Five tools for stock traders

There is a new era for stock trading. Technology is the new norm and can help you stay competitive while trading stocks. 

Richard Drew/AP/File
In this Dec. 16, 2015 file photo, traders Gordon Charlop, left, Nathan Wisniewski, center, and Gregory Rowe, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock trading technology can help traders stay abreast in a new age of electronic trading.

The days of reading stock quotes in the newspaper are long gone. Now, stock traders get streaming quotes on their smartphones, make trades via their tablets or advanced trading platforms, and get company news and updates via Apple Watch alerts, chat rooms and Twitter.

Bottom line: If you’re not taking advantage of stock trading technology, you’re missing out. The following tools can streamline your process, improve your research capabilities and possibly boost your returns.

1. A strong trading platform

Choosing a broker with a robust trading platform is step one, and it can create a tricky balance. Often, brokers with advanced trading platforms have higher trade commissions or require a minimum number of trades or a minimum account balance to access the platform.

There are, however, some clear leaders here: TD Ameritrade heads the pack with its thinkorswim and TradeArchitect offerings, both of which are available to all customers (though its trade commissions are on the high side at $9.99). OptionsHouse also has strong trading tools with a lower commission at $4.95 per trade. And for advanced traders, Interactive Brokers has a well-regarded platform and low commissions.

2. A mobile trading app

If you’re serious about trading, you’ll want to be able to do it on the go, which means choosing a broker with a strong mobile trading app. These apps range from bare-bones — the ability to execute basic trades and view quotes — to a near mirror image of a Web or desktop platform, with advanced capabilities like charting, complex options trades and stock screeners. Two of the best online broker trading apps are from TD Ameritrade and E-Trade.

3. Stock screeners

Stock screeners take much of the weight off the trader’s plate, allowing you to quickly search for a stock based on criteria you’ve defined, like market capitalization (in other words, the value and size of the company), dividend yield, industry or share price.

Most of the trading platforms offered by online brokers include a screener, and some brokers also have screeners for exchange-traded funds, mutual funds or options. But many advanced traders recommend Finviz, which has in-depth screening capabilities that can help you dial down to trade opportunities. The site also offers charts, U.S. and international market maps and quotes. The basic services are free, but Finviz offers an elite subscription that starts at $24.96 a month.

4. Stock charts

Charting is integral for any trader who uses technical analysis, which involves evaluating past movements as a means to predict future performance.

Stock charts assist in that analysis by showing the performance of a security over time, allowing traders to recognize patterns and look at various technical indicators. Users can employ charts to dig into a stock’s history and recognize volatility, and can compare multiple securities and benchmark performance to indexes, like the S&P 500.

Online brokers offer charting capabilities that vary in depth; outside resources include websites like TradingView and StockCharts.com, which both offer a number of free features as well as upgraded memberships. StockCharts.com offers a ChartSchool to get new users familiar with charting.

5. Idea-generation tools

There are a lot of ways to come up with trade ideas, including subscription-based services. Briefing.com is one of the most popular, offering live market updates, IPO previews, emerging growth stock opportunities and more. Another service, Seasonalysis, identifies seasonal stock trends.

The other form of analysis frequently used by traders is called fundamental analysis, which involves digging into financial statements, company news and outside research reports by professional analysts. By doing this, you get a clearer picture of how individual companies and industries are doing, and that can lead to trade ideas.  

Brokers often provide this information from third-party sources, and the more research available, the better. Fidelity in particular is known for its breadth of research.

This article first appeared at NerdWallet.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Five tools for stock traders
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/1223/Five-tools-for-stock-traders
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe