Many investors associatespread betting with gambling on rising or falling prices to make a fast buck. However there is a safer use for them as protection for a portfolio. You can compare thetop 20 spread betting accounts here.
For example, say you hold £100,000 ofFTSE 100 shares and are worried that prices may dip sharply over the next three months. You could sell the lot, wait for prices to fall and then buy them back cheaper. The trouble is this route will incur several costs.
These include stamp duty of 0.5% when you buy back your shares, and two sets of dealing commission. Worse, if you sell the shares at a profit you may incur a capital gains tax charge. And what if you are wrong about prices falling? Having dumped your shares, you would be forced to buy them back at a higher price later.
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Enter hedging. You could hang onto your shares instead and place a down bet on the FTSE 100 using a spread bet.
- Spread betting The easy way to geared, tax-free returns
- Forex trading- How to profit from currency movements
For example, say the FTSE 100 spread is quoted at 4,999-5501 when the index is at 5,000. You place a down bet at £20 per point (£100,000/5,000) and sell the index at the "bid" of 4,999. The index subsequently drops 5% to 4,750. So your shares are down around £5,000.
However let's say the new spread quoted by your broker is 4,749-4,751. If you close the spread bet, by buying it at 4,751, your profit is 248 points (4,999-4,751). At £20 per point, that's a tax-free cash gain paid by yourspread-betting broker to you of £4,960.
Sure, that's not quite enough to cover your £5,000 loss on your shares because you lose the "spread" to your broker however it's pretty close. You could now reinvest that £4,960 gain in new shares to bring your portfolio back up close to its original £100,000 value.
Tim graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University in 1989 and, after a year of travelling, joined the financial services firm Ernst and Young in 1990, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1994.
He then moved into financial markets training, designing and running a variety of courses at graduate level and beyond for a range of organisations including the Securities and Investment Institute and UBS. He joined MoneyWeek in 2007.
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