Education 51: Resources for Trading
A lot of the data you will need (ie. charts, news, events, etc...) will be obtainable from whatever brokerage firm you trade with. Here are some of the more well known self-directed trading sites:
If you are going to trade options, it is best to look at the Option Price per contract (ie. if they offer $9.99 + 0.75 per contract, you want to compare the 0.75 vs. other firms). Each option contract is for 100 shares (unless the option is a MINI, in which case the option contract is for 10 shares). So, if you trade 10 contracts in the above example, you would pay a commission of $17.49 ($9.99 + 0.75 x 10). So, that variable component per contract becomes more important as you start trading more than 20 contracts.
Aside from pricing, you should evaluate each platform offered by these firms to find one that you are comfortable with. Some are easier to enter orders with, some ar easier to use from a smart-phone and some offer better research than others. MOST offer a demo account or an introductory period where you can check out and test the site.
Best place to go for charts....
There are several factors to consider when choosing what site to use for charting:
Will you be on a computer or a tablet or a smart-phone?
Do you need real-time information, or will you be evaluating charts after close?
How well do you understand technical information for charts?
Currently, my favorite site is www.freestockcharts.com. This site offers real-time charts with the ability to add many of the technical indicators commonly used. In addition, in one web page, you can have tabs for the same company with different time periods (ie. you can have a 5 min chart, daily chart and weekly chart open in one web page using different tabs within the window).
Another favorite source of information is www.MarketSmith.com. This site utilizes the information from Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and is organized around the teachings of William J. O'Neil (IBD's Founder). To summarize his philosophy, follow the volume. Volume tells you what the professional money managers are doing. And they have a lot of momentum behind them once they make a decision, so if you can tell where the money is going, you can follow along for the ride. That is an oversimplification of his philosophy, but you can learn more about his philosophy at Investors.com.
Now MarketSmith is a tool I usually use after markets are closed (usually on the weekends to do more in-depth analysis). There are some really great tutorials on the site to help you understand and use the tools available. The charts are functional (includes all the basics and some technicals. But the best virtue of the charts on this site is the Pattern Recognition ability. For DAILY and WEEKLY charts, the charting software will illustrate any chart patterns that have appeared.
Other than the Pattern Recognition, the true value of MarketSmith is the ability to parse, screen or select stocks based on a multitude of criteria.
For pattern recognition, these other sites offer some functionality:
For Real-Time data and ability to overlay technical information, there is:
In searching for Economic Data, here are the sites I have found most useful:
It is important to understand what data is coming out, and when. The www.StockMarketWatch.com site offers the best synopsis of the economic data: What, When and How Important the announcement is to the markets. You can also click on the economic indicator, and it will bring up the details of what the indicator is and why it is important.
Stock Market News
You can usually get news from a variety of sites, including whatever brokerage firm you decide to go with. Much of the information is the same, so it usually comes down to getting the news that is important to you and not getting flooded with too much information.
My favorite site (or APP) is one I use on my mobile phone: Seeking Alpha. You can select a portfolio, and then ANY time news comes out about a company in your portfolio, you get a notification and can read the article on your phone.
I also use http://thestockmarketwatch.com/markets/today.aspx. This usually gives a breif encapsulation of what's moving the markets (ie. big news or economic news).
www.cnbc.com offers video commentary throughout the day. So, to get a more in-depth read on an announcement, CNBC usually has an up-to-date video feed.