Spread Betting and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 68.4% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading Spread Betting and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how Spread Betting and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money

What is Day Trading?

Most traders tend to identify and stick to a single approach rather than mixing them up. However, it’s also fair to say that there is a degree of overlap between the four trading strategies; Day trading, trend, swing and position. At least when it comes to using technical indicators or focusing on fundamentals. It can be useful to look at what is involved in each approach to see how it suits you, your lifestyle and your attitude to risk. After all, you may not have enough free time to day trade. By the same token, you may be uncomfortable taking on the amount of risk which may be required to run longer-term position or trend-based trading strategies.

In this guide we’ll consider Day and Trend trading and look at some of the key differences between them. We’ll cover Swing and Position trading in a separate post.

Day trading

Day trading means opening and closing trades within a day, or a single trading session. This avoids the extra costs together with the added uncertainty that comes with holding a position overnight. In fact, some day traders may only run a position for a few hours or even minutes.

Day traders are constantly on the look-out for short-term opportunities. They tend to trade frequently and act when they consider a market to be oversold or overbought. Then they jump in to buy or sell in the hope of turning a quick profit. A day trader will typically have a tight risk/reward ratio. That is, they may be happy to risk £50 to make £50, although a 1:2 risk/reward ratio is more common and indeed more sensible.

Due to the high frequency of trades and the tight risk/reward ratio, disciplined risk management is extremely important. Day traders often use charts with short timeframes (5 minute, 15 minute and hourly) to identify intermediate areas of support and resistance and trade accordingly. Day traders tend to work on the assumption that markets overshoot and undershoot specific price levels (which they identify on charts) and then quickly correct. Day traders have to be prepared to use tight stops in order to avoid losing money if a market breaks out of its short-term trading range. They have to be extremely disciplined in choosing their entry and stop levels. They must be prepared to take a series of small losses and always have a profit target for every trade. Day trading won’t suit anyone who hasn’t got time to keep a close eye on the markets throughout the trading session.

What is trend trading?

There are a group of traders who specifically look for opportunities when a market shows signs of trending in a particular direction. They try to identify those times when momentum is building in a market on one side rather than another. Typically this comes when a financial instrument breaks out of a range after a period of consolidation and as sentiment turns increasingly positive (for a “buy” trade) or negative (for a “sell”). It doesn’t matter whether the direction is up or down as a trend trader only wants to establish that a market looks set to move broadly in a particular direction over a period of time. This can be short, medium or longer-term. Once the position is placed, the trader will then run it until there is evidence to show that the trend has run its course.

Strictly speaking, trend traders put aside market fundamentals and instead concentrate on price action alone. They often use specific drawing tools and/or technical indicators to help them decide when a trend is establishing, and if so, which direction is it going in?

For instance, the Directional Movement Indicator is useful for signalling if a market is ranging or trending. Then a drawing tool such as Andrews’ Pitchfork can be used to establish the likely direction and strength of a trend together with lines of support and resistance. These can help to establish when a trend has run its course. As with any strategy, risk and money management is important with trend trading. In contrast to day traders, trend traders are prepared to put up more risk capital per trade, but aim for a bigger percentage return.


Spread Co is an execution only service provider. The material on this page is for general information purposes only and nothing contained herein constitutes (or should be taken to constitute) financial or other advice which should be relied upon. It has not been prepared with your personal circumstances, financial situation, needs or objectives in mind, therefore any actions taken or not taken by any person on the basis of this material is done entirely at their own risk. Spread Co accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any such actions, inactions or resulting consequences. No opinion expressed in the material shall amount to (or be taken to amount to) an endorsement, recommendation or other such affirmation of the suitability or unsuitability of any particular investment, transaction, strategy or approach for any specific person. This material has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. As such, this communication is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research. Nonetheless, Spread Co operates a conflict of interest policy to prevent the risk of material damage to our clients.

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