In the days before personal computers, instantaneous communications, and sophisticated software, many Wall Street brokerage firms employed veteran traders to sit and interpret the paper tapes of stock transactions that spewed from mechanical tickers across the city. These traders, known as tape readers, would note the price and volume pattern of individual trades in the hopes that they could identify opportunities for quick profits. For example, if the latest trade of a stock differed significantly from previous trades in either price or volume, this might be interpreted as the work of insiders acting before news that could affect the company is announced. The tape readers would then act similarly, hoping their intuition was correct.
Since that time, the stock ticker has been replaced by a massive electronic network capable of analyzing and reporting trade data throughout the world. That technology has led to changes in the way the investment industry functions. One of the more unique positions in today’s landscape is that of the day trader.
Definition of Day Trading
By definition, day trading is the regular practice of buying and selling one or more security positions within a single trading day. No position, long or short, is held overnight. Day traders frequently deal in thousands of shares, often with leverage, and look for small-percentage profits on each trade – often less than $1 or $2 per share. They take positions based upon their analysis of a stock’s probable price direction within the trading period.
Popular day trading strategies include the following: