How to Spread Bet

Trading the financial markets is no longer just for city professionals, bankers and brokers.

You can use Spread Betting to speculate on the future direction of market prices, enabling you to potentially profit, irrespective of whether market prices are rising or falling.

Financial Spread Betting

Financial Spread Betting allows investors to speculate on price movements in underlying financial markets like Forex, Indices, Shares and Commodities. When you place a financial Spread Bet, you are in essence betting on the performance of an underlying asset and speculating whether the price of that asset will rise or fall. Online financial Spread Betting has lowered the cost of entry and opened up the world of financial markets to more people than ever before.

How to get started

  1. Choose a market
    Decide which market you want to trade on. You can get trading inspiration through our fundamental and technical analysis research portal
  2. Decide to buy or sell
    Click 'buy' if you think the price will increase in value or 'sell' if you think the price will fall in value
  3. Select your stake size
    Choose how many pounds per point you wish to stake. A stake of £5 means you will win or lose £5 for every point the market falls or rises in your favour
  4. Add a stop loss
    A stop loss is an order to close your position out at a certain price if it moves too far against you. It's not compulsory, but will give you peace of mind and is a key tool in a trader's risk management strategy
  5. Monitor and closing your trade
    Once you have placed your trade, you see your profit/loss update in real time. You can exit your trade by clicking the close trade button

Spread Betting steps explained

Choose a market
With over 4,000 Spread Betting markets to choose from across indices, shares, FX and commodities, picking a market and trading opportunity that's right for you is important.

City Index's research tools can help you spot trading opportunities that suit your trading style.

Once you have chosen the market you would like to trade on using the search function in the platform or app, it's now time to place your trade. Learn more about spotting trading opportunities.

Decide to buy or sell
Once you have selected a market, you need to know the current price it is trading at. You can do this by bringing up an order ticket in the platform.

What is a spread? 

Market prices are always quoted with two figures, a sell and a buy price. The first price is the sell price (known as the bid) and the second price is the buy price (known as the offer). The difference between the buy price and the sell price is known as the spread. In the example below based on the UK 100, the quoted sell price is 6800.5 and the buy price is 6801.5, the difference between the two is 1pt and this reflects the current spread for this market.

UK 100 1pt spread

Put simply, if you believe a market price will go up, you buy that market (known as going long). If you believe it will fall, you sell the market (going short).

What is a stake size?
When you spread bet you decide how many pounds you wish to stake per point movement of the market you wish to trade. For example, a stake of £5 means for every point the market moves in your favour, you make £5. Conversely, if the market moves against you, you would lose £5 for every point the market moves against you.

Spread Betting is a leveraged product which means that you are only required to initially deposit a small amount of money to place a trade. However, the higher the stake, the more money you need as a deposit (known as margin) to place that trade. It is important therefore that you make sure you have enough funds to place the trade.

For example, if the UK 100 was trading at 6801.5, retail clients would require 5% of margin to open a trade and Professional clients would require 0.25%. The margin requirement is calculated as:

Stake size

This means that to trade £5 per point on the UK100 you need to have a minimum of £1700.40 in your account. It is also equally important that you have enough funds in your account to help cover any likely price moves for the duration of your trade. Learn more about how margin works.

Adding a stop loss or placing a limit order
An order is an instruction to automatically close your trade at a point in the future when prices reach a specific level predetermined by you. You can utilise stop and limit orders to help ensure that you lock in your profits and minimise your risk when your respective profit and risk targets are reached.

A stop loss order

A stop loss order is an instruction to close out a trade at a price worse than the current market level and, as the name suggests, is used to help minimise losses. City Index offer different types of stop loss orders.

A standard stop loss order, once triggered, closes the trade at the best available price. There is a risk therefore that the closing price could be different from the order level if market prices gap.

UK 100 stop order

A guaranteed stop loss however, for which a small premium is charged upon execution, guarantees to close your trade at the stop loss level you have determined, regardless of any market gapping.

What is a limit order? 

A limit order is an instruction to close out a trade at a price that is better than the current market level and is used to help lock in profit targets.

UK 100 limit order

Standard stop losses and limit orders are free to place and can be implemented in the dealing ticket when you first place your trade or attached to a trade after you have opened it. Learn more about risk management.

How to monitor your trade

  • Having placed your trade and closing orders, your open profit and loss will now fluctuate with each move in the market price.
  • You can track market prices, add new trades or close existing trades from your computer or app on your smartphone and tablet
  • Placing a stop loss or guaranteed stop loss means you will not have to constantly monitor your trades for sharp price movements 
  • Stop loss orders will close out your position at a price specified by you

Closing your trade
When you are ready to close your trade, you need to do the opposite to what you did when you opened your position. Select the 'close position' option within the positions window. By closing the trade, your net open profit and loss will be realised and immediately reflected in your account cash balance.

This will be done for you if your stop loss or limit order is automatically triggered. Of course if you manually close your position your stop loss will be cancelled.

Review the Spread Betting examples to see how Spread Betting works in practice.

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