Can You Buy and Sell Stock on the Same Day?

Understanding the FINRA Regulations for Pattern Day Trading

Yes, you can buy and sell the same stock on the same day four times weekly in the USA.

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If you day trade more often, you must follow the FINRA rules on Pattern Day Trading (PDT), which means being a registered day trader and having a $25K minimum account balance.

However, there are limits to stock trading, which you need to understand.

Can You Buy and Sell Stock in the Same Day?
Can You Buy and Sell Stock on the Same Day?

Can you buy and sell stock on the same day?

Yes, registered pattern day traders can buy and sell stock on the same day as often as they wish. However, FINRA rules prohibit standard retail investors from trading the same stock more than four times in five business days.

In the United States, business days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are not business days. Thus, a trader who trades a stock four times on Thursday and Friday cannot trade the stock again until next Thursday.

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What Happens if You Repeatedly Buy and Sell the Same Stock?

If you repeatedly buy and sell the same stock, you must register with your broker as a day trader. Day trading through a retail cash account can result in loss of trading privileges.

Most brokerages do not let people day trade from a cash account. Instead, they require day traders to open a margin account and keep a minimum balance of $25,000 to comply with the Pattern Day Trading Rule.

A day trader is a speculator who tries to profit from fluctuations in stock prices. Most day traders try to profit from market inefficiency by making several daily trades.

Day traders often use complex strategies, such as technical analysis, to identify market inefficiencies and stock movements they can take advantage of. Modern-day traders often employ trading, AI algorithms, and other automated trading tools to enhance their trading.

FINRA and the New York Stock Exchange classify any private individual who makes over four trades in five business days as a day trader. They can also classify you as a day trader if your day trade amount exceeds 6% of your trading volume.

Most day traders will close all their trades by the end of the trading day. Hence, the term day trader.

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Pattern Day Trading

Regulators call day traders Pattern Day Traders (PDT). If you make over four trades in a five-business-day period, your broker can flag you as a Pattern Day Trader.

Brokers can place restrictions on accounts flagged by PDT. Brokerages restrict PDT accounts to discourage reckless or excessive trading.

FINRA rules require a PDT account to hold $25,000 in cash in a margin account. If the cash falls below $25,000, the brokerage will restrict trading until the account is restored to $25,000. If the PDT fails to replenish the funds, the brokerage could make a margin call and sell the stocks in the account to pay off the margin loan.

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Day Trading Patterns

Pattern Day Trader comes from the patterns on the charts used in technical analysis. Patterns can show how an individual is trading.

Day trading patterns are named for the shapes on the charts. Popular Day Trading patterns include Japanese Candlesticks, the Bull Flag, the Bullish Pennant, the Bullish Hammer, the Ascending Triangle,  the Falling Wedge, and the Rising Wedge.

Pattern Day Traders believe the shapes of the patterns show how the market is moving. A Falling Wedge shows a falling or bear market, while a Rising Wedge indicates a rising or bull market.

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If you want to learn the day trading patterns, you need to conduct research and get professional stock market training. Many great resources can teach you day trading chart patterns and strategies. There is also software to help recognize chart patterns automatically.

The Pattern Day Trading Rule

The Pattern Day Trading Rule is the popular name for the FINRA requirements for day traders. The rule defines day trading as making over four trades in five days. A definitive aspect of the rule is that day traders keep $25,000 in their brokerage accounts.

The Pattern Day Trading Rule aims to discourage low-income people from day trading. Regulators fear that low-income day traders could lose all their money and be unable to support their families.

Brokerages and investment banks can code or flag accounts as pattern day traders. If an account is flagged as a pattern day trader, the account owner must follow the Pattern Day Trading Rule or stop day trading.

Under the Pattern Day Trading Rule, a firm can issue a day-trading market call if a trader does not maintain the $25,000 minimum. A day trading market call gives the trader five business days to deposit $25,000. If the money is not restored, the firm can sell the stocks in the account to cover the margin.


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What is Pattern Day Trading?

You are Pattern Day Trading if you execute four or more “day trades” within five business days, and the number of day trades represents more than six percent of your total trades in the margin account for that same five-business-day period.

Pattern Day Trading is any trading activity that meets FINRA’s, or your broker’s definition, of pattern day trading.

All frequent traders need to understand Pattern Day Trading because their broker can flag their account as PDT anytime. Unless they plan to start day trading regularly, they must avoid any activity resembling PDT.

Barry D. Moore CFTe
With a wealth of experience spanning 25 years in stock investing and trading, Barry D. Moore (CFTe) is an author and Certified Financial Technician (Market Analyst) recognized by the International Federation of Technical Analysts (IFTA). Notably, he has also held executive positions in leading Silicon Valley corporations IBM Corp. and Hewlett Packard Inc.


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