When you see a large trade on e-signal tick chart, how can you tell if it is on the sell or buy side? For example, SBUX had a 2,047,900 form T trade at 16:03 Friday for 47 9/16. The current ask was 47 3/4 and the bid was 47 9/16. Is there a way to tell if this was a sell trade? (March 5, 2001)

  In most cases, when trying to determine whether a trade is on the buy or sell side, we look to what the bid and ask are as you have done. If the trades is made exactly on the bid, it is most likely a sell side transaction. The same goes for the ask side. When the trades is in the spread, we look to see if it is closer to one or the other. Just as we try to shave the spread, so do others. They most likely will sell closer to the bid price or buy closer to the ask price. You can also watch Nasdaq Level II to determine how much buy side and sell side pressure there is, and you can actually see the trade sizes lining up at each price. You have to be watching, however, as it is not a running tape as is the time and sales chart. After hours is much trickier. You see all kinds of trash hit the tape, and you cannot always trust what you see, especially on large volume trades or on trades that are off form the bid and ask shown.

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