But there is an added risk with the shorter time frame. A wide spread between the bid, the ask and commissions can eat too large a portion of your profits. Swing traders can struggle with this too, but the effect is amplified for the day trader. Day traders can find themselves doing all the work, and the market makers and brokers reap the benefits.
Tactics used to take advantage of the uptrend can also be applied to trade the downtrend. Again, since it’s very difficult to predict exactly how long a bear rally, or “counter trend” may last, you should enter a bearish swing trade only after it seems that the stock has continued downwards. To do this, examine the bear rally very closely. If the stock heads lower than the counter trend’s previous day’s low, the swing trader could enter a bearish position.
ECN/Level 2 quotes: ECNs, or electronic communication networks, are computer-based systems that display the best available bid and ask quotes from multiple market participants and then automatically match and execute orders. Level 2 is a subscription-based service that provides real-time access to the Nasdaq order book composed of price quotes from market makers registering every Nasdaq-listed and OTC Bulletin Board security. Together, they can give you a sense of orders being executed in real time.
The systems by which stocks are traded have also evolved, the second half of the twentieth century having seen the advent of electronic communication networks (ECNs). These are essentially large proprietary computer networks on which brokers can list a certain amount of securities to sell at a certain price (the asking price or "ask") or offer to buy a certain amount of securities at a certain price (the "bid").
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.
In either of the two market extremes, the bear market environment or raging bull market, swing trading proves to be a rather different challenge than in a market between these two extremes. In these extremes, even the most active stocks will not exhibit the same up-and-down oscillations as when indexes are relatively stable for a few weeks or months. In a bear market or bull market, momentum will generally carry stocks for a long period of time in one direction only, thereby confirming that the best strategy is to trade on the basis of the longer-term directional trend.
Spreads are bonuses as well as costs - Stock Markets operate on a bid and ask based system. The numerical difference between the bid and ask prices is referred to as the spread between them. The ask prices are immediate execution (market) prices for quick buyers (ask takers); bid prices for quick sellers (bid takers). If a trade is executed at market prices, closing that trade immediately without queuing would not get you back the amount paid because of the bid/ask difference. The spread can be viewed as trading bonuses or costs according to different parties and different strategies. On one hand, traders who do NOT wish to queue their order, instead paying the market price, pay the spreads (costs). On the other hand, traders who wish to queue and wait for execution receive the spreads (bonuses). Some day trading strategies attempt to capture the spread as additional, or even the only, profits for successful trades.
There is a lot of hype around day trading. Some websites promote it as a way to get rich quick (it isn't), and others say it is impossible (also not true). There are lots of day traders around the world who find success and make a living off the markets, so the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes. If you've thought about day trading, it's worth your time to read through and understand the concepts discussed below, so you'll be better prepared for what to expect if you decide to proceed.
Originally, the most important U.S. stocks were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. A trader would contact a stockbroker, who would relay the order to a specialist on the floor of the NYSE. These specialists would each make markets in only a handful of stocks. The specialist would match the purchaser with another broker's seller; write up physical tickets that, once processed, would effectively transfer the stock; and relay the information back to both brokers. Before 1975, brokerage commissions were fixed at 1% of the amount of the trade, i.e. to purchase $10,000 worth of stock cost the buyer $100 in commissions and same 1% to sell. Meaning that to profit trades had to make over 2 % to make any real gain.
Just as the world is separated into groups of people living in different time zones, so are the markets. If you start trading on the Cac 40 at 11:00 ET, you might find you’ve missed the best entry signals of the day already, minimising your potential end of day profit. So, if you want to be at the top, you may have to seriously adjust your working hours.
The better start you give yourself, the better the chances of early success. That means when you’re sat at your desk, staring at your monitors with hands dancing across your keyboard, you’re looking at the best sources of information. That means having the best trading platform for your Mac or PC laptop/desktop, having a fast and reliable asset scanner and live stream, and software that won’t crash at a pivotal moment.
Risk management - Rather than looking for one big trade, the way a trend trader might, the scalper looks for hundreds of small profits throughout the day. In this process the scalper might also take hundreds of small losses during the same time period. For this reason a scalper must have very strict risk management never allowing a loss to accumulate.
Jesse Livermore, one of the greatest traders who ever lived once said that the big money is made in the big swings of the market. In this regard, Livermore successfully applied swing trading strategies that work. This helped him achieve amazing financial results. A simple swing trading strategy is a market strategy where trades are held more than a single day. They are usually held between 3 days and 3 weeks. Here is how to identify the right swing to boost your profit.
Finally, keep in mind that if trading on margin—which means you're borrowing your investment funds from a brokerage firm (and bear in mind that margin requirements for day trading are high)—you're far more vulnerable to sharp price movements. Margin helps to amplify the trading results not just of profits, but of losses as well if a trade goes against you. Therefore, using stop losses is crucial when day trading on margin.