechanism to gauge whether an asset is currently overbought or oversold
  • It can help you assess whether buyers or sellers are dominant in any one particular market