Shorting a Stock

If the shares rally to $100 each, you’d have to buy them back for $1,000 for a loss of $900. This, in theory, can go on indefinitely, and the longer you wait for the stock price to fall again, the longer you’re paying interest on those borrowed shares. Its shares are the most shorted at 47.66% float, based on August data.

Shorting a Stock

Online trading has inherent risk due to system response and access times that may vary due to market conditions, system performance, and other factors. An investor should understand these and additional risks before trading. Carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing.

Plan your trading

The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision. Shorting a Stock As with any trade, you should identify your entry and exit points before you begin. You may also want to consider entering a stop order to help limit your losses in the event the trade moves against you.

Do you own a stock after you short?

Money can be made in the equities markets without actually owning any shares of stock. Short selling involves borrowing stock you do not own, selling the borrowed stock, and then buying and returning the stock only if and when the price drops.

Borrowing a stock—the first step in the strategy—incurs additional fees. To short a stock, a trader initiates a position by first borrowing shares from a broker before immediately selling that position in the market to other buyers. This can lead to the possibility that a short seller will be subject to a margin call in the event the security price moves higher. A margin call would require a short seller to deposit additional funds into the account to supplement the original margin balance. In addition, you’ll have to pay a “cost of borrow” for the stock, which may be a few percent a year on your total loan, though it could be much higher.

Ideal Conditions for Short Selling

72% of retail client accounts lose money when trading CFDs, with this investment provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how this product works, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. The longer you wait for a trade to become profitable, the more interest you must pay on your margin account—and the more risk you take on in the event the price continues to go up. You may also need to add more money into your margin account to avoid what’s known as a margin call—when the value of the securities in your account fall below a certain level. The most obvious risk with short selling is that the price of an asset goes up when a trader expects it to go down.

Here’s a closer look at how it works—and what to consider before taking the plunge. John Maynard Keynes was an influential British economist whose economic theories are still in use today. However, Keynes was quoted as saying, “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent,” which is particularly apt for short selling.


In a traditional stock purchase, the most you can lose is the amount you paid for the shares, but the upside potential is theoretically limitless. When you short a stock, it’s the opposite — gains are maxed out at the total value of the shorted stock if the stock price falls to $0, but your losses are theoretically limitless, because the stock price can rise indefinitely. In other words, it’s a high-risk maneuver that could possibly yield high returns in exchange for taking on exceptional risk. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission or CFTC) publishes the Commitments of Traders (COT) reports to help the public understand market dynamics. Specifically, the COT reports provide a breakdown of each Tuesday’s open interest for futures and options on futures markets in which 20 or more traders hold positions equal to or above the reporting levels established by the CFTC. The CFTC releases the weekly COT reports in static format to support the historical usage patterns of industry professionals viewing and accessing each week’s data.

“Most investors think of risk being only on the downside,” said CFP Matt Canine, senior wealth strategist with East Paces Group in Atlanta. “When you buy a stock outright, your losses are finite — if you buy at $100 and it goes to zero, you lost $100. Retail investors, led by those in the WallStreetBets Reddit chat room, have been piling into Gamestop, AMC Entertainment and other stocks that hedge funds were counting on going lower.

Naked short selling restrictions

Once the short position has been entered, it serves to balance the long position taken earlier. Thus, from that point in time, the profit is locked in (less brokerage fees and short financing costs), regardless of further fluctuations in the underlying share price. For example, one can ensure a profit in this way, while delaying sale until the subsequent tax year.