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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

What is ‘Buying the Dip’ and how can you do it?

Seize opportunity by buying low and selling high when you trade or invest on ‘the dip’. Discover what ‘buy the dip’ means and how to buy a dip in this article.

Chart Source: Bloomberg

What does it mean to ‘buy the dip’?

To ‘buy the dip’ is a tactic used by investors and traders to purchase (or go long on) an asset after its price has temporarily fallen in value. It’s the embodiment of the trading and investing motto of ‘buy low, sell high’.

All markets have pullbacks and fluctuations. When a market suddenly trends downward for a short period of time, this is called a ‘dip’. Buying the dip means opening a position at this point, then aiming to sell when that market’s price has rebounded.

What is a ‘buy the dip’ strategy?

When you use ‘buying the dip’ as a strategy, you’re hoping to make a profit from regularly buying your chosen market when it’s experienced a drop in price.

This generally means you’ll watch for a smaller downtrend that’s likely to be a temporary and minor shift in an otherwise upward-trending market. When this happens, you’ll buy, in the hopes of doing so when the price is at its lowest, just before the market’s value starts to rise again.

This will look different for different trading styles. Those with longer-term strategies will wait out bigger, more significant downturns, using their longer-term knowledge of the market to open one or a just a few positions as close to the asset’s lowest point as possible. They will then likely buy and hold this position. This may take hours, days or even weeks.

Scalpers, day traders and those in the short-term game will instead watch an asset’s chart closely for even the smallest fluctuations in value. These will be a large volume of shorter positions, each lasting just minutes, a few hours or even seconds before selling – hopefully at a higher price than you bought for.

What are the benefits of buying the dip?

There are several potential advantage when you buy the dip – but they depend largely on both the asset and the circumstances of the downtrend that you’re trading.

One of these instances is if the underlying market or asset you’ve decided to trade on is known to be of high quality, with a reputation for good returns and fair value for money. Here, if you time your buying of a dip correctly, you can lock in a lower average price for a position that’s usually worth far more.

Buying the dip can potentially be a way to make profit (or a loss) if there’s a fairly certain, easy-to-predict period of volatility coming up.

Examples of these would include announcements like central bank updates from the Bank of England or Federal Reserve meetings, central bank stimulus or events like non-farm payrolls and earnings season. It could also be during macroeconomic headwinds like inflation, recession or bear markets. Even cyclical occurrences like a mean reversion or a retracement of that market would count.

Learn what a mean reversion and other beginner strategies are

However, to realise these benefits, it’s crucial to determine whether the ‘dip’ is really just a temporary downturn, or if it’s actually a market reversal. While the former is a downward fluctuation in value for a short time, a reversal means a fundamental shift where an upward-trending market becomes pessimistic on the whole, or vice versa.

It’s also worth mentioning that buying a dip as a trader often means using derivatives like spread bets and CFDs. These are leveraged trades, meaning you’ll put down an initial deposit, called margin, to open a larger position. This can be lucrative – but only if you predict and time your trade correctly, as both profits and losses are calculated based on your total trade size.

For example, you could be required to put down a 10% margin on a £100 trade, which would mean paying £10 to open a £100 position. However, profits and losses are calculated based on the total position size, the £100, so can outweigh your £10 margin amount significantly.

How to use a ‘buy the dip’ strategy

When you buy a dip, you’ll watch for a temporary downward fluctuation in price and then either purchase (if investing) or go long (if trading). However, as we’ve said previously, it’s a tactic that’s better suited to some markets than others.

One of the most popular assets to buy during a dip are stocks themselves. If investing, you’ll buy on our share dealing platform and hold these stocks for some time. If you’d rather trade, you’ll go long (buy) when the price has dropped sufficiently to get it cheaply, then aim to sell to close your position after the share price has risen as high as possible to make a profit.

When trading, you’ll likely buy a dip and sell not too long afterwards, after the price has rebounded. Because the success of your buying the dip depends on how well you time the market, we offer signals, which are suggestions about when to buy based on our data and analysis of emerging chart patterns.

We also have trading alerts, which are notifications telling you that the parameters you’ve inputted have been reached in a market, and it may be time to buy or sell.

In this, you’ve got different options to buy dips with. Spread betting is a form of derivative that enables you to go long or short without taking ownership of the underlying asset. Instead, you’ll put down a fraction of your trade size as an upfront deposit, called margin, to open a larger position.

Another option is CFD trading. Here, you’ll also be speculating on prices rather than owning assets outright. In this case, that means exchanging contracts for the difference in price between when you opened your position by buying and when you closed it by selling.

However, it’s important to remember both spread bets and CFD trades are leveraged products. This means that, although you’re trading on margin, both profits and losses are calculated based on your full position size, not your margin amount. So, profits and losses can both substantially outweigh your initial outlay. This is why a risk management strategy is key.

If you’re using spread bets or CFDs, another popular market is indices. That’s because ‘buy the dip’ is commonly used when an obvious disruptor to market prices is near, eg central bank announcements. Indices are one of the markets most susceptible to these headwinds or tailwinds, as they represent the stocks of an entire index, and therefore are often bellwethers for an industry or even a whole economy.

With indices, you’ll go long on the index of your choice during a period of expected volatility, just after the price has dropped significantly but is showing signs of a bounce.

You can also trade commodities and forex for similar reasons – although you should be aware that forex is a very liquid and often volatile market, where great profits and losses can be made fast.

Investors who don’t want to hold stocks can purchase an ETF instead, which gives broad exposure to a range of different stocks and assets across a sector or industry.

Examples of buying the dip:

On 13 October 2022, the Tesla Motors share price was valued at £218.99 at about 1:15pm. Then it dropped significantly between 1:25 and 1:30, to £208.34. Realising that a dip was happening, but believing that the market was still overall on an upward trend, you bought at the share’s buy price of 206.22 on our spread betting platform at around 2:30pm.

When you open a spread bet, you’ll be putting up an amount of money per point of movement in the underlying market’s price. So, in this case you go long and bet £100 per point. You watch the share price go up and sell to close your position at the price of 222.45 at 5pm – a difference of 16.23 points.

In this case, you’d have made a profit of £1623 (16.23 points x £100 per point).

Let’s look at a more long-term example for investors. Say you watched the share price of Barrick Gold Corp dipping in the months of May to July 2018. In July 2018, you bought 100 Barrick Gold Corp stocks at the share price of $8.62 each.

Then, you held onto the stocks for a few months as you watched the price climb from August to November 2018 and sold when the share price was at $12.58 per share. The share price has appreciated, between the ‘dip’ at which you bought and the point at which you sold, by $3.96.

This means you’ve made a profit of $396, over and above the $862 initial capital outlay you spent to open your position.

What are the risks and limitations when buying the dip?

While there are circumstances and markets where buying the dip has its advantages, there are also risks to using this strategy.

Probably the biggest risk to do with buying the dip is that timing is everything. To successfully open a position when a market is sufficiently undervalued, only to see it rebound, requires extensive knowledge of that underlying asset’s market history and prior movements.

However, past results isn’t an indicator of future performance. There are no guarantees in investing or trading, meaning you could predict incorrectly or time the market wrong and make a loss instead of a profit.

A notable exception is that this won’t affect investors with a ‘buy and hold’ strategy. Here, you’ll watch a share or ETF you intend on owning for some time until that market dips sufficiently for you to buy at a lower price than usual, then wait again for it to appreciate in value over the long term.

There are also limitations and market periods where buying the dip won’t be an effective strategy. Because it relies on a rebound in the market’s price after dropping, ‘buying the dip’ only works in a bullish environment. If you mistake a significant downtrend for a small one, you run the risk of opening a position that will only lose you more and more money as the price continues to fall.

Because buying a dip as a trader often means using derivatives like spread bets and CFDs, there is also the added risk of leverage. This means that your losses can significantly outweigh your margin amount, so ensuring that you always trade within your means and having adequate stop order is key.

Find out more about leverage in trading

How to buy the dip

On the whole, buying the dip is one of the most intuitive trading and investing tactics on the market, because it sticks close to the very core of good timing: buy when the price is lowest and sell when it’s at its highest.

Here’s how you’ll buy the dip with us:

  1. Open a live account or practise with a demo account
  2. Search for your preferred market to trade or invest in
  3. Learn how to identify a dip
  4. Take steps to manage your risk
  5. Open and monitor your position

Buying the dip summed up

  • 'Buying the dip’ is the name for a tactic where you’ll purchase an asset after its price has temporarily fallen in value, in order to hopefully make a profit when the price rebounds
  • While buying dips is mostly used by traders in a short-term context, you can also buy during a downtrend if you’re an investor. Here, you’ll simply buy and hold the share or ETF for a longer time than you would as a trader
  • Buying a dip can be profitable and relatively easy to understand – in theory – and can yield quality assets at better-than-usual prices
  • However, the success of you buying a dip depends on the overall value of the underlying asset (it needs to be a market on the up in general) and on your timing
  • If you’re buying the dip as a trader, this means using leveraged products or derivatives like spread bets or CFDs. With leverage, both profits and losses can significantly outweigh your margin amount, so ensure that you always trade within your means

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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