A Guide to Day Trading on Margin

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A Guide to Day Trading on Margin

Margin trading is very risky. Margin trading should be attempted only if you fully comprehend your possible losses and have appropriate risk management methods in place.

Margin enables traders to leverage their buying power into greater bets than their cash balances would otherwise allow. Traders may increase both rewards and possible losses by borrowing money from their broker to trade in greater amounts.

Day trading is purchasing and selling the same stocks many times during trading hours in the hopes of capturing rapid gains from price movement. Day trading is dangerous since it is based on changes in stock values on a single day, and it may result in significant losses in a very short amount of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Trading on margin enables you to borrow money from your broker in order to buy more shares than your cash balance would allow. Short-selling is also possible with margin trading.
  • Margin allows you to magnify your potential returns—as well as your losses—making it a dangerous pastime.
  • Margin calls and maintenance margin are necessary, which may result in significant losses if a deal goes bad.

Margin and Day Trading

Buying on margin is a method that allows people to trade even if they don’t have the necessary quantity of cash on hand. Purchasing on margin increases a trader’s buying power by enabling them to purchase for more than they have in cash; the gap is covered by a brokerage business at interest.

The hazards are amplified when these two instruments are combined in the form of day trading on margin. And, according to the adage, “the larger the risk, the higher the potential return,” the rewards may be multiplied many times over. However, there are no promises.

A day trade is defined by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as “the purchase and sale of the same security on the same day in a margin account.” A day trade also includes short-selling and buying to cover the same security on the same day, as well as options.

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When it comes to day trading, some people do it periodically and have different margin needs than others who are considered “pattern day traders.” Let us define these words, as well as the FINRA margin regulations and standards.

A pattern day trader is someone who conducts four or more day transactions within five business days, provided one of two conditions are met:

  1. Day trades account for more than 6% of his overall transactions in the margin account during the same five-day period.
  2. Within 90 days, the individual makes two unfulfilled day trading calls. A non-pattern day trader’s account experiences day trading only on rare occasions.

A non-pattern day trader account will be labeled as a pattern day trader account if any of the following requirements are satisfied. However, if a pattern day trader’s account does not make any day trades for 60 days in a row, its classification is changed to non-pattern day trader.

Margin Requirements

To trade on margin, investors must deposit enough cash or suitable assets with a brokerage company to fulfill the first margin requirement. Investors may borrow up to 50% of the entire cost of purchase on margin, with the remaining 50% deposited by the trader as the first margin requirement, according to the Fed’s Regulation T.

A pattern day trader’s maintenance margin needs are much greater than those of a non-pattern day trader. A pattern day trader’s minimum equity requirement is $25,000 (or 25% of the total market value of assets, whichever is greater), whereas a non-pattern day trader’s is $2,000. Every day trading account must fulfill this criteria separately, rather than through cross-guaranteeing various accounts. When an account falls below the specified amount of $25,000, further trading is prohibited until the account is refilled.

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Margin Calls

If your account goes below the maintenance margin amount, you will get an amargin call. A margin call is a request from your brokerage for you to deposit funds or sell down holdings in order to bring your account back up to the necessary level.

If you fail to make the margin call, your brokerage company may shut down any active positions in order to restore the account to the minimal amount. Your brokerage company has the authority to liquidate positions without your permission.

Furthermore, your brokerage business may charge you a transaction commission (s).You are liable for any losses incurred during this procedure, and your brokerage business may liquidate sufficient shares or contracts to surpass the original margin requirement.

Margin Buying Power

A pattern day trader’s purchasing power is four times the surplus of the previous day’s maintenance margin (for example, if an account has $35,000 after the previous day’s transaction, the excess here is $10,000 since this amount is more than the minimum requirement of $25,000. This equates to $40,000 in purchasing power (4 x $10,000). If this amount is surpassed, the trader will be given a day trading margin call by the brokerage business.

The margin call must be met within five business days. During this moment, day trading purchasing power is limited to twice the maintenance margin excess. If the margin is not reached within the specified time period, continued trading is only permitted on a cash available basis for 90 days, or until the call is fulfilled.

Example of Trading on Margin

Assume a trader has $20,000 more than the required maintenance margin. This gives the trader $80,000 in day trading purchasing power (4 x $20,000). If a trader purchases $80,000 of PQR Corp at 9:45 a.m. and $60,000 of XYZ Corp at 10.05 a.m. on the same day, he has surpassed his purchasing power limit. Even if he later sells both during the afternoon deal, he will be charged a day trading margin call the next day. The trader, however, might have avoided the margin call by selling PQR Corp before purchasing XYZ Corp.

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Although brokers must adhere to the regulatory authorities’ guidelines, they do have the authority to make modest changes to the guidelines known as “house requirements.” A broker-dealer may categorize a client as a pattern day trader by include them in their larger definition. Brokerages may also impose greater margin requirements or limit purchasing power. As a result, depending on the broker-dealer you choose to trade with, there may be differences.

The Bottom Line

Day trading on margin is a dangerous endeavor that should not be attempted by inexperienced traders. People with day trading expertise must also exercise caution while employing margin. Using margin provides traders more purchasing power; nevertheless, it should be utilized with caution for day trading so that traders do not suffer large losses. Limiting yourself to the margin account limitations might prevent margin calls and hence the need for more cash. If this is your first time attempting day trading, avoid using a margin account.

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