Swing traders are looking to capture any “swings”or movements in the price of assets in the market.
Swing traders use tools such as technical analysis to find opportunities in swings. As you are looking for one small deviation, you can do such trading in trending or rough markets.
If you are wondering whether swing trading could be the right choice for you, here are the merits and demerits.
- Swing trading demands relatively less time in comparison to day trading
- You can seize critical changes in the asset prices
- You can base your strategies on data from technical analysis
- Risk of losing your position if you hold out for longer durations.
- The market could reverse at any point leading to losses
- You might miss out on trends that occur in more extended periods
How to Approach Swing Trading
As mentioned earlier, a swing trader’s aim is to gather profits within a short timeframe. As opposed to long-term investments, you are aiming to bag modest gains. In some cases, you will only make a profit of 5% – 10%.
Such small profits might not appear as substantial rewards for a layman. However, when you consider the short period of time to gain this much profit, it will mount up to generous amounts with the right understanding of how the markets work.
On average, the duration of a swing trade is between 2 to 10 days. It is only rarely that it extends to weeks. In the stretch of these few days, you can make small wins to lead to overall big profits.
Type of Assets for Swing Trading
The first big decision in swing trading is to choose the type of asset you want to trade. There are different financial markets and financial instruments available for swing traders. At a glance, one can enter the market of individual shares, currency, commodities, as well as cryptocurrencies.
Traders can choose a domain based on their personal interests or depending on how much capital they have to enter the trade.
On the bright side, there is a wide array of financial instruments to pick from – which we discuss in more detail below.
Individual stocks are undoubtedly the most popular assets for swing trading. These are typically shares of individual companies. However, trading with these shares comes with the risk of a single event impacting the stock value.
For instance, if you have shares in the stocks of a prominent bank, a news development of a security breach could instantly tank the value of its shares. In effect, you are always vulnerable to such risk when trading with individual stocks. On the other hand, they can also gain value quickly following the launch of a new product.
Indices are shares of individual companies grouped together. Trading in indices will let you take advantage of the market fluctuation of not only one sector but also a wide range of companies. At the same time, similar to equities, a change in a single company could affect the entire index as well.
ETFs are considered a highly preferable choice of asset for swing trading. They represent a diverse array of assets and are available in several sectors.
Forex or foreign exchange is another dominant sphere for swing traders. While trading currencies, you are looking to see one currency increase or decrease in value relative to another. The forex market can be very volatile and is mainly traded by experienced swing traders.
Commodity trading is usually attempted by professional swing traders. These are hard assets that are grouped into energy, metal, and agricultural products. Unlike other assets, commodity markets stay open and operate throughout the day, and trading is continuous. It thus comes with a high-risk factor for traders.
Choosing the Right Asset
For a beginner, the abundant options available could be appealing and overwhelming at the same time. If you do not have any expert knowledge in particular assets, your first step is to identify which market to specialize in. It is not recommended to try trading more than one asset at a time, especially if you are new to the field.
The Basics of Swing Trading
Swing trading works largely the same as any other investment arena. The main difference, as we have already covered, is in the time frame of the positions. Here are some points you need to know to get started in swing trading.
Going Long vs. Going Short
If you have read any articles related to trading, it is hard to miss these terminologies. At the core of trading, there are two positions. An investor can either go long or short.
- By going long, you buy an asset and hope for its value to go up before selling it.
- By going short, you assume that the price will go down, so you sell assets to buy them back at a lower price.
Seasoned investors can combine both these approaches to make the best of multiple assets.
- Let us say that you speculate on the market value of ABC shares going bullish.
- You invest in 100 shares of ABC at a market rate of $20
- The total value of this trade is $2000.
- If the value of ABC shares goes up by 2.5%, you will be able to sell the shares for $20.5, which will give you an exit value of $2050.
Your profit of $50 is a result of going long on ABC. If you choose to go long, the profit potential could increase indefinitely. If the price of the asset did not increase as you expected, then you would be facing losses on the said trade.
For example, if the value of ABC shares were to drop to $19.5, then you would have been left with a loss of $50. Swing traders ideally want to sell the assets before such a decrease happens in the market.
- If the shares of ABC are looking bearish, then you place a sell order.
- You open a trade to sell 100 shares of ABC at $30 per share, at a total amount of $3000
- The rate of ABC falls by 16.6% in a few days
- This takes the share price of ABC to $25
- You place a buy order and buy back the 100 shares at $2500
- Your profit is $500
How much you profit you make by going short depends on the amount the asset declines in the open marketplace.
Not every broker encourages investors to engage with short selling. If you want to benefit from a short selling strategy, your best bet is using a trading platform that offers CFDs.
Swing Trading with CFDs
When trading with CFDs or Contracts-for-Differences, you are essentially trading on margin. The concept is that you don’t own the underlying financial instrument (be it a commodity, stock, or forex). Instead, you trade with a an instrument that tracks the respective asset. As such, you get to determine whether you feel bullish (buy order) or bearish (bearish) regarding its prospects.
Crucially, trading through CFDs is a great way to go short while swing trading. As you do not buy or sell the physical assets, your profits will be amplified if you trade on margin.
Duration of Swing Trading
Swing trades are ideally meant to be short-term positions. However, within the short run, the duration could be anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. The fundamental strategy is to collect profits as the price increases (or decreases if shorting).
Some traders prefer to lock-in smaller gains, whereas others let the asset run to maximize their potential profits. However, the longer you hold out, you also risk other factors affecting the prices to bring you losses.
Swing Trading Strategies
Swing trading is one of the more sophisticated approaches to trading. It might seem simple enough to sell the assets as soon as the price increases. However, the hard part is choosing the right financial instrument to invest in.
It takes time, commitment, and patience to teach yourself the art of swing trading. You will have to study the existing strategies as well as try to develop your unique approaches. There are also a number of risk management techniques available to mitigate your losses.
Apart from the tactical struggle is the emotional instability you might go through while swing trading. It might appear that you are only investing in the short term, but swing traders invest large amounts in multiple assets to make large profits. Subsequently, if you face losses, that can be on the substantial side of things.
Traders also need to focus on avoiding the results of one trade to affect your next investment. This is where tools such as technical analysis come into play. These allow you to identify patterns and act on your assets accordingly. Many trading sites also give you access to these resources. We will discuss (in our view) the best online brokers to swing trade with later in this guide.
The Type of Orders in Swing Trading
Until now, we have covered the two most important order positions in any given trade- the buy order and the sell order. In traditional investing, these two order types might be sufficient as small changes in the market will not affect the trader’s longer-term profit targets. However, when it comes to short-term trading, it is simply not possible to leave an order open without an idea of when you are looking to achieve. In doing so, this would be referred to as reckless trading.
Stop-Loss Order to Limit Losses
As the name suggests, this order helps you limit your losses in a trade. It is the order you place to close your trade once the asset value reaches a specific price. For instance, you purchased the stock of ABC at $50 per share. After your buy order, the stock’s value starts diminishing.
In this case, you had already placed a stop-loss order at $48. This means, when the ABC shares started depreciating, your stocks would be sold when it reaches the $48-mark. Regardless of how far it plunged, you will only be taking the loss of $2 per share.
Usually, these stop-loss orders are placed at percentage ranges. You will set a stop-loss order if the asset loses its value by say, 2% or 3%, or the rate of your choosing.
There is a potential downside to this. Though stop-loss orders essentially act as an insurance policy, it is not always guaranteed that you will be able to maintain this. The market conditions might not allow for the sale to take place at this value. Instead, some brokers offer investors a ‘guaranteed’ stop-loss price. This will ensure that the broker will take care of your order regardless of the market. To benefit from this, investors will also be charged an extra fee.
Take-Profit Orders to Lock-In Profits
As ideal as it might seem to let your profits increase, open positions can go wrong in a matter of seconds. That is why experienced traders will look to lock-in their profits. The only difference here is that while a stop-loss attempts to tighten the loss margin, take-profit orders allow you to protect your gains. Investors often arrive at a take-profit price after performing technical analysis on the specific asset. It will give them an estimation of how long the ascend of the asset will hold out.
For example, say you went long on ABC shares at $50. You place a take-profit order at $55. If and when the price of ABC reaches $55, your sell order will be executed. Here, you are targeting a profit of 10%. The take-profit order will ensure that even if ABC shares drop after reaching $55, your earnings are locked-in at its best value.
Automating Your Trades
Setting such orders is ultimately for the benefit of the investor. It will allow you to take a step back and access your options before you begin to trade. You will also get an idea of your potential losses and gains on each trade. Furthermore, setting these rates will stop investors from second-guessing their decisions.
Swing traders work with the backing of such information to place more than one trade. In some cases, your assets will not reach the set limits, either. If that happens, it is up to the trader to decide whether they want to close the trade or not. In swing trading, you can always wait a little further to wait for any further movements.
Leverage and Margin When Swing Trading
Swing traders need access to substantial capital in order to place multiple trades in over a short period of time. Here is where leverage comes into play.
Investors can depend on leverage instead of only using their own capital. For instance, let’s say a trader only has $500 in their account, and they need $5000 to process a trade. They can apply leverage of 10x to gain access to the capital they need.
Broker Fees and Commissions for Swing Trading
Swing trades happen through a trading platform. Today, the majority of these trades take place online as they offer ease and efficiency. Regardless of where you trade, there are a few standard fees that you will have to pay the broker.
A spread is generally easier to understand in percentage terms. Every trade you complete has to have a profit of at least the same as the spread. Until then, you will remain in the red.
Here is an example of how to calculate the spread
- Say you bought ABC shares at the buy price of $50.00
- ABC shares are priced at a sell price of $50.50
- The spread, in this case, is 1%,
- In order to make a profit in this trade, you need the price of ABC to rise at least by another 1% to make a profit after paying the spread
While the spread is somewhat of a mandatory fee across all trading sites, not every broker will charge you for commissions. If they do, it is a fee that you pay for each transaction you place at the broker.