Let your money work for you

Ownership, even a small share, gives investors rights to a say in how the company is run and a share in the profits (if any). While stocks give owners certain rights, they do not carry obligation in case the company defaults or faces a lawsuit. In a worst-case scenario the stock will become worthless but that is the limit to the investor's liability.

Companies issue stocks to raise capital. They may need a cash injection to expand or to acquire new properties. Each stock issue is limited to a certain number of shares, and when they are issued they are given a par value. The market quickly adjusts that par value according the perceived health of the company and its potential for growth.

Investors usually buy stocks because they believe the company will continue to grow and the value of their shares will rise accordingly. Investors who acquire stock in a new company are taking more of a risk than buying shares of well-established companies but the potential gain is much greater. Those who bought Microsoft shares early in the game (and did not sell them) saw an exponential rise in their value.

Stock trading is done on stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System). This

means that only companies listed on a public exchange have shares that can be bought and sold on the open market. Of course, you could also buy partial ownership in a smaller company that is not listed on a stock exchange but that is a very different type of investment than buying stocks.

Because stocks must be bought and sold on a stock exchange, an individual investor needs a broker to make transactions for him. Brokers take orders to buy or sell a certain stock. The order may include instructions to trade at a certain price or simply what the market will bear. Once the broker receives the order he attempts to execute it by finding a buyer or seller as the case may be. The buyer or seller is also represented by a broker and each broker receives a commission on the sale.

Stocks have several advantages over savings investments. Because they represent ownership in a company they give the holder rights to participate in major decisions the company faces. Every share represents one vote and shareholders are regularly asked to vote on important matters. Ownership also allows stockholders to benefit from any profits

the company makes. Profits are distributed in the form of dividends, and may be issued once or twice a year at the discretion of the company directors.

If the company prospers the value of the stock will rise and distribution of profits also increases. The downside of this is that if the company does poorly the value of the stocks may fall.

When compared with savings investments (like bonds or bank certificates of deposit) stocks have the potential to earn more money -- but they also carry the risk of loss.

Learning about the stock market and the various investment strategies can help to minimize loss, and most investors find they do much better on the stock market than is possible with any kind of savings investment.

Stock Markets - stock market investing

The term 'Stock Market' is commonly used to encompass both the physical location for buying and selling stocks as well as the overall activity of the market within a certain country. When we hear an expression such as 'The stock market was down today' it refers to the combined activity of many stock exchanges i.e. the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq etc. in the United States. The 'Stock Exchange' is the correct term for the physical location for trading stocks. Each country may have many different stock exchanges and usually a particular company's stocks are traded on only one exchange, although large corporations may be listed in several different locations.

Stock exchanges exist throughout the world and it is possible to buy or sell stocks on any of them. The only restriction is the opening hours of each exchange. Both the NYSE and Nasdaq for example operate from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time from Monday to Friday. Other exchanges have similar opening hours based on their local time. If you want to trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange your order will be executed sometime between 9:30 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. New York time.

The major stock exchanges of the world are located in Japan (Tokyo Stock Exchange), India (Bombay Stock Exchange), Europe (London Stock Exchange, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, SWX Swiss Exchange), the People's Republic of China (Shanghai Stock Exchange) and the United States. The major exchanges in the US are the NYSE, Nasdaq, and Amex.

Stock markets closely follow the economic health of a country. When the economy is doing well the market is bullish. Bull markets occur during times of high economic production, low unemployment and low inflation. Bear markets, on the other hand, follow downtrends in the economy. Inflation and unemployment are rising and stock prices are falling.

Fluctuations in stock prices are also driven by supply and demand, which in turn are determined to a large extent on investor psychology. Seeing a stock rise in price may cause investors to jump on the bandwagon and this rush to buy drives the price even faster. A falling price can have the same effect. These are short term fluctuations. Stock prices tend to normalize after such runs.

The stock exchange is only one of many opportunities to invest. Other popular markets include the Foreign Exchange Market (FOREX), the Futures Market, and the Options Market.

The FOREX is the biggest (in terms of value of trades) investment market in the world. FOREX traders buy one currency against another and can profit from small changes in value. Most FOREX trades are entered and exited in one 24 hour span, and traders have to keep a close watch on the market in order to make profitable trades.

The Futures Market is a market of contracts to buy and sell goods at specified prices and times. It exists because buyers and sellers of goods wish to lock in prices for future delivery, but market conditions can make the actual futures contract fluctuate considerably in value. Most investors in the futures market are not interested in the actual goods – only in the profit that can be realized in trading the contracts.

The Options Market is similar to the Futures Market in that an option is a contract that gives you the right (but not the obligation) to trade a stock at a certain price before a specified date. They can be traded on their own or purchased as a form of insurance against price fluctuations within a certain time frame.

All three of these markets are quite risky and require considerable knowledge and experience to prevent substantial losses. They also require close attention to market movements. Stocks, on the other hand, are less risky because movements of the market are usually gradual. Although short term investment strategies are possible, most view stocks as long term investments.

Stock Options Trading

Stock options are contracts to buy (or sell) a stock at a certain price before a certain time in the future. Buyers of options have the right to buy the stock at the specified price, but they are not obligated to exercise their option. Sellers of options have the obligation to sell the underlying stock if the buyer of the option wishes to exercise it. A contract to buy is called a 'call option'. The buyer of a call option hopes the price of the underlying stock will rise, allowing him to buy it at less than market value.

The seller of the call option expects that the price of the stock will not rise, or at least is willing to accept a partial loss of profits made from selling the call option. For example: An investor buys a call option on IBM with a 'strike price' (the price the stock can be bought) of $50. The current price of IBM stocks is $40 and the cost of the call is $5. If the price rises above $55 (strike price + cost of call) the buyer could exercise

his right to buy and make a profit by reselling on the open market. The seller would still gain from the increase in price from $40 to $55 plus the $5 he made by selling the call. If the price remains below $55 the call would not be exercised and the seller would profit by $5 per share and the buyer would lose his $5 per share.

Options are traded on specific stocks. They detail the name of the stock, the strike price (the price the stock can be bought or sold at), the expiration date and the premium (the price of the option itself). After the expiration the option cannot be exercised and is worthless. Options have a value and are actively traded. An option to buy Microsoft, for example, is listed like this:

MSFT Jan06 22.50 Call at $2.00

This tells us that an option to buy 1 share of Microsoft at $22.50 before the third Friday in January 2006 can be bought for $2.00. Options usually expire on the third Friday of the specified month, and they are usually traded in lots of 100. To buy this particular option you would have to pay $200 (plus brokerage fees).

An option to sell a stock is called a 'put option'. This gives the holder the right (but not the obligation) to sell a particular stock within a certain time period at a certain price. In this situation the buyer is expecting the price of the stock to fall but does not want to sell outright in case the price rebounds. The seller feels that the price is stable or is willing to acquire the stock at the low price.

For example: An investor buys a put option on Microsoft with a 'strike price' (the price the stock can be sold) of $35. The current price of Microsoft is $40 and the cost of the put is $5. If the price falls below $30 (strike price + cost of put) the buyer could exercise his right to sell at a higher price than market. The seller would have to buy the stock at the higher-than-market price but any losses are offset by the $5 he made by selling the put. If the

price remains above $30 the put would not be exercised and the seller would profit by $5 per share and the buyer would lose his $5 per share. As can be seen, stock options can be used to protect against loss or as an investment

opportunity in their own right. They are generally used as part of a trading strategy which combines the purchase of stock with the purchase of options.

For example, in a bull (rising) market you could buy stocks and call options and sell put options. This allows you to take full advantage of rising stock prices – the stocks you buy will rise in value, the call options will allow you to buy stock at less than market prices, and if the market dips and the buyer of your put option exercises it, you can pick up additional stocks at low prices. If the buyer does not exercise the option, you make money from the sale of the option.

Conversely, in a bear market, you can sell stocks, sell calls, and buy puts to limit losses and generate profits. Unstable markets can use a mixture of puts and calls to maximize profit potential.

Options are traded on Futures and Options Exchanges. There are 6 such exchanges in the United States including the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). In Europe the main options exchanges are Euronext.liffe and Eurex.

Stock Prices and Quotes

In glancing through the stock prices listed in the newspaper one might wonder how stocks are priced and what affects price movement. After all, there is a wide variety of

prices and some well-known companies are traded for relatively low prices while obscure listings may sell at high prices. To a certain extent stock prices are determined by investor confidence but that confidence in turn is based on real or perceived performance. Companies report their financial status on a quarterly basis when they disclose cash flow, sales and earnings.

These hard numbers are the foundation of a company's worth, but investor speculation can undermine or override actual financial data.

Rumors abound on the stock market, and if there is news that a company is about to make a strategic move buyers may flock to buy that stock. As with any other market, the principal of supply and demand applies. If there is a sudden upsurge in investor interest, the price of a stock will rise accordingly. Conversely, fear among investors can cause a stock price to plummet. In the long run, however, company performance and worth are the biggest factors in determining stock prices.

Stock prices are available from many sources. Newspapers carry market summaries of the day's movements and online sources can provide current prices around the clock. Stock brokers can also provide quotes – either online or by telephone in the case of full service brokers.

A stock quote table in a newspaper or Internet web site is full of useful information that can help the investor make decisions about buying or selling stocks. Being able to read a stock table is a necessary skill for anyone interested in the stock market.

A typical table looks something like this:

Latest Change 52 Weeks

Symbol Price Net % Time High Low Volume High Low

BCE 31.150 -0.480 -1.52 16:57 31.750 31.110 3,643,000 33.000 27.150

BGM 17.060 -0.280 -1.61 15:54 17.300 17.040 207,400 26.850 17.110

IBM 79.820 -0.290 -0.36 16:01 80.680 79.560 4,999,200 99.100 71.850

MSFT 24.670 -0.310 -1.24 16:00 25.050 24.670 73,696,700 27.940 23.820

The first column tells you the name of the company by its ticker symbol – a 3 or 4

character abbreviation. BCE is Bell Canada Enterprises and MSFT is Microsoft. Ticker symbols can be looked up on the Internet.

The latest price is the price at the time of publication of the table. In newspapers this would generally be the day's closing price, but Internet tables may be updated every few

minutes. Publicly viewable stock prices on the Internet usually have a lag of 15 or 20 minutes.

Change is the difference between the previous day's closing price and the current quote. Time shows the time of the last transaction. High, Low, and Volume all refer to the current (or last) trading day. High is the highest price the stock sold for, Low is the lowest price, and Volume is the number of shares that have been traded. Finally the 52 week High and Low shows you the highest and lowest prices in the previous year.

There may be additional columns for information about Bid Price (the price a buyer is willing to pay), Ask Price (the price a seller is willing to sell), Price/Earnings ratio (P/E – the stock price divided by the earnings per share), Market Cap (outstanding shares multiplied by current market price), and Dividends Per Share (the current annual dividend the company pays).

Stock Splits

One of the alluring myths that surrounds the stock market is the prospect that a certain stock may split, giving stock holders twice as many shares as before. What is poorly understood by the outsider, though, is that although the investor has more stock after a split, the value of each share is reduced. For example, if a corporation decides to split its stock 2-for-1, it issues one new share for each outstanding one. At the same time, the value of each share is cut in half. So the stock holders now hold twice as many sharesbut the total value is the same as before the split. A stock split is like receiving 2 five dollar bills for a single ten-dollar bill. Same value – twice as much paper.

Why would a company do this?

A lot of it has to do with investor psychology. The price-per-share of a stock may be so high that the average investor feels it is out of his reach. A stock split reduces the price so that it may be more affordable to smaller investors. In reality, the small investor could

have bought a smaller number of pre-split shares for the same price, but the appeal of buying a $20 stock as opposed to a $60 may be strong for some investors.

Stocks can be split by a number of ratios but the most common are 2-for-1, 3-for-2, and 3-for-1. Stocks can also be reverse-split – the company reduces the number of outstanding shares so that each stock holder has fewer shares than before. Reverse stock splits are less common, but can be used for several reasons: the price per share may be so low that it appears as a poor investment; the company may be attempting to stave off

possible de-listment on the stock exchange; to push out minority stockholders; or as away to go private.


Lower prices per share can result in greater liquidity – stocks are easier to sell at lower prices and there is less of a bid/ask spread. This is especially true for stocks that are priced in the hundreds of dollars – small investors view them as out of their budget and the high bid/ask spreads (the difference between buying and selling prices) can put off bigger investors.

Other advantages have to do with investor psychology. A split is usually seen as a bullish indicator – stock prices are increasing and the company is doing well financially. There is usually a short-term rally around a stock which splits, but the market tends to normalize after a short period.

On the downside, a split may cause investors to expect more about how the company performs. If these expectations are not met investor confidence may be shaken and the result could be a drop in share prices.

The bottom line is a stock split does nothing to affect the worth or performance of a company It may be nice to own more shares, but in the end your 2 five-dollar bills are still worth the same as your ten-dollar bill.

Stock Trading Signals

By following a trading system, market condition will at times be favourable to buy and at other times be favorable to sell. Clearly defined conditions give 'signals' that the educated investor can read and act on. Signals are not as crucial for the long term investor. For these people, market conditions and the value of particular companies can be watched on a daily basis. For day-traders, however, signals are crucial for acting quickly on stock market movements.

Investors who treat trading as a full-time job have the time to watch the market movements for signals. Oftentimes, however, signals can be automated and integrated into trading software. The investor can choose which signals to be alerted about and they will automatically appear on screen. Software signals are usually only available by subscription and some services charge hundreds of dollars a year for a complete package. This includes trading software and access to up-to-the-minute charts for the

latest information about the stock market.

Investors who don't have the time to watch the market closely can subscribe to services which publish signals on a daily or hourly basis. These services may employ market analysts who may follow several indicators to arrive at a particular signal. More commonly, however, their systems are completely automated with signals being generated by software which examines market conditions. Some of these services have a

better track record than others – it's a good idea to research them before signing up. With any third-party signal provider it pays to know how the signals are being generated. Since there are such a large number of market indicators some of them may contradict each other. In addition, a particular indicator may send out conflicting signals depending on the time frame.

Market conditions also play an important part on the accuracy of indicators. During upswings in the market, for example, trend indicators will send out buy signals but longer term oscillator indicators will view the market as being overbought and send out a sell signal. Generally speaking, trend indicators are most accurate during trend conditions and oscillators are best during times of transition. Both types of indicators are often in variance with the other.

To overcome these problems, try to find a signal generator that uses at least 3 market indicators for verification. Signals that are verified by 3 different indicators are strong and tend to be accurate. It is also important to look at signals from varying time frames. An upswing may simply be a short term correction and the market may afterwards continue its downward movement. Taking a broad view of market conditions allows you to see these variations more clearly. Depending on the type of service you sign up for, signals can be delivered by email on a daily basis, available for viewing on a website, or be integrated into your trading software so that popups appear on your screen for particular signals that you are watching.

Companies which provide signals usually offer their services on a monthly basis. Some are quite expensive – as high as several hundred dollars a month. These are obviously aimed at the professional trader but other services are also available at more reasonable costs.

The value of these services has to be weighed by the individual investor. They can be a great time saver but they may also encourage laziness when it comes to analyzing the market. A knowledgeable trader should have the tools necessary to judge the effectiveness of a signal system and do some of the calculations himself to keep on top of the market.

Stock Trading Strategies

There are two basic ways to trade the stock market – shooting in the barrel or using strategies to determine which stocks to buy, when to sell, and how to protect your investment dollars. Needless to say, strategies outperform barrel shooting by a large margin. There are, however, hundreds of trading strategies to choose from. Of all of these

there are a couple of tried and trued methods that have worked well for investors over many years. The beginning investor is advised to investigate some of these basic strategies and see for himself how they perform. New strategies can be explored once the basic ones are well-understood.


Hedging is a way of protecting an investment by reducing the risks involved in holding a particular stock. The risk that the price of the stock will drop can be offset by buying a put option that allows you to sell at the stock at a particular price within a certain time frame.

If the price of the stock falls, the value of the put option will increase. Buying put options against individual stocks is the most expensive hedging strategy. If you have a broad portfolio a better option may be to buy a put option on the stock market itself. This protects you against general market declines. Another way to hedge against market declines is to sell financial futures like the S&P 500 futures.

Dogs of the Dow

This is a strategy that became popular during the 1990s. The idea is to buy the best-value stocks in the Dow Industrial Average by choosing the 10 stocks that have the lowest P/E ratios and the highest dividend yields. The companies on the Dow Index are mature companies that offer reliable investment performance. The idea is that the lowest 10 on the Dow have the most potential for growth over the coming year. A new twist on the Dogs of the Dow is the Pigs of the Dow. This strategy selects the worst 5 Dow stocks by looking at the percentage of price decline in the previous year. As with the Dogs, the idea is that the Pigs stand to rebound more than the others.

Buying on Margin

Buying on margin means to buy stocks with borrowed money – usually from your broker. Margin gives you more return than if you were to pay the full cost outright because you receive more stock for a lower initial investment. Margin buying can also be risky because if the stock loses value your losses will be correspondingly greater. When buying on margin the investor should have stop-loss orders in place to limit losses in the case of market reversal. The amount of margin should be limited to about 10% of the value of your total account.

Dollar Cost and Value Averaging

Dollar cost averaging involves investing a fixed dollar amount on a regular basis. An example would be buying shares of a mutual fund on a monthly basis. If the fund drops in price the investor will receive more shares for his money. Conversely, when the price is higher, the fixed amount will buy fewer shares. An alternative to this is value averaging. The investor decides on a regular value he wishes to invest. For example, he may wish to invest $100 a month in a mutual fund.

When the price of the fund is high he puts a higher dollar amount in the fund and when the price is low he spends less money. This averages out his investment to the original $100 per month. Value averaging almost always

outperforms dollar cost averaging as a percentage return on the money invested. When used as part of a broader trading strategy it can help secure the growth of your investment fund.

Stocks versus Bonds

Whereas stocks give investors part ownership of a company, bonds are loans made by investors to corporations or governments. Rather than benefiting from company profits the way that stock holders do, bond holders receive a fixed rate of return – a percentage of the bond's original offering price. The return is called the 'coupon rate'. Bonds have a maturity date at which time the principal amount is returned. Bonds can be issued for any period of time – some take up to 30 years to mature.

Bonds always carry the risk that the principal amount may not be paid back. Companies with higher credit worthiness are more likely to be safe investments but their coupon rate will be lower than companies with lower credit ratings. Credit ratings are provided by firms such as Standard and Poor and Moody's Investor Service. Credit ratings range from a high AAA to a low D. US government bonds are considered to be the safest type of bonds. Blue chip corporations (those with established performance records that span over many decades) are also very safe bond investments. Smaller corporations have a greater risk of defaulting on their bonds, but bond-holders are preferential creditors and will get compensated before stock holders in the event that the business goes bankrupt.

Bonds can be bought and sold on the open market. Their value fluctuates according to the level of interest rates in the general economy. For example, if you hold a $1000 bond that pays 5% per year in interest you can sell the bond at higher than face value as long as interest rates are below 5%. If they rise above 5%, your bond can still be sold but usually at less than face value. This is because investors are able to get a higher interest rate than what your bond pays so in order to offset the difference your bond has to be sold at a lower cost.

Most bonds are traded in the Over-The-Counter (OTC) market which is made up of banks and security firms. Some corporate bonds are also listed on stock exchanges and may be bought through stock brokers. New issues of bonds are usually sold in $5000 increments while bonds bought and sold after the initial issues are quoted in increments of $100. A bond that is listed at 96 is selling for $96 per $100 face value.

Stocks or Bonds

When deciding whether to invest in stocks or bonds, the risks versus the potentials have to be weighed. Stocks have much greater potential to increase in value but they are also more subject to market fluctuations. Investment grade bonds (those with a rating of BBB or better) carry less risk but offer a relatively low yield. Most investors agree that for the short term, bonds offer greater security and return. The situation changes, however, when time spans of longer than 10 years are considered. The stock market has consistently outperformed bond investments by a large factor. This is

because companies continue to increase in value and any short term fluctuations in the stock market are smoothed out over time.

Bonds still have their place in most portfolios, however. They provide a stable investment which helps to cushion against stock market fluctuation. A mixture of investments including stocks from various industries, bonds and other fixed-income investments is the way to provide maximum growth while securing your investment funds for the future.

Stocks versus Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is a diverse holding of stocks that are managed on behalf of the investors that buy into the fund. A mutual fund allows an investor to take advantage of a diversified portfolio without having to invest a large sum of money.

What is the advantage of a diversified portfolio? It offers protection against rapid market losses of any one particular stock. If a portfolio is spread across 20 stocks, if any one of those stocks quickly loses value the effect is less than if the portfolio consisted of that one stock by itself.

When investing it is always a good idea to diversify. The problem for small investors is that they often don't have the funds to buy a variety of stocks. Mutual funds allow small investors to benefit from diversification with a small amount of money. Besides stocks, mutual funds can be made up of a variety of holdings including bonds and money market instruments. A mutual fund is actually a company and investors that buy into a fund are buying shares of that company. Shares in a mutual fund are bought directly from the fund itself or brokers acting on behalf of the fund. Shares can be redeemed by selling them back to the fund.

Some funds are managed by investment professionals who decide which securities to include in the fund. Non-managed funds are also available. They are usually based on an index such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The fund simply duplicates the holdings of the index it is based on so that if the Dow Jones (for example) rises by 5% the mutual

fund based on that index also rises by the same amount. Non-managed funds often perform very well – sometimes better than managed funds.

There are downsides to mutual funds. There are usually fees that must be paid no matter how the fund performs, and the individual investor has no say in which securities can be included in the fund. Also, the actual value of a mutual fund share is not known with the same precision as stocks on the stock market.

Mutual funds are often a better choice for the small investor than either stocks or bonds. They offer the diversity that provides cushion against sudden stock market movements and usually provide a greater return than bonds. Of course, mutual funds can also lose value, especially in the short term, so short term investors may be better off with bonds which offer a set rate of return.

There are three main types of mutual funds: money market funds, bond funds and stock funds. Money market funds offer the lowest risk – they consist solely of high quality investments such as those issued by the US government and blue chip corporations.

Money market funds have rarely lost money, but they pay a low rate of return. Bond funds aim to produce higher yields than money market funds and therefore carry a correspondingly higher risk. All the risks that are associated with bonds – company bankruptcy, falling interest rates – also apply to bond funds. Stock funds usually have the greatest potential for profitable investment but also carry the greatest risk. The risk is more for short-term holders of mutual funds – stocks have traditionally outperformed other investment instruments in the long run.

There are different types of stock funds including 'growth funds' that attempt to maximize capital gain and 'income funds' that concentrate on stocks that pay regular dividends. Mutual funds are an ideal investment for those with limited funds or investment experience. Choosing the right fund is a decision on how much risk you are willing to take against your expected return on your investment.

Technical Analysis Part Two – Indicators and Patterns

When glancing at charts the untrained eye may simply see random movements from one day to the next. Trained analysts, however, see patterns that are used to predict future movements of stock prices. There are hundreds of different indicators and patterns that can be applied. There is no one single reliable indicator, but when taken into consideration with others, investors can be quite successful in predicting price movements.


One of the most popular patterns is Cup and Handle. Prices start out relatively high then dip and come back up (the cup). They finally level out for a period (handle) before making a breakout – a sudden rise in price. Investors who buy on the handle can make good profits.

Another popular pattern is Head and Shoulders. This is formed by a peak (first shoulder) followed by a dip and then a higher peak (the head) followed again by a dip and a rise (the second shoulder). This is taken to be a bearish pattern with prices to fall substantially after the second shoulder.


Moving Average

The most popular indicator is the moving average. This shows the average price over a period of time. For a 30 day moving average you add the closing prices for each of the 30 days and divide by 30. The most common averages are 20, 30, 50, 100, and 200 days. Longer time spans are less affected by daily price fluctuations. A moving average is plotted as a line on a graph of price changes. When prices fall below the moving average

they have a tendency to keep on falling. Conversely, when prices rise above the moving average they tend to keep on rising.

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

This indicator compares the number of days a stock finishes up with the number of days it finishes down. It is calculated for a certain time span – usually between 9 and 15 days.

The average number of up days is divided by the average number of down days. This number is added to one and the result is used to divide 100. This number is subtracted from 100. The RSI has a range between 0 and 100. A RSI of 70 or above can indicate a stock which is overbought and due for a fall in price. When the RSI falls below 30 the stock may be oversold and is a good time to buy. These numbers are not absolute – they can vary depending on whether the market is bullish or bearish. RSI charted over longer periods tend to show less extremes of movement. Looking at historical charts over a period of a year or so can give a good indicator of how a stock price moves in relation to its RSI.

Money Flow Index (MFI)

The RSI is calculated by following stock prices, but the Money Flow Index (MFI) takes into account the number of shares traded as well as the price. The range is from 0 to 100 and just like the RSI, an MFI of 70 is an indicator to sell and an MFI of 30 is an indicator to buy. Also like the RSI, when charted over longer periods of time the MFI can be more accurate as an indicator.

Bollinger Bands

This indicator is plotted as a grouping of 3 lines. The upper and lower lines are plotted according to market volatility. When the market is volatile the space between these lines widens and during times of less volatility the lines come closer together. The middle line is the simple moving average between the two outer lines (bands). As prices move closer to the lower band the stronger the indication is that the stock is oversold – the price should soon rise. As prices rise to the higher band the stock becomes more overbought

meaning prices should fall. Bollinger bands are often used by investors to confirm other indicators. The wise technical analyst will always use a number of indicators before making a decision to trade a particular stock.

Types of Trading in Stocks

The stock market is a reliable indicator of the actual value of companies which issue stock. Values of stocks are based on verifiable financial data such as sales figures, assets and growth. This reliability makes the stock market a good choice for long term investing – well-run companies should continue to grow and provide dividends for their stockholders.

The stock market also provides opportunities for short-term investors. Market skittishness can cause prices to fluctuate quite rapidly and investor psychology can cause prices to fall or rise – even if there is no financial basis for these variations.

How does this happen? News reports, government announcements about the economy, and even rumors can cause investors to become nervous or to suspect that a company will increase in value. When the price starts to fall or rise, other investors will jump on the bandwagon, causing an even faster acceleration in price. Eventually the market will correct itself, but for savvy short-term investors who watch the market closely, these price changes can offer opportunities for profitable trading. Short term traders are divided into 3 categories: Position Traders, Swing Traders, and

Day Traders.

Position Traders

Position trading is the longest term trading style of the three. Stocks could be held for a relatively long period of time compared with the other trading styles. Position traders expect to hold on to their stocks for anywhere from 5 days to 3 or 6 months. Position traders are watching for fundamental changes in value of a stock. This information can be gleaned from financial reports and industry analyses. Position trading does not require a

great deal of time. An examination of daily reports is enough to plan trading strategies. This type of trading is ideal for those who invest in the stock market to supplement their income. The time needed to study the stock market can be as little as 30 minutes a day and can be done after regular work hours.

Swing Traders

Swing traders hold stocks for shorter periods than position traders – generally from one to five days. The swing trader is looking for changes in the market that are driven more by emotion than fundamental value. This type of trading requires more time than position trading but the payback is often greater. Swing traders usually spend about 2 hours a day researching stocks and executing orders. They need to be able to identify trends and pick out trading opportunities. They usually rely on daily and intraday charts to plot stock movements.

Day Traders

Day trading is commonly thought of as the most risky way to play the stock market. This may be true if the trader is uneducated, but those who know what they are doing know how to limit their risk and maximize their profit potential. Day trading refers to buying and selling stock in very short periods of time – less than a day but often as short as a few minutes. Day traders rely on information that can influence price moves and have to plot when to get in and out of a position. Day traders need to be rational and analytical.

Emotional buyers will quickly lose money in this type of trading. Because of the close attention needed to market conditions, day trading is a full-time profession.


Stay updated with our latest articles, deals and offers.