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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stop Loss in Stock Exchange

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It is an order placed with a broker to buy or sell once the stock reaches a certain price. A stop loss is designed to limit an investor's loss on a security position. Setting a stop loss order for 10% below the price at which you bought the stock will limit your loss to 10%. For example, let's say you just purchased XYZ at $ 50 per share. Right after buying the stock you enter a stop loss market order for $ 45. This means that if the stock falls below $ 45 per share your shares will then be sold at the prevailing market price.

Positives and Negatives
The advantage of a stop order is you don't have to monitor on a daily basis how a security is performing. This is especially handy when you are on vacation or having a full time job that prevents you from watching your security for an extended period of time. The disadvantage is that the stop price could be activated by a short-term fluctuation in a securities price. The key is picking a stop-loss percentage that allows a security to fluctuate day-to-day while preventing as much downside risk as possible. Setting a 5% stop-loss on a security that has a history of fluctuating 10% or more is not the best strategy: you will most likely just lose money on the commissions generated from the execution of your stop-loss orders. There are no hard and fast rules for the level at which stops should be placed.

This totally depends on your individual investing style: an active trader might use 5% while a long term investor might choose 15% or more. Another thing to keep in mind is that once your stop price is reached, your stop order is a market order, the price at which you sell may be much different from the stop price. This is especially true in a fast-moving market where stock prices can change rapidly. Not just for Preventing Losses Stop loss orders are traditionally thought of as a way to prevent losses. (After all, it's called a "stop loss" for a reason.) Another use of this tool, though, is to lock-in profits, in which case it is sometimes referred to as a trailing stop.

In all forms of long-term investing and short-term trading, deciding the appropriate time to exit a position is just as important as, if not more important than, determining the best time to enter into your position. Buying (or selling, in the case of a short position) is a relatively less emotional action than selling (or buying, in the case of a short position). When you enter a position, the potential for realized profits is but a dream and the possibility of losses is only a vaguely considered nightmare.

By contrast, when it comes time to exit the position your profits are staring you directly in the face, but perhaps they are telling you that there is potential for even greater profitability if you were just to ride the tide and exercise a little bit more patience. In the unthinkable case of paper losses, your heart tells you to hold tight, to wait until your losses reverse and the passage of time brings you into a profitable position once again. But such emotional responses are hardly the best means by which to make your selling (or buying) decisions. They are purely unscientific, and the presence of emotion brings you as far from a disciplined trading system as can be imagined.

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