(7.06 – 6.06) x 100 x €5 = €500
(6.06 – 5.06) x 100 x €5 = €500
6500 – 6502.
(6500 – 6400) x €4 = €400
(6600 – 6500) x €4 = €400
$90.00 – $90.04.
sell at $90.00 for €1 per cent
(90.00 – 85.00) x 100 x €1 = €500
(95.00 – 90.00) x 100 x €1 = €500
Spreadbetting is most easily explained through an example - the concept is the same whatever the market. Imagine that in early August you believed the FTSE 100 index's value of around 6230 was too high and that share prices would fall over the following month or so. Accordingly, to spreadbet City Index for a quote - it gave you a FTSE 100 price for the third week of September of 6165-6175. Based on that spread, you had two choices. You could have bet on the Footsie falling below this level, by selling the index. Or you could have bet it would be higher than this in September, by buying the index. Either way, you bet by staking a sum, say £10, per point. As you expected the Footsie to fall, you took the former option. Now imagine that on 17 September, the FTSE 100 actually closes at 6020, 145 points below the City Index spread. On this basis, your profit would be £1,450 - 145 times your £10 stake. In fact, you do not have to wait until 17 September to book your profits. Gamblers can close their bets as soon as they become profitable. If the index had stood at 6050, say, on 1 September, you could have closed out your bet by reversing it - buying points from CityIndex.
However, the downside of spreadbetting is that the potential for large gains is equalled by that for large losses. Imagine that you had bought, rather than sold, points from City Index in the example above. Your loss would have been a nasty £1,550 - £10 times the 155 points the Footsie finished below your opening spread. It is important to note that in spreadbetting gains and losses are geared. The more right you get a bet, the more you win. But the more wrong you are, the greater your losses.
Not surprisingly, spreadbetting companies are wary about bad debts. They will only extend credit to investors who can meet any losses. Expect calls for cash from your bookmaker if your bets move into the red. On the other hand, all the firms say that, unlike conventional bookmakers, they do not lose on winning bets, as they lay off risks in the underlying markets. Spreadbetting firms, therefore, do not mind successful gamblers.
So how does it work with these bets? It's quite simple; you take an index, a stock or anything that is listed by the spread bet provider (for a list of providers this page may be useful). You place a bet of say £1 that the price of the index or stock you have selected goes up or down (up-bets and down-bets, respectively). If the price goes with your bet then you earn £1 for each point (or pip as they call it) or you lose £1 for each pip that the price goes the opposite way.
Remember: Indexes have been known, on occasion, to move by hundreds of points at a time. For example, in May 2010 the DOW fell over 950 points in what become known as the Dow Jones 'flash crash' and in June 2010, the DAX rose by more than 300 points in several days.
The range of trades available through spread betting has also mushroomed over the last two years. Most providers for example, now offer spread betting on at least 40 global stock market indices and a multitude of currencies and commodities. Investors can also bet on the individual share prices of the largest 350 companies in the UK. Most providers also offer downside protection, allowing investors to specify how much they are prepared to lose on any bet. Some providers even also offer guaranteed stops which will automatically close out your bets if the market moves against you by more than a pre-determined amount. This risk management service costs a little extra, but is a useful facility given the potential for large losses in spread betting.
Nevertheless, spreadbetting is not simply for short-term gamblers. In particular, it can be a useful tax planning tool and is ideal for investors who want to hedge the risks they face on their actual portfolios. Imagine, for example, an investor with a large portfolio of shares who is convinced that the market is about to collapse. One option would be to sell his portfolio and move into cash, but this might trigger a sizeable capital gains tax bill. The alternative is to sell points on the Footsie or the All-Share with a spread betting firm. If the investor's view is right, his portfolio losses will be matched by gains in his spread betting account.