The ask price, ask, or offer price is the price a seller will accept for a security.. An ask quote often stipulates the amount of the asset available at the stated price. The ask price is the opposite of the bid price, which is what a buyer will pay for a security – the ask is always higher than the bid.
The difference between the bid and ask prices is known as the spread. Traders looking to buy an asset are always offered the going ask price, whereas those looking to sell are offered the bid price.
The market makers, typically brokerage houses, enable investors to get involved in the markets and work to keep financial markets liquid. They collect a profit on the bid-ask spread. The tighter the spread, the more liquid the market, which is attractive for investors. Securities with a wide spread can be time-consuming and expensive to trade.