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A little more on Day Trading

A Little More on Day Trading
The easiest way to capture a nice day trading profit is to buy a stock early in the morning and allow the trade to trend in your favor all day long then execute a sell near the close.  Do this every day and hopefully you can earn a living doing it. Sounds simple right Too bad that it is not as easy as it sounds.  Trending days also known as wide range bar days do occur in individual stocks but they are very rare and finding those stocks at the perfect time is a very difficult task.  In fact these wide range bar days only occur about 5% of the time on average in individual stocks. 

Many times when I day trade I will find a stock that I think will move based on a certain chart setup and indicators that I follow.  For example IIJI last Friday.  I took this trade near the open and the stock went on to trend up all day long.  I keep very tight stops on my day trades so if the trade fails; I am out with very little loss.  My original stop loss is always just below the low of the first 30 minute bar.  During the day if the stock does breakout I adjust my stop up to guarantee a profit.  This stop adjustment if too tight will stop me out of the trade on an intra day pullback and after I am out the stock may continue to advance.  My stop on IIJI was tight and I was stopped out with a very nice $1.60 profit but the stock continued to climb and closed up over $2.00 and has continued up today.  I am happy that I locked in a profit because that is always the goal of a day trader however if my stop was not so tight I could have profited much more. 

By using tight stops I am very rarely able to hold my original position for an entire day. In hindsight it is easy to see what I should have done once the chart is pasttense. However we cannot trade hindsight; we can only trade what is happening in the present. I know from a statistical stand point that my next trade has only a 5% chance of trending up all day and a 95% chance of a significant pullback or even a reversal. Therefore I should set my stop knowing that there is a 95% chance that the stock will not trend up for the entire day. 

Making a Living Day Trading
The professional day trader is in the market to make a living and to do this he must take small gains each day.  Although these gains might seem small they can add up over time.  Remember it is the novices and amateurs that are in the market for the home runs.  They take a position and wait forever for the stock to move and cannot get themselves to sell when the stock turns against them because they do not want to sell for a loss.  So they hold and their portfolio dwindles right in front of their eyes.  Home runs do happen but are very rare and this is why I never swing for the fences.  I just try to consistently hit for many single hits.  By doing this I will out hit the traders going for the home run over time.  Tight stops allow me to ensure that I keep my capital to trade with.  A tight stop such as a one or two bar trailstop will most likely never keep me in a trade for an entire day but that is just my style. If you want to let the trade run the entire day and be in the stock near the close so you can determine if the stock is closing strong you might consider using a wider stop such as a prior significant pivot or a breakeven stop.  For a day trader though a breakeven stop will not make you a living trading.  Specific exit strategies should always be very clearly written in your trading plan

An Important Point
There is one key point about day trading that differs from swing trading.  In swing trading we never buy the open; we wait 30 minutes and then buy.  In day trading I will often take my day trade positions after the first 3 or 4 minutes of the open.  This is because if I wait 30 minutes the stock will have already broken out if it is going to be a mover for that day.  I bought IIJI 3 minutes into the trading day at $9.83.  There are times that I will find a stock breaking out later in the day but most of the time my day trades are made very early in the day.  I also look for quick pullbacks if I miss a breakout. However I do not like buying stocks that I missed in the afternoon if they are pulling back because if the stock has been trending since the opening bell and the stock is now pulling back in the afternoon chances are that the stock is finished for the day.  I want to see stocks that are strong all day and are inching higher as we get closer to the close.

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