Active trading is the act of buying and selling securities based on short-term movements to profit from the price movements on a short-term stock chart. The mentality associated with an active trading strategy differs from the long-term, buy-and-hold strategy. The buy-and-hold strategy employs a mentality that suggests that price movements over the long term will outweigh the price movements in the short term and, as such, short-term movements should be ignored. Active traders, on the other hand, believe that short-term movements and capturing the market trend are where the profits are made.
There are various methods used to accomplish an active-trading strategy, each with appropriate market environments and risks inherent in the strategy. Here are four of the most common types of active trading and the built-in costs of each strategy.
1. Day Trading
Day trading is perhaps the most well known active-trading style. It’s often considered a pseudonym for active trading itself. Day trading, as its name implies, is the method of buying and selling securities within the same day. Positions are closed out within the same day they are taken, and no position is held overnight. Traditionally, day trading is done by professional traders, such as specialists or market makers.
2. Position Trading
Some actually consider position trading to be a buy-and-hold strategy and not active trading. However, position trading, when done by an advanced trader, can be a form of active trading. Position trading uses longer term charts – anywhere from daily to monthly – in combination with other methods to determine the trend of the current market direction. This type of trade may last for several days to several weeks and sometimes longer, depending on the trend. Trend traders look for successive higher highs or lower highs to determine the trend of a security.
3. Swing Trading
When a trend breaks, swing traders typically get in the game. At the end of a trend, there is usually some price volatility as the new trend tries to establish itself. Swing traders buy or sell as that price volatility sets in. Swing trades are usually held for more than a day but for a shorter time than trend trades. Swing traders often create a set of trading rules based on technical or fundamental analysis; these trading rules or algorithms are designed to identify when to buy and sell a security. While a swing-trading algorithm does not have to be exact and predict the peak or valley of a price move, it does need a market that moves in one direction or another. A range-bound or sideways market is a risk for swing traders.
Scalping is one of the quickest strategies employed by active traders. It includes exploiting various price gaps caused by bid/ask spreads and order flows. The strategy generally works by making the spread or buying at the bid price and selling at the ask price to receive the difference between the two price points. Scalpers attempt to hold their positions for a short period, thus decreasing the risk associated with the strategy.
Costs Inherent with Trading Strategies-
There’s a reason active trading strategies were once only employed by professional traders. Not only does having an in-house brokerage house reduce the costs associated with high-frequency trading, but it also ensures a better trade execution. Lower commissions and better execution are two elements that improve the profit potential of the strategies. Significant hardware and software purchases are required to successfully implement these strategies in addition to real-time market data.
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