Yes, definitely – spread bets can help you to hedge a long term position in a stock. Spreadbets are quite efficient to use as a hedge because you can bet on falling prices and the leverage means that you only need to a small percentage of your exposure. Suppose you owned some shares that have experienced a sharp rise and you wanted to lock in this profit without selling the underlying stock. You could short sell a spread bet so that, if the price did weaken indeed, any losses you would incur on the underlying share would be more than compensated by what you’d stand to make on the spread bet.
Most investors have long term shareholdings. When they are concerned about the market turbulence or the near-term outlook they could say, short sell an index to reduce their exposure. For instance a spread trader who feared that non-farm payroll figures were going to be really poor could hedge existing share investments by taking a short spread betting trade on the FTSE 100. Even hedge funds will find a use for this. If you’re a pension fund and expect a short to medium term decline in oil prices but hold a significant position in BP say, than maybe you’d want to short some smaller oilies where you’d expect the decrease in oil price to have a bigger effect than on a share like BP, thereby smoothing over your own fund performance.
Some traders even use technical analysis indicators such as RSI or important resistance levels to judge when a market is overbought so as to time a corresponding hedge. Please note, however, that a hedge eliminates the downside risk but it also removes the possibility of any gains on your shares portfolio which it why it is mainly a short-term trading strategy.