Solid article breaking down the two main strategies for swing trading. I stumbled on swing trading about 5-6 years ago and didn't even actually know what it was called at the time! For the last 5 years, I've been primarily trading postive reversals using the Swing Low method you describe here. After all, we've been in this amazing bull market for the last 8 years, so why fight the overall trend? One key point I would say is it is important to find a method that fit's your personality. I used attempt swing trades based upon breakouts. I found that I feared missing out on a large move, so I would pile into a trade with little thought about the risk vs. reward. I would chase prices higher. I also chased different trading methods, jumping from one to another. Long story short...it didn't work. :-) I described after much trial & error, I finally settled on a trading method that fit my personality. I have found that as a trader, you answer to yourself. Find a trading met
In March 2000, this bubble burst, and a large number of less-experienced day traders began to lose money as fast, or faster, than they had made during the buying frenzy. The NASDAQ crashed from 5000 back to 1200; many of the less-experienced traders went broke, although obviously it was possible to have made a fortune during that time by short selling or playing on volatility.
Of course, you still have to factor in losses. Smaller gains can only produce growth in your portfolio if losses are kept small. Rather than the normal 7% to 8% stop loss, take losses quicker at a maximum of 2% to 3%. This will keep you at a 3-to-1 profit-to-loss ratio, a sound portfolio management rule for success. It's a critical component of the whole system since an outsized loss can quickly wipe away a lot of progress made with smaller gains.
The common use of buying on margin (using borrowed funds) amplifies gains and losses, such that substantial losses or gains can occur in a very short period of time. In addition, brokers usually allow bigger margin for day traders. In the United States for example, while the initial margin required to hold a stock position overnight are 50% of the stock's value due to Regulation T, many brokers allow pattern day trader accounts to use levels as low as 25% for intraday purchases. This means a day trader with the legal minimum $25,000 in his account can buy $100,000 (4x leverage) worth of stock during the day, as long as half of those positions are exited before the market close. Because of the high risk of margin use, and of other day trading practices, a day trader will often have to exit a losing position very quickly, in order to prevent a greater, unacceptable loss, or even a disastrous loss, much larger than her original investment, or even larger than her total assets.
In addition to knowledge of basic trading procedures, day traders need to keep up on the latest stock market news and events that affect stocks—the Fed's interest rate plans, the economic outlook, etc. So do your homework. Make a wish list of stocks you'd like to trade and keep yourself informed about the selected companies and general markets. Scan business news and visit reliable financial websites.