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Glossary of financial terms



Balance Sheet

The statement featured in the Annual Accounts that indicates the value of the company’s assets and liabilities as at the end of its financial period (the Balance Sheet date) and the ways that these have been financed through external debt, internal profit generation and funds raised from the issuing of share capital.


An investor who believes prices will fall. A bear market is a persistent falling market.

Bed and Breakfast

The practice of selling a share or unit trust and buying it back the next day to establish a disposal for capital gains tax calculations.

Best execution

The best available price for a stockbroker's customer.

Bid/offer spread

The difference between the price at which investors can buy units (the offer price) and the price at which they can cash them in (the bid price). Typically, the margin between the prices is between 5 and 6 per cent but it can be as low as zero or as high as 8 per cent.

Big bang

A reference to 27 October 1986 when the Stock Exchange switched to new rules and automated dealing.

Blue chip

A solid, large, well managed and hopefully safe company. The term comes from an American poker expression for the highest value of chip.

Bonus issue

Also known as a capitalisation or scrip issue of free shares to an investor. Watch for the complication of the consequent adjustment to the company's share price.


An investor who believes share prices will rise. A bull market is a continually rising market.


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