A Beginner’s Guide To CFD Trading


A contract for difference (CFD) is essentially an agreement between a buyer and a seller that spells out that the buyer should pay the difference between the present value of an asset and what its value will be in the future when the contract matures. CFD trading let traders and investors make a profit from the change in prices of underlying assets without taking ownership of them.

A CFD contract’s value does not take into account the asset’s underlying value—it is only concerned with the price movement that happens between the trade entry and exit points. This is do through a contract between the customer and the trading agent. It is without any stock, forex, commodity, or futures exchange. Trading CFDs can have many advantages, which is why they’ve become so immensely popular in the last 10 years. 

How do CFDs work?

As we mentioned above a CFD is a legal contract between an investor and a CFD trading agent to exchange the difference in the value of the financial product such as securities or derivatives during the time window when the contract opens or closes. 

It is a rather high-level strategy that is use by seasoned traders only. No actual delivery of goods takes place with CFDs. As a CFD investor you never end up owning the underlying asset but as you speculate on its prices, you get to earn a profit on the basis of the price change in the asset. To put it simply, look at it like buying or selling gold but here you do not own the gold rather, you just speculate on whether its price will move up or down. 

Basically, investors can use CFDs to speculate on whether the price of the underlying asset or security will go up or down. Traders can choose to bet on either way–upward or downward. If the trader who has bought the CFD notices that the asset’s price is set for a rise, they will put their holding out for sale. The overall difference between the purchase price and the sale price is put together. The key difference that represents the gain from the trades is manage via the investor’s trading account. 

Another aspect is that if the traders think that the asset’s value will go down, another opening sell position can be put out. To close the open position, the trader needs to buy a trade that will be offset. Following this, the overall price difference of the loss gets settled via their trading accounts. 

Here are some of the key features and uses of CFDs: 

  • Short and long trading
  • Leverage
  • Margin
  • Hedging

Short and long CFD trading explained

CFD trading allows you to speculate on changes in prices that could go in both directions. Though you can copy a traditional trade that earns a profit as the market looks up, you may even open a CFD position that would earn profit as the underlying market’s prices start tumbling. This is known as going short when you sell and going long when you buy. In both long and short trades, profits and losses are realized after the position has been closed. 


CFD trading can be leverage. Meaning that you can get the complete exposure of having a large position without committing to the entire cost upfront. Let’s assume that you wished to have an open position that is equal to 500 shares. Typically, you would have to pay the entire cost at once but in the case of  CFD, you may have to pay only 5% of the cost.

Leverage thus, lets you put your capital in different investments but do note that whatever profit or loss you make, gets calculate on the basis of your entire position size. This implies that both profits, as well as losses, can be magnified on the basis of your outlay. As a result, the loss could even be higher than the deposits. Thus, you should be attentive to the leverage ratio and never risk more than you can afford to lose. 

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Leveraged trading is often know as trading on margin as the funds you need to open and maintain a position, that is, the margin is only a part of its entire size. When you trade CFDs stock, you basically trade with two different kinds of margins. A deposit margin is needed to open a position and a maintenance margin is need if your trade might be nearing a loss where your deposit margin and any other funds may not recover. 


You can use CFDs to hedge against the potential losses in your present portfolio. For instance, if you think that a certain set of shares in your portfolio can go through a major fall in the short term, because of a rather disappointing earnings report, you could balance the situation through a CFD trader. If you chose to hedge your risk in such a way, the fall in the share value will be offset by what you earn on your short CFD trade. 

Tips for beginners

1. Stick with what you know

You can select from a large number of CFD markets to trade. That does not imply that you should dive right into unknown assets. In the beginning, you may find it better to choose a small number of markets that you are familiar with. 

2. Start out small

Position sizing can help you earn a lot in trading. Basically, the point is to only risk not more than 1-2% of your overall capital on every trade. Keep your overall outlays so you can learn from your mistakes and also don’t end up losing a lot of money. 

3. Always use a stop

Stop-loss orders are a great way to cut down risk. This is do by closing the position automatically when it hits a particular level of loss. It helps in preventing emotional trading. It also ensures that you don’t have to focus all your focus to the market to monitor the trades. Stop-loss is an important part of every risk management strategy. No successful traders would enter the market without a stop loss in place. 

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