Are you just beginning your stock trading journey? Learn the basics of trading stocks for beginners: how to navigate the tools and platforms, read the fundamentals, monitor positions, and more.
Flash back to the 1990s, when early adopters of online stock trading made their first online stock investments.
Adult child: “I just made my first online stock trade.”
Parents: “How did you do that?”
Child: “I just logged in, picked a stock, filled in the boxes for stock ticker, price, and quantity, and clicked the green button.”
(Blank stares from parents.)
It’s no wonder Mom and Dad were confused. Investing online, trading, or even being able to monitor a portfolio in real time was foreign to a generation that had to meet face-to-face with brokers to buy stock. But today, thanks to technology, it’s easier and more convenient than ever to trade stocks online—even for beginners. And new bells and whistles are being added each year to enhance the online investing experience.
Are you a beginner at online stock trading, or need a refresher? Here are a few basics on the available tools and platforms and how to navigate them.
If you’re a stock trader just starting out, the logistics of buying and selling may be intimidating. But if you take a moment to learn the process, you might find your comfort zone. TD Ameritrade clients have a wide variety of how-to videos available for free on the Education tab (see figure 1). New to tdameritrade.com or the thinkorswim® platform? This might be the place for stock trading beginners to start.
FIGURE 1: GETTING STARTED. The Education tab offers dozens of videos and training modules. Learn investing basics, advanced concepts, and everything in between. Image source: www.tdameritrade.com. For illustrative purposes only.
Although pre trade logistics start with education, stock trading online typically commences with an idea. Seeking potential trade candidates? As a stock trading beginner, you might start by looking at companies whose products and services you already use. Once you’ve identified a few ideas, log in to your account at tdameritrade.com, head to the Research & Ideas tab, and then select Stock Profile (see figure 2). You’ll find a wide variety of tools to help you learn more about each company and decide which one(s) you might want to trade.
If you don’t have any ideas, you can look for some on the Research & Ideas tab. Select Ideas, then Trade Ideas. Here, you can read daily commentary about the overall state of the market as well as detailed third-party research reports about individual stocks making headlines.
Explore our expanded education library.
As you find stocks that interest you, follow them by adding them to your personal watch list (which you can create by going to the My Account tab and selecting Watch Lists). From your watch lists, you can pull up charts, news, earnings estimates, fundamental research, and much more on any particular stocks that pique your interest.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of stock trading candidates, you’ll want to decide what criteria you’ll use to initiate a trade. But don’t worry—this doesn’t have to be a complex process. In fact, sometimes the simplest strategies can be the most powerful.
You might start by pulling up charts on your stocks for a graphic representation of how they trade. In the the Upper Indicators drop-down menu box, select SMA (simple moving average) to pull up the default 10-day and 50-day moving averages (see figure 3). Some traders use these technical indicators to identify potential stock trends. For example, you might decide to trade a stock when it rallies above one of those moving averages. Or you could draw horizontal lines on the chart to connect areas of resistance or support and then trade stocks that break through resistance or bounce off support.
If you want to learn more about technical analysis and strategies for trading stocks, go back to the Education tab on your dashboard and select Stocks to find a wide variety of video lessons as well as entire courses. Whether you’re a buy-and-hold investor or an active trader, chances are you’ll be able to find a style and strategy that works for you.
When you’re ready to trade, all you have to do is hover over any symbol in your watch list. That will bring up a trade box where you can buy or sell with just a few clicks or taps. As you build a portfolio of stocks, you can monitor them in real time and track your profit and loss by going to the My Account tab and selecting Positions.
Whether you’re a beginner stock trader, a well-seasoned veteran, or anything in between, today’s tools and platforms put the power and flexibility at your fingertips. You can trade the market and follow the action from your desktop, laptop, or on the go via a mobile app.
As the video below points out, learning to trade stocks is a lot like learning to ride a bike. At first it might look intimidating or complicated and dangers seem to be everywhere. That’s why it’s important to learn the basics of stock trading.
Investing in stocks involves risks, including loss of principal.
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Content intended for educational/informational purposes only. Not investment advice, or a recommendation of any security, strategy, or account type.
Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade. Clients must consider all relevant risk factors, including their own personal financial situations, before trading.
Market volatility, volume, and system availability may delay account access and trade executions.
Past performance of a security or strategy does not guarantee future results or success.
Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading may expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses. Options trading subject to TD Ameritrade review and approval. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before investing in options.
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