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Trading in the stock market: A guide for beginners

(© Drobot Dean –

The stock market can seem like an intimidating place. It could be that all you imagine when you think of it is a hyperactive trader on Wall Street looking up at complex charts. While that image of trading certainly appears intimidating, any person can learn how to trade from scratch.

Before embarking on the beginner’s guide to trading, it is essential to mention that you always incur risks should you decide to get involved. However, when you do it right, it is an excellent way to accumulate wealth and have extra income. The path to success, especially in trading, can be bumpy. However, with the right information and consistency, it is possible to be the next stocks guru.

A Stock Market Overview

Publicly traded companies offer stock to investors on the stock market. Stocks essentially give investors an ownership certificate of a given company while the company gets more capital. Thus, a stock market is the place or platform where one can buy these stocks.

Traders buy and sell these stocks hoping to make a profit in the intermediate period. This period could be anywhere from a few hours to years. Stocks fluctuate depending on the company’s performance.

In the modern era, trading stocks is electronic through significant stock market indices like the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and S&P 500. These indices show the performance of a basket of constituent stocks. For instance, the Dow Jones industrial index shows the performance of the 30 largest companies in the USA.

The indices have a value, which is automatic from the weighted market capitalization methodology. A sharp movement from one particular large stock can have an effect on the index it is listed. Similarly, gains for the entire index do not automatically mean that all stocks therein have appreciated.

Trading Vs. Investing

Traders look to make money by speculating on securities over a short timeframe. Therefore, traders will often focus on technical patterns and use methods like day trading. These short timeframes need an excellent understanding of tools like ten-minute charts. Online stock trading is now a massive sector. Traders monitor stock performances as well as entry and exit prices in real-time before making their moves.

On the other hand, investing in stocks usually refers to purchasing stock or an asset and holding it over a longer period. Investors of this kind look for long-term increases in value and don’t acquire or dispose of stocks based on short-term whims.

Therefore, they stand to gain periodic dividends and interest. In a consistently growing economy, the buy and hold strategy can be very lucrative, especially when making sizeable investments.

How to Start Trading

The most efficient way to launch your journey, as a beginner, is signing up for a trading platform/online brokerage account.

Typically, these platforms need identity verification, as well as the choice of funding. It is vital to find a reputable broker.

For those who chose active trading, the commission a broker takes is also an important factor. For investors, you can explore individual stocks, mutual funds, or Exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Here are some tips for a smooth take-off as a stocks trader:

1. Create Clear Trading Goals

Before making a splash, it is important to outline your objectives. The amount of time you tie up your cash and the risk therein should justify your intentions. For instance, if you are saving for retirement, a stocks mutual fund is a viable option. If the money is for more immediate use, a short term trade makes more sense. Trading goals define how you allocate the funds at your disposal.

2. Choose the Right Broker

Choosing the right broker is another vital element. There is no shortage of traders online who claim to offer wild returns. In this craft, if it is too good to be true, it is not worth the trouble. Go for reputable brokers with a proven track record.

3. Research Key Companies

For a beginner, it is best to invest in companies that you know. For instance, companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have an established market presence. Investing in them is safer. If you intend to try out an up and coming company, do thorough research first.

4. Keep a Diversified Portfolio

The adage goes, never keep all your eggs in one basket. This concept holds in stock market investments. Investors, in particular, must have a well-balanced portfolio. The stock markets can be a rollercoaster, and it is better to have a number of “safe assets.” For example, government bonds, despite being dull in comparison to high-performing stocks, are more dependable. Such diversification can help absorb some shock during times of market turmoil.

5. Practice Risk Management

While trading, it is important to manage risk. During initial moments of trading, one can get carried away and make rash, emotional decisions. An example is fear of missing out (FOMO) investing. One should always make logical and rational analysis before investing rather than making whimsical decisions.

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