What Is the Uptick Rule?

What Is the Uptick Rule?

According to the Uptick Rule of the SEC, short sales must be executed at a price higher than the previous trade. The rule has only a few exceptions. In 2010, a revised rule was implemented that allows investors to exit their long positions before short selling is triggered.


In stock trading, the Uptick Rule, colloquially referred to as the "plus tick rule," emerges as a cornerstone regulation under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) jurisdiction. This regulatory provision mandates that short sales must be executed at a price surpassing the preceding trade.

Strategic investors resort to short sales as a means to capitalize on anticipated declines in security prices. This maneuver hinges on selling at peak values and subsequent acquisition at lower points. While the practice of short selling contributes to enhanced market fluidity and optimization of pricing mechanisms, its potential for misuse looms. The improper employment of short-selling can artificially suppress security prices or expedite a downward spiral within the market.

What Is the Uptick Rule?

The Uptick Rule emerges as a safeguard against exacerbating the downward trajectory of a security's value, already experiencing a substantial decline. This rule mandates that a seller seeking to execute a short-sale order must set a price exceeding the prevailing bid, thereby ensuring the fulfillment of the order during an upward shift.

Originally instituted as Rule 10a-1 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this regulation found its operationalization in 1938. The year 2007 marked the termination of the initial rule by the SEC, only to be succeeded by an alternative in 2010. The revised law mandates that trading centers implement robust protocols inhibiting the execution or manifestation of a prohibited short sale.

Introducing the Alternative Uptick Rule

A novel facet, the 2010 alternative uptick rule, denoted as Rule 201, empowers investors to exit long positions before embarking on short selling. This rule is triggered when a stock's value plummets by a minimum of 10% within a single day. Subsequently, short selling is permissible if the price remains superior to the existing prime bid. This strategic approach endeavors to uphold investor assurance and foster market equilibrium amidst periods characterized by tension and instability.

The "duration of price test restriction" stipulation enforces this rule for the remainder of the trading day and the subsequent day. Its jurisdiction encompasses all equity securities enlisted on a national securities exchange, regardless of whether they are exchanged within the marketplace or through over-the-counter avenues.

Manifesting as a shield, the Uptick Rule's primary objective is to safeguard investor confidence and fortify market steadiness during junctures of distress and volatility, such as instances of market "panic" resulting in steep price plunges.

Uptick Rule: Select Exemptions

Certain exemptions are applicable to the Uptick Rule in the context of futures trading. These specific instruments have the privilege of being shorted during a downtick due to their robust liquidity and substantial presence of potential buyers ready to assume long positions. This dynamic ensures that the price seldom descends to unjustifiably low thresholds.

Fulfilling the criteria for exemption mandates that the futures contract is classified as "owned by the seller." This entails adhering to the SEC's definition: the individual "holds a security futures contract with the intent to procure it and has been duly notified that the position will culminate in physical settlement, thereby becoming irreversibly committed to obtaining the underlying security."


The Uptick Rule overseen by the SEC maintains market balance, requiring short sales above prior trades. Its evolution, from 1938's Rule 10a-1 to the 2010 Alternative Uptick Rule, adjusts for refined dynamics. The 2010 rule empowers investors, permitting short selling after a 10% stock drop, enhancing stability. The "duration of price test restriction" reinforces this, preserving investor confidence over consecutive days.

In futures, the Uptick Rule applies with exemptions for liquid instruments, promoting fair trading. The "owned by the seller" clause solidifies commitment. Ultimately, the Uptick Rule and its counterparts ensure market integrity and resilience.

Uptick Rule
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
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