Margin Wisely

Margin Wisely

Any broker you consider will likely have a minimum account size, also known as account margin or initial margin available to traders. Once you have deposited your money into the account you will be able to begin trading. The broker will also stipulate how much equity they require per position, or lot, traded. Always make sure that you know how your margin account is going to work.

Read the margin agreement between you and your clearing firm carefully. Remember, a margin account is basically a loan. The margin agreement will describe how the interest on that loan is calculated, how you are responsible for repaying the loan, and how the securities you purchase serve as collateral for the loan. Carefully review the agreement to determine what notice, if any, your firm must give you before selling your securities to collect the money you have borrowed. Talk to your account representative if you have any questions.

Trading currencies on margin greatly increases your buying power. If you have $5,000 cash in a margin account that allows 100:1 leverage, you could purchase up to $500,000 worth of currency – because you only have to post 1% of the purchase price as collateral. This is particularly useful in the FOREX market, where traders work with small price changes to realize profits. But the FOREX market is a volatile market, and positions can quickly move against a trader. This is when the high margin rates can create spectacular losses.

If the market moves against you, the positions that you have in your account could be partially or completely liquidated if the available margin in your account falls below your maintenance level. Always remember that your broker may not berequired to make a margin call, and even if your agreement states that they do, they may not wait for you to respond to the call. Because of this, you should monitor your margin balance on a regular basis and utilize stop-loss orders on every open position to limit risk. With care, margin can be a powerful and lucrative tool. Used wisely, as part of a carefully thought out approach to trading, it makes the FOREX market work for small traders.

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