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I put a limit buy order for 1000 shares at $1.26, and another investor has also put a limit buy order in for the same amount and volume. If someone sells 1000 shares at $1.26, which one of us gets the shares?

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  • Note that the answers below assume you have direct access to an exchange; most individual investors do not. If you place your order through a retail broker, it's unlikely for your actual order to ever hit a real exchange. Instead your retail broker will (a) match your order against another of its clients, (b) place a better order than the one you wanted (at sub-penny prices that are only available to retail companies!) and then pocket the difference, or (c) engage in any number of other shenanigans. Bottom line: retail investors' orders almost never hit the actual stock exchanges.
    – dg99
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 17:19

2 Answers 2

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The one whose order gets to the exchange first. The exchange receives the orders and arranges them in First-In-First-Out order, by which they're then executed. At some point it is synchronized and put into a list. Whoever gets to that point first - gets the deal.

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While littleadv's answer is true for many exchanges (in particular the stock market, it's called FIFO matching) you should also know that some markets trade pro rata. That is, for a match at some price level everyone at that level gets a chunk of the deal proportional to their input (i.e. order size).

E.g. match for quantity X at a price level and passive side orders y1, y2; the order y1 would get y1 / (y1 + y2) of X and y2 would get y2 / (y1 + y2) (for X = min(X, y1 + y2)).

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