Friday, August 28, 2009

Beginners Stock Trading: Day, Swing, And Position Trades

It is important that you choose a trading strategy before you get too deep into beginners stock trading. You have to evaluate your financial goals, mindset, and time commitment. Failing to do so can end in disaster. There are three basic strategies that you can ascribe to. The primary differences are the amount of time you can commit to trading, and the amount of time you hold onto shares before selling. These methods are known as Day Trading, Swing Trading, and Position Trading

Day trading is the fastest-paced strategy, and subsequently, takes the largest time commitment, in beginners stock trading. In this strategy, you are buying stock and turning around and usually selling it within that same day. As a day trader, you look for large, quick moves in a stock price and try to capitalize on that movement. Also called scalping, the goal is to make quick gains by getting in, ride the upward movement, and getting out…all in a matter of minutes or hours. Rarely does a trade last a full day. Day traders typically look for significant happenings around the company, as those events can ignite the volatility that they’re after. Such events can include the announcement of mergers or partnerships, release of new products, positive results from product testing, or other noteworthy news. Many day traders look to the over the counter markets and penny stocks, as their moves and volatility can be even more pronounced. To be successful at making these quick trades you need to have a watchful eye, and plenty of time. A day of volatility can wipe out all of your profit, if you look away for too long. This method is typically left for the experienced investor with plenty of time available.

Swing trading is a medium-paced beginners stock trading strategy, requiring less time commitment than day trading. With this method, traders are buying stock and typically selling it within a couple days or holding it up to a couple of months. As a swing trader, you look for trends in a stock and try to tag along for that continuing movement. As with day trading, stock trends for swing traders stems from company news. Oftentimes, the same news that sparks a sharp upward trend that day traders seek will actually continue its influence at a less frantic pace. As trades last longer, swing trading takes less of a time commitment. Stocks should continue to be monitored, though not as closely as with day trading. Checking in once every day or two is typically sufficient.

Position trading is a long term strategy, requiring very little time commitment. This beginners stock trading strategy is typically used when monitoring retirement accounts, or saving for other long-term goals. Position traders buy stocks and hold it for months, if not years, before selling. A slow-and-steady gain is the name of this game. Industries that are growing, as a whole, would help narrow down your search. And certainly, well-established, blue chip stocks are best suited for this type of long term growth. Time commitment on these trades is minimal. Checking your account once a week is fine.

These beginners stock trading methods should be reviewed carefully. If you do not have the time to commit, then do not let the allure of a quick profit pull you to day trading. You will lose money if you cannot watch your trades! On the other end of the spectrum, do not monitor your position trades as you would your day trades. That can cause excess worry, and you may sell out too early, because of a small amount of volatility. Swing trading tends to fit most investors for beginners stock trading. It has the balance of a medium time requirement alongside a decent profit potential.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nasdaq Canada Market

Nasdaq Canada is a subsidiary of the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. Putting into simple words, this is the Nasdaq Stock Exchange extended within Canada. Through the Nasdaq Canada Canadian investors have immediate trading access to all Nasdaq listed stocks which allow to raise capital more efficiently. Initially Nasdaq Canada has been regulated jointly by the NASDR and the Quebec Securities Commission (CVMQ) and was opened on 21 November 2000 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At the same time as Nasdaq initiated its trading platform in Canada the Nasdaq Canada Index was created. The ticker symbol of this index is ^CND. Already by the end of 2000 year 142 companies were listed on the Nasdaq Canada.

At the beginning only ten Canadian brokerage firms participated in the Nasdaq Canada trading platform: Scotia Capital Markets, CIBC WorldMarkets Corp., TD Securities, BMO Nesbitt Burns, Canaccord Capital, Capital Casgrain & Company, Mouvement Desjardins, NBC International, Inc. (USA), Pictet Overseas, Yorkton Capital (USA). All these brokerage houses were able to trade more than 5,000 public companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange at that time.

The first president of the Nasdaq Canada was Helen Kearns. Helen M Karens was responsible for leading the overall operation, growth, and development of the company. A native of Montreal, Ms. Kearns had over 20 years experience in the Canadian capital markets as a specialist in underwriting and financial advisory services for high growth, new economy companies. However, on July 2004, as the Nasdaq announced the closing of Nasdaq Canada's office in Montreal and moving all its operations to New York City. Adams Nunes has become a new leader of the Nasdaq Canada.

At the current moment NASDAQ is the largest U.S. electronic stock market. More than 3,000 Canadian and U.S. companies are listed on this exchange. You may find companies from the different market sectors including but not limited by technology sector, retail sector, communications, financial services, transportation, media and biotechnology

"Research in Motion Limited" (RIMM), "Open Text Corporation" (OTEX), "Pan America Silver Corporation" (PAAX), "SXC Health Solution Corporation" (SXCI), "Silver Standard Resources, Incorporated" (SSCI) are some of the biggest Canadian companies traded on the Nasdaq Canada stock market.

Beside Nasdaq Canada Canadian public companies are listed and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) – one of the biggest Canadian stock markets. TSX Group also owns the TSX Venture Exchange (previously called Canadian Venture Exchange) which is located in Calgary, Alberta and has offices in Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto.

Timing the Market for Profitable Stock Investment

It is a fact that we can use the market's trend as an ally in the buying and selling of our stock positions. This is possible because the market signals when it is starting a new bullish trend or a new bearish trend. You can know whether or not the market will support you if you bet on a stock rising, or on a stock declining. Investors can learn to time the market profitably.

A few years ago, there were many news articles about "Market Timing" and the notion that it is illegal. In their ignorance, reporters blurred the difference between illegal and legal "timing." The illegal form of timing was in reference to the way some portfolio managers bought mutual funds. Legal fund investing involves making purchases before the market closes (when the closing price of the fund is not yet known). You purchase with the knowledge that the price of fund shares will be determined at the close of market. It is illegal to buy mutual fund shares after 4 p.m. at 4 p.m. prices. The illegal activity that was in the headlines involved "investors" doing just that. They were being granted yesterday's prices on securities known to have already moved up overseas. Rather than market-timing the correct term for the activity is late-trading. In describing this activity, then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said "Late trading is unambiguously criminal." Actually, there is no real timing going on except that shares were bought late at earlier prices. For example, they lock in a 4 p.m. price of a U.S.-based fund (after 4 p.m.) that holds foreign shares whose prices are "stale"--that is, they were current at the time of the foreign market's prior close but were not yet marked up by the fund to reflect market gains after the foreign market re-opened. Then they sold those shares at the marked-up prices. It is illegal for funds to permit these "under-the-table" transactions. To do so is to cheat other investors.

However, true "market timing" is not illegal. In fact, it is highly regarded among some professional investors as an effective way of improving risk-adjusted returns in portfolios of mutual funds and stocks. I have used these techniques and have found them to be quite effective. Legitimate "market timing" involves the use of probability models and various algorithms to make investments when risk is low (or when the probability of continuance of a new up-move is high), and sell them when risk is high (or the probability of continuance of a new down-move is high). That is, market timing is a legitimate tool used for "timing" purchases and sales with a goal of optimizing risk-adjusted returns for a portfolio. Its roots are in models of momentum, probability, and statistical analysis. It is not the same thing as the procedures known as "fast-trading" or "rapid trading." Theoretically, positions could be held for many months or even years. This form of "timing" can be very profitable and of lower risk than buying and holding through a market's gyrations…and it is legal.

Most professionals warn investors against market timing. That's because most investors haven't got a clue about how to do it correctly. They feel the market is going up so they invest. They are afraid the market is going to fall so they sell everything. Most of the time, they sell when they should be buying or buy when they should be selling. For the vast majority of investors, market timing is a roadmap to disaster. This tendency to market time is also manifested even among some investors who hire professional advisors. They call their advisor and say "take me out of the market…I don’t feel good about it." In doing this, they are overriding the advisor's disciplines and models and imposing on the investment process the rule of emotion (trading disciplines can be designed to make a profit whether the market is trending up or down). received calls like this when it was in the investment advisory business. Emotions are almost always out of sync with what should be done in the market. Those who act this way are attempting to time the market without the tools necessary to do the job right. Even though the advisor may have the tools and discipline to do the job right, the client says, "don't use them…we'll use my feelings instead." This kind of investor is like the pilot who finds himself flying in the fog. Rather than using his instruments (the best way to get to a destination under the circumstances), he decides to ignore his instruments and fly by the "seat of his pants." The outcome is almost certain to be disastrous. A pilot in the fog can feel that the airplane is rising when it is actually flying level. To compensate, he is likely to put the plane into a shallow dive, and end up smashed on the side of a hill. He may feel the plane is veering to the left when it is actually veering slightly to the right. To compensate, he may head out over the ocean rather than toward his destination. By the time he realizes he is over water, he may be too low on fuel to make it back. In the same way, people who invest by how they feel are not using the proper guidance instruments. They underestimate what it takes to move in and out of the market advantageously. Professionals use instruments (indicators) to guide their timing of purchases and sales. Advisors, traders, and investors with the most consistently profitable transaction record rarely base any market decision on their feeling about the market.

An example of a single indicator that might be used in concert with others involves two simple moving averages. More specifically it involves the 10-day and 20-day simple moving averages of a market index. A person would simply watch for the 20-day moving average to rise after the 10-day moving average has crossed it to the upside. The fact that the 10-day average is above the 20-day average tells you that the shorter-term trend is supporting that of the longer-term trend. That is, there is not currently a significant trend developing that is counter to that of the 20-day average and that might cause the direction of the 20-day average to reverse. A person could use the opposite configuration of these moving averages to signal that a bearish stance is appropriate. Of course, this moving average crossover system is an example of only one of the tools that might be employed. To determine whether the market will support a bullish or bearish stance on investments, a variety of tools could be used.

Once it is determined that the market's internal stability is sufficient to support individual stock trends, there remains the problem of knowing which stocks to select and when. Many of the same indicators (but not all of them) can be used for individual stocks that were used for monitoring the market in general. It is important to recognize that no single market-measuring or stock-measuring tool known to man is perfect. There is a certain amount of fuzziness in the meaning of all of them. That is why the expert market timer uses a variety of indicators. Each one paints a part of the picture. That is also why we track a variety of indicators. The indicators are the science part of market timing. However, in the final analysis, the human side of the equation is just as important. Individuals and their own particular interpretive acumen must meld with the instruments they use in order to make profitable trading decisions. The way individuals and their instruments "dance together" is what determines the success of the market-timing enterprise. The same thing is true with regard to the timing of purchases and sales of individual stocks. The more individuals use their instruments and study the relationship between their readings and what happens in the market, the better the two will "dance" together.

The Evolution of Stock Brokers with Online Trading

The fact is, only a registered (SEBI) stock broker can buy and sell shares in the stock market. Such an individual is registered on one or many stock exchanges and is authorized to transact on behalf of others. Apart from that, an online stock broker is very valuable to investors who are not technically inclined and have no or little prior knowledge of stock trading. Such investors can use their own online stock trading accounts to obtain necessary information and place online trades at any time of the day. Others, however, still require a human interface - a real person who will place trades on their behalf.

An online stock broker’s (online service of stock broker) services definitely transcend the traditional format of trading in stocks personally or via the telephone. By using an online stock broker, the investor no longer faces the constraints of location and busy telephone lines. Information technology has made stock market software reliable means of trading in stock on the Internet, and an online stock broker uses this on his client’s behalf. An online stock broker requires considerable working knowledge of the stock market to help investors trade in stocks. Though they are independent of established brokerage firms, they are still bound by the same SEBI regulations that govern offline as well as online stock firms. They have in-depth experience in dealing with actively traded commodities and stocks.

By using such a stock broker, one gains greater access and can also save money on stock trades. Because of this, there are now many investors in the stock market than there have ever been previously. There are now any number of investment choices available, and online brokers can leverage these by the power of the Internet coupled with their own expertise and experience. There can be occasional hiccups while using the services of one’s online stock broker. For instance, the accelerated growth of online trading can cause busy servers at certain times of the day. This makes it difficult to log on to one’s broker’s website. This is not a serious limitation, and invariably applies only to the first and last thirty minutes of a stock market day. Even this limitation will become history as online trading matures. The most successful traders often have as many as four or five brokers, though a single reliable broker suffices for those who only trade occasionally.

Investor or Trader: What's the Bottom Line?

"Buy and hold" say the long-term investors. "Sell losers quickly to cut losses" say the short-term traders. "We are in it for the long-term" say the investors. "Hold only rising stocks, and let profits grow" say the traders. Though most people who call themselves "investors" are not really disciplined, those who are disciplined have much in common with traders.

Most investors are happy if they get a return of 7% to 10% a year. Most traders feel like a failure if they have not achieved at least a 30% return. Investors feel elated if they get 15%. Traders feel the same if they get 60%. On rare occasions an investor will get a return of 30% to 35%. Some traders get occasional returns in excess of 100%. In general, seasoned traders aim for a return that is three to four times as high as that of an experienced investor.

Many "investors" buy shares in a few mutual funds. Mutual funds tend to hold onto stocks while they rise and fall. Other "investors" buy a basket of stocks and hold them while they rise and fall. Both of these groups will, on average, obtain performance that is not too different from that of the market as a whole. On the other hand, "traders" often beat the market's performance by a wide margin because they are selective, pay attention to timing, and do not ride their stocks up and down. They are disciplined in both their buying and selling. Stocks often evidence characteristic patterns of behavior when they are setting up for a meaningful rise. Traders learn to recognize those "setup" patterns. When a stock begins to fall they sell and buy another that has completed an attractive "setup" and that has just initiated a high-volume momentum surge.

Most traders will buy a stock then follow it up with a stop-loss order placed at a calculated distance below its current price. This "stop" is raised each day as the stock rises. These traders do not have to make a separate decision about when to sell because the stock sells itself when it drops to the stop price. For them, stop-placement defines one-half of their buy/sell activity. Our traders use both primary and a backup selling systems. The primary system is usually a well-defined and sensitive discipline that can sometimes generate a sell signal before a well-placed stop is triggered. They also use a stop loss as a backup safety net in case their discipline does not sell quickly enough. You can benefit from their experience by doing the same thing. Stop placement should define at least one-half of your sell discipline.

Let's look at the difference in attitude between most investors and most traders. Most investors will hear of a stock that has been in the news lately because of a new product, technology, discovery, or potential cure. They will say to themselves something like "XYZ Co. is a great company. Someday they will cure cancer. I should buy some of that." Then they buy it. They believe in the company and its long-term growth prospects. During the following year, the stock may fall 5%, rise 17%, fall 15%, rise 20%, fall 10%, rise 17%, fall 7%, and finish the year up 17% from the original purchase price. The investor will be pleased with his decision and with the profit he has made. If a trader hears about the same stock, he will not do anything without first looking at a chart. He will observe that the stock is declining, and will not do anything until the stock nears support or until the stock completes a setup configuration that the trader likes. Then, as momentum begins to build, he will buy and follow the stock up with a stop loss. His approach will give him a high probability of capturing a good part of each rise and of avoiding most of each decline. His total return will be much higher, and his risk will be much lower. Why do we say his risk is lower?

We say his risk is lower because there is no guarantee that any stock will recover. If it doesn't, then buying and holding is riskier than selling immediately when the stock misbehaves. For example, many investors held on to LA Gear when it began to decline, refusing to take a loss when doing so would have allowed them to recover most of their money. They assumed they could get all their money back when the stock recovered. They told themselves that to "buy-and-hold" was the smart way to invest. They might have even patted themselves on the back and proclaimed that they were long-term investors, not "twitchy traders." LA Gear's stock eventually became worthless, and the entire amount invested simply evaporated (not just the small amount of loss that investors were hoping to regain). Genentech fell over 77% from its high (even though TPA was supposed to generate annual sales in the billions and Genentech had the patent rights). Yahoo dropped from $250.06 to $8.02 (over 96%). IBM fell over 76% from its high in 1999. CMGI sold for $163.50 before it plunged to .28. Broadcom was $274.75 before it dropped to $9.52. JDS Uniphase sold for $153.42 before it declined to $1.58. Unisys sold for $48.37 in 1987 before it dropped to $1.75. Each of these stocks had a good story. Some of these stocks no longer exist. None of them are even near their previous highs, and there are many others like them. Any stock can have a similar drop. To us, riding a stock down when it is headed for oblivion is assuming a great deal of risk. These investors cling to the mantra that buying and holding is the correct way to invest because they do not have a discipline for selling, just as they have no real discipline for buying.

High performance longer-term investors (names like Zweig, Dines, Sullivan, Weinstein, Granville, Murphy, and others come to mind) are similar to traders in many respects. In a good year, these people might earn 20% or more while the market rises 10%. They all advocate the use of stop-loss orders to protect assets. The main difference between them and traders is that they have a longer time-horizon, and their stop loss orders allow a greater range of price fluctuation. Like the sophisticated traders, the most sophisticated longer-term investors use stops that are no more distant from the price action of a stock than is appropriate for its volatility and the investor's investment time-horizon. The fact that they have a longer holding period does not mean they can be sloppy with their stop placement. Their targeted gains are much smaller relative to the time invested than those of top traders. They cannot afford to take large losses. Pattern-relevant stops and Volatility-adjusted stops are just as important to top investors as they are to top traders.

How to Invest Online

Like any type of investment or financial plan, online investing is not without its criticism's. The basic's of online investing is simple; it is much like making investments through a traditional financial planning organization, but from the comfort and privacy of your own computer. When you do anything online, you get the convenience of working anytime, anywhere, and having an incredible resource - the Internet - at your fingertips.

Why Online Investing is Popular

In large part, online investments are popular because of the lower costs associated with making purchases, trades, and interacting with a broker or financial representative. Most people looking at making investments are already keeping an eye on their bottom line, and the opportunity to save a percentage of the fee is often enticing enough to warrant complete online interactions.

Online investing also has the advantage of being quick - which is vital in an industry where prices can change as quickly as the weather. In most cases, you also have access to information and updates on your account at all hours of the day, as well. This makes self-sufficiency in investing much easier for those who like to handle and view their own funds.

However, it is important to note that investing online comes in two primary formats: working with a broker and working without a broker. While the first option is a popular way to get the help you need making your investments, the second options carries a much larger potential for bad investments or a mishandling of your portfolio - unless you already have a good handle on how to invest for maximum return.

Still, having an online broker isn't always the best option for new investors, either. Many brokers act as independent agents, and they often make a commission on your investment regardless of whether or not its in your best interest. When you add the anonymity of interacting solely on the web, this increases your chances of falling victim to fraud or to a less-than-ideal broker relationship.

The Online Investment Alternative

Fortunately, there is a way to maintain the ease of online investments without sacrificing anything. When you choose a financial advisor or financial planning firm that offers a combination of online and in-person transactions, you are better poised to get the most bang for your buck. Not only are financial advisors more in tune with the needs of the client, but they can help you facilitate many transactions quickly, easily, and with the results you've come to expect from investing your finances.