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Leverage in The Stock Market | What It Means And How To Use It

Analyst Team trader
Updated 15 Jun 2022

A leverage loan is a type of interest-free loan offered by a broker. Leverage can be used to increase the size of your position and thus its profits. Alternatively, leverage can be used to reduce margins and eventually provide you with the appropriate exposure in the financial markets. But how does leverage work in the market, and why is it important for your initial investment?


leverage in stocks

We will answer the question “what is stock leverage is and how does it work?”. We will also walk you through methods for determining the most optimal leverage, as well as discuss all of the benefits and drawbacks of trading with leverage, as well as real-world examples of leveraged trading.

What does Leverage Mean in Stocks?

In trading, leverage is a system that allows traders to take much larger positions than those who can open with their own capital. This means that traders only need a portion of the positions to be opened, which Skilling refers to as “cash required.” While this makes leverage appealing to investors, it also carries significant risks.

The exposure given influences the risk of loss, so it is critical to understand what leverage is in trading, how it works, and the importance of risk management. Trading leverage varies depending on the broker, platform, and instrument.

How to Trade With Leverage

Once you open an account with your preferred broker, you will be able to use leverage on your trades in the vast majority of cases. However, you must demonstrate to the broker that you have a thorough understanding of the underlying risks.

In other words, as part of the registration process, you will be asked to answer some basic questions of your choosing. This will focus on the risk of using leverage in your trades. If you correctly answer the question, your margin capability will be automatically activated.

Once you deposit your own funds into your broker's account, the broker will provide you with leverage. These funds are known as margins, and they serve as collateral for the broker loan. Each broker has their own minimum deposit amount; in many cases, it is as low as $ 10. Some don't even require it: you just get a welcome bonus, which is essentially “free money” that serves as a margin.

What is a Good Leverage Ratio for Stocks?

In practice, more than 40% of traders prefer leverage of up to 1:10, while only about 17% use leverage greater than 1:100. For some trading instruments, European regulators recommend that Forex brokers limit maximum leverage to 1:20 – 1:50.

Leverage is set at 1: 2 – 1: 5 on cryptocurrency exchanges. Traders choose leverage up to 1: 1000 based on an emotional desire to increase the number of positions to the maximum without having enough funds in storage. Brokers with leverage greater than 1000 are usually not considered by me.

On a demo account, I would advise beginners to start with a minimum leverage value of 1: 1.

How Does Leverage Trading Work?

leverage ratio for stocks

Leverage allows investors to increase their market exposure while receiving a lower payout than the full amount of investment required. The leverage ratio compares the amount of exposure to the amount of cash required (margin). A leverage ratio of 1: 100, for example, means trading assets worth $100,000 with only $1,000.

When you buy a number of shares in traditional investing, you get the cash you need by doubling the number of shares by the price of each share. With leverage trading, you only need a portion of the total amount.

It is impossible to separate the concept of leverage in margin trading. Margin is the amount of money required by traders in order to use leverage. Brokers only require a good faith deposit before they can extend credit to traders. Margin is expressed as a percentage. If the broker requires a 2% margin, you have a 1: 5 leverage, and if they require a 0.5% margin, you have a 400: 1 leverage.

As an example, If a trader has $1,000 in his or her account and uses a leverage ratio of 1:5, he or she can purchase assets worth $5,000. If a trader has a leverage of 100:1, he can purchase assets worth $100,000.

Stock Leverage Examples

Assume you'd like to trade the FTSE 100. You are confident that the FTSE 100 will rise in price in the next 24 hours after analysing the chart. So you decide to increase the leverage on your trades to 5:1.

You have a balance of $500 in your trading account. You use a 10:1 leverage, so your trade is worth %5,000. Later that day, the price of the FTSE 100 increased by 3%. In most cases, your $500 order will result in a profit of $15 ($500 x 3%).

However, if you use a 10:1 leverage, your profit is $150 ($15 x 10).

As you can see from the example above, applying leverage can increase your profits when the trade goes according to your wishes. However, investors need to also remember that leverage can also amplify your losses.

Which Markets Can You Use Leverage On?

leverage stock trading

Leverage, as the term implies, allows traders to potentially maximise profits by leveraging the use of real money in their accounts and risk in the market. In a nutshell, if a trader uses 1: 100 leverage, each dollar they risk effectively controls 100 dollars in the market. As a result, investors and traders employ the concept of leverage in order to potentially increase their profits on any given trade or investment.

Forex, CDF, equity, indices, stocks, cryptocurrency, and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) markets are among the markets that traders can use with leverage.

Leverage vs. Margin

Leverage is defined as an option that increases a trader's funds as a guarantee to open and maintain a position.

In this case, 1: 100 operating leverage means that the trader will need 100 times less money, i.e. 10 units, to open a position of 1000 units of the base currency.

This sum of money is known as the margin, and it is the amount that the broker holds until the opened position is closed.

Margin, on the other hand, is the amount of money required as collateral in your account in order to trade Forex with leverage.

The following is the general formula for calculating margins:

Margin equals the number of positions (contract size, lot) divided by the leverage.

For example, if you use 1: 2 leverage to enter a $100 trade, your margin requirement is $100/2 = $50.

Why Do Traders Use Margin?

leverage vs margin

Margin is best defined as a good faith deposit made on behalf of a trader, or a trader placing collateral in terms of credit in their account. Margin is required to open a position (or positions) in the market because most forex brokers do not offer credit.

The amount of margin required to open a position or positions when trading on margin and using leverage is determined by the size of the trade. As the size of a trade grows, so do the margin requirements. Simply put, margin is the amount required to keep a trade or open trade open. The range of exposures to an account's equity is referred to as leverage.

Margin trading is appealing to both dealing centres and investors because it allows you to open positions for amounts several times the size of your deposit. For example, with only $100 on your account and a leverage of 1:50, you can already trade up to $5000.

Keep in mind that using too much leverage not only increases purchasing power significantly, but also increases risk and can literally destroy your account, because trading with high leverage increases both profits and losses.

To avoid this, if there are insufficient funds to maintain a current open position, the trader receives a “margin call” – a type of notification about the need to create additional funds to maintain an open position; otherwise, the position is forcibly forced – known as a “stop.”

How Much Margin Can You Trade With?

The amount of margin you will need to put in dollars and cents will be determined by the amount of leverage you intend to use. The simplest way to calculate this is to divide the leverage multiple by 1. For example, 5x leverage necessitates a 20% (1/5) margin, while 2x necessitates a 50% (1/2) margin.

Position Size X Margin Requirement = Margin Requirement

As an example:

You want to open a mini lot in USDJPY (10,000 base units). What is the minimum margin required to open a position?

Because the base currency is USD, the position size (or tone value) is $10,000 USD. Your broker has set a 5% Margin Requirement for you.

Tips for Using Leverage in the Stock Market

leverage in stock market

Traders must first: before trading with borrowed funds, traders must:

  • Learn how to create and tailor risk management strategies for each trading system. They must be careful to increase risk in a quiet directional market while decreasing risk in a volatile market.
  • Learn how to use various trading systems, indicators, and trading platforms, among other things.
  • Learn to control your emotions and let go of greed, joy, and the desire to compensate for losses.

Only when beginners are confident in their skills and abilities, and can do all of the above, can they begin trading with real money. A good leverage for beginners on a real account is 1:10. With leverage, investors will be able to open a minimum position of 0.01 with a relatively small deposit.

Pros and Cons of Leverage in Stocks


  • Improve Capital Efficiency

One of the primary advantages of leverage trading is that it allows you to access additional funds for specific trading positions. This means you can gain greater exposure to the financial instruments of your choice, which you may not have had previously.

Even if you have access to larger funds, you are not required to pay interest on those funds. However, if you take out a loan to purchase another asset, there is a cost of capital (interest to be paid). However, in leverage trading, your broker provides you with the ability to borrow large sums of money to purchase financial instruments without incurring interest charges on the amount borrowed.

  • Increase Profits

Leverage effectively doubles your profit potential. If the market moves in the expected direction, your profits will double. Besides, you can begin trading for as little as $100. Because you do not have to pay the full price for the position or instrument when using leverage, this amount is already sufficient to gain exposure to larger positions as well as more expensive instruments.


  • Margin Loss

Everything has two sides, including leverage trading. While it has the potential to double your profits, it also has the potential to double your losses.

You could lose more money than you have in your trading account. If your losses exceed the balance in your trading account, your broker may issue a margin call, requesting that you deposit more funds into your account. Unless you choose a broker that offers negative balance protection, your account may be in the red as a result of trading losses. If not, your broker may request that you pay a certain amount to cover your losses or close some of your open positions. If you do not meet the margin call requirements, the broker may close all of your positions.

  • Higher Risks

As a trader, you must understand both your risks and your profit potential. Experienced traders not only employ a variety of risk management strategies, but they are also alert to events that may increase risk, such as data announcements, geopolitical tensions, or legal updates.

An increase in total open trading volume is associated with increased risk. A rise in position volume raises the value of a point. As a result, your potential loss grows. High leverage implies a high potential for profit as well as a high potential for loss.

Your broker may provide more leverage, but you must decide how much leverage to use with each trade. It is determined by your financial objectives and risk tolerance. If you are still unfamiliar with the function of leverage trading, as well as the benefits and risks involved, you may end up losing money or taking on too much risk.


Before opening a trading position, it is critical to consider not only the amount of money needed, but also the maximum losses that can be taken, as well as the goals that must be met to ensure you have a solid investment strategy. “Stop Loss” and “Limit Order” allow traders to specify a price at which a buy or sell order will be activated.

However, this is not the only factor influencing risk management. It is also critical to plan your trade before you begin and to conduct an in-depth analysis on technical or fundamental or a combination of both.

Profit expectations must also be calculated in order to set goals or diversify and hedge the value of your portfolio.

Leverage trading provides traders with the opportunity to earn high returns without a large amount of capital, but it can also result in massive losses. As a result, it is critical to manage risk as well as your trading education.


Leverage is a trading mechanism investors can use to increase their exposure to the market by allowing them to pay less than the full amount of the investment.

The AskTraders Analyst Team features experts in technical and fundamental analysis, as well as traders specializing in stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.