Why do I receive a message stating market data is over the limit?

Background: 

When you open an account with IBKR, you are initially set to receive a minimum of 100 concurrent lines of market data. This means that, either on IB Trading Platforms (TWS, IBKR Mobile, Client Portal trading facility) or on API/third party interface, you can simultaneously feed 100 tickers with market data. As explained here, after the first month of trading, your allowance might be increased either automatically (based on your account equity/commission) or manually (by the purchase of Quote Booster packs.)

Note: The same market data allowance is set for all the users of the same account, since it is based on account-wise parameters such as commissions and equities. 

 

Table of contents

 

Why some financial instruments show question marks instead of data?

There are various functions and tools in TWS using market data: watchlists, charts, trading or analytical tools, alarms. In general, any foreground window which actively uses market data for display or for calculations, will increase the total number of market data channels currently opened. Once you have exceeded the maximum Market Data allowance for your account, you will be prevented from receiving additional market data. In this case, one or more tickers will show a "?" instead of actual quotes and your TWS will display the following warning message:

"You have requested data for XXX contracts simultaneously, which exceeds your account current limit of YYY. You may increase your limit by subscribing to market data Booster Packs."

Example 1

Note: If you have decided to hide the warning by ticking the checkbox "Don't display this message again", you will not see it again next times you exceed the market data limit. Nevertheless you will still see "?" for one or more tickers instead of the actual quotes.

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Where can I check the current market data allowance?

Within TWS, you can check how much of your total market data allowance you are currently consuming in the "Maximum Allowed" window. While in TWS, press the keys Ctrl_Alt_= (on a MAC click: Control_Option_=) and you will see the Maximum allowed pop-up indicating the market data allowance (the value close to "Simultaneous TWS market data subscriptions") and the market data lines currently used (the value close to "Currently subscribed top market data count".)

Example 2

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Which solutions are available to me?

 

  • Reduce the number of financial instruments displayed within the TWS

To overcome an excessive market data usage, the easiest solution is to reduce the amount of financial instruments present within your trading platform. Here below some ways to accomplish that:

a. Delete some tickers from your watchlist(s). There might be old tickers you are no longer interested in or expired contracts. Deleting those will reduce the overall market data usage

b. Minimize or hide one or more watchlist or other tools consuming market data. Only the TWS windows which are active and in the foreground contribute to market data count. If you have floating watchlists/charts and you minimize them or send them to the background, you will actually decrease the overall market data usage by the number of tickers present on those watchlists/charts

c. Use more restrictive filters within Option Trader / Option Chains / Strategy Builder. Those tools often become top market data consumers due to the high number of option contracts they display. All those tools provide filtering based on strike / expiry / trading class. By acting on those filters you can reduce the number of option contracts displayed

Note: Some derivatives contracts (Futures, Options, Future Options) will often consume two market data channel, one for the contract himself and one for the underlying, since the underlying contract is used for Greeks / Volatility calculations

 

  • Purchase Quote Booster pack(s)

 Each Quote Booster pack will cost you 30 USD monthly and will entitle you to 100 additional market data lines (on the top of your current allotment). The maximum number of Quote Booster packs you can purchase for your account is 10.

 

  • Increase your account equity or commissions

Each 8 USD increase of your monthly commission will entitle you to receive 1 additional line of market data (on the top of your current allotment). If your monthly commissions increased by 80 USD, you will receive 10 additional lines, if by 800 USD, you will receive 100 additional lines.

Each 10K USD increase of your account equity will entitle you to receive 1 additional line of market data (on the top of your current allotment). If your equity increased by 100K USD, you will receive 10 additional lines, if by 1M USD, you will receive 100 additional lines.

The recalculation of the market data allowance happens at the beginning of each month.

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