What is Upper Circuit in Share Market: Buying and Selling Guide

by Siddharth Singh Bhaisora

Published On April 16, 2024

In this article

An upper circuit is triggered when a stock experiences a significant positive reaction, often caused by favorable news, leading to a surge in buying interest from investors. This mechanism prevents the stock from rising beyond a certain predetermined percentage on a particular day. For example, if the upper circuit of a stock is set at 20%, no additional buying is allowed once the stock's price surges by 20%.

Stock markets are infamous for their inherent volatility , frequently resulting in sizeable profits or losses for investors. Contemporary India is witnessing a pivotal transformation in its investment scene, driven by the burgeoning interest of the younger generation in stock trading. This trend has ushered in a distinctive shift in the Indian stock market. However, novice investors might find terminologies such as lower circuits or upper circuits overwhelming and confusing due to the scarcity and often deceptive nature of the available information.

Understanding the concept of circuits might not be as complicated as rocket science, but it's essential for investors to have a thorough understanding before making informed choices. By the end of this piece, you'll have a solid grasp of upper circuits, what they are, how upper circuits are implemented and most importantly, what to do when you hold upper circuit stocks, how to sell upper circuit stocks and what to consider if you are buying upper circuit stocks.

What is Upper Circuit in Stock Market?

An upper circuit in the stock market is a regulatory measure implemented by stock exchanges to control excessive purchasing activity in specific stocks. When a stock reaches its upper circuit limit, it indicates that the stock's price has escalated to the maximum permissible level for that day.

Stocks that reach upper circuits are bound by these circuit limits, which cap their price fluctuations. Essentially, these stocks have achieved the highest allowable price change set by the stock exchange for a single trading day.

Upper circuits are crucial in preventing overly rapid upward movements in stock prices. When a stock experiences significant buying interest with limited sellers, it may trigger the upper circuit. The exact threshold for the upper circuit is typically based on the stock's closing price from the previous day and can vary among different stocks.

Typically, stocks hitting the upper circuit are associated with companies experiencing positive developments or favorable market conditions, attracting investors to buy shares. These stocks tend to appeal to investors looking for potentially high returns, as their prices can rise sharply and quickly. However, they also come with risks of high volatility. Once a stock reaches its upper circuit, no more buy orders are permitted, and trading for that stock is paused for the remainder of the trading session. However, sell orders can still be executed, as the purpose of the upper circuit is to restrict buying, not selling.

Why do we have an upper circuit in the share market?

SEBI has instituted upper circuits to shield investors from sudden and steep price increases that could result from speculative trading or overly optimistic market sentiments. By setting a predefined percentage threshold, the upper circuit stops the stock price from rising above that limit within a single trading day. This mechanism serves as a protective barrier, offering investors a safeguard against extreme upward price movements and helping to stabilize the market.

For example, consider the scenario where on a particular day, due to extremely positive news or market trends, a stock like TATA MOTORS sees its price rapidly approaching the upper circuit limit of 10%. As the price hits this limit, trading in the stock is suspended for the day. This circuit breaker prevents the stock price from becoming overly inflated, which could lead to unsustainable valuations and protect investors from potential losses if the market corrects itself.

Investors are advised to handle stocks approaching or hitting upper circuits with caution, considering both the risks and opportunities. Understanding the mechanics of upper circuit stocks is essential for making informed investment decisions and effectively navigating the complexities of the stock market.

How the Upper Circuit Works in Indian Stock Markets?

The upper circuit limit for a stock is set by the exchange on which it is traded, taking into account factors such as the stock's volatility, trading volumes, market capitalization, and other pertinent factors. In the Indian stock markets , the two primary exchanges, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), enforce upper circuit limits to manage the volatility of individual stocks. These limits are fixed percentage points that, once reached, halt trading of the affected stock for the remainder of the day.

  1. For specific stock categories as per the rules of the exchange, stock circuit limits (upper and lower) are usually set at 2%, 5% or 10%

  2. No circuit limits for stocks that have derivative products or are part of the futures and options (F&O) segment.

  3. All other stocks including including debentures, preference shares etc. have a stock circuit limit of 20%

When a stock hits its upper circuit limit, trading is temporarily suspended, preventing any further purchases at or above this price limit for the day. This mechanism serves as a cooling-off period, deterring overly speculative buying and allowing market participants to reassess their strategies.

The market also employs index-level or market-wide circuit breakers. These are activated if there is a significant rise in indices like the BSE Sensex or the Nifty 50, leading to a temporary halt in trading across all equity and equity derivative markets in India. The structure for market-wide circuit triggers is as follows:






Before 1:00 pm.

45 Minutes

15 Minutes

At or after 1:00 pm upto 2.30 pm

15 Minutes

15 Minutes

At or after 2.30 pm

No halt

Not applicable


Before 1 pm

1 hour 45 minutes

15 Minutes

At or after 1:00 pm before 2:00 pm

45 Minutes

15 Minutes

On or after 2:00 pm

Remainder of the day

Not applicable


Any time during market hours

Remainder of the day

Not applicable

These index-level circuit breakers are based on a percentage of the index’s previous day's closing price. They provide a pause that helps stabilize the market before trading resumes. During this period, no new buy orders can be placed, although selling is still permissible. Once the halt is lifted, trading can restart, and participants can resume placing both buy and sell orders.

What Factors Drives the Upper Circuit Stocks?

When a stock reaches its upper circuit limit and trading is suspended for the day, it typically indicates strong positive sentiment towards the stock or sector. Investing in stocks hitting their upper circuit can offer lucrative opportunities, but it demands careful analysis and consideration of several key factors:

1. Reason for the Rise

Determine why the stock is reaching the upper circuit. This could be due to positive earnings reports, favorable regulatory changes, successful product launches, or overall market optimism. Understanding the catalyst is crucial for assessing whether the surge is sustainable.

2. Positive Company Fundamentals

Evaluate the company’s financial health, market position, and future growth potential. Key indicators include revenue growth, profit margins, and return on equity. Strong fundamentals may suggest that the company could sustain its upward trajectory.

3. Promoter Holding & Institutional Ownership

Increasing stakes by promoters or institutional investors can signal confidence in the company’s prospects. Check for any recent changes in ownership patterns that might support the positive momentum.

4. Industry/Sector Outlook

Analyze the health and trends of the broader industry. Stocks often hit upper circuits when their sectors benefit from favorable conditions, such as technological advancements or consumer preference shifts.

5. Market Conditions

The overall market environment can greatly influence individual stock performance. Bullish market trends or sector-specific rallies can drive stocks to hit upper circuits.

6. Trading Volumes

High trading volumes accompanying the price rise can indicate strong investor interest and support for current price levels, suggesting that the momentum might continue.

7. Risk Management & Risk Tolerance

Despite the potential for high returns, investing in upper circuit stocks involves risks of volatility and corrections. Implementing risk management strategies, such as setting stop-loss orders, is crucial.

8. Stock Valuation

Assess whether the stock is overvalued by comparing valuation metrics like the P/E ratio, Price-to-Book value, and others with industry averages. An extremely high valuation might suggest the risk of a pullback.

9. Management Quality

The capability and integrity of the company’s management are crucial. Strong leadership can enhance investor confidence and support further gains.

10. Liquidity & Diversification

Stocks at upper circuits might experience reduced liquidity, making it challenging to execute large trades. Ensure your investment allows for flexibility and is part of a diversified portfolio to mitigate risks.

Investing in upper circuit stocks requires a careful strategy and thorough research. It's advisable to monitor such investments closely and consider consulting a financial advisor to make well-informed decisions tailored to your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Reasons for Implementing Upper Circuits in Stocks

Implementing upper circuits in stocks serves several important regulatory and market stability functions. Here are three key reasons why upper circuits are used:

Prevention of Excessive Speculation:

Upper circuits help curb speculative trading that can lead to artificially inflated stock prices. By setting a maximum price limit for the day, upper circuits prevent irrational exuberance and speculative bubbles from forming, which can lead to unsustainable market conditions. This mechanism helps maintain fair trading practices and ensures that price movements are more aligned with fundamental values rather than speculative swings.

Protection of Investors:

Upper circuits act as a safeguard for investors, particularly retail investors who might be less informed about market dynamics. By temporarily halting trading when a stock price spikes abruptly, upper circuits provide a cooling-off period. This pause allows investors to reassess their positions and make more informed decisions, rather than getting caught up in the frenzy of a rapidly rising market. It helps protect investors from entering at peak prices right before a potential downturn.

Enhancement of Market Stability:

By limiting how much a stock's price can increase in a single day, upper circuits contribute to overall market stability. They prevent the kind of volatility that can lead to large-scale market disruptions. This stability is crucial for maintaining investor confidence and ensuring the smooth functioning of financial markets. It allows for better risk management by both individual investors and institutions, as they can plan their strategies without the fear of extreme fluctuations within very short periods.

Factors to consider when investing in Upper Circuit Stocks

When considering whether to buy shares after they hit an upper circuit, it's crucial to be aware of the risks and challenges involved. Investing in stocks that frequently hit upper circuits on the NSE today might offer high returns, but there are several factors you should consider to make informed decisions:

Lack of Liquidity

Stocks that reach their upper circuit limits may experience reduced trading volumes, making it challenging to execute buy or sell orders. This reduced liquidity can lead to wider bid-ask spreads, potentially affecting your investment returns due to higher transaction costs.

Limited Price Discovery:

When a stock consistently hits its upper circuit, its price may become artificially inflated. This situation hampers the ability to assess the stock’s true market value accurately, leading to potential overvaluation. When normal trading resumes, the price may undergo significant volatility as it adjusts to more realistic levels based on actual market demand.

Risk of Price Manipulation:

The combination of limited price discovery and low liquidity can make such stocks prone to manipulation. Manipulators may take advantage of these conditions to drive the price up artificially, only to sell at a peak before the price crashes, leaving regular investors at a loss.

Potential Downsides:

While the allure of quick gains from stocks in continuous upper circuits can be strong, it’s important to recognize the inherent risks. There's always the possibility of a sharp decline in stock prices once the trading resumes normally, particularly if the rise wasn't supported by strong fundamentals. Additionally, the stock may not have a solid foundation to justify its rapid price increase, posing significant risks to investors.

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Compare Upper Circuits with Lower Circuits

Upper circuits and lower circuits are regulatory mechanisms used by stock exchanges to manage extreme volatility and maintain orderly market conditions. Both act as temporary trading halts but are triggered by opposite market movements. Here's a table that highlights the key differences and similarities between upper circuits and lower circuits in stock trading:

Upper Circuits

Lower Circuits

Trigger Event

Triggered by a rapid increase in a stock’s price, often due to positive news or speculative buying.

Triggered by a sharp decrease in a stock’s price, typically due to negative news or selling pressure.

Market Sentiment

Generally indicates positive sentiment or optimism among investors.

Often reflects negative sentiment or pessimism among investors.


Aims to prevent excessive speculative buying and potential price manipulation.

Designed to stop panic selling and excessive declines in stock value.

Effect on Trading

Trading is halted or restricted, allowing only sell orders to prevent prices from rising further.

Trading is halted or restricted, allowing only buy orders to prevent prices from falling further.

Regulatory Goal

Helps stabilize the market by cooling off excessive optimism and preventing bubble formation.

Helps stabilize the market by curbing excessive pessimism and potential crash scenarios.

Impact on Investors

Investors must reassess their positions and may face difficulty buying additional shares.

Investors get a chance to reconsider their decisions and may find it hard to sell their holdings.

There are a few similarities between upper circuit and lower circuit triggers:

  1. Volatility Control: Both mechanisms are implemented to control volatility in the stock market by temporarily halting trading when extreme price movements are detected.

  2. Market Stability: They contribute to market stability by providing a pause during extreme movements, allowing investors to make more rational decisions.

  3. Price Limitation: Both set predefined price limits (as percentages) that prevent the stock from moving beyond these limits within a single trading session.

How to Use Circuits on Stocks to Our Advantage?

  1. Understand Market Trends and Sentiments: Monitor overall market trends and sentiments, as these can significantly influence upper circuit stocks. Identify sectors with positive momentum or favorable news as potential investment opportunities.

  2. Plan Your Entry and Exit Points: Utilize the upper and lower circuit limits to set strategic entry and exit points for investments, which can help in capitalizing on price volatility.

  3. Conduct Thorough Research: Before investing, analyze the company's fundamentals, financial health, and growth prospects. Ensure there is robust support for any increase in stock price.

  4. Monitor Trading Patterns and Volume: High trading volumes alongside hitting an upper circuit could indicate strong investor interest and support for the current price levels, suggesting a sustainable upward trend.

How to Respond When a Stock Hits an Upper Circuit

  1. Pause and Assess: Use the trading suspension time to evaluate the reasons behind the stock's spike. Review if the rise is due to fundamental factors or speculative interest.

  2. Wait for Resumption: Once trading resumes, watch the stock’s performance closely. If the stock continues to trade near the upper circuit price, it may indicate sustained interest. However, prepare for possible volatility.

  3. Consider Gradual Buying: If deciding to buy, consider doing so gradually to avoid large exposures at peak prices, especially if the stock is prone to frequent upper circuit limits.

Buying Stocks that Have Hit the Upper Circuit

Investing in stocks that have hit the upper circuit can offer potential high returns, but it requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Here’s how to approach buying these stocks:

  1. Assess the Reasons for the Price Surge: Understand why the stock has reached the upper circuit. Is it driven by strong fundamentals, positive news, or mere speculation? Stocks hitting upper circuits due to solid earnings reports or transformative corporate developments might present good investment opportunities.

  2. Evaluate Market Sentiment and Momentum: Monitor market sentiment and momentum indicators. Stocks at the upper circuit with high trading volumes and positive sentiment may continue their upward trajectory, but caution is warranted against entering at peak prices.

  3. Set Buy Orders Cautiously: Since buying is suspended once a stock hits the upper circuit, place buy orders at levels slightly below the upper circuit limit. This can potentially be executed when trading resumes if the stock price adjusts downward before possibly climbing again.

  4. Use Technical Analysis: Apply technical analysis to determine if the stock is still on an upward trend and to identify potential entry points. Look for patterns that historically indicate sustained upward movements.

  5. Consider the Long-term Viability: Ensure the investment aligns with your long-term financial goals. Consider the company's growth potential beyond the short-term surge, focusing on its ability to maintain momentum with robust fundamentals.

Selling Stocks that Have Hit the Upper Circuit

Selling stocks after they hit the upper circuit can be a strategic move to capitalize on the peak prices before any potential pullback. Here’s how to effectively execute such sales:

  1. Monitor for Peak Pricing: Keep a close eye on the stock as it approaches the upper circuit limit. This is often where prices may peak, providing an optimal selling point.

  2. Set Sell Orders at or Near the Upper Circuit Limit: Place your sell orders just at or slightly below the upper circuit limit to ensure they are executed before the circuit breaker is triggered and trading is potentially halted.

  3. Evaluate the Sustainability of the Rise: Analyze whether the stock’s rapid increase is likely to sustain. If the rise is driven by hype or speculation without fundamental support, it might be prudent to sell and lock in gains.

  4. Consult with a Broker: In scenarios where it's challenging to sell at the desired price due to fast-moving markets, a broker might offer advanced trading tools and strategies to execute sales effectively.

  5. Use a Staggered Selling Approach: If unsure about the long-term prospects but wary of a sudden drop, consider selling in phases. This strategy allows you to benefit from any continued upward movement while securing some profits.


Navigating stocks that hit upper circuits involves understanding the dynamics of supply and demand, speculative trends, and the overall market sentiment. Investors should employ a combination of fundamental and technical analysis, coupled with strategic planning of entry and exit points. Whether buying or selling, the key is to stay informed, act judiciously, and always consider broader market conditions and personal investment strategies.

Check out this article on What is the ASM/ GSM List and How Does It Affect Stock Investors? and What is Lower Circuit in Share Market: Buying and Selling Guide.

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1. What happens if a stock hits an upper circuit?

When a stock hits an upper circuit, its price has reached the maximum allowed limit for the day, leading to a temporary suspension of trading. This mechanism prevents further price increase during the suspension period. Trading resumes under normal conditions after the halt, but the stock remains closely watched for potential volatility.

2. Is it good to buy upper circuit share?

Buying a stock at an upper circuit can be risky as it may indicate an already inflated price, which might not sustain. Investors should be cautious and consider whether the surge is backed by strong fundamentals or merely speculative. It’s crucial to assess the stock’s potential for continued growth before making a purchase decision.

3. Can we buy or sell shares in upper circuit?

Yes, you can place orders to buy or sell shares when a stock is at its upper circuit, but execution depends on market conditions. Buy orders will only execute if there’s a matching sell order at or below the circuit limit, and sell orders can typically be executed more easily unless the demand dries up.

4. Why are upper circuits important in trading?

Upper circuits are important as they help maintain market stability by preventing excessive speculative buying and potential price manipulation. They provide a cooling-off period for investors to reassess their positions and make more informed decisions, thereby protecting both individual investors and the market’s integrity.

5. Does hitting an upper circuit indicate a positive outlook for a stock?

Hitting an upper circuit often reflects positive sentiment toward a stock, possibly due to favorable news or strong financial performance. However, it doesn’t always guarantee a long-term positive outlook as the rise could also be driven by speculative trading. Investors should analyze the reasons behind the surge and the stock’s fundamentals to determine its future potential.

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