How do I enter the symbol for Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares onto TWS?

Overview: 

There are a variety of symbol conventions for denoting Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares (CUSIP 084670207). On the IBKR trading platforms, this security is designated by entering BRK, then a space and then B (BRK B). This compares to Bloomberg which uses the convention BRK/B and Yahoo Finance which uses BRK-B.

It should also be noted that this security has been designated as a 10-share unit issue by its primary listing exchange, NYSE Arca, due to its relatively low trading volume. A round lot in this security is therefore set at 10 shares as opposed to the standard round lot unit of 100 shares. If your opening buy or sell order is for an amount less than 10 shares, it is considered an odd-lot and subject to  special handling considerations. Please review our website under the Trading and then Order Types menu options for additional details.

What is Interactive Broker's margin rules for stocks below $5?

Overview: 

Interactive Brokers does not have a special rule regarding stocks that trade below $5. Although other brokerage firms may have a house rule regarding stocks trading below $5, IBKR does not employ such a rule.

Background: 

There are other IBKR-specific rules to consider in this scenario.  In general, IBKR would not have a special rule for long positions in stock trading below $5, as long as they are exchange-listed. Once a stock is delisted from one of the exchanges and moved to the OTC market, it would be subject to a 100% margin requirement, since the stock would no longer be considered marginable. 

Also, for long positions, the maintenance margin requirement is 30% of the stock value or $2,000, whichever is greater.

For short positions, the maintenance requirement on stock greater than $5, is $5 per share or 30% of the stock value, whichever is greater.  For short positions in stock where the last sale price/share is less than $5, then the maintenance margin requirement is $2.50 per share or 100% of the stock value, whichever is greater.

Overview of Regulation SHO

 

Regulation SHO, adopted by the SEC in January 2005, sets forth the regulatory framework governing short sales.  Two key provisions, intended to address problems associated with persistent fails to deliver and potentially abusive naked short selling, involve locate and close-out requirements.

 

Under the locate requirement, a broker-dealer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the security can be borrowed so that it can be delivered on the delivery due date before effecting a short sale order.  

 

The close-out requirement requires that the clearing broker take immediate action to close out a fail to deliver position in a threshold security that has persisted for 13 consecutive settlement days by purchasing securities of like kind and quantity. Until the position is closed out, the broker may not effect further short sales in that threshold security without borrowing or entering into a bona fide agreement to borrow the security (known as the "pre-borrowing" requirement)

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

In October 2008, the SEC amended Regulation SHO with temporary Rule 204T (in place until July 31, 2009) which requires that any broker having a fail to deliver position at NSCC on the settlement date immediately borrow or purchase securities to close out the amount of the fail to deliver position by no later than the beginning of regular trading hours on the following settlement date (the “Close-Out Date”). This close-out requirement requires that the broker take affirmative action to purchase or borrow securities and not offset the fail to deliver position with shares it will receive on the Close-Out Date. Rule 204T applies to all securities not just threshold securities.

Glossary terms: 

I have an open order to sell short stock that should have been executed, but it is still on my TWS and not being filled.

Overview: 

When traders attempt to sell short a stock which IBKR does not currently have in inventory to loan them, IBKR will look for these shares “on the street”, which means from other brokerage firms.  This search is conducted on a best-efforts only basis.  While IBKR searches for the shares, the order status box on the TWS Order Management page should be dark green and will show a small icon of a pair of binoculars, which indicates we are searching.  In the WebTrader, there are no status colors or icons.  The order will simply not execute as IBKR searches for the shares on the street.

How do I sell a stock short?

Procedurally, to sell short, all you need to do is specify your order Action as 'Sell' at the point you create your order. Note that we do not allow you to be both long and short the same security, so if you maintain a long position and enter a sell order, you will close out any long positions to the extent of your sell order and open a short position to the extent, if any, your sell order exceeds a long position.

Also note, that in addition to your account having sufficient equity to meet the margin requirement associated with the transaction, IBKR is required to meet its regulatory obligation of making a reasonable determination that we can locate the stock for borrowing purposes when the transaction settles (typically T+2). If we are unable to locate the stock based upon our inventory and the availability lists provided to us by other brokers, you will see an Order Status color in the TWS Shortable column of dark green. This indicates that there are no shares available to sell at the moment and that the system is searching for shares. The order will remain in this status until the we are able to locate the shares or the time which you specify for your order to remain in force expires, whichever occurs first. You may wish to review the Shortable Stocks link to our website below which provides a listing of stocks available for shorting. A list of shortable stocks searchable by symbol or CUSIP along with their indicative borrow rates may be found through the Short Stock Availability Tool accessible through the Tools link within Client Portal.

Finally, you should be aware that one of the risks of borrowing stock to support your short sale is being bought in with little or no notice. Even though a reasonable determination that the shares can be borrowed will be made prior to effecting your sale transaction, there is no assurance that those shares will actually be available at the time of settlement or any day thereafter. The supply and demand of borrowable inventory for any given security is dynamic by nature and regulations require brokers to force-close any short position having a delivery obligation subject to fail with the clearinghouse on any given day. We will make every effort to provide you with advance notice if this appears to be the case in order to provide you with the opportunity to buy in your own position, however, this is done on a best-efforts basis. Other risks to keep in mind are the special charges which tend to be associated with hard-to-borrow securities that, in aggregate may exceed any rebate or interest paid on the short stock proceeds, as well as your obligation to pay to the lender any dividends which are paid throughout the duration of the loan period.

Why did I received a notice that the financial capacity in my account is less than 5% above the current margin requirement when my stock positions are fully-paid?

Overview: 

IB will issue a warning message to any margin account approaching a maintenance margin deficiency (and therefore potential forced liquidation of positions).  This message is generated when the Equity With Loan Value (ELV for a stock account = Cash + Stock + Bond + Mutual Fund + Non-US Options) is less than or equal to the Maintenance Margin Requirement * 105%.  The warning message reads as follows: 

ALERT: the financial capacity in this account is less than 5% above the current margin requirement.  To avoid a possible liquidation, please monitor the account to ensure that there is positive excess liquidity.

An account which hold stock positions that are full-paid (i.e. no cash debit) remains susceptible to liquidation if the account falls into deficit and the loan value of the stock is insufficient to cover the debit.  This is often the case, for example, when a margin account holds positions subject to 100% margin and a cash balance of $0.  In the event the account is assessed a fee, such as commission, monthly minimum activity or market data subscription, a negative cash balance would results and IB would not be able to extend loan value against these securities to support the debit balance. The account would therefore be subject to a liquidation in an amount sufficient to cover any cash deficit.

Accordingly, the recipient of this warning message may wish to maintain a cash balance in an amount sufficient to cover any potential charges to the account and to avoid a forced liquidation.

What is the meaning of Mark-to-Market and First In, First Out?

Overview: 

Mark-to-Market (MTM) refers to the method of calculating values for positions based on daily movements of the position calculated against the closing or settlement price of the product for that day.  At the end of each business day, the open positions carried in an account are credited or debited funds based on the settlement price of the open positions that day. 

First In, First Out (FIFO) is the practice of using the first initiated position in a security as the trade that is paired off against the most recent closing trade in that same security.  This method is often used for tax accounting purposes.  In other words, it is the method of valuing securities which uses the oldest items in inventory first.

Add/Remove Liquidity

Overview: 

The goal of this article is to provide proper understanding of exchange fees and add/remove liquidity fees for the Tiered commission schedule.

 

The concept of adding or removing liquidity is applicable to both stocks and stock/index options. Whether or not an order removes or adds liquidity is dependent on that order being marketable or non-marketable.

Marketable orders REMOVE liquidity.
Marketable orders are either market orders, OR buy/sell limit orders whose limit is at or above/below the current market.

1. For a marketable buy limit order, the limit price is at or above the Ask.

2. For a marketable sell limit order, the limit price is at or below the Bid.

Example:
XYZ’s stock current ASK (offer) size/price is 400 shrs at 46.00. You enter a buy limit order for 100 XYZ stock @ 46.01. This order will be considered marketable because an immediate execution will take place. If there is an exchange charge for removing liquidity, the customer will be charged that fee.


 

Non-Marketable orders ADD liquidity.
Non-marketable orders are buy/sell limit orders in which the limit price is below/above the current market.

1. For a non-marketable buy limit order, the limit price is below the Ask.

2. For a non-marketable sell limit order, the limit price is above the Bid.

Example:
XYZ’s stock current ASK (offer) size/price is 400 shrs at 46.00. You enter a buy limit order for 100 XYZ stock @ 45.99. This order will be considered non-marketable, because it will be posted to the market as the best bid, and instead of being immediately executed.
If and when someone else sends a marketable sell order that causes your buy limit order to be executed, you should receive a rebate (credit), if an add liquidity credit is available.
 
 

PLEASE NOTE:
1. All accounts trading options will be subject to any options exchanges’ remove/add liquidity fees or credits.
2. Per IBKR’s website, only negative numbers under the Remove/Add Liquidity schedules are rebates (credits).
 
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What is the exchange minimum margin requirement on SSF positions?

Overview: 

In the case of a long or short SSF, the exchange margin requirement is equal 20% of the underlying value of the contract (initial and maintenance margin)

In the case of a hedged position (e.g., High or Low Synthetic strategy) in which a clilent is long (short) a security futures contract and short (long) the underlying security, the required maintenance margin would be equal to 5% of the instrument having the higher current market value.

Will a long SSF ever trade at a discount to the underlying stock?

Overview: 

 

When a large dividend payment is forthcoming or if the underlying stock is difficult to borrow, the futures price may trade at a discount to the actual cash price.

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