Deciding what you want to trade can be daunting. The MarketWatch tab on thinkorswim could help narrow down your trading choices.
Trading based on what you hear on social media sites may technically work, but it may not be the smartest approach. You want to trade something that has high odds of making money, so it’s worth taking the time to do some homework.
The MarketWatch tab on the thinkorswim® platform has tools that can help you (logically) filter the universe of tradable products.
A visual snapshot of the entire market could go a long way in helping you get a lay of the land. The Heat Map on thinkorswim gives you a big-picture view of sectors or stocks (see figure 1).
FIGURE 1: NIGHT VISION FOR TRADERS. The Heat Map gives you an overall view of the markets at a glance. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
For example, if you select Indices, you can go through the list and see the Heat Map of the S&P 500 Index (SPX), S&P 100, Russell 2000 (RUT), Nasdaq-100 (NDX), and Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI). At a glance, you can see how the stocks that make up each index are performing on the day. Green is up, red is down, and gray means unchanged. Bigger boxes represent larger stocks in terms of market cap. The brighter the color, the bigger the move.
Hover over any of the stocks to access more details. Are there too many sectors or stocks to choose from? You can use the Indices menu to select a specific index. Expand the index and then select a sector, subsector, and finally individual stocks. Select any stock you might be interested in and drill down some more by looking at the stock chart, company fundamentals, news, and so on. You can do a really deep dive on the Visualize subtab.
Now that you’ve filtered down a bunch of stocks, it’s a good idea to add them to a watchlist. Using the menu at the top, select the Quotes subtab and the watchlist you created. If you have a lot of watchlists, you can scroll through them using the up and down arrows to the right of the menu. You can also link the Quotes list to Charts and scroll through price charts of the entire list. But there’s more to the Quotes subtab than viewing quotes. Sure, you can choose to display data such as volume, percent change, net change, 52-week high/low, and so on, but you can also customize a column (see figure 2).
FIGURE 2: CUSTOMIZE QUOTES COLUMN. You can create and add custom scripts from the Quotes tab on thinkorswim. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
Now that you’ve got your list of what you might want to trade, the next big question is: When should you place the trade? It might be helpful to know if there are any related events coming up such as earnings, dividends, or stock splits. Select the Calendar subtab, and below it, check off the event types you’re interested in (see figure 3).
FIGURE 3: LOOKING AHEAD. The Calendar on thinkorswim helps you see when events such as earnings and dividend distributions are coming up. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
The calendar will populate with the companies that have events coming up in the selected month. Choose any day on the calendar, and the events will appear in a list underneath. Now you can go through the list to do a more thorough analysis. If something stands out, set an alert so you’re notified of the event.
With these three tools, you have a more logical process for deciding what you want to trade next. Plus, you become a more informed trader.
Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan is not a representative of TD Ameritrade, Inc. The material, views, and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and may not be reflective of those held by TD Ameritrade, Inc.
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