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Traders should only attempt spread betting after they've gained sufficient market experience, know the right assets to choose, and have perfected their timing. Long-Arm Regulatory Risk. Government of the U. City Index by Gain Capital. Hedge Funds Investing. Trading Instruments. Your Money. Personal Finance. Your Practice. Popular Courses. Table of Contents Expand. What Is Spread Betting?
Technical Analysis Strategies. Spread Betting Around Corporate Actions. Structuring Entry and Exit. News-Based Strategies. Arbitrage Opportunities. The Bottom Line. Key Takeaways Spread betting lets people speculate on the direction of a financial market or other activity without actually owning the underlying security; they simply bet on its price movement. There are several strategies used in spread betting, from trend following to news-based wagers.
Other traders look to capitalize on rare arbitrage opportunities by taking multiple positions in mispriced markets and putting them back in line. Article Sources. Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts.
We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy. Compare Accounts.
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. Related Articles. Partner Links. Related Terms Long Put A long put refers to buying a put option, typically in anticipation of a decline in the underlying asset. Betting on a Modest Drop: The Bear Put Spread A bear put spread is a bearish options strategy used to profit from a moderate decline in the price of an asset.
Investors align with the bid price if they believe the market will rise and go with the ask if they believe it will fall. Key characteristics of spread betting include the use of leverage, the ability to go both long and short, the wide variety of markets available, and tax benefits. If spread betting sounds like something you might do in a sports bar, you're not far off.
Charles K. McNeil, a mathematics teacher who became a securities analyst—and later a bookmaker—in Chicago during the s has been widely credited with inventing the spread-betting concept. But its origins as an activity for professional financial-industry traders happened roughly 30 years later, on the other side of the Atlantic.
At the time, the gold market was prohibitively difficult to participate in for many, and spread betting provided an easier way to speculate on it. Let's use a practical example to illustrate the pros and cons of this derivative market and the mechanics of placing a bet. First, we'll take an example in the stock market, and then we'll look at an equivalent spread bet.
Note here several important points. Also, normally commissions would be charged to enter and exit the stock market trade. Finally, the profit may be subject to capital gains tax and stamp duty. Now, let's look at a comparable spread bet. The value of a point can vary. In this case, we will assume that one point equals a one pence change, up or down, in the Vodaphone share price.
In the U. However, while spread bettors do not pay commissions, they may suffer from the bid-offer spread, which may be substantially wider than the spread in other markets. Keep in mind also that the bettor has to overcome the spread just to break even on a trade. Generally, the more popular the security traded, the tighter the spread, lowering the entry cost.
In addition to the absence of commissions and taxes, the other major benefit of spread betting is that the required capital outlay is dramatically lower. The use of leverage works both ways, of course, and herein lies the danger of spread betting. While you can quickly make a large amount of money on a relatively small deposit, you can lose it just as fast. If the price of Vodaphone fell in the above example, the bettor may eventually have been asked to increase the deposit or even have had the position closed out automatically.
In such a situation, stock market traders have the advantage of being able to wait out a down move in the market, if they still believe the price is eventually heading higher. Despite the risk that comes with the use of high leverage, spread betting offers effective tools to limit losses.
Risk can also be mitigated by the use of arbitrage, betting two ways simultaneously. Arbitrage opportunities arise when the prices of identical financial instruments vary in different markets or among different companies.
As a result, the financial instrument can be bought low and sold high simultaneously. An arbitrage transaction takes advantage of these market inefficiencies to gain risk-free returns. Due to widespread access to information and increased communication, opportunities for arbitrage in spread betting and other financial instruments have been limited.
However, spread betting arbitrage can still occur when two companies take separate stances on the market while setting their own spreads. At the expense of the market maker, an arbitrageur bets on spreads from two different companies. Simply put, the trader buys low from one company and sells high in another.
Whether the market increases or decreases does not dictate the amount of return. Failure to complete transactions smoothly can lead to significant losses for the arbitrageur.
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