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A maintenance margin is the minimum amount of equity that must be kept in a margin account.

The New York Stock Exchange and FINRA​ require an investor to maintain at least 25 percent of their securities’ total value in their margin account, although many brokerages want more. The investor faces a margin call to make up the difference or sell some, or all, of the securities if the account’s balance falls below 25 percent.

Suppose Ted opens a margin account with his brokerage firm so he can buy $10,000 of stock in ABC Corporation. By opening the margin account, Ted has borrowed money from his broker to buy the stock, using the bought stock as collateral.

If the stock’s value remains $10,000, he must keep at least $2,500 in his margin account. If its value climbs to $12,000, Ted must maintain $3,000.

Margin accounts require at least $2,000 to open, and investors can use the account to borrow up to 50 percent of the security they intend to purchase.

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