Mastering Market-On-Close (MOC) Orders: Strategies, Benefits, and Risks


Market-on-Close (MOC) orders are a type of non-limit market order executed at or shortly after a stock exchange’s closing. Traders use MOC orders to capture the day’s final price. In this article, we explore the definition, benefits, and risks of MOC orders, along with examples and key takeaways.

Market-on-Close (MOC) order definition

A Market-on-Close (MOC) order is a non-limit market order executed at or just after the market’s closing time. The primary aim of an MOC order is to secure the last available price of the trading day. However, it’s important to note that MOC orders may not be available in all markets or through all brokers.

MOC orders submitted to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) markets must be received by 3:50 p.m. Eastern Time (ET), unless they are intended to offset a published imbalance. Additionally, NYSE rules prohibit the cancellation or reduction in the size of any MOC order after 3:45 p.m. ET.

On the Nasdaq, MOC orders must be received at Island by 3:55 p.m. ET and cannot be canceled or modified after 3:50 p.m. ET.

Understanding Market-on-Close (MOC) orders

A Market-on-Close order is essentially a market order scheduled to execute at the closing price, which is typically the most recent trading price. This order remains inactive until near the market close, at which point it becomes active and functions like a standard market order. MOC orders are especially helpful for investors who wish to enter or exit the market at the closing price without executing an immediate market order at the market’s close.

Traders often use MOC orders as part of their trading strategies. For instance, a trader might place an MOC order to exit a position if a specific price level is breached during the trading day. Although MOC orders do not specify a target price, they can serve as a qualifier for limit orders, automatically canceling the limit order if it doesn’t execute during the trading day.

Using MOC orders in this manner ensures that the desired transaction occurs but still exposes the investor to end-of-day price fluctuations.

Benefits and risks of MOC orders

There are various scenarios in which investors find MOC orders advantageous. If you anticipate significant overnight price movement due to an after-hours earnings call or an impending news story, placing an MOC order can secure your purchase or sale before the news impacts the market the following day.

MOC orders are also convenient when you cannot personally execute a critical transaction, such as exiting a position, at the end of the trading day. They prove valuable for trading on foreign exchanges that operate in different time zones.

However, MOC orders have their drawbacks. If you’re not present at the market close, you won’t know at what price your order will be filled, exposing you to end-of-day price fluctuations. Additionally, there is a risk of poor execution due to end-of-day trading clusters, although such situations are rare.

Example of an MOC order

Let’s consider an example: A trader owns 100 shares of company ABC, which is expected to report negative earnings after the market’s close. While ABC’s stock price remained stable throughout the day, the trader is concerned about a potential selloff after the earnings call. To mitigate losses, the trader decides to place an MOC order to sell some or all of their ABC shares at the market’s close.

Frequently asked questions

What does “MOC” stand for in MOC orders?

“MOC” stands for “Market-on-Close.” It signifies that the order will be executed at or shortly after the market’s closing time to capture the closing price.

How do MOC orders differ from regular market orders?

MOC orders are a type of market order, but they have a specific timing component. They are executed at the close of the market or shortly after, aiming to secure the closing price. In contrast, regular market orders are executed immediately at the current market price.

Are MOC orders available in all financial markets?

No, MOC orders may not be available in all financial markets or through all brokerage platforms. Availability can vary depending on the exchange and broker. It’s essential to check with your broker to see if MOC orders are an option.

What is the significance of the closing price in MOC orders?

The closing price in MOC orders is crucial because it represents the final traded price of the trading day. Traders use MOC orders to capture this price for various strategic reasons.

Can MOC orders be canceled or modified once placed?

The ability to cancel or modify MOC orders depends on the rules of the specific exchange and brokerage. Generally, major exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq have restrictions on canceling or reducing the size of MOC orders after a certain time, typically close to the market’s close.

How do traders use MOC orders in their strategies?

Traders use MOC orders for a variety of strategies. For example, they may use MOC orders to exit positions if certain price levels are breached during the trading day. Additionally, some traders use MOC orders as qualifiers for limit orders, ensuring that if the limit order isn’t executed during the trading day, it gets canceled.

What are the risks associated with MOC orders?

MOC orders carry several risks. One significant risk is uncertainty about the exact execution price, as it depends on the closing price, which can fluctuate. Another risk is the potential for poor execution due to end-of-day trading clusters, although such situations are relatively rare.

Are there any alternatives to MOC orders for capturing the closing price?

Yes, alternatives to MOC orders include limit-on-close (LOC) orders and at-the-close (ATC) orders. These orders also aim to capture the closing price but have different execution mechanisms and potential benefits and drawbacks.

Can individuals use MOC orders for all types of securities?

The availability of MOC orders for different securities can vary. While they are commonly used for stocks, their availability for other types of securities, such as bonds or options, may be limited. It’s important to check with your broker for specific details.

How can I determine if using an MOC order is suitable for my trading strategy?

Determining the suitability of using an MOC order for your trading strategy depends on various factors, including your trading goals, risk tolerance, and market conditions. It’s advisable to consult with a financial advisor or do thorough research to make an informed decision.

Key takeaways

  • MOC orders are non-limit market orders executed at or shortly after the market close to capture the closing price.
  • Traders use MOC orders as part of their strategies for entering or exiting the market based on anticipated price movements.
  • MOC orders can be convenient but also involve risks, including uncertainty about the exact execution price and potential end-of-day trading clusters.
View article sources
  1. Market-on-Close (MOC) Order – Corporate Finance Institute
  2. Market-on-Close (MOC) Orders – Interactive Brokers
  3. Notice of Proposed Amendments and Request for Comments – Ontario Securities Commission