Stop Losses – An Important Part of Stockmarket Trading

If there is one area guaranteed to confuse many traders and lead to multiple opinions on the most appropriate approach, it is the subject of stop losses. The science and the art of placing stops is featured extensively in many trading books and guides, but the bottom line is that there is no right or wrong answer, simply the fact that stop losses must be used to limit potential downside exposure when trading. Traders should also be careful not to confuse stop losses with buy stops, which trigger an opening position rather than closing the trade.

It is very important not to package together the placing of stops with money management, as the two represent different strands of trading. Simply put, stops are there to protect profits and limit the potential downside at any time once a trade has been opened, and are part of an exit strategy for trades that are already open. Money management covers position sizing or amounts to be risked within each trade of a portfolio.

Within this potentially complex subject, there are many different types of stops, and it should be added that stops are never guaranteed unless that facility is offered by the broker for an additional charge. Nevertheless, their use is an essential part of any trading strategy. giocare borsa For the examples below share prices are used, but stop losses should also be used when trading CFDs in commodities, forex or indices.

The uses and abuses of stops

Much has been written about the placing of stops and how to avoid them being triggered without too much risk. This of course is the $64m question for most CFD traders and very often causes more consternation than any other aspect of the trading process.

The basic idea behind where to place a stop is by reference to the overall trend or trading range within which the share is moving. As to the actual level of the stop, it depends on several factors including the trader’s overall money management rules, the amount of leverage, the time frame, and crucially the underlying volatility of the share chosen. The stop should aim to be placed at a level which if triggered would confirm the trade was incorrect.

There is no point in trading a highly leveraged CFD account with routine 5% stops as eight losses in a row, which statistically can be expected every few hundred trades, would lead to a minimum 40% drawdown on the account.

Having said that, there is equally no point in attempting to reduce the risk too far by setting 1.5% or 2% stops in highly volatile stocks or takeover situations as each trade needs room to breathe, and stops this tight are likely to be triggered within the normal daily ebb and flow of price movements.

A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot see at least double the potential profit in a trade compared to where you expect to place your stop loss, that trade should be passed over. Indeed some CFD traders look for three times profits achieved against losses as a starting ratio. Consequently an approach like this can be very successful by winning just three or four times out of ten, and is the hallmark of many of the world’s leading traders.

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