Lawrence Kaplin
Chief Market Strategist at Equals Money
Publish date

Lawrence's Key Takeaways:

  • One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO) Orders are typically used by simultaneously placing a limit and stop-loss order.
  • When either the limit or stop-loss orders are triggered, the other order is automatically cancelled.
  • OCO orders give the user the ability to set an advantageous price target, but at the same time guarantee a worst-case scenario.

In the realm of financial markets, understanding the array of order types available can significantly enhance trading strategies. One such order that merits attention is the One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO) order. This article aims to dissect the OCO order, providing a comprehensive overview of its functionality, applications, and strategic value within the financial sector.

Understanding OCO Orders

An OCO order is a directive used by traders to mitigate risk or to capitalise on market opportunities without the need to constantly monitor their positions. It combines two orders, typically a stop order and a limit order, where the execution of one automatically cancels the other.

Components of an OCO Order

The essence of an OCO order lies in its dual structure. The stop order component is designed to limit an investor's loss on a security position, while the limit order component aims to capture profit by selling the security at a target price. This dual mechanism ensures that traders can manage their positions more effectively, safeguarding against market volatility.

It's crucial for traders to understand the mechanics behind each component to utilise OCO orders effectively. The stop order activates a sale when a security drops to a certain price, thereby preventing further loss. Conversely, the limit order triggers a sale when the security reaches a predetermined higher price, securing profits.

Strategic Applications of OCO Orders

OCO orders find their utility in various trading strategies. They are particularly beneficial in volatile markets where swift price movements can occur. For traders who cannot monitor the market continuously, an OCO order provides a safety net, ensuring that either a loss is curtailed or a gain is realised without the need for constant vigilance.

Moreover, OCO orders are instrumental in breakout strategies. Traders can set orders on either side of a consolidation pattern, allowing them to catch a breakout regardless of the direction it takes. This flexibility makes OCO orders a favoured tool among traders looking to capitalise on market movements efficiently.

Implementing OCO Orders in Trading Platforms

Most modern trading platforms support OCO orders, providing traders with the means to implement sophisticated strategies with ease. Understanding how to set up an OCO order on a platform is fundamental for traders looking to leverage this order type.

Setting Up an OCO Order

The process of setting up an OCO order varies across different trading platforms. Generally, traders will need to select the OCO order option and specify the conditions for both the stop and limit orders. It's imperative for traders to familiarise themselves with their platform's specific procedures to ensure accurate order setup.

Attention to detail is crucial when inputting the parameters for each component of the OCO order. Incorrect settings can lead to unintended executions, which could potentially undermine the strategy's effectiveness.

Considerations and Limitations

While OCO orders offer significant advantages, traders must be aware of their limitations. One key consideration is slippage, which can occur in fast-moving markets, potentially leading to executions at less favourable prices than intended. Additionally, not all trading platforms or market segments support OCO orders, so traders should verify availability with their brokers.

It's also worth noting that OCO orders, like all order types, cannot guarantee profits or fully protect against losses. They are tools designed to help manage risk and capitalise on opportunities, but their effectiveness is contingent upon market conditions and the trader's strategy.

Advanced Strategies with OCO Orders

For experienced traders, OCO orders can be integrated into more advanced trading strategies to optimise risk management and profit potential. One such strategy is the OCO Bracket Order, which involves setting multiple OCO orders simultaneously to capture profits at different price levels while managing risk effectively.

Another advanced approach is the OCO Breakout Strategy, where traders use OCO orders to capitalise on significant price movements following a breakout from a well-defined chart pattern. By placing OCO orders above and below the breakout point, traders can position themselves to profit from the ensuing volatility.

Automating Trading with OCO Orders

Automation plays a crucial role in modern trading, allowing traders to execute orders swiftly and efficiently. Some trading platforms offer automated OCO order functionalities, enabling traders to pre-set conditions and let the system manage order execution based on market movements.

By utilising automated OCO orders, traders can remove emotional biases from their trading decisions and ensure timely execution of their strategies. However, it's essential for traders to monitor automated systems regularly to adjust parameters as market conditions evolve.

Overall, integrating advanced strategies and automation with OCO orders can enhance trading efficiency and effectiveness, providing traders with a competitive edge in dynamic financial markets.


In conclusion, OCO orders represent a valuable tool for traders, offering a means to manage risk and seize market opportunities efficiently. By understanding the intricacies of OCO orders and adhering to regulatory requirements, traders can enhance their trading strategies, navigating the financial markets with greater confidence and control.

International payments made simple
Find out more