Trading

Algorithmic trading
Also called automated trading, black-box trading, or algo trading, is the use of electronic platforms for entering trading orders with an algorithm which executes pre-programmed trading instructions whose variables may include timing, price, or quantity of the order, or in many cases initiating the order by automated computer programs. When people use the term "day trading", they mean the act of buying and selling a stock within the same day. Day traders seek to make profits by leveraging large amounts of capital to take advantage of small price movements in highly liquid stocks or indexes. Here we look at some common day trading strategies that can be used by retail traders.


Entry Strategies
Certain stocks are ideal candidates for day trading. A typical day trader looks for two things in a stock: liquidity and volatility. Liquidity allows you to enter and exit a stock at a good price (i.e. tight spreads and low slippage). Volatility is simply a measure of the expected daily price range - the range in which a day trader operates. More volatility means greater profit or loss. (To learn more, see Day Trading: An Introduction or Forex Trading Walkthrough.)


Trend following
Trend following is an investment strategy that tries to take advantage of long-term, medium-term, and short-term movements that sometimes occur in various markets. The strategy aims to take advantage of a market trend on both sides, going long (buying) or short (selling) in a market in an attempt to profit from the ups and downs of the stock or futures markets. Traders who use this approach can use current market price calculation, moving averages and channel breakouts to determine the general direction of the market and to generate trade signals.


Arbitrage
In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices. When used by academics, an arbitrage is a transaction that involves no negative cash flow at any probabilistic or temporal state and a positive cash flow in at least one state; in simple terms, it is the possibility of a risk-free profit at zero cost. Example: One of the most popular Arbitrage trading opportunities is played with the S&P futures and the S&P 500 stocks.


Scalping
Scalping (trading) is a method of arbitrage of small price gaps created by the bid-ask spread. Scalpers attempt to act like traditional market makers or specialists. To make the spread means to buy at the bid price and sell at the ask price, to gain the bid/ask difference. This procedure allows for profit even when the bid and ask do not move at all, as long as there are traders who are willing to take market prices. It normally involves establishing and liquidating a position quickly, usually within minutes or even seconds.


Determining a Stop-Loss
When you trade on margin, you are far more vulnerable to sharp price movements than regular traders. Therefore, using stop-losses is crucial when day trading. One strategy is to set two stop losses:
1. A physical stop-loss order placed at a certain price level that suits your risk tolerance. Essentially, this is the most you want to lose.
2. A mental stop-loss set at the point where your entry criteria are violated. This means that if the trade makes an unexpected turn, you'll immediately exit your position.


The Bottom Line
Day trading is a difficult skill to master. As a result, many of those who try it fail. But the techniques described above can help you create a profitable strategy and, with enough practice and consistent performance evaluation, you can greatly improve your chances of beating the odds.

Forex & Equity specialist
London, United Kingdom
 

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