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Starting with the fastest traders of all, quants are the high-frequency traders who trade using quantitative methods and complex computer algorithms
Scalpers also operate in the short term, but they may do so manually or by using a computer program. Scalpers look to profit from inefficiencies in markets and can hold trades for anything from a couple of seconds to a couple of hours.
Day traders enter and close their trades on a daily basis, rarely holding any positions overnight. Typically, they trade off charts using technical indicators such as pivot points or moving average lines to justify their trades. They may also take into account fundamental factors and news releases – perhaps buying or selling a stock the moment an economic figure is released. Some day traders may also use strategies to hedge their trades as they go.
Swing traders typically hold positions for a couple of days, but not normally weeks. They are therefore less active than day traders but they do trade frequently enough to have to stay tuned to the markets at all times. They may use technical indicators such as trend lines or resistance channels to identify profit but are just as likely to look at fundamental news flow. They also look out for the possibility of reactions to upcoming news releases and events.
Position traders take many longer-term positions and hold positions for weeks, months or years. They are therefore just slightly down from buy and hold investors in terms of time frames. Position traders study big macroeconomic trends in order to find the long-term moves that can often define a market for years. They are also likely to enter big short-position trades and use hedging strategies to build a successful and stable portfolio.
It is also possible to be one, none, or many of these different trading styles combined. Some traders concentrate on one market and one style only, perfecting their technique as much as they can, while others take a bit of each style depending upon the situation. For example, a trader might take long-term positions but keep a little bit of capital in reserve, in order to profit from short-term opportunities when they arrive.
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These ideas contain information on the different types of traders who trade securities
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