Personal Finance

How to Calculate Market Price Using Supply and Demand

One fundamental concept in economics is that supply and demand determine price. The greater the amount of supply of a product or service that's available and the less demand there is for it, the lower its price will be.

By contrast, things that are rare and in high demand fetch higher prices. The market reaches a consensus price based on supply and demand, but participants in those markets also make future decisions about supply and demand based on prices, making the system dynamic and responsive.

A simple example: Commodities

The commodities market is one of the clearest examples of how supply and demand help to determine price. In commodities trading, participants buy and sell the rights to a certain amount of a commodity good at a specified date. Many producers of a given commodity will sell futures contracts in anticipation of having an amount of the commodity available to deliver at a future date. Companies that use that commodity for their own needs will take the other side of the transaction, agreeing to buy that commodity.

Market fluctuations establish the initial price at which futures contracts trade. As supplies of a commodity increase, the competition among sellers to find willing buyers gets fiercer, and they cut the price they're willing to take in order to entice buyers to trade with them. By contrast, if supplies fall, then fewer sellers are in the commodities market, and so buyers have to compete among each other by raising the price they're willing to pay.

Similar things happen in response to demand shifts. When buyers need more of a commodity for their own purposes, they'll pay more to give sellers an incentive to provide additional supplies. When demand for a commodity drops, then buyers can hold out for lower prices, forcing sellers to compete with each other under conditions where it's hard for sellers to find other customers.

How price can affect supply and demand in the long run

In the short run, supply and demand imbalances can make prices move sharply. Yet the resulting price movements then influence long-term decision-making among market participants.

For example, when oil prices briefly climbed to $150 per barrel in 2007, demand was extremely high compared to the available supply. In response to those high prices, oil companies boosted their exploratory efforts, opening up new resources like oil sands and shale-oil production. At the same time, consumers of energy products, such as airlines, took steps to cut consumption by buying fuel-efficient aircraft. The net impact was a major shift in supply and demand that resulted in a plunge in oil prices below $40 per barrel as of late 2015.

Supply and demand is a basic economic principle that you'll find in play throughout the financial markets. Calculating a market price for basic goods is what the commodities markets do every day, but supply and demand also have long-term implications that investors should also take into account when making investment decisions.

The $15,978 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook

If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. In fact, one MarketWatch reporter argues that if more Americans knew about this, the government would have to shell out an extra $10 billion annually. For example: one easy, 17-minute trick could pay you as much as $15,978 more... each year! Once you learn how to take advantage of all these loopholes, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how you can take advantage of these strategies.

This article is part of The Motley Fool's Knowledge Center, which was created based on the collected wisdom of a fantastic community of investors based in theFoolsaurus. Pop on over there to learn more about our Wiki andhow you can be involved in helping the world invest, better! If you see any issues with this page, please email us atknowledgecenter@fool.com. Thanks -- and Fool on!

The article How to Calculate Market Price Using Supply and Demand originally appeared on Fool.com.

Copyright © 1995 - 2015 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics

Stocks

The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More