3.13.2009

Forex Trading Methods - Day Trading

What is Day Trading?

Day trading refers to the practice of buying and selling financial instruments within the same trading day such that all positions are usually closed before the market close of the trading day. This can occur in any marketplace but is most common in the foreign exchange market and stock market. Many day traders are bank or investment firm employees working as specialists in equity investment and fund management. However, with the advent of electronic trading and margin trading, day trading has become increasingly popular among casual, at home traders. Day traders utilize high amounts of leverage and short-term trading strategies to capitalize on small price movements in highly liquid stocks or currencies. They serve two critical functions in the marketplace - keeping the markets running efficiently via arbitrage and providing much of the markets' liquidity.

Trade Frequency

Although collectively called day trading, there are many styles within day trading. A day trader is actively searching for potential trading setups (that is, any stock or other financial instruments that, in the judgment of the day trader, is in a tension state, ready to accelerate in price in either direction, that when traded well has a potential for a substantial profit). The number of trades you can make per day are almost unlimited, as are the profits and losses.

Some day traders focus on very short-term trading within the trading day, in which a trade may last just a few minutes. Day traders may buy and sell many times in a trading day and may receive trading fee discounts from their broker for this trading volume.

Some day traders focus only on price momentum, others on technical patterns, and still others on an unlimited number of strategies they feel can be profitable. Some day traders exit positions before the market closes to avoid any and all unmanageable risks - negative price gaps (differences between the previous day's close and the next day's open bull price) at the open - overnight price movements against the position held. Other traders believe they should let the profits run, so it is acceptable to stay with a position after the market closes.

Day traders sometimes borrow money to trade. This is called margin trading. Since margin interests are typically only charged on overnight balances, the trader pays no fees for the margin benefit, although they still run the risk of a Margin call.

Profit and Risks

Because of the nature of financial leverage and the rapid returns that are possible, day trading can be either extremely profitable or extremely unprofitable, and high-risk profile traders can generate either huge percentage returns or huge percentage losses. Some day traders manage to earn millions per year solely by day trading.

Because of the high profits (and losses) that day trading makes possible, these traders are sometimes portrayed as "bandits" or "gamblers" by other investors. Some individuals, however, make a consistent living from day trading.
Nevertheless day trading can be very risky, especially if any of the following is present while trading:

- trading a loser's game/system rather than a game that's at least winnable,
- trading with poor discipline (ignoring your own strategy, tactics, rules),
- inadequate risk capital with the accompanying stress of having to "survive",
- incompetent money management (i.e. executing trades poorly).

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 margins for day traders. Where overnight margins required to hold a stock position are normally 50% of the stock's value, 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 or her account can buy $100,000 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 his or her original investment, or even larger than his or her total assets.

The Controversy

The profit potential of day trading is perhaps one of the most debated (and misunderstood) topics on Wall Street. Countless internet scams have capitalized on this confusion by promising enormous returns in a short period. Meanwhile, the media continues to promote this type of trading as a get-rich-quick scheme that always works. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are those who engage in this type of trading without sufficient knowledge (or some even admittedly for a gambler's high). However, there are day traders who are able to make a successful living. Many professional money managers and financial advisors shy away from day trading, arguing that in most cases the reward does not justify the risk. They often cite that no day trader is world renown, whereas icons like Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch are a testament to the success that can be attained by more traditional forms of investing. Conversely, those who do day trade insist there is profit to be made. They say the success rate is inherently lower as a result of the higher complexity and necessary risk of day trading, combined with all the related scams. Overall, the street remains divided on the issue. At the very least they agree that day trading is not for everyone and involves significant risks. Moreover, it demands an in-depth understanding of how the markets work and various strategies for profiting in the short term.

Day Trading For A Living

There are two primary divisions of professional day traders: those who work alone and/or those who work for a larger institution. Most day traders who trade for a living work for a large institution. The fact is these people have access to things individual traders could only dream of: a direct line to a dealing desk, large amounts of capital and leverage, expensive analytical software and much more. These traders are typically the ones looking for easy profits that can be made from arbitrage opportunities and news events. The resources to which they have access allow them to capitalize on these less risky day trades before individual traders can react. Individual traders often manage other people's money or simply trade with their own. Few of them have access to a dealing desk; however, they often have strong ties to a brokerage (due to the large amounts of commission spending) and access to other resources. However, the limited scope of these resources prevents them from competing directly with institutional day traders, instead, they are forced to take more risks. Individual traders typically day trade using technical analysis and swing trades, combined with some leverage, to generate adequate profits on such small price movements in highly liquid stocks.

Day trading demands access to some of the most complex financial services and instruments in the marketplace. Day traders require:

1. Access to the Trading Desk

This is usually reserved for traders working for larger institutions or those who manage large amounts of money. The dealing desk provides these traders with instantaneous order executions, which can become important, especially when sharp price movements occur. For example, when an acquisition is announced, day traders looking at merger arbitrage can get their orders in before the rest of the market, taking advantage of the price differential.

2. Multiple News Sources

In the move "Wall Street" Gordon Gekko says that 'information is the most important commodity when trading’. News provides the majority of opportunities day traders capitalize on, so it is imperative to be the first to know when something big happens. The typical trading room contains access to the Dow Jones Newswire, televisions showing CNBC and other news agencies, as well as software that constantly analyzes various other news sources for important stories.

3. Analytical Software

Trading software is an expensive necessity for most day traders. Those who rely on technical indicators or swing trades rely more on software than news.
Combined these tools provide traders with an edge over the rest of the marketplace. It is easy to see why, without them, so many inexperienced traders lose money.

Techniques

The following are several basic strategies by which day traders attempt to make profits. Besides these, some day traders also use contrarian (reverse) strategies (more commonly seen in algorithmic trading) to trade specifically against irrational behavior from day traders using these approaches.

Some of these approaches require shorting stocks instead of buying them normally: the trader borrows stock from his broker and sells the borrowed stock, hoping that the price will fall and he will be able to purchase the shares at a lower price. There are several technical problems with short sales - the broker may not have shares to lend in a specific issue, some short sales can only be made if the stock price or bid has just risen (known as an "uptick"), and the broker can call for the return of its shares at any time. Some of these restrictions (in particular the uptick rule) don't apply to trades of stocks that are actually shares of an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

1. Trend Following

Trend following, a strategy used in all trading time-frames, assumes that financial instruments which have been rising steadily will continue to rise, and vice versa with falling. The trend follower buys an instrument which has been risin,g or short-sells a falling one, in the expectation that the trend will continue.

2. Contrarian Investing

Contrarian investing is a market timing strategy used in all trading time-frames. It assumes that financial instruments which have been rising steadily will reverse and start to fall, and vice versa with falling. The contrarian trader buys an instrument which has been falling, or short-sells a rising one, in the expectation that the trend will change.

3. Range Trading

Range trading is a trading style in which stocks are watched that have either been rising off a support price or falling off a resistance price. That is, every time the stock hits a high, it falls back to the low, and vice versa. Such a stock is said to be "trading in a range", which is the opposite of trending. The range trader therefore buys the stock at or near the low price, and sells (and possibly short sells) at the high. A related approach to range trading is looking for moves outside of an established range, called a breakout (price moves up) or a breakdown (price moves down), and assume that once the range has been broken prices will continue in that direction for some time.

4. Scalping

Scalping was originally referred to as spread trading. Scalping is a trading style where small price gaps created by the bid-ask spread are exploited. It normally involves establishing and liquidating a position quickly, usually within minutes or even seconds. Scalping highly liquid instruments for off the floor day traders involves taking quick profits while minimizing risk (loss exposure). It applies technical analysis concepts such as over/under-bought, support and resistance zones as well as trend line, trading channel to enter the market at key points and take quick profits from small moves. The basic idea of scalping is to exploit the inefficiency of the market when volatility increases and the trading range expands.

5. Rebate Trading

Rebate Trading is an equity trading style that uses ECN rebates as a primary source of profit and revenue, considering the payment structure of ECN paying per share. Traders maximize their returns by trading low priced, high volume stocks. This enables them to trade more shares and have more liquidity with a set amount of capital.

6. News Playing

News playing is primarily the realm of the day trader. The basic strategy is to buy a stock which has just announced good news, or short sell on bad news. Such events provide enormous volatility in a stock and therefore the greatest chance for quick profits (or losses). Determining whether news is "good" or "bad" must be determined by the price action of the stock, because the market reaction may not match the tone of the news itself. The most common cause for this is when rumors or estimates of the event (like those issued by market and industry analysts) were already circulated before the official release, and prices have already moved in anticipation---the news is already priced in the stock.

Conclusion

Although day trading has become somewhat of a controversial phenomenon, its prevalence is undeniable. Day traders, both institutional and individual, play an important role in the marketplace by keeping the markets efficient and liquid. Some argue that individuals should stay away from day trading, while others argue that it is a viable means to profit. And although it is becoming increasingly popular among inexperienced traders, it should be left primarily to those with the skills and resources needed to succeed.
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What is Forex?

If you would go out on a dinner with your friends or family and you mentioned that you were trading on the Forex market most of them wouldn’t know what you were talking about. The worst thing is that most of the Forex traders that join the Forex market don’t know what they are doing. Understanding what Forex is, is the first good step to your success at Forex trading.


The foreign exchange market (Currency, Forex, or FX) is where currency trading takes place. It is where banks and other official institutions facilitate the buying and selling of foreign currencies. Forex transactions typically involve one party purchasing a quantity of one currency in exchange for paying a quantity of another. The foreign exchange market that we see today started evolving during the 1970s when world over countries gradually switched to floating exchange rate from their erstwhile exchange rate regime, which remained fixed as per the Bretton Woods system till 1971.

Today, the Forex market is one of the largest and most liquid financial markets in the world, and includes trading between large banks, central banks, currency speculators, corporations, governments, and other institutions. The average daily volume in the global foreign exchange and related markets is continuously growing. Traditional daily turnover was reported to be over US$3.2 trillion in April 2007 by the Bank for International Settlements. Since then, the market has continued to grow. According to Euromoney's annual Forex Poll, volumes grew a further 41% between 2007 and 2008.

Forex Turnover

Forex Turnover
Main foreign exchange market turnover, 1988 - 2007, measured in billions of USD.
The purpose of Forex market is to facilitate trade and investment. The need for a foreign exchange market arises because of the presence of multifarious international currencies such as US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Yen, etc., and the need for trading in such currencies. Since you aren’t buying anything physical this kind of trading can be confusing. When buying a currency think of it as buying a part in that particular country’s economy because the currency rate reflects the economical situation of the country when compared to others.

Currencies

Currencies
List of most popular currencies on the Forex market

Forex used to be a closed market because only the “big boys” because you needed between 10 and 50 million $ to open an account. But today, with the development of internet, online Forex brokers have the possibility to offer their services to “little” traders. All you need to start is a computer, fast internet connection and information which you can find on this page also.

This enormous market is like the dangerous sea where you can meet lots of sharks and dangerous waters but at the same time it is the only one where two weeks of trading can hypothetically bring you $1,000,000 out of $1,000 of initial investment.

This is certainly hypothetically because a lot of newbie traders deal with their trades as gambling, that surely bring them to having nothing in the end. You should always keep the phrase "be careful!" in your mind. This market would give you its profit possibilities only if you learn the basic things hard and make lots of demo trading.

The statistics is that as much as 95% of traders come to losing their money at Forex, 5% have profit and less than 1% of traders make large fortune at Forex. You shouldn't produce, sell or advertise anything trading at Forex. Your assets are your knowledge, experience and a small amount of cash.

This market is a platform for banks, transnational corporations and individual traders to change the currencies they possess into other ones. This is the spot Forex market. At this market you can trade with up to 1:400 leverage which means that you'll get $400 on your account for each dollar invested. So, you can trade with the $400,000 sum having invested $1,000 onto your account.

Forex is unique among other world markets because in any time of day and night, somewhere in the world, a financial centre is open for business, banks and corporations exchange currency all the time, with a little lower frequency during the weekend.

Why to trade on Forex?

1. There is no commission fee for trading at Forex.
2. There is no intermediary, you can trade directly at Forex.
3. Forex is open 24-hours a day.
4. Nobody can influence the market for a longer period.
5. High liquidity.
6. Free demo accounts, analysis and charts.
7. Small accounts that allow everyone to try out his luck.

Hope this has answered a lot of questions you were asking yourself about Forex and that you can now start trading. Also make sure that you check out other articles on this blog which can help you earn your fortune.

Good luck to everyone!