Buying and selling shares through a stockbroker is not the only way to play the stock market. Spread jokergaming4 allows you to gamble on the movement of indexes, such as the FTSE100, or on the price of individual shares. The bookmaker quotes you a price for a certain date in the future and you bet on whether the actual share price or index will be higher or lower. You can also gamble on exchange rates and commodities. Financial spread betting started in the 1970s when investors wanted to speculate on the price of gold without having to find large amounts of money to buy the metal.

As with any form of investment, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with spread betting. Volatile market conditions can bring substantial gains or losses, so bookmakers advise their clients to speculate only with money they can afford to lose.

You contact the bookmaker and ask for a quote on a particular index or share. For example, you may ask for the FTSE 100 in June. You will then be quoted a spread of, say, 6,870 to 6,880. If you think the market will be lower, you sell points. If you think it will be higher you buy points. You then bet anything upwards of Pounds 2 a point. If the market closed at 7,100 and you had bought at Pounds 5 a point, you would win Pounds 1,100. If it closed at 6,800 you would lose Pounds 350.

For example, IG Index initially offered 350p-360p for Lastminute.com, but revised the spread sharply upwards when investors bought enthusiastically. At one point the spread was quoted at 620p- 630p before settling back to 570p-580p last week.

For example, if a share costs Pounds 10 and you bet Pounds 10 for every penny increase, you would make Pounds 50 for a 5p increase in the share price. You can speculate on anything from sport to politics. There are a whole range of innovative bets, such as the number of corners in a football match or the number of days that William Hague will remain leader of the Conservative party.

Bookmakers offer stop-loss facilities for those who want to limit their liabilities. You specify a level at which you want your bet to be closed. For example, if a spread for a share was 150p-160p, you may choose a stop-loss price of 120p. At Pounds 10 a point, you would lose no more than Pounds 300.

But the bet is automatically finished if the stop-loss price is reached – even if the share or index subsequently recovers. Each bet is also monitored in case potential losses exceed the credit limit or the amount held on deposit. The bookmaker will alert you to any dramatic movement in prices. You can then close your position.

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