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Optimal high-frequency trading with limit and market orders


  • Fabien Guilbaud
  • Huyên Pham


We propose a framework for studying optimal market-making policies in a limit order book (LOB). The bid--ask spread of the LOB is modeled by a tick-valued continuous-time Markov chain. We consider a small agent who continuously submits limit buy/sell orders at best bid/ask quotes, and may also set limit orders at best bid (resp. ask) plus (resp. minus) a tick for obtaining execution order priority, which is a crucial issue in high-frequency trading. The agent faces an execution risk since her limit orders are executed only when they meet counterpart market orders. She is also subject to inventory risk due to price volatility when holding the risky asset. The agent can then also choose to trade with market orders, and therefore obtain immediate execution, but at a less favorable price. The objective of the market maker is to maximize her expected utility from revenue over a short-term horizon by a trade-off between limit and market orders, while controlling her inventory position. This is formulated as a mixed regime switching regular/impulse control problem that we characterize in terms of a quasi-variational system by dynamic programming methods. Calibration procedures are derived for estimating the transition matrix and intensity parameters for the spread and for Cox processes modelling the execution of limit orders. We provide an explicit backward splitting scheme for solving the problem and show how it can be reduced to a system of simple equations involving only the inventory and spread variables. Several computational tests are performed both on simulated and real data, and illustrate the impact and profit when considering execution priority in limit orders and market orders.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabien Guilbaud & Huyên Pham, 2013. "Optimal high-frequency trading with limit and market orders," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 79-94, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:quantf:v:13:y:2013:i:1:p:79-94
    DOI: 10.1080/14697688.2012.708779

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