What Is a Cross?

What Is a Cross?

5 Min.

The term "cross" has various meanings in finance. It may refer to a broker executing a transaction on a trading floor or exchange, or it may refer to a cross-trade involving two non-U.S. dollar currency exchange transactions in forex markets. In technical analysis, golden crosses and death crosses are commonly identified chart patterns indicating a trend confirmation.


In finance, the word "cross" has three main definitions. The first type occurs when a broker executes a simultaneous trade between two different clients while matching a purchase and a sell order for the same stock at the same price. Variations of this include market opening crosses and market closing crosses. The second meaning is a foreign exchange (forex) transaction, in which non-US currencies are traded directly for one another without being first converted to US dollars. Last but not least, a cross may also refer to a technical analysis chart pattern like a golden cross or death cross.

Cross Explained

When a stockbroker encounters the simultaneous convergence of purchase and sale orders at identical prices and timings, a distinct protocol comes into play. The alternative unfolds if the stockbroker fails to secure a higher bid within the market realm. The two transactions harmonize seamlessly at the same price point and moment, effectuating a harmonious alignment.

The Opening and Closing Crosses

The Nasdaq exchange orchestrates capturing and publishing a comprehensive dataset, reflecting the amalgamation of buy and sell intentions during the two-minute prelude to market initiation. This dataset, christened as the "opening cross," is a pivotal prologue. Within this context, traders hold the prerogative to furnish buying orders at the onset price or to engage in transactions contingent upon order imbalances. This orchestrated information dissemination stands as a protective bastion, curbing disturbances in market fluidity.

The closure of the trading day witnesses a distinctive choreography: the Nasdaq's "closing cross." This intricate pas de deux orchestrates a synergy between bid and offer entities within a designated stock, culminating in the definitive day's closure price. Among the array of choices, traders can opt for "market at close," indicating alignment with the official closing price, or opt for "limit at close." In the latter scenario, should the closure price surpass the stipulated limit, execution materializes at market value. The data aggregation window for this conclusive maneuver spans from 3:50 p.m. to the 4:00 p.m. closing moment, with the cross transactions precisely unfolding between 4:00 p.m. and a mere five seconds after that.

Types of Crosses

Crosses in Currencies

The US dollar (USD) commands the foreign exchange market, with daily trades worth trillions of dollars. Historically, maneuvering currency pairs like the euro against the yen, denoted as EUR/JPY, necessitated a route via the dollar.

Such a path encompassed dual actions:

  1. Purchasing EUR and vending USD.
  2. Acquiring an equivalent USD amount while shedding JPY.

The drawbacks of this route encompassed dual bid/offer spread payment (in each currency pair) and binding dealings to USD values, sidelining EUR and JPY amounts. Nonetheless, during turbulence or liquidity constraints, traders might revert to the dollar pairs, preserving their vigor.

Prominent currency crosses include the Euro-Japanese Yen pairing, the British Pound (GBP), and the Swiss Franc (CHF). These engagements span spot, forward, and option transactions.

Unveiling Technical Analysis

In the expansive realm of technical analysis, traders harness statistical insights to steer trading decisions. Parsing copious data, often in the guise of charts, technical analysts dissect stocks and markets, skillfully detecting recurrent patterns and forecasting their influence on future performance.

In technical analysis, the golden cross and the death cross emerge as contrasting beacons. A golden cross heralds an extended bullish trajectory, while its counterpart, the death cross, forewarns of an enduring bearish route. Both hinge on a robust confirmation of long-term trends, witnessed when a short-term moving average intersects a pivotal long-term moving average. Though indicative of trend shifts, these crosses predominantly serve as robust validations of already transpired shifts.

Share Crossings Explained

Share crossings unfold when a broker orchestrates the convergence of a purchase and sale order from distinct clients centered on an identical stock and price point. A pivotal prelude to this maneuver entails the broker presenting the stock at a value exceeding the prevailing bid price within the market. If the elevated value remains unaccepted, the broker retains the authority to effectuate the transaction by executing the tandem orders.

Legality of Cross Trading

The legality query surrounding cross trades delves into scenarios where an identical stock's buy and sell orders find reconciliation outside exchange records. This trade archetype, prevalent in certain contexts, often falls afoul of regulations set forth by major exchanges. A notable concern is its potential for "tape painting," a manipulative tactic wherein market participants artificially influence stock prices through orchestrated internal trading activities.


The multifaceted concept of "cross" in finance unveils diverse layers of meaning. From broker-driven simultaneous transactions involving buy and sell orders for the same stock to direct non-U.S. dollar currency exchanges in forex markets, the term takes on various dimensions. Moreover, the realm of technical analysis introduces us to the contrasting scenarios of golden and death crosses, both denoting substantial trend confirmations.

Technical Analysis
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