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Difference Between Margin Trading And Short Selling


Stock markets allow day traders to use different methodologies to leverage available resources and enhance returns. Short selling and margin trading are two of the most common trading methodologies you can use as a funding alternative. They involve borrowing assets to profit from market changes, but their mechanics, risks, and possible profits differ. However, it may be equally beneficial for new investors to study and comprehend both, particularly for intraday trading, when understanding margin trading vs. short selling will give you mileage.

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What is Margin Trading?

Margin trading is a technique that allows investors to borrow funds from their brokerage to acquire more securities than they could with their capital alone. It requires the trader to create a margin account with their brokerage. The brokerage will lend the trader a proportion of the entire value of the assets they wish to acquire, known as the initial margin.

If the value of assets in a margin account falls and equity drops below a certain level, the brokerage requests a margin call. This requires additional cash or liquidation of positions to restore the report to the required level.

Advantages of Margin Trading

  • Increased buying power to seize more opportunities.
  • Potential for amplified profits when the market moves in the trader’s favor.

Risks of Margin Trading

  • Amplified losses if the market moves against the trader.
  • Interest payments and potential margin calls add to the financial burden.

What is Short Selling?

Short Selling is an entirely different approach that allows traders to profit from falling prices in the market. It is a way of selling shares that traders don’t own, utilizing a leveraged trading account to profit from dropping share prices.

Short sellers borrow the assets they intend to sell short of their brokerage, which lends them to other clients. Short sellers instantly sell the assets they have borrowed at the current market price. The profit or loss in short selling is the difference between the original selling price and the subsequent purchase price. 

Advantages of Short Selling

  • Opportunity to profit from declining markets.
  • Offers a hedge against long positions in a portfolio during bearish trends.

Risks of Short Selling

  • Unlimited loss potential if the asset's price rises significantly.
  • Rapid price increases force short sellers to cover their positions, leading to further upward pressure on the asset’s price.


Margin Trading and Short Selling are two distinct strategies catering to different market conditions and risk appetites. Margin Trading involves buying assets with the hope of their prices rising. Short Selling involves selling borrowed assets with the anticipation of their prices falling. Before engaging in any trading activities, traders should always conduct thorough proper market research, manage market risks wisely, and consult with financial experts.


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