How to buy short stock: Short Selling: How To Short Sell Stocks




Supporting documentation for any claims , comparisons, statistics, or other technical data, if applicable, will be supplied upon request. Tastylive is not a licensed financial adviser, registered investment adviser, or a registered broker-dealer. Options, futures, and futures options are not suitable for all investors. If the stock price falls, you’ll close the short position by buying the amount of borrowed shares at the lower price, then return them to the brokerage.

The short sale was only made possible by borrowing the shares, which may not always be available if the stock is already heavily shorted by other traders. When it reaches $40.00, you decide to close the positions to ensure that you lock in profits. Having borrowed 10 shares at $50.00 each to sell, you shorted them for $500.00 in total. One of those market signals is called short interest — the number of open short positions reported by brokerage firms on a given date. High short interest indicates negative sentiment about a stock, which may attract more short sellers. Short selling can be lucrative, but it can take nerves of steel to weather the rise of the stock market.

There are significant limitations to shorting low-priced stocks, for example. To prevent further panic during the 2008 financial crisis, the SEC temporarily prohibited naked short selling of banks and similar institutions that were the focus of rapidly declining share prices. Naked short selling is the shorting of stocks that you do not own. Naked short selling can go very wrong in a number of ways and end up harming the unsuspecting person on the other side of the trade, which is why it’s banned in the U.S. The naked short seller may fail to purchase shares within the clearing window, or they may be forced to close their short trade by a margin call before they get ahold of the shares.

You’ll have to come up with the $4,000, perhaps from a margin account, and you’re still on the hook for the cost of borrow and any dividends paid. Because short sales are sold on margin, relatively small losses can lead to ever larger margin calls. If a margin call cannot be met, the holder of the short position must buy back their shares at ever higher prices. Besides the previously mentioned risk of losing money on a trade from a stock’s price rising, short selling has additional risks that investors should consider. For example, you enter a short position on 100 shares of stock XYZ at $80, but instead of falling, the stock rises to $100.

That being said, short selling through exchange-traded funds is a somewhat safer strategy due to the lower risk of a short squeeze. Let’s look at some key factors in how shorting stocks outright compares to using options contracts to short sell stocks. Aside from these two methods, companies can also take more technical forms of action to dissuade market participants from shorting their stock.

Just remember you’re paying interest on those borrowed shares for as long as you hold them, and you’ll need to maintain the margin requirements throughout the period, too. Short selling is when a trader borrows shares from a broker and immediately sells them with the expectation that the share price will fall shortly after. If it does, the trader can buy the shares back at the lower price, return them to the broker, and keep the difference, minus any loan interest, as profit. And short sellers bring another positive to the market, too, Johnson says.

A tool for your strategy

This process is often facilitated behind the scenes by one’s broker. If there are not many shares available for shorting (i.e., hard to borrow), then the interest costs to sell short will be higher. Sometimes short selling is criticized, and short sellers are viewed as ruthless operators out to destroy companies. However, the reality is that short selling provides liquidity—meaning enough sellers and buyers—to markets and can help prevent bad stocks from rising on hype and over-optimism. Evidence of this benefit can be seen in asset bubbles that disrupt the market. Assets that lead to bubbles such as the mortgage-backed security market before the 2008 financial crisis are frequently difficult or nearly impossible to short.


Technical traders and analysts often look at a stock’s short interest and other ratios involving short positions to inform trading ideas. However, large short positions can become squeezed due to margin calls. The buying that is required to close short positions can force prices higher and accelerate a rally, making losses to shorts even more severe. Tastylive content is created, produced, and provided solely by tastylive, Inc. (“tastylive”) and is for informational and educational purposes only. Trading securities, futures products, and digital assets involve risk and may result in a loss greater than the original amount invested. Tastylive, through its content, financial programming or otherwise, does not provide investment or financial advice or make investment recommendations.

What are the risks of shorting a stock?

Investors who sell short believe the price of the stock will decrease in value. If the price drops, you can buy the stock at the lower price and make a profit. If the price of the stock rises and you buy it back later at the higher price, you will incur a loss. The primary risk of shorting a stock is that it will actually increase in value, resulting in a loss. The potential price appreciation of a stock is theoretically unlimited and, therefore, there is no limit to the potential loss of a short position.

However, Keynes was quoted as saying, “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent,” which is particularly apt for short selling. The optimal time for short selling is when there is a confluence of the above factors. A stock’s fundamentals can deteriorate for any number of reasons—slowing revenue or profit growth, increasing challenges to the business, rising input costs that are putting pressure on margins, and so on. History has shown that, in general, stocks have an upward drift. For that matter, even if a company barely improves over the years, inflation or the rate of price increase in the economy should drive its stock price up somewhat. This means that shorting is betting against the overall direction of the market.

Why short a stock?

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In addition, short sellers sometimes have to deal with another situation that forces them to close their positions unexpectedly. If a stock is a popular target of short sellers, it can be hard to locate shares to borrow. If the shareholder who lends the stock to the short seller wants those shares back, you’ll have to cover the short — your broker will force you to repurchase the shares before you want to.

A short squeeze happens when a stock begins to rise, and short sellers cover their trades by buying their short positions back. Demand for the shares attracts more buyers, which pushes the stock higher, causing even more short sellers to buy back or cover their positions. With short selling, a seller opens a short position by borrowing shares, usually from a broker-dealer, hoping to buy them back for a profit if the price declines.

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The biggest risk involved with short selling is that if the stock price rises dramatically, you might have difficulty covering the losses involved. Theoretically, shorting can produce unlimited losses — after all, there’s not an upper limit to how high a stock’s price can climb. While some have criticized short selling as a bet against the market, many economists believe that the ability to sell short makes markets more efficient and can actually be a stabilizing force.

It is the exact opposite of owning 100 shares of stock, except there is no cap to how high a stock price can go, which is important to keep in mind. In order to short sell at Fidelity, you must have a margin account. Short selling and margin trading entail greater risk, including, but not limited to, risk of unlimited losses and incurrence of margin interest debt, and are not suitable for all investors. Please assess your financial circumstances and risk tolerance before short selling or trading on margin.

Each wave of purchases causes the stock’s price to surge higher, hurting anyone holding onto a short position. An example of short selling stock can provide some clarity on what putting theory into practice might look like. Let’s go through an example of shorting 10 shares of Company XYZ stock at $50.00 each. There are risks involved in short-selling stocks, such as unlimited loss, being caught in a short squeeze and unborrowable stocks. A “short” position is generally the sale of a stock you do not own.

As the hard-to-borrow rate can fluctuate substantially from day to day and even on an intraday basis, the exact dollar amount of the fee may not be known in advance. The Charles Schwab Corporation provides a full range of brokerage, banking and financial advisory services through its operating subsidiaries. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. , offers investment services and products, including Schwab brokerage accounts. Its banking subsidiary, Charles Schwab Bank, SSB , provides deposit and lending services and products. Access to Electronic Services may be limited or unavailable during periods of peak demand, market volatility, systems upgrade, maintenance, or for other reasons.

Since shorting involves borrowing shares of stock you don’t own and selling them, a decline in the share price will let you buy back the shares with less money than you originally received when you sold them. Investing and owning physical shares, as well as long trading positions, have increased potential of profit in bull markets. Short selling – which is also referred to as ‘going short’ or ‘being short’ – is often employed in stocks experiencing a bear market. Shorting can also be used to hedge portfolio risk in cases where particular stocks have a strong correlation with another underlying. The risks of loss from investing in CFDs can be substantial and the value of your investments may fluctuate. 75% of retail client accounts lose money when trading CFDs, with this investment provider.