Market Discussions FAQ


Contents

Basics

How can I make ISK from trading?

Buy low, sell high.
Seriously, it's that simple.

Can't I make more ISK for my time from missions or mining than from trading?

You can start your trading career with just the 5000 ISK you get as a new pilot. If you find an item that you can buy for 2000 ISK and sell for 20000 ISK, you've started trading.
When you have very little ISK, it may be more practical to focus on missions for a while. Mission rewards and loot can earn you some initial capital to get into trading more seriously, and you can gain first-hand knowledge about where mission-runners work and what items they need.
It is true that initially you may make more money doing missions or mining but these activities are capped by training skills and by the amount of time available to you. You can make maybe XX millions of isks per hour mining or doing missions and that's it.

Does trading require hauling?

No. You can buy and sell all within one station if you want to, and across your region via skills. You can also hire others or use courier contract to move items for you.

How should I measure my success at trading?

Any way you like.
Popular choices include: How much ISK do you have? How much ISK do you earn per unit of time (i.e., per month, or per hour of trading work)? How much fun are you having (it is a game, after all)?
Measure that haulers might be interested in as well are ISK / m³ and ISK / jump.

What does 'IPO' mean?

Initial Public Offering. As in real life, this typically refers to initial offering of shares in a corporation public investors. This generally means that investors will own a part of the corporation. The returns on such an investment typically vary with the profitability of the underlying business. There is typically no fixed end in mind after an IPO and the business can continue to operate indefinitely, although some business managers might plan to close up shop after a planned period.

How is a bond offering different from an IPO?

A bond is a essentially a contract for the issuer to pay a certain rate of return to an investor. Bonds typically offer fixed returns and fixed durations.

What is the 'secondary market'?

Technically, it refers to post-IPO trading of shares and bonds between people, rather than the initial sale by issuers (the 'primary market'). In EVE usage, people often lump in initial offerings as well.

What is a good profit margin?

Is it worth your time to do what you're doing? That's good. If you see a better opportunity, switch to that, or add it to your list of activities. The precise numbers don't much matter.
Often an item with a better profit margin will have lower volumes.

How do I know if I'm trying to compete against a bot?

It's probably not possible to know for sure, though some patterns of competitor behaviour look very suspicious.
However, using a bot is an exploit, so if you think someone's doing so, you should petition the circumstances for CCP to investigate.
Before throwing accusations around, keep in mind that if you're around 23/7 to update your own orders every few minutes to investigate your competition, surely someone else could do the same thing.

My standing order expired and I didn't get my ISK/items back, why not?

You should get everything back except your broker fees. Sometimes the stuff isn't returned until after the downtime that follows the expiry of your order.
If you've made or joined a corporation, and ticked the box for "use corporate wallet" when setting up the order, you'll need to check the corp's Deliveries hangar, as opposed to your personal one.
There is no penalty to posting an order of 90 days instead of shorter orders, so you can minimize this problem by using 90 days as your default.


Current Market Prices (Asks, Bids)

Why can't I sell the items in my hangar to a standing bid in the same station?

Perhaps there is a minimum quantity on the order and you are not offering enough units.

If two standing orders have the same price, which gets matched first?

The order that was placed first gets matched first. It does not matter which order will expire first. (Note that in the Market UI, orders might not be sorted in the order in which they were placed, so it could at times look like the 'second from the top' order is being matched.)

If two standing bids have ranges that overlap where an item is being sold, which gets the item?

The one with the higher price gets matched first, just like if there were two station-only bids. If the prices are the same, the one that was placed first gets filled first.

When I bought an item from the 'second best' ask, why didn't that order's volume decrease?

Recall that the best order is always matched first. You might have right-clicked the 'second best' order to enter your bid, but the transaction processing system matched it against the 'best price' order. You chose to pay the 'second best' price to the seller who was offering the best price.

Why does it look like all the sell orders were posted by the same pilot? I bought one unit from each order to see who my competition was.

Recall that the best order is always matched first. You might have right-clicked each order in turn, but the transaction processing system matched each of your bids against the 'best price' order.

Why do people sometimes pay more than my asking price when I was asking the lowest price?

Recall that the best order is always matched first. They might have right-clicked the second-best (or some other) order, but the transaction processing system matched their bid to your order.

Why are some asks highlighted green?

The green highlight indicates bids to which you can sell you in the station where you are currently docked. If you are in space, they indicate bids available in your current solar system.


Market History Graphs and Tables

Are only filled asks (sell orders) reported? Only filled bids (buy orders)?

Each transaction results from the matching of a buy order and a sell order, so each transaction in the market history data represents the simultaneous filling of one ask and one bid.

Can you tell if there is more volume against standing asks or against standing bids?

This can often be estimated. If the day's average price is close to the day's low price, it is more likely that a lot of the day's transactions were from people are selling to standing bids. If the day's average price is close to the day's high price, it is more likely that a lot people are buying from standing asks.

How can you see the stations at which items were sold?

You cannot see this; the Market History data is always region-wide. However, you may be able to guesstimate where most sales are, based on a comparison of historical price data and currently available orders.

Are outliers excluded?

Yes, by design.
It has been hypothesized that outliers outside two standard deviations are excluded, but CCP has not explained and player researchers have not (yet) determined the exact method or formula that determines which transactions are excluded.

Which locations are included in the data?

Historical prices are recorded on a regional basis. It is not possible to change this range, e.g., to see the historical prices for just one solar system or just one station.

How do you see 'volume' of sales?

On the chart, volume of units sold is are indicated by the green vertical bars, measured against the scale at the right side.
In the tables, the volumes of units sold are indicated in their own column. You can also see the number of executed transactions, which will necessarily be less than or equal to the number of units sold each day.

When looking at the market info, what time frame do you usually use? Week, monthly, etc?

It depends on what you are researching. If you seek a day trading opportunity (actively trading, no plans to hold inventory when done), then all that matters is a few days. If looking to invest across a longer period, a whole year's history can help you get a feel for the impact of events on prices.

The yellow dots are labelled 'Median Day Price'; does this match the 'Avg' column in the Market History Tables?

For a long time, the yellow dot was labelled 'median' on the chart but the shown value was actually the mean. The mean also was reported in the historical data in the tablular view of the data under the label 'Avg'.
It is not clear if this bug was fixed or not. It was reported as fixed, but it never appeared in any patch notes, and no correction was reported by the players who identified the bug.

On the graph, what are the daily unlabelled thin yellow vertical lines on the chart?

This shows the daily range of prices (outliers are excluded).

What the heck is a 'Donchian Channel'?

Today's upper and lower bounds on the Donchian Channel are the highest and lowest recorded prices (outliers are excluded) from the past five days. This can be 'seen' as the thin yellow vertical lines give shape to the Donchian Channel.
The daily low and high bands don't always extend to the edge of the Donchian channel because it's a five-day trailing channel; i.e., its boundaries are defined as the lowest low of the past five days and the highest high of the past five days. So if today's low is not as low as the low from a couple of days ago, then today's yellow line will not reach the bottom edge of the channel.
A wider Donchian channel tends to indicate a larger spread or greater price volatility.

Out-of-game Market Information

What are Market Detail Export files?

In-game you can click the 'Export to file' button when viewing an item on the Details screen of the Market window. This creates a CSV text file for that item in your EVE log file location that can be imported into the spreadsheet or database of your choice.
Each such file lists the following for all orders (asks and bids) that were on the market in that region at that time for that item: price, volRemaining, typeID, range, orderID, volEntered, minVolume, bid, issued, duration, stationID, regionID, solarSystemID, jumps. The definitions of many of those IDs are available in the aperiodic EVE static data exports. For a more in depth description of each field, have a look at the EVE Market Order API. (The market API and the ingame export share the same fields)

What are Market History cache files?

These are method call cache files (on your computer) that are generated automatically when you view the market history for an item. They can can be decoded to text to provide the fields listed in the Market History table.
Decoders currently are either closed source and very restricted (e.g., that used by eve-metrics.com) or not yet complete (e.g., a couple of programming efforts that have been mentioned in Market Discussions).

What are some Market Intelligence / Data Aggregation services?

Generally, these act as data warehouse and reporting tools, gathering market information from many pilots in order to provide more market information to each pilot than would be available to them in the same amount of time if they were working on their own.
Since these rely on user-supplied data, they can be incomplete, especially in less-travelled regions or with regard to less popular items.
  • EVE Central: Relies on on user-uploaded Market Detail Export files, so the contents are subject to direct manipulation (i.e., the uploading of false data). Offers a scraper application to automate the upload of these files. Keep in mind that the data is is only as good as its last update, so always check the time stamp.
  • EVE Markets: (currently in beta) Interactive graphs and figures for global pricing trends, with customisable lists and indices. Uses market data retrieved from EVE Central.
  • EVE-Profits: Using data from the services above this tool calculates the profit margins and possible daily profits for all producable items in a region. Useful for picking out the most profitable BPOs and current opportunities.
  • EVE Market Data: Alternative market offers browser and data source. Similar to EVE Central, it relies on data uploaded by it's users. Providers raw market data to developers: market offers, median prices, trade volume
  • EVE Marketeer: Another alternative source to EVE Central and EVE Market Data. The site gathers, filters and combines the data from both EVE Central and EVE Marketdata, in addition to relying on uploads by its own users.
  • EVE Tools: Contains market tools, like trade route finder, price indexes, products and trade hubs ranking. It is based on data uploaded to EVE Central and EVE market data.

What is the best EVE accounting, asset or market support software?

Many commonly-used software tools are described in a Market Discussions sticky and they often pop up on the first page of the forum.
'Best' is subjective, since it depends on your needs. Some common choices seem to be EMMA, EVE-MEEP and EVEWalletAware.
A more complete list of available 3rd party market tools can be found in the Market resources article.
Full descriptions and comparisons are beyond the scope of this document.

Marketing Strategy and Tactics

How many jumps out do you try and match or beat competitors' prices? Should I pay attention only to orders in the same station when 'playing the 0.01 ISK game', or should I consider other orders in the system or further?

This depends on your strategy and knowledge of the market (the item being traded and the locations). Your strategy will probably change as your volume and capital increases.
For your bids, you may find that you can disregard nearby, regional or 3-jump orders (and so on) and focus more on individual orders placed in particular stations.
For your asks, keep in mind that many people will not bother to go to another system for a small difference in pricing. Rookies might since they have very little ISK, but established characters will not waste their time. If you have what they need at the lowest price in the station they are in, you have a good chance to make the sale, even if there is another better price at a different station in the same solar system.

Where should I sell my items? Hubs? What split amongst multiple locations?

Consider volume, margin, competition, and the cost of logistics.
For T1 items, volume tends to be more important than price. It is better to move your inventory fast than it is to get the best price. E.g., someone may sell Thoraxes for 7 MISK in Oursulaert, but maybe you can move three times as many for 6 MISK in Dodixie, for more overall profit.

What is 'market manipulation'?

Market manipulation is label that encompasses a variety of methods for changing the market perceptions, expectations and prices. Manipulations can target any geographic scale: universal, regional, single station, and can be aimed at individual items or collections (e.g., similar items; sequential steps in a fabrication chain; an entire sector of the economy).
There are many ways to actually manipulate (e.g., posting orders in the market, seeding false or misleading information) but in the end its about moving prices in your favour, using your ISK, inventory, and orders.
Manipulation can work better with goods that take a long to time to bring to market.
E.g., I want to lower the price of an item so I could (i) stockpile it over a long period of time and start flooding the market to affect the overall market price, (ii) increase the volume available by mining or hiring miners.
E.g., I want to increase the price, so I use Margin Trade skill to set up bids at inflated prices. With such orders in play, this can create a perception of changing prices that encourages other market participants to follow suit. I might also simply buy out all the asks and re-list the items at higher prices. I might also stockpile similar alternative items to try to divert some demand toward my target item.

How do I detect a 'market manipulation'? How do I profit from it?

It may not be possible to tell for sure if someone is trying to manipulate a market or if maybe they just happened to buy 200 units of your favourite item to help stock their 0.0 outpost.
Some forms of market manipulation involve pushing the market price away from its 'natural' long term stable point (based on actual production and consumption). Other people often catch on, sooner or later. If someone else catches on before a manipulation attempt becomes profitable, and they can react fast enough, then the latecomer can take advantage of the set up work that the manipulator did. E.g., the late-comer can sell their items at an unsustainably high price for a couple of days without themselves having had invest in buying up all the lower-priced items first.

Why do T2 BPOs sell for so much (multiples of their expected annual profitability)?

The prices are so high because that's how much people are willing to pay: T2 BPOs are scarce and ISK is not. Some pilots will ISK lying fallow in their wallets may actually expect to make profits from the BPO for several years; they may consider them speculative investment (i.e., intending to operate for a time then sell for the same price, or intending simply to sell for more later); they may value the convenience of manufacturing from BPOs instead of BPCs; they may covet the BPO simply as a collectible rarity.

What are some trading styles?

Scrap-dealer: region-wide bids for locally-available loot items either to re-sell, ship to a hub or reprocess into minerals. Cheap goods will accumulate over time, giving you a long Assets list.
  • Pros: Can be nice margins. Cons: Can be slow. Needs a lot of orders; every buy order could potentially have been a faster-moving sell order.
Major-hub retailer: Buy stuff from one major hub, sell it in a second major hub at a mark-up, engaging in 0.01 ISK Fairly straightforward methodology, requires little thought or planning.
  • Pros: Needn't use many orders, can stick to one station at a time. Cons: requires constant attention
Minor-hub retailer: Here you're banking on convenience and the belief that players would pay a premium to equip their ship in situ rather than waste time jumping to a regional trade hub. To see the same volume of sales as a major hub, you might have to diversify the goods you sell and trade in more than one station, meaning you'll consume more orders.
  • Pros: less competition, greater margins. Cons: slower sales, greater need for orders.
NPC Trade Goods trader: Focus on buying and selling trade goods from and to NPC corporations. The prices offered by the NPC corporations are fixed to specific ranges.
  • Pros: Reliable and predictable volumes, prices and locations. Cons: Tedious, limited margins, and may require a lot of inter-regional shipping.
Inter-regional arbitrage: identify asks and bids in different regions that have enough spread to make it worth your time to buy from the one and sell to the other. This is similar to hauling NPC goods, except the sellers/buyers aren't static. It's a decent method to generate ISK when you're poor and just bought your first hauler.
  • Pros: Easy (especially using sites like eve-metrics.com or eve-central.com). Cons: Tedious, opportunities can be one-offs.
Speculator / manipulator: Can be very profitable and risky. Basically, one pushes price changes from which one can profit; see elsewhere for more details about market manipulation.
  • Pros: Can be a lot of ISK for little effort. Cons: can be risky.
Boutique retailer: Rather than trade on the Market, you can specialize in 'boutique' items like BPOs (researched or not) and rare ships and items via the Contract system.
  • Pros: you can take advantage of your special knowledge of these niches. Cons: less exposure to consumers, since Contracts system is less accessible than the Market system.

What is a hub? What makes a hub?

From a trading perspective, a hub is simply any solar system that sees a lot more trade activity than most other places. There will be one station within that solar system that captures most of the activity.
Hubs are primarily the product of a simple network effect (a type of positive feedback effect) that encourages people to come together in a central trade hub: each new customer encourages retailers to sell there, and each new retailer increases supply and competition on price, which encourages customers to go there... and so on.

What are the major hubs?

Jita is by far the top hub at present, a universal hub.
Second-tier hubs (also at times called 'racial hubs') include Amarr (Amarr), Rens (Minmatar), Dodixie (Gallente), Oursulaert (Gallente). Jita itself is the Caldari hub.
Each region tends to have one or two third-tier hubs that carry more orders and inventory than the rest of the region. Such regional hubs are illustrated on Ombey's PDF maps, or can usually be determined in-game by taking a quick look through some common items on the market to see where people like to place their orders.
Yulai was the previous universal hub, but its geographic centrality was reduced by CCP, encouraging the rise of Jita, which was (at that time) already been a leading second-tier hub (relatively large number of Caldari pilots, many station facilities, missions and asteroids in system).

Is it possible to make a random highsec system into a hub?

Probably not into a universal or second-tier hub, but perhaps into a regional third-tier hub.
If you start to bring in loads of under-priced goods, other will probably ship it back to existing hubs for a quick profit. If you bring in loads of over-priced goods, you won't draw a lot of consumers. If there are enough pilots around but no other nearby regional hub, it may be possible to start to attract some volume.

How can I manage orders in multiple regions?

You can deploy alts in different regions, operate in border systems so that you can quickly cross to other regions to check and update your orders, or you can live itinerantly, constantly flying around the universe.

Why do traders put up 100 items, then just 1 or 2 items of the thing at just 1 ISK or 0.01 ISK less?

Perhaps as a psychological measure, either (i) a scare tactic ('I have many more market slots than you. Don't mess with me!') or (ii) a social engineering tactic (it makes it look like there is more competition than there really is).
Perhaps so permit the player to micro-manage the price of one smaller order while other order stays at price that the player prefers for the long term.
The one order might be used as 'bait' to draw down the price offered by the competition so that the player can buy out the competition. Keeping the second order in place might make it less attractive for the competition to buy out the first pilot's order, since it might offer an upper bound on the markup that the second pilot could post.
Some people might compete on a 0.01 basis against large orders, but won't bother updating their order for a handful of items, so the small order might face less price competition.
With multiple orders, a player can make more frequent updates, since they have multiple orders that each have their own 5-minute cooldown between changes.
Sometimes a player may want to sell a few items for some quick ISK, but wants to sell the rest for a better margin rate.

Why don't bid prices usually get up to the ask prices?

Sometimes the prices of standing bids and asks do get pretty close.
However, when the prices start to get close, people probably don't bother setting standing bids and will just buy from the standing asks instead.


Pilot Skills and Standings

What's the Margin Trading skill about?

It becomes possible to place more buy orders than one has ISK. If someone tries to fill (or partially fill) a bid for which you no longer have enough ISK, your order gets deleted and their order fails as well (they get an 'order no longer available' message). Your other orders are not affected.

Should I use up my account's 'alt slots' on 'market alts' just to check prices?

Why not? It's pretty easy to biomass the pilot and make a new one if you decide that you need the slot for something else later, and a price-checker doesn't need any skills trained.
When you are no longer poor, you can use GTCs or PLEXes to fund accounts for market alts.

What skills do I need for a useful 'market alt' pilot?

None are mandatory. You could use a market alt simply as a quick way to check prices in another region.
If you're going to use the pilot for trading, you will probably want to consider any or all of the skills in the Trade section of the skill tree. Charisma will therefore be a relatively important attribute for such a pilot.
Sales taxes and Market Order Broker Fees are not affected by any skills in the 'Social' group (such as Connections or Criminal Connections).

What does the Accounting skill do?

Every Market sale is charged a Sales tax (payable by the seller when the goods are sold) at a base rate of 1.00%.
The Accounting skill reduces this rate by 0.10% per skill level, down to a minimum of 0.50% at Level V.

What does the Broker Relations skill do?

Every standing order (ask or bid) placed with the Advanced Market Order dialog, with a duration longer than 'Immediate' is charged a Market Order Broker Fee. The base rate for this fee is 1.00%, with no skills trained and no standings.
The Broker Relations skill reduces the rate of this fee by 5% of its total for each skill level. Where a pilot has no standings, and a Broker Relations skill level of V, the Market Order Broker Fee will thus be 0.75%.
For the impact of standings on this fee, see below. The effect of this skill and standings are multiplied together.

What impact do standings have on trading?

The Market Order Broker Fees paid on placing a standing Market order are influenced by a pilot's standings (unadjusted by skills) to the corporation that owns station at which he or she is setting an order, and the faction of that corporation. Sales Taxes are not influenced by standings, nor are Contract Broker Fees.
See also a chart illustrating the effect of positive standings on Market Order Broker Fees.
A stealth patch in early 2010 changed the relationship between Market Order Broker Fees and standings; the formula is now: BrokerFee % = (1.000 % – 0.050 % × BrokerRelationsSkillLevel) / 2 ^ (0.1400 × FactionStanding + 0.06000 × CorporationStanding), where FactionStanding and CorporationStanding are each in the range –10.00 to 10.00. Note that faction standings have more than two times the impact of corporation standings.
The minimum broker fee rate payable with Broker Relations at Level V and maximum standings and is 0.1875%; the maximum, with no skills and horrible negative standings is 4.000%.
Standings do not influence the price demanded by NPC corporations for their items (BPOs, skill books, &c.).

What are the skills for making and modify orders remotely?

The skills Marketing and Procurement allow you to create Asks and Bids (Sell Orders and Buy Orders, respectively) at stations away from your current location (but still in the same region). The Visibility skill allows you to increase the catchment radius when creating remote Bids (Buy Orders). The Daytrading skill allows you to modify the prices of those orders.
No skills will magically move items from one station to another. If you set a remote bid, the items you buy will be delivered to the station(s) where that bid is effective. To set a remote ask, the item(s) to be sold must already be at the remote location.
This Diagram of EVE Trading Skills for Remote Orders illustrates the effect of these skills.

Expanding your business

Is there a list of wholesale vendors willing to sell directly to traders?

It has proved difficult to maintain a current list of active corporations because the list changes so frequently, and people often don't bother to post to say that they are no longer in business.
Post your wholesale purchase wants in the 'Want Ads & Trades' forum, including with a few details so people can determine if they might be able to meet your needs. You will probably get some interest.

How can I get ISK from the public to expand my business?

Two frequently used methods are a share offering or a bond offering. I.e., you could sell shares in your business, offering a fraction of future profits in exchange for capital up front, or you could offer bonds, promising a schedule of specific future payment of interest and return of capital in exchange for capital up front.
Potential investors might want you to be audited, and they might want you to post collateral.

What information should I prepare and publish about my proposed business?

There is a template that Hexxx put together, or you might refer to other recent business launches.

What's an audit?

In the Market Discussions context, it is an independent review of information about the audited person's pilots and their corporations. An auditor will examine information such as Full API records, in-game employment history, forum posting history, and other sources, and will offer an opinion that may confirm or reject claims made by the would-be issuer.
Depending on the outcome of an audit, this may provide some assurance to potential investors about the proposed business and its operator (e.g., it might confirm that the issuer has the skills required to run the proposed business; it might confirm that the issuer has operated a similar business successfully in the past).
An audit cannot provide proof about the future, so it cannot prevent someone from operating a scam. However, it can turn up suspicious facts, e.g., ties between an issuer or a proposed business and a past scam attempt.
There is a Market Discussions thread by Kazuo Ishiguro that provides much more detail about auditing.

How does collateral work?

It is the placement of goods as security against your future payments to investors. Your goods are 'held hostage' to ensure that you meet your obligations.
You can put items (ships, BPOs, other goods, investments that you hold on other enterprises) on deposit with a trusted person who will hold them until you have met your obligations. If you fail to meet your obligations, the trusted person will distribute the goods to your investors or liquidate the items and distribute the ISK to them.
If you use BPOs as collateral, you might place them with someone who can lock them down and allow you to use them while they are being held as security.

When I am issuing shares or bonds, should I use the in-game share mechanism?

It depends. Using in-game shares gives your investor in-game voting rights on corporate matters, but it can make it relative easy to distribute dividends since you can use the in-game dividend mechanism. Overall, this may be a help or a hindrance to your operations.
If you want to use in-game shares, you could operate your business using one corporation and then transfer the proceeds to a second holding corporation to distribute. You would give your investors shares only in the holding corporation.
If you keep track of investments and shares out of game, you will have to handle any secondary sales yourself (since you will have to update your register of investors), or disallow trading of your instruments by your investors.

Do corporate taxes have any impact on trading?

No. Corporate taxes are paid only on mission rewards and rat bounties. All Sales Taxes go to the SCC (an NPC entity).

Contracts

What reward and collateral should I set for a courier contract?

It is common practice to set a collateral of a bit more than the market value of the items being transported, to discourage dishonest haulers from taking your shipments instead of delivering them.
Rewards vary more. Between major hubs, you might get takers for a mere 0.1% of collateral (e.g., 400 kISK on a 120 000 m³ load from Jita to Amarr with a collateral of 400 MISK). For deliveries to backwaters, to low sec or 0.0, or to encourage speedier work on the part of the courier, you might have to offer substantially more. On the 'Sell Orders' forum, you can find haulers for bespoke work, or you could post in 'Buy Orders & Trades' to hire.

How do I create corporation contracts in a station where my corporation has no office?

Contract the items to yourself. On accepting the contract, choose to accept it on behalf of your corporation. The items will be deposited to your corporation's deliveries hangar and you can then create a new contract on behalf of your corporation and select items located in the deliveries hangar.

Does the Contracts Manager role in Corporation Management also give by default access to the deliveries in all stations?

Yes, but it does not grant access to the Corporation asset management window, so pilots with this title can see only the deliveries in their current station. I.e., they cannot see what is in the corporation's deliveries hangars across the universe; access to that information requires director level access.

What should I watch out for when I'm taking courier contracts?

Can I fly a ship with enough cargo space to carry the cargo?
Does the route lead through or into low-sec or 0.0 space? The person who posted the contract might have set it up to lure juicy haulers into a gate camp so they can keep the collateral... or they might genuinely want the delivery made. If you review the posting-pilot's contract history, you will see if they posted any past failed courier contracts.
If the route is to a player-owned station, will you have docking rights? If not, then you won't be able to make the delivery, and you will forfeit the collateral when the contract's time runs out.

Do any of the EVE accounting tools read into contracts?

No. CCP does not publish contract data by API, so no tool can do this.


Credits

Includes contributions drawn from the posts of: Alatari, Aluin Chaput, Amarr Citizen 155, Ares91, Athre, Beer Me, Cheopis, Chuuuuy, Cpt Jacqui, Dakt NiRuthgar, Drakolus, Druk'tel, engimonger, flakeys, Gritchee, HawkBlade, Hel O'Ween, Ivar Strahm, Jen'te An, Johnny Rockefeller, Joseph Shephard, Kazzac Elentria, Kwint Sommer, Kylar Renpurs, Lady Valory, Lord Zarcam, MailDeadDrop, Midas Man, MILK Monk, Mr Horizontal, NarcissuStar, Petyr Baelich, Raiven Parker, Ronan Le'Meurtrier, SencneS, SiJira, Simon Mance, Snasty, Soupea, Tasko Pal, Thoraemond, tom ternquist, Von Kapiche, Xeranasis.