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Margin Trading

What Is Margin?

In finance, the margin is the collateral that an investor has to deposit with their broker or an exchange to cover the credit risk the holder poses for the broker or the exchange. An investor can create credit risk if they borrow cash from the broker to buy financial instruments, borrow financial instruments to sell them short, or enter into a derivative contract.

Buying on margin occurs when an investor buys an asset by borrowing the balance from a broker. Buying on margin refers to the initial payment made to the broker for the asset; the investor uses the marginable securities in their brokerage account as collateral.

In a general business context, the margin is the difference between a product or service's selling price and the cost of production, or the ratio of profit to revenue. Margin can also refer to the portion of the interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) added to the adjustment-index rate.

Understanding Margin


Margin refers to the amount of equity an investor has in their brokerage account. "To margin" or "buying on margin" means to use money borrowed from a broker to purchase securities. You must have a margin account to do so, rather than a standard brokerage account. A margin account is a brokerage account in which the broker lends the investor money to buy more securities than what they could otherwise buy with the balance in their account.


Using margin to purchase securities is effectively like using the current cash or securities already in your account as collateral for a loan. The collateralized loan comes with a periodic interest rate that must be paid. The investor is using borrowed money, or leverage, and therefore both the losses and gains will be magnified as a result. Margin investing can be advantageous in cases where the investor anticipates earning a higher rate of return on the investment than what he is paying in interest on the loan.


For example, if you have an initial margin requirement of 60% for your margin account, and you want to purchase $10,000 worth of securities, then your margin would be $6,000, and you could borrow the rest from the broker.

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Buying on Margin


Buying on margin is borrowing money from a broker in order to purchase stock. You can think of it as a loan from your brokerage. Margin trading allows you to buy more stock than you'd be able to normally. To trade on margin, you need a margin account. This is different from a regular cash account, in which you trade using the money in the account.

By law, your broker is required to obtain your consent to open a margin account. The margin account may be part of your standard account opening agreement or may be a completely separate agreement. An initial investment of at least $2,000 is required for a margin account, though some brokerages require more. This deposit is known as the minimum margin.

Once the account is opened and operational, you can borrow up to 50% of the purchase price of a stock. This portion of the purchase price that you deposit is known as the initial margin. It's essential to know that you don't have to margin all the way up to 50%. You can borrow less, say 10% or 25%. Be aware that some brokerages require you to deposit more than 50% of the purchase price.


There is also a restriction called the maintenance margin, which is the minimum account balance you must maintain before your broker will force you to deposit more funds or sell stock to pay down your loan. When this happens, it's known as a margin call. A margin call is effectively a demand from your brokerage for you to add money to your account or close out positions to bring your account back to the required level. If you do not meet the margin call, your brokerage firm can close out any open positions in order to bring the account back up to the minimum value. Your brokerage firm can do this without your approval and can choose which position(s) to liquidate.


In addition, your brokerage firm can charge you a commission for the transaction(s). You are responsible for any losses sustained during this process, and your brokerage firm may liquidate enough shares or contracts to exceed the initial margin requirement.


A Buying Power Example


To keep up with all things Wix, including website building tips and interesting articles, head over to to the WLet's say that you deposit $10,000 in your margin account. Because you put up 50% of the purchase price, this means you have $20,000 worth of buying power. Then, if you buy $5,000 worth of stock, you still have $15,000 in buying power remaining. You have enough cash to cover this transaction and haven't tapped into your margin. You start borrowing the money only when you buy securities worth more than $10,000.


Note that the buying power of a margin account changes daily depending on the price movement of the marginable securities in the account.ix Blog. You may even find yourself inspired to start crafting your own blog, adding unique content, and stunning images and videos. Start creating your own blog now. Good luck!


What is a margin call?


A margin call is a scenario in which a broker who had previously extended a margin loan to an investor sends a notice to that investor asking them to increase the amount of collateral in their margin account. When faced with a margin call, investors often need to deposit additional cash into their account, sometimes by selling other securities. If the investor refuses to do so, the broker has the right to forcefully sell the investor’s positions in order to raise the necessary funds. Many investors fear margin calls because they can force investors to sell positions at unfavorable prices.


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