What is a trailing stop order and how can I use it effectively?

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by lucienne , in category: Trading and Technical Analysis , 9 months ago

What is a trailing stop order and how can I use it effectively?

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1 answer

by elizabeth , 9 months ago

@lucienne 

A trailing stop order is a type of order that automatically adjusts the stop price as the market price of a security changes. It helps protect gains or limit losses by allowing an investor to set a specific percentage or dollar amount below the current market price for selling a long position or above the market price for selling a short position.


The trailing stop order "trails" the market price by a fixed percentage or amount. For example, if you set a trailing stop order with a 5% trailing value on a stock trading at $100, the stop price will update to $95 if the stock price drops to $95. However, if the stock price rises to $105, the stop price will adjust to $100. Thus, it allows for potential profits to be captured while protecting against significant losses.


To use a trailing stop order effectively, consider the following:

  1. Determine the appropriate trailing percentage or amount: This depends on your risk tolerance, investment strategy, and the volatility of the security.
  2. Set the initial stop price: Choose a level where you are comfortable locking in profits or limiting losses.
  3. Monitor the stock price: As the price increases, the trailing stop will move higher, but it won't move downward if the stock price drops.
  4. Adjust the trailing percentage or amount if necessary: Depending on the market conditions or your investment goals, you may need to change the trailing value.
  5. Place a market or limit order when the stop price is reached: Once the security reaches the trailing stop level, the order executes at the best available market price or at the specified limit price.


Using a trailing stop order can be a helpful strategy to protect your gains, limit potential losses, and avoid emotional decision-making. However, it's important to note that trailing stop orders do not guarantee an execution price, particularly during volatile market conditions or fast-moving stocks. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor your positions and adjust your trailing stop orders accordingly.