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LAST MATCH TODAY'S ACTIVITY

Price 13,0500 Orders 16,509 Time 16:00:37 Volume 2.695,442

You can actually watch trading take place on the Web by visiting one of the biggest ECNs, Island (www.island.com). Island is somewhat unique in that the "order book," meaning the list of all buy and sell orders, is public in real time.

As shown, we have captured a sample of the order book for Dell Computer. On the left side are buy orders (bids); sell orders (asks) are on the right. All orders are "limit" orders, which means that the customer has specified the most she will pay (for buy orders) or the least she will accept (for sell orders). The inside quotes (the highest bid, or buy, and lowest ask, or sell) in this market are the ones on the top, so we sometimes hear the expression "top of the book" quotes.

If you visit the site, you can see trading take place as orders are entered and executed. Notice that on this particular day, by about 4:00 p.m., Island had traded about 2.7 million shares. At that time, the inside quotes for Dell were 7,144 shares bid at $18.05 and 1,500 shares offered at $18.09.

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