News & Analysis

OCO or stop-limit order

18 August 2021 By GO Markets


One Cancels the Other (OCO) is a trading strategy commonly used in financial markets, including options trading. It is a conditional order that allows traders to place two orders simultaneously, with one order serving as a hedge or protection against the other. The primary purpose of OCO orders is to manage risk and limit potential losses while still capitalizing on potential gains.

OCO orders are often used to set up two different types of orders, for example, a stop order and a limit order, for the same underlying security.


1. Stop Order: This is an order to buy or sell an option when the market price reaches a specified trigger level, known as the “stop price.” For example, if you hold a long call option and want to protect yourself from substantial losses if the market moves against you, you can place a stop order to sell that call option if the underlying stock’s price falls below a certain level.

2. Limit Order: This is an order to buy or sell an option at a specific price or better. In an OCO order, this order is typically placed at a more favorable price compared to the current market price. For example, if you hold a long call option and want to take profits when the market price reaches a certain level, you can place a limit order to sell that call option at that predetermined profit level.

The OCO order then links these two orders, stipulating that if one of them is executed, the other will be automatically canceled. Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios:

– If the market price reaches the stop price specified in the stop order, the stop order becomes a market order, and it is executed. At the same time, the limit order is canceled.

– If the market price reaches the limit price specified in the limit order, the limit order is executed. The stop order is then canceled.

– If neither the stop nor the limit condition is met, both orders remain active until one of them is triggered or manually canceled by the trader.

OCO orders can be useful for managing risk and protecting profits in options trading. They allow traders to set predefined exit points for their positions, reducing the need for constant monitoring of the markets.

Practical Considerations and Tips:

While OCO and stop-limit orders offer numerous advantages to options traders, it’s important to approach their use with a clear strategy and understanding of market conditions. Here are some practical considerations and tips for effectively implementing these orders:

Define Your Objectives: Before placing OCO or stop-limit orders, have a clear understanding of your trading objectives. Are you looking to lock in profits, limit losses, or both? Your objectives will determine how you configure these orders.

Monitor Market Volatility: Be mindful of market volatility when setting stop and limit prices. Highly volatile markets may require wider price ranges to avoid premature order execution or missed opportunities.

Practice Risk Management: OCO and stop-limit orders are powerful risk management tools, but they are not foolproof. Always be prepared for unexpected market moves and consider using them in conjunction with other risk management strategies.

Regularly Review and Adjust: Market conditions change, and so should your orders. Regularly review and adjust your OCO and stop-limit orders to align with your evolving trading goals and market outlook.

Stay Informed: Stay informed about market news and events that could impact your positions. Sudden developments may require immediate adjustments to your orders.

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Disclaimer: Articles are from GO Markets analysts and contributors and are based on their independent analysis or personal experiences. Views, opinions or trading styles expressed are their own, and should not be taken as either representative of or shared by GO Markets. Advice, if any, is of a ‘general’ nature and not based on your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Consider how appropriate the advice, if any, is to your objectives, financial situation and needs, before acting on the advice. If the advice relates to acquiring a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) for that product before making any decisions.