When entering the world of day trading there are certain day trading terms you need to be aware of. Knowing these terms makes it much easier to do research, ask questions and get help since most experienced traders use these terms without even thinking about it. If you want to be a day trader, familiarize yourself with the following day trading terms (How Much Money Day Traders Make and the Money Required to Day Trade may also be of interest).
Day Trading Terms: Long
If a trader is long in a security it means that trader has bought shares (stock market), contracts (futures market) or a currency (forex market) and now owns it. You may hear traders say “I am long XYXZ” meaning they bought shares of XYXZ, or “I am considering a long in XYXZ” meaning they may buy shares.
To go short means you sold something, and will buy it back later. Most people view trading as buying at $5 and selling at $7, for example, but you can also do the opposite. You can sell at $7 and buy at $5. In both cases you make $2 per share. In the former case you made $2 from the price rising, and in the latter case you made $2 from the price declining. In the forex market and futures market you can buy or sell (short) at any time. Specific rules apply to short selling stocks though (see: short sales).
When a trader says they are “flat” it means they have no positions.
It can also mean they are “even” for the day, meaning no profits or losses.
Flat may also refer to the market conditions. When the market is doing very little, some traders may call it “flat.”
Day Trading Terms: Bull Market
When prices are increasing, marked by the price making higher swing highs and higher swing lows (see chart below).
Bull and Bullish
Someone who is a bull or bullish believes an asset will rise. An asset that is rising may be referred to as “bullish.” The term is based on the bull attacking upwards with its horns.
When prices are decreasing, marked by the price making lower swing highs and lower swing lows (see chart below).
Bear and Bearish
Someone who is a bear or bearish believes an asset will fall. An asset that is falling in price may be referred to as “bearish.” The term is based on the bear swiping downwards with its paw.
- Note: From a day trader’s perspective the market can shift from bullish to bearish multiple times a day.
Figure 1. Uptrend (bull market) and downtrend (bear market) in Twitter Stock
Bid and Ask
There always two prices for an asset, the price buyers are bidding at (bid) and the price sellers are offering at (ask). For more on this see The Bid Ask Spread Explained.
The difference between the bid and ask. In a liquid stock it will usually be $0.01, $13.45 by $13.46 for example. In high priced stocks or stocks that aren’t actively traded, the spread may be bigger, such as $100.35 by $100.51. To learn more about the spread in Forex trading, see How Much the Spread Affects Forex Day Traders.
Open and Close
The Open typically refers to the official opening time or opening price (first transaction price of the day) of a market. The Close refers the official closing time or closing price (last transaction price of the day) of a market.
Open can also mean making a trade. When you make a trade you “open” a position. When you exit the trade, you “close” the position.
When you open or close a trade you expect to get the price that you see (bid or ask), but that doesn’t always happen. If the price changes before your order reaches the market you may end up with a different price than expected. This difference is called slippage. Slippage is more prevalent in stocks (and other assets) which have low volume (discussed in a moment) and/or a wide spread. For more see Slippage: What it is, its effects and how to avoid it while day trading.
High and Low
The high price is the highest price reached during a specific time period. The low price is the lowest price reached during a specific period.
The price of the last transaction. See Bid, Ask and Last Price – Understanding Stock Quotes for how some of these elements work together to move the price.
The difference between the price of the highest trade and the price of the lowest trade for the daily session. The average intraday range gives an idea of how much an asset typically moves during the day; this information can aid in making trading decisions (see: Use the Daily Range Strategy to Improve Your Trading).
A dramatic upward move in the price of an asset, relative to surrounding price moves.
A dramatic downward move in the price of an asset, relative to surrounding price moves. “XYZ just tanked!” is a common expression for a dramatic price decline.
The number of shares or contracts that change hands during the day. For example, volume of 1,000,000 shares of stock changed hands that day. For day traders, typically the higher the volume the better, since volume means a day trader can enter and exit trades whenever they want, with ease.
There are many day trading terms, but this list will help you get started. Any terms you want explained? Leave a comment and we will help you out.
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