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What is CFD Trading?

What is a CFD?

A contract for difference, otherwise known as a CFD, is an agreement between two parties (investor and CFD provider) to exchange the difference between the opening and closing price of a contract. CFDs are derivative products that allow investors to make assessments of rising and falling markets, including forex, indices, metals, commodities, treasuries and shares with ADS Securities London.

CFDs are free from stamp duty and they are a leveraged product that can be used as a hedging device to offset losses incurred in your physical portfolio of shares. Through ADS Securities London, you will have access to some of the tightest spreads, lowest margins and competitive commission rates.

How to trade CFDs

In the same way as traditional trading, there will be a bid and an offer price. In order to complete a round turn, both a buy and sell action must occur.

If you anticipate that the value of a market will increase, you will BUY to open and later SELL to close. If you close at a higher price than the opening, then you will make a profit, however if you close at a lower price then you will make a loss. When you SELL to open, then it would be the same process however the opposite way around. Therefore you would be aiming to BUY back at a lower price than the one that you opened at in order to be profitable on the trade.

A CFD will be traded in the underlying currency of the symbol, unless otherwise specified on our market information sheet.

For single stocks in CFDs, 1 lot would represent 100 shares so it would make or lose the client £1 per pence movement in UK shares and $1 per cent movement in US shares.

Example of an Index CFD trade

There is a major data event in the US, you anticipate that US indices should rally following this event and you want to buy 10 US30 CFDs at the offer price of 16369.73. Each point movement will equate to a 10 USD profit or loss, 1 USD per CFD.

Assuming 200:1 leverage, the margin required to open this position is (16369.73*10)/200 = 818.49 USD

Huge volatility is expected following the release of the data. You do not set a stop-loss or take-profit orders, but instead you intend to close the position shortly after the data release event.

When the data is released, there is major buying activity and a subsequent increase in the value of the index. The market bid price is now quoted at 16600.00 and you decide to close your position.

To calculate your profit, you calculate the difference between the opening and closing price, multiplied by the number of CFDs you held.

(16600 – 16369.73) * 10 CFDs = 2302.70 USD

Calculating Margin

CFDs are a leveraged product so you are able to enter a trade with greater exposure than you would do if you were to hold the actual stock. Whilst this can result in significantly larger gains if the market moves in your favour, you need to consider that if the market moves against you, it will increase your potential losses accordingly.

When the margin requirement is given as a percentage, you need to multiply the price by the quantity, then multiply by the margin percentage to give the required margin.

When the margin is given as a ratio e.g. 500:1, multiply the price by the quantity and then divide by the leverage.

For example if Vodafone are trading at 225 pence per share and you buy 100 CFDs (equivalent to 10,000 shares) at a 5% margin requirement then the following calculation applies:

225 pence per share = £2.25 per share
£2.25 * 100 CFDs * 100 shares per CFD = £22,500
£22,500 * 5% Margin Rate = £1,125 Margin

For US Shares as you are trading per cent movement but US Shares are quoted in dollars.

Daily Funding Charges

Daily funding charges will be applied for all products that are not futures contracts. This reflects that these are daily positions that have been moved to the next day and not a futures position where the spread would be wider to incorporate these costs.

ADS Prime offers a financing rate of 250 basis points on single stocks. The financing cost will be the exposure of your trade, multiplied LIBOR plus or minus our rate, depending on whether you hold a long or short position. Financing on cash index CFDs will be changed at either $0.50 or $1.00 per Lot per day.

To calculate the daily charge, this number can then be divided by 365 days or 360 days, depending on the underlying market traded.

The following calculation can be used:

(Price * Quantity) x (2.5 +/- LIBOR) / number of days

Please note that although you may expect to receive financing on short positions, global interest rates are currently so low that you are likely to still be charged. As interest rates rise, short positions may receive funding. Long positions will always incur this charge.

Dividend Adjustments

All single stock CFDs and cash-based equity index CFDs can be liable for dividend adjustments. This is because when a stock company pays a dividend, it will affect the price of the shares and any index it is a member of. The frequency and size of dividends varies greatly from one company to another ad many companies do not pay dividends or pay them at infrequent intervals. Where a dividend is paid for a stock in which you have a CFD position, since you do not physically own the shares, you will be adjusted for the dividend amount to counteract the price movement. This means that you are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by dividends when trading a derivative product.

Within the FTSE 100, the companies are very different sizes and size buys influence. The larger the company, the more weight it is given in the Index. Size is measured by market capitalisation which is the value of all the shares added together. The larger the market capitalisation a company has, the bigger its percentage of the index. This is taken into account when dividend adjustments are made for an equity index.

As an example, when Barclays paid a dividend of 4 UK pence, this equated to 2.49 points on the UK100.CASH. When Rio Tinto paid a dividend of 6 UK pence, this equated to 2.87 points on the UK100.CASH. The amount by which the price of the index changed reflects both the size of the dividend and the respective companies’ weighting in the index.

Trading Examples

Short Gold

You feel that a correction is due in the price of gold. You decide to sell (go short) 10 XAU/USD (gold/US dollar) at 1244.26.

10 points = 1000 ounces. Your total exposure is 1244.26*1000 = $1,244,260

Each tick is worth $100 and each point $1,000. Assuming 1:200 leverage the margin required to open this trade is (1244.26*1000)/200= $6,221.30 USD

The dollar strengthens during the day, driving gold prices to 1230.00/1230.30. You decide to close your position and take the profit. You sold at 1244.26 and closed your position at 1230.30, up 13.96 points.

Your net profit is (1244.26-1230.30)*1000 = US$13,960.

Long US Crude

Conflict in the Middle East has raised volatility in oil markets. You expect a strong acceleration in prices and decide to go long (buy) 1 US Crude Oil at 8183.40. 1 point is worth $1.

You set a trailing stop-loss 10 points away intending to lock in any profit if the market gains momentum.

The market moves 20 points in your direction to 8203.40/8206.20. Your stop-loss also moves 20 points to 8193.40.

The market is still very volatile and prices reverse suddenly, hitting your stop-loss at 8193.40.

Your profit for this trade is (8193.40- 8183.40) * 1 = 10 USD.

Learn more about CFD trading

Our online training tools include videos and webinars to help you understand and manage trading risks, including using “stop-loss” and “take-profit” limits to minimise potential losses.
Find out more on our Market information sheet.

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Losses can exceed deposits
Spreadbetting, CFDs and FX are leverage products and carry a high degree of risk, losses can exceed your deposits.