What is the 'Uptick Rule'

A former rule established by the SEC that requires that every short sale transaction be entered at a price that is higher than the price of the previous trade. This rule was introduced in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as Rule 10a-1 and was implemented in 1938. The uptick rule prevents short sellers from adding to the downward momentum when the price of an asset is already experiencing sharp declines.

The uptick rule is also known as the "plus tick rule".

BREAKING DOWN 'Uptick Rule'

The SEC eliminated the rule on July 6, 2007, but in March of 2009, following a conversation with SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, Rep. Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee said that the rule could be restored. Frank's conversations were spurred by a call for the return of the rule by several members of Congress and legislation reintroduced on January 9, 2009, for its reinstatement. On April 9, 2009, the SEC approved the release of five proposals for reinstating the uptick rule, which will each be put out for a 60-day public comment period.

By entering a short sale order with a price above the current bid, a short seller ensures that his or her order is filled on an uptick. The uptick rule is disregarded when trading some types of financial instruments such as futures, single stock futures, currencies or market ETFs such as the QQQQ or SPDRs. These instruments can be shorted on a downtick because they are highly liquid and have enough buyers willing to enter into a long position, ensuring that the price will rarely be driven to unjustifiably low levels.

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