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Market Neutral


Market neutral is an investment strategy that aims to avoid market risk by being equally invested in long and short positions in many different stocks. This means the overall portfolio would be unaffected by market movements. The goal of this approach is to generate consistent returns with low volatility and minimal risk exposure.


The phonetics of the keyword “Market Neutral” would be: /ˈmɑːrkɪt ˈnjuːtrəl/

Key Takeaways

  1. Market Neutral is an investment strategy aimed at profiting from both increasing and decreasing prices in one or more markets, while avoiding market risk. It involves a correlation of -1 to 1 with market indices, seeking to create a portfolio that is unaffected by fluctuations in the overall market.
  2. The main methodologies to achieve a market neutral position include pairs trading, long/short portfolios, and using complex derivatives. They can help to hedge your investments by investing in securities that are expected to increase and short selling securities that are expected to decrease.
  3. An advantage of market neutral strategies is that they might bring positive returns regardless of whether the overall market is up or down. However, these strategies are also often complex and may carry significant risk, including the potential for large losses if the securities do not behave as predicted.


Market Neutral is an important term in business/finance as it refers to a strategy that seeks to avoid some form of market risk by being equally long and short in different stocks in the same sector, market, capitalization, country, etc. This strategy is designed to mitigate the impact of overall market movements and focus solely on the relative performance of selected long and short positions, thus achieving a balance. Therefore, market neutral strategies can generate positive returns regardless of whether the market is going up or down. This is crucial to investors seeking consistent returns with low correlation to market indices and lower risk exposure.


Market Neutral is a strategic approach predominantly used in finance and investment sectors to minimize exposure to systematic and market risks. Its purpose is to achieve a balance in an investment portfolio by offsetting the positive and negative performances of different stocks or assets. This is typically done by simultaneously buying and selling securities to ensure that the portfolio is equally divided into long and short positions. The intention of this approach is not to depend on the overall direction of the market for returns but to rely instead on the relative performance of the paired securities. Ideally, Market Neutral tactics are utilized to produce positive returns regardless of whether the overall market is trending up or down. It’s a strategy heavily used by hedge funds, mutual funds, and private equity firms to create an investment landscape that strives for consistent returns with lower risk. The technique can be applied to a variety of asset types but is mostly utilized with equities. The main goal isn’t to achieve high returns but rather to minimize volatility and provide consistent returns regardless of the state of the overall market.


1. Hedge Funds: Many hedge funds use a market neutral strategy to balance their investments. This could involve buying long positions in stocks that are expected to appreciate in value and simultaneously short selling stocks expected to decrease in value. This way, the fund aims to achieve a positive return regardless of the performance of the broader market. For instance, if they predict tech stocks will rise but energy stocks will fall, they might go long on tech companies and short sell energy ones. 2. Balanced Mutual Funds: Certain types of mutual funds, such as balanced or asset allocation mutual funds, also employ a market neutral strategy. These funds balance risk by holding a mix of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. This diversification is meant to offset potential losses in any one asset class by gains in another, aiming for a steady return no matter the market conditions. 3. Pairs Trading: This is a commonly used market-neutral strategy, where an investor takes a long position in one stock and a short position in another within the same sector. The idea is that changes in market conditions will affect both stocks similarly, so any gains or losses will be minimal. For example, if two car manufacturers are typically affected similarly by market changes, an investor might go long on one and short on the other, hoping that their gains and losses would cancel each other out, allowing them to profit from a smaller, more predictable range of market outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does Market Neutral mean in finance and business?
Market Neutral is an investment strategy aimed at achieving a zero market risk by balancing long and short positions. This technique seeks to neutralize the effects of market movements, allowing returns to rely on the relative performances of different securities, rather than the overall direction of the market.
How does a market-neutral strategy work?
A market-neutral strategy involves taking a balanced long and short position in two closely related securities. For instance, an Investor could go long on a high-performing stock while going short on a low-performing one, with the goal being for the performance of the two positions to offset each other.
What are the advantages of adopting a Market Neutral strategy?
The main advantage of a Market Neutral strategy is the reduction of risk. Because this strategy aims to balance long and short positions, it is less affected by overall market fluctuations. As a result, an investor can potentially reap profits irrespective of market conditions.
Are there any risks associated with a Market Neutral strategy?
Yes, while Market Neutral strategies aim to mitigate market risk, they are still subjected to other forms of risk. For instance, mispricing or incorrect analysis of the relationship between the long and short positions can lead to anticipated hedging not working as expected.
Can a retail investor use a Market Neutral strategy?
In theory, yes, a retail investor can use a Market Neutral strategy. However, this type of strategy requires significant financial knowledge, analysis, and often access to more sophisticated investment tools that the typical retail investor does not have.
Is Market Neutral the same as risk-free investing?
No, Market Neutral investing isn’t synonymous with risk-free investing. It can mitigate certain market risks, but other risks (like liquidity risk, operational risk, counterparty risk, etc.) still exist. As always, There is no such thing as a completely risk-free investment.
What types of investors typically use a Market Neutral strategy?
Market Neutral strategy is typically used by institutional investors, hedge funds, and sophisticated individual investors, who have the requisite knowledge, research, and investment tools to execute this kind of strategy.

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