DEFINITION of 'Sell-Off'

The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the value of the security.


A sell-off may occur for many reasons. For example, if a company issues a disappointing earnings report, it can spark a sell-off of that company's stock. Sell-offs also can occur more broadly. For example, when oil prices surge, this often sparks a sell-off in the broad market (say, the S&P 500) due to increased fear about the energy costs companies will face.

  1. Equilibrium

    The state in which market supply and demand balance each other ...
  2. Security

    A financial instrument that represents an ownership position ...
  3. Pulling In Their Horns

    A collective shift by investors toward a less bullish stance ...
  4. Herd Instinct

    A mentality characterized by a lack of individual decision-making ...
  5. Overbought

    1. A situation in which the demand for a certain asset unjustifiably ...
  6. Oversold

    1. A condition in which the price of an underlying asset has ...
Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Is Now the Right Time to Buy Canadian Stocks?

    Learn about the Canadian stock market and why it has declined over the past five years. Understand if now is a good time to invest in Canadian stocks.
  2. Stock Analysis

    The 5 Most Shorted NYSE Stocks

    Understand what a short sale is and why people would want to initiate a short strategy. Learn about the top five most shorted stocks on the NYSE.
  3. Active Trading Fundamentals

    Understanding Investor Behavior

    Discover how some strange human tendencies can play out in the market, posing the question: are we really rational?
  4. Active Trading

    What Is Market Efficiency?

    The efficient market hypothesis (EMH) suggests that stock prices fully reflect all available information in the market. Is this possible?
  5. Economics

    Sympathy Sell-Off: An Investor's Guide

    Find out how to tell whether your stock is a bargain or a bank breaker.
  1. What are the maximum Social Security disability benefits?

    The average Social Security disability benefit amount for a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in 2 ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I calculate the future value of an annuity?

    When planning for retirement, it is important to have a good idea of how much income you can rely on each year. There are ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Have hedge funds eroded market opportunities?

    Hedge funds have not eroded market opportunities for longer-term investors. Many investors incorrectly assume they cannot ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are high yield bonds a good investment?

    Bonds are rated according to their risk of default by independent credit rating agencies such as Moody's, Standard & ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Where do penny stocks trade?

    Generally, penny stocks are traded through the use of the Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) and through pink sheets. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Where can I buy penny stocks?

    Some penny stocks, those using the definition of trading for less than $5 per share, are traded on regular exchanges such ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center