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CFD Trading – What Is It & How Does It Work?

CFD trading, or Contract for Difference trading, allows individuals to speculate on the price movements of financial assets without actually owning them. This form of trading has gained popularity due to its flexibility, accessibility, and potential for high returns. However, it’s important to note that CFD trading also carries a high level of risk due to its use of leverage.

Understanding CFD Trading

A Contract for Difference (CFD) is a contract between a buyer and a seller to settle on the difference in the value of a financial asset or instrument from when the contract is bought until it is sold or vice versa. When you open a CFD deal, you buy ‘contracts’. For example, one contract could cost 1 barrel of oil, 1 ounce of gold, or one share of a company.

There are three main types of CFD products that you can trade online:

  1. Shares: By trading a share CFD, you can invest in the shares of leading brands such as Facebook, Adidas, Apple, BMW, and Google, without owning the shares.
  2. Commodities: You can invest in commodities like oil, gold, corn, platinum, coffee, silver, and others without owning these commodities physically.
  3. Indices: An index follows and measures the performances of a specific group of stocks from a typical stock exchange. Thanks to CFD trading, individuals can now easily invest in the world’s most popular indices, such as the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, DAX, and Nikkei.

How Does CFD Trading Work?

CFD trading allows you to speculate on the rise or fall of these financial markets. When you open a CFD position, you select the number of contracts (the trade size) you want to buy or sell. Your profit will rise in line with each point the market moves in your favour. However, there is a risk of loss if the market moves against you.

If you think the price of an asset will rise, you will open a long (buy) position, profiting if the asset price increases in line with your expectations. However, you would risk making a loss if you were wrong. Conversely, if you think the cost of an asset will fall, you would open a short (sell) position, profiting if it falls in line with your prediction. However, once again, you would risk a loss if you were mistaken.

CFD Trading for Beginners

CFD trading is a leveraged product, meaning you only need to deposit a small percentage of the trade’s total value to open a position. This is known as ‘trading on margin’. While trading on margin allows you to magnify your returns, your losses will also be magnified as they are based on the total value of the CFD position.

For example, if you want to order $ 1,000 worth of Brent crude oil and your broker requires a 10% of margin, you will need only $100 as the initial amount to open the trade. However, if the price of Brent crude oil falls significantly, you could lose a substantial part, or even all, of your initial investment.

CFD Market

The vast CFD market includes various instruments such as shares, indices, commodities, and currencies. This means traders can gain exposure to multiple markets without owning the underlying asset. It also means that the CFD market is accessible 24 hours a day, allowing traders to take advantage of price movements at any time.

Risks and Rewards of CFD Trading

CFD trading can be a lucrative investment but comes with significant risks. The use of leverage means that both profits and losses can be magnified, and there is a risk that traders can lose more than their initial investment. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of how CFDs work and to use risk management strategies such as stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.


CFD trading offers a flexible and accessible way to trade on various financial markets. However, it’s important to remember that this form of trading also carries a high level of risk due to the use of leverage. As such, educating yourself, understanding the risks, and using risk management strategies to protect your capital is crucial. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced trader, continuous learning and practice are essential for success in the CFD market.

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