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Stock Market Limit Orders Explained

May 31, 2008
Investing in stocks and trading stocks is very easy now that it can all be done online without ever picking up the phone. But to do it right, you need to be aware of some of the different options you have. When you log into your online account to buy or sell a stock, you will be presented with a choice of what type of order you want to place. The standard options are "market", "limit", "stop", and "stop limit". Most of the time you will probably pick the "market" option as that just means you want to get the market price for your stock. In other words, you want to get whatever price is the going price at the moment you are placing the order.

There is the "limit" option that can be quite handy and a big time saver if you want to get more specific with your order. When you want to either buy or sell a stock at a specific price, that is when you will want to use the "limit" option. Let's say as an example that you have 200 shares of XYZ Corp and you bought those shares at $10.00. Right now the price of the stock is $14.12 which means you have a gain of $4.12 per share but you were hoping the stock would go to $15.00 where you would then be happy to sell it.

The "limit" option is great for this type of situation. Rather than wait around all day monitoring the stock every 5 minutes to see if it is getting closer to $15, all you need to do is place a "limit" order to sell your stock at $15.00. That means, if the price of the stock ever hits the $15.00 price for that day, your order to sell will be automatically initiated and the sale will be made. On the other hand, if the stock never reach that $15.00 mark, nothing will happen and no sale will be made. You can then do the same thing the next day if you like.

A similar trading option can be done on the low side. If your stock is dropping and you want to make sure you get out at a certain price, you can place your order to sell if the stock goes down and hits that price. That way, you will protect yourself from losing more if your stock continues to drop. You will want to make this kind of trade when you are unsure what a stock is going to do but you want to make sure you get out at a predetermined point. If you set a price in your mind ahead of time as the point you want to sell, it can help prevent you from making rash decisions based on emotions. When the stock market drops it is sometimes easy to panic and sell based on fear alone and not rational thought.

Stock market investing is complicated for a beginner because of all the different terminology and options. Once you learn what everything means and start making some trades though, it is not as hard as you might think.
About the Author
Stocks for beginners can be confusing if you are just starting out. Please visit Stock Market For Beginners to get your investing questions answered and to learn more about how you can begin investing in the stock market.
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