What Is an Open Position in the Stock Market

Investors and traders usually have a specific goal in mind when entering the stock market. These aspirations can influence how they enter a position and how they exit it after a particular timeframe. Entering and closing positions on the stock market is a fluid, two-way transaction between investors, brokers, and market makers.

Any given position can be long, short, or neutral. To close a long position, sell the asset, and to close a short position, buy the underlying asset. To close each trade, opposing moves are made. To give an example, when buying a stock, you open a long position on that asset with your broker. Then, when you want to close that position, you have to sell that stock to the broker or another investor willing to buy it from you.

Every open position has to be closed at a given time in the future. Until then, any open position represents risk due to market exposure. Some enter and exit several stock market positions in minutes or hours like day traders and scalpers, while others might hold their open assets for decades as a long-term investment. Daytraders typically have no intentions of having open positions overnight. This both aims to mitigate risk and costs.

Open Positions and Assets

Investors and traders alike can have several open positions of different kinds at any given point. These positions with different numbers of assets or securities that sole investors or institutions can purchase. The goal of initiating a long position is to profit from the anticipated growth in the price of the instrument. The opposite is true for shorts, who believe that the price will fall in the future.

Positions can be opened based on predicted future price movements or current volatility. This is entirely dependent on the strategy used to open the position in the first place. This speculation of buying or selling on present or future performance can either yield profits or suffer losses. This risk is inherent when participating in the stock market. Once the position is liquidated, the risk is no longer present. Risk is present up until the position is closed, which can happen by choice or by forced liquidation. Forced liquidations happen after a margin call or when an asset has expired as expected. 

Open positions in the stock market can be natural byproducts of trades, hedging, risk-reducing types, or purely speculative. Speculative acquisitions assume the price will move in a specific direction in the future due to changing circumstances. As a result of recurring trades globally, companies are frequently paid in foreign currencies, making these positions a natural byproduct of global trade. Institutions and businesses hedge against their existing positions to mitigate the risks.

A market order or a pending order that is triggered on a brokerage platform with the symbol of the instrument can be used to open a position. Besides sending long or short orders that a broker executes and liquidating them, open positions can be modified too. Aside from the ticker or symbol of an instrument, the trading volume must be specified, indicating how many of those assets are purchased or sold. With greater volume comes higher risk, which means greater potential profits or losses.

Stop losses should be used to manage the risks associated with the trade. This predetermined setting forces the position to be automatically liquidated when the price reaches a specified level in the desired direction. Similarly, take profit orders are predetermined, automatically executed settings to exit a position when the asset price reaches a certain level, taking expected profits.

Smart traders and investors allocate resources after thoughtful planning and build balanced portfolios of different asset classes to mitigate their risks. Stop losses are a must at all times when being exposed to the stock market. Without risk management, the chances of losses surmount the potential gains, making risk management the most crucial aspect of opening a stock market position.

Updated: January 3, 2023
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