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What is Short Covering?

Many investors who are beginners in the stock market often wonder- what is short covering. The share market comprises several terminologies, among which short covering plays a vital role. 

Short covering in share market refers to a crucial component of the strategy of short-selling. According to this concept, investors may incur a loss or profit while betting on stock prices that they will decline. This instance mainly arises when an investor purchases a stock to close an open short position. Later on, they would re-buy the same share while returning them to a lender. With the help of this step, you can complete short-sale transactions. This way, as an investor, you will be able to incur a loss or profit.

Although comprehending the meaning of short covering could be challenging, this post will help you uncover its meaning thoroughly.

What is short covering in the sharein share market?

To learn what is short covering, you must get an in-depth view of the short-selling concept. The idea of short selling entails a transaction in which the trader borrows any security and then sells it in an open market. They intend to purchase it again at a low price. Usually, whenever short-sell transactions are executed, the traders expect the security’s price to fall in the short term. This instance is also known as short positioning. 

Buying security to cover an open short position in the market, whether at a profit or a loss, is known as short covering. Buying the security that was shorted and concurrently repaying the borrowed securities is known as short covering in the context of stocks.

Features of the short positioning cycle

  1. Opportunity – An investor identifies a potential opportunity where the market value of a specific stock is expected to decrease.
  2. Opens short position – The investor procures shares of the company through borrowing at the prevailing market rate.
  3. Selling the stocks – The investor engages in selling the borrowed shares, constituting a short sale.
  4. Waiting period – During this incubation period, the investor awaits a decline in stock prices before concluding the short position.
  5. Closing a short position – Once the stock value diminishes, the investor repurchases the exact number of borrowed shares to close the short position.
  6. Revenues – In the preceding stage, two scenarios unfold. First, if the anticipated decline occurs, a profitable exit from the short position will result. The variance between entry and exit prices constitutes the profit. Conversely, if stock prices rise, the investor incurs a loss, as acquiring the shares back demands a higher price.

How does short covering work?

Closing an open short position requires short covering. A short position becomes profitable if covered at a lower price than the initial transaction, resulting in a loss if covered at a higher price. When substantial short covering happens in security, it may trigger a short squeeze, compelling short sellers to liquidate positions at increasingly higher prices, prompted by losses and broker-enforced margin calls.

Involuntary short covering can occur when a stock with significant short interest faces a “buy-in.” This term denotes the broker-dealer’s closure of a short position when the stock is highly challenging to borrow and lenders demand its return. This typically occurs in less liquid stocks with fewer shareholders.

Too much short covering can cause a short squeeze

You might want to know what happens after short covering. When several traders decide to sell short the stock because they have a poor opinion of a firm, this can lead to a short squeeze. Investors may sell short shares that haven’t really been borrowed using a technique called “naked short selling,” which may cause the total number of shares sold short to exceed the number of shares that the firm truly owns. 

There may be a “squeeze” on the number of shares available for purchase if investor opinion towards the firm shifts and too many seek to cover their short sells at the same time. This might push the price of that specific stock upward.

Additionally, the original brokerages that lent the shares may choose to make margin calls, in which case all shares borrowed by them would need to be returned right away. The number of investors attempting to cover their short positions rises as a result, potentially leading to more significant increases in the share price of the firm.

Special considerations

Compared to investors, short sellers often have shorter-term holding times. To comprehend the risk volume, they so employ short-interest and short-interest ratios.

Investors can learn about the market’s perception of the company’s shares via short interest. The whole number of shares sold on the open market that hasn’t yet been covered is displayed. The optimal outcome in % is provided by its short interest ratio. 

Any significant shift in the short-interest ratio might indicate a potential bull or bear market for stocks. SIR may be computed by multiplying the total number of outstanding shares by the number of short sales of the company’s shares and then dividing the result by 100. 

Example of short covering

Consider the following short covering examples. It is assumed that you are familiar with what is short covering in the stock market if you are reading this post. Let’s now use a brief covering example to gain a bit more understanding of the same. 

Assume that the XYZ corporation has sold 10,000 short shares and 50,000 outstanding shares. Every day, on average, its investors exchange for one million shares.

Additionally, the company’s short interest ratio (SIR) is 10, and its short interest (SI) is 20%. You can see that both percentages are somewhat high as an investment. Therefore, there may be a higher risk involved with short covering

For a few weeks now, XYZ Corporation has been steadily losing momentum. As a result, the majority of investors have begun short-selling. However, the business revealed one day that it had a big client.

Additionally, their quarterly revenue has increased. Short sellers of the company’s shares will now be rewarded with a small profit margin. A lot of investors may lose money if the process goes on. A brief squeeze might also result from this scenario. 


Repurchasing borrowed securities to close open short positions is known as short covering in share market. Since the possibility of a short squeeze is brought on by heightened purchasing pressure and short covering, short sellers often have shorter holding periods than long investors. When market sentiment shifts, these sellers swiftly cover their short sells to reduce any losses. Greater short interest and a higher short interest ratio (SIR) in a stock’s float increase the risk of unorganised short covering in share market.


What are the risks of shorting?

High loss potential: The loss on a short position might be substantial if a stop loss is not applied and the price continues to rise.
Limited potential profit: Since the share price or contract price may only go to zero, there may be a limit to the profit in a short position

Does short covering increase the price?

In the end, the price of the shares rises dramatically due to the enormous demand. The middlemen who lent the shares may also choose to implement margin calls.

Is short covering bearish or bullish?

A decline in open interest denotes a bullish mood, whilst an increase in short open interest implies a negative trend. Additionally, you may see that a short covering rally begins when open interest in short sales begins to decline, and the market or stock price begins to rise.

What happens after short covering rally?

Learning what happens after short covering rally is essential. Since the trader will be exiting the short position lower, the outcome will logically result in winnings. The profit is the distinction between entry and departure. The trader will lose money, though, if the stock price rises since he would have to spend more to purchase the stocks back.

What follows short covering?

If the asset is repurchased at a price higher than where it was sold, the short covering may result in a loss; alternatively, it may provide a profit if the item is repurchased at a lower price.

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