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Online Trading Tips

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by Sam McNeill

A stop loss is a pre-determined price that we use as the trigger to sell out of a losing trade. If the share price falls instead of rising then we sell and we sell at a pre-determined price to ensure that we minimise losses. We need to have a stop loss price because not all trades succeed – some fail. Even the best trading techniques struggle to deliver a success rate of more than 70%. Therefore even using some of the best trading techniques we will still end up with two or three losing trades out of every ten. For these losing trades we must keep our losses really really small.

Another way of thinking about share trading is that any trade can only have one of five possible outcomes:


A large profit.

A small loss.

A large loss.

A small loss.

Five possible outcomes, no more, no less. Every trade that you ever do will result in one of these five outcomes. If you had the choice of eliminating one of these five outcomes, you would certainly choose to eliminate the large loss. Eliminating the large loss only leaves the other four possible outcomes. If our small losses, breakeven trades and small profits even out over a period of time we will only be left with the occasional rather pleasing large profit.

We use the Stop Loss to eliminate any large losses because it is clearly a very sensible thing to do.

Our Stop Loss Rule has three parts:

1. Always have your Stop Loss in place for every single trade that you do.

2. Set the Stop Loss price at a level where your loss will be 2% of your trading capital.

3. When your Stop Loss price is hit then you must sell. No waiting one more day hoping that your trade turns into an “overnight success”.

For those new to share trading, and maybe some not so new, the most difficult part of this rule is part 3, selling when your stop loss price is hit. It’s the most difficult part of the rule because it brings into play your emotions. And of course our ego pops up and it just hates admitting that we were wrong about anything! Despite this huge emotional drag not to sell – sell we must. When your stop loss price is hit you sell. This simple and straight forward rule protects your hard earned cash.

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