How to Calculate Stop Loss?

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  • 08 Aug 2023

In stock market trading, protecting your capital is of utmost importance. An effective risk management tool traders use to minimize losses is the stop loss. Understanding the concept and calculating stop loss levels can significantly improve your trading success. So what is stop loss and how to calculate it? Let’s understand.

Stop loss is a risk management strategy traders use to limit potential losses on a trade. It is an order traders place with brokers to sell a security when it reaches a predetermined price automatically. The main reason for a stop loss is to protect the trader's capital in case the market moves against its position.

The stop loss order becomes active only when the stock or asset's market price reaches or goes below the specified stop price. When triggered, it results in a market order to sell the asset at the best available price, thereby preventing further losses in a declining market.

To calculate stop loss, you can use the following methods:

  • Percentage Method

The first method used to calculate the stop loss is referred to as the Percentage Method, which intraday traders particularly favor for setting their stop loss levels. This approach determines the acceptable loss based on a percentage of the entry price.

For instance, if you purchase shares of a company, say(XYZ) at Rs. 1000 and decide to set a stop loss at 1%, your stop loss for the buy position will be adjusted to Rs. 10 lower, at Rs. 990. This implies limiting your potential loss to Rs. 10 per share if the trade goes unfavorably.

  • Technical Resistance Approach

Another method for calculating the stop loss is the Technical Support & Technical Resistance approach. Although slightly more intricate, this approach is considered more methodical.

Experienced traders involved in intraday trading often employ this technique, but it requires a skillful interpretation of charts. When dealing with buy positions, the stop loss is placed below the support level, while for sell positions, it is set above the resistance level.

  • Moving Averages Method

The Moving Averages Method is a highly effective approach for determining stop loss levels. This technique uses a long-term moving average as a reference point. Traders can choose between two types of moving averages - the Simple Moving Average (SMA) and the Exponential Moving Average (EMA). Once the preferred moving average type has been selected, it becomes the anchor for setting stop loss points.

For buy positions, traders can set their stop loss just below the level of the chosen moving average. This ensures protection against significant losses in case the market moves adversely. On the other hand, the stop loss can be set slightly above the moving average line for sell positions, offering a safeguard against potential losses in a rising market.

Intraday traders must consider stop losses as a forethought rather than an afterthought. By proactively assigning a stop-loss level before initiating a trade, traders can safeguard their capital. While this may result in a small loss, it prevents excessive damage to their overall funds. However, it's essential not to constantly adjust the stop-loss level unless there is a valid reason to do so.

Stop-loss levels can be determined based on various factors such as percentage basis, support/resistance levels, or moving averages. The primary objective is to use stop losses strategically to protect against potential risks while preserving capital. By setting appropriate stop-loss levels, traders define the acceptable level of risk or loss that their portfolio can withstand without significant harm.

An effective intraday trading strategy emphasizes risk-reward ratios. Establishing a balance between the stop-loss level and the price target is essential. Setting a 2.5:1 or 3:1 risk-reward ratio is considered a golden rule in intraday trading. This means that for every unit of risk (stop loss), traders aim to achieve two and a half to three units of reward (price target).

  1. Capital Protection: The primary purpose of a stop loss is to protect your trading capital from significant losses. It helps limit the downside risk, ensuring that one losing trade does not wipe out a substantial portion of your account.

  2. Emotional Discipline: Trading can evoke strong emotions like fear and greed, which may lead to impulsive decisions. A stop loss eliminates the need for constant monitoring and reduces emotional involvement in individual trades.

  3. Risk Control: Stop loss allows traders to control the amount of money they are willing to risk on a particular trade. By setting a predetermined loss level, traders can maintain consistent risk management across different trades.

To Sum Up

Stop loss is an essential tool in a trader's arsenal, protecting against substantial losses and promoting disciplined trading. Calculating stop loss levels using percentage-based or volatility-based methods allows traders to tailor their risk management strategy to suit their preferences and market conditions.


A stop loss order remains effective only for a single trading day. If the stop loss order remains untouched and untriggered throughout the trading session, it will automatically expire after the day's trading activities.

When a stop-loss order is activated, it executes the trade at the prevailing market price rather than the specified stop-loss price.

Most traders commonly employ the percentage-based approach when establishing the stop-loss order value. Typically, individuals seeking to minimize the risk of significant losses will set the stop-loss order at approximately 10% of the purchase price.

In volatile market conditions where prices experience rapid drops or surges, the execution of a market stop loss may occur at less favorable prices. In contrast, a limit stop loss could potentially fail to execute altogether.

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