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Using Level 2

Who is the axe on Level 2
I am not sure how many of our members use level 2 but if you do not use it; you are at a competitive disadvantage. Of course if you have a job and work full time you will not be able to use this trading tool. 

The axe is a market maker who keeps showing up on the bid or ask side buying or selling a large amount of shares and blocking the price movement in a stock. This market maker has the most influence on a particular stock at that particular moment. You can find the ax by observing the stock you want to trade very carefully. For example if you are looking to take a long position in a certain stock. But every time it gets close to your entry price NITE (a market maker) is on the best ask and keeps dumping shares. Even though there are a ton of trades going off on the ask the stock is not moving higher.  He is clearly blocking the market and therefore is the axe. 

Why is the axe there
The reason he is doing this might be because he has a huge customer sell order he has to execute. He may be displaying only 100 shares for sale at a time instead of the whole block. If he shows the whole block buyers will dry up fast knowing there is a huge seller in the crowd. This lack of buying will cause the stock to drop and he will not get a good price for all the shares he has to sell. By showing only 100 share blocks nobody is the wiser that a huge seller exists. He does this by auto refreshing his quote after each 100 shares are sold. 

It is never a good idea to trade against the axe' because it is most likely one of the big institutional market makers. I would not want to trade against them.  If they are doing some heavy selling and trying to hide it common sense tells me they want out for a reason. 

Not Immune to Deception
Level 2 is a very useful tool if you know how to use it. Unfortunately it is also subject to manipulation. MM's do play games on level 2 so beware that it does happen.  Deception is common practice on level 2 (as in the example I used above). Sometimes it can be very difficult to determine what is really happening on Level 2 and things may not always appear as they really are. As always level 2 should be just another tool you use to trade with. The others are the charts of course with all your favorite indicators such as moving averages bollinger bands MACD support and resistance levels etc.  I use level 2 for the sole purpose of trying to determine if the odds are in my favor.  It is a very good tool but it is not perfect and is subject to manipulation like everything else.

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