Relative performance of bid-ask spread estimators: Futures market evidence

Amber Anand, Ahmet K. Karagozoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The issue of transaction costs is the mainstay of the equity market microstructure. Research in the microstructure of futures markets has lagged behind. A primary reason is that futures exchanges in the U.S. do not record bid-ask quotes, requiring these costs to be imputed from transaction price data. A reliable estimator of bid-ask spreads would significantly enhance microstructure research in futures markets. Unique intraday data from the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) that include both transaction prices and bid-ask spreads allow us to compare bid-ask spread estimation techniques proposed in the literature against the benchmark of actual spreads in a futures market, and thus identify the best-performing estimator. To maximize relevance, we impose all the constraints that apply in U.S. futures data to perform our estimations. We find that the four bid-ask spread estimators considered significantly underestimate the actual spreads. However, simple moments-based estimators perform better in predicting spreads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-245
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bid-ask spreads
  • Futures markets
  • Spread estimators
  • Transaction costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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