U.S. equity markets occasionally experience periods of extraordinary volatility and price dislocation. Sometimes these occurrences are prolonged and at other times they are of very short duration. Stop orders may play a role in contributing to downward price pressure and market volatility and may result in executions at prices very far from the trigger price.
Investors may use stop sell orders to help protect a profit position in the event the price of a stock declines or to limit a loss. In addition, investors with a short position may use stop buy orders to help limit losses in the event of price increases. However, because stop orders, once triggered, become market orders, investors immediately face the same risks inherent with market orders – particularly during volatile market conditions when orders may be executed at prices materially above or below expected prices.
While stop orders may be a useful tool for investors to help monitor the price of their positions, stop orders are not without potential risks. If you choose to trade using stop orders, please keep the following information in mind:
· Stop prices are not guaranteed execution prices. A “stop order” becomes a “market order” when the “stop price” is reached and the resulting order is required to be executed fully and promptly at the current market price. Therefore, the price at which a stop order ultimately is executed may be very different from the investor’s “stop price.” Accordingly, while a customer may receive a prompt execution of a stop order that becomes a market order, during volatile market conditions, the execution price may be significantly different from the stop price, if the market is moving rapidly.
· Stop orders may be triggered by a short-lived, dramatic price change. During periods of volatile market conditions, the price of a stock can move significantly in a short period of time and trigger an execution of a stop order (and the stock may later resume trading at its prior price level). Investors should understand that if their stop order is triggered under these circumstances, their order may be filled at an undesirable price, and the price may subsequently stabilize during the same trading day.
· Sell stop orders may exacerbate price declines during times of extreme volatility. The activation of sell stop orders may add downward price pressure on a security. If triggered during a precipitous price decline, a sell stop order also is more likely to result in an execution well below the stop price.
· Placing a “limit price” on a stop order may help manage some of these risks. A stop order with a “limit price” (a “stop limit” order) becomes a “limit order” when the stock reaches or exceeds the “stop price.” A “limit order” is an order to buy or sell a security for an amount no worse than a specific price (i.e., the “limit price”). By using a stop limit order instead of a regular stop order, a customer will receive additional certainty with respect to the price the customer receives for the stock. However, investors also should be aware that, because a sell order cannot be filled at a price that is lower (or a buy order for a price that is higher) than the limit price selected, there is the possibility that the order will not be filled at all. Customers should consider using limit orders in cases where they prioritize achieving a desired target price more than receiving an immediate execution irrespective of price.
· The risks inherent in stop orders may be higher during illiquid market hours or around the open and close when markets may be more volatile. This may be of heightened importance for illiquid stocks, which may become even harder to sell at the then current price level and may experience added price dislocation during times of extraordinary market volatility. Customers should consider restricting the time of day during which a stop order may be triggered to prevent stop orders from activating during illiquid market hours or around the open and close when markets may be more volatile, and consider using other order types during these periods.
· In light of the risks inherent in using stop orders, customers should carefully consider using other order types that may also be consistent with their trading needs.