Day trading refers to the buying and selling of financial instruments within the same trading day. A strict day trader will never have any positions open at the end of the trading day.

Day trading exists across various markets, including stocks, forex, commodities, and futures. Day traders aim to capitalize on small price fluctuations of financial instruments within a short timeframe. This trading style involves making fast decisions, leveraging small price movements, and making sure all positions are closed before the end of the day. 

Day trading is not a one-size-fits-all venture. It requires skill, strategy, and a deep understanding of the financial markets. While the potential for quick profits is appealing, the associated risks demand thorough research and careful decision-making. Despite its complexities, with the right mindset, tools, and strategy, day trading can be a lucrative financial activity.

Understanding the background

Sponsored Brokers

Day trading used to be quite unusual, chiefly due to high brokerage commissions. Day trading typically involves exploiting small price movements, and if you are paying a large broker commission on each trade, your profits will be eroded too much.

In the United States, the commissions for stock brokers were fixed at 1% of the traded amount until 1975. This meant that if you purchased $50,000 worth of stocks, you would pay $500 in purchase commission, and then you would pay another 1% to close the position later. You would need to make a large enough profit to cover that cost just to break even, and making such a big profit within one trading day is not common. Therefore, day trading was not very common in the United States, and similar conditions existed in many other countries as well.

In 1975, however, the  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) banned the fixed commission practice. This resulted in more competition between brokerage firms, which in turn resulted in lower commissions – making day trading more feasible.

understanding day trading

Types of Day Trading

Day trading can be classified into various styles, depending on the trader’s strategy and the market being traded. Here are some of the main types:

  • Scalping: This is a strategy where traders aim to profit from minute price changes by making rapid trades over a very short period. Today, it is not uncommon to use special scalping software to ensure that positions are opened and closed quick enough.
  • Momentum trading: Traders using this strategy identify stocks that are moving significantly in one direction on high volume and try to profit from the momentum.
  • Reversal trading: Traders who use this strategy look for stocks or other financial instruments that are reversing in direction. This strategy often involves technical analysis.

Examples of Day Trading Strategies

  • Range Trading: Day traders use this strategy by identifying stocks that are trading within a specific price range and aim to buy at low prices and sell at high prices within this range.
  • News-Based Trading: Here, traders capitalize on the price movements that follow news announcements that are likely to impact the market.
  • High-Frequency Trading (HFT): This algorithm-driven strategy uses advanced technology to transact large volumes of trades within seconds.

Day Trading Tools and Techniques

Several tools and techniques aid the process of day trading. Charting tools help traders analyze market trends and patterns, while stop-loss orders protect them from significant losses. Additionally, many traders use various analytical techniques, such as technical analysis, to predict potential price movements.

Examples of Important Factors to Take Into Account when Scalping

Time frame

Scalping is a strategy based on taking advantage of small, short market price waves. This means you need to adjust your techniques accordingly. Many scalpers make their profits from movements that are so small that they can not even be noticed on a standard 1-minute chart for technical analysis.


The liquidity of the market will impact how scalping can be employed to make a profit. A high liquidity typically means tighter spreads, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your strategy.

Some daytraders prefer to do scalping on highly liquid markets since it permits them to open and close positions instantly. Other daytraders seek out slightly less liquid markets since they want a large bid-ask spread to exploit.


Scalping was largely developed as a technique to profit from price that look pretty stable at first glance. Scalpers do well when price movements are just tiny moves up and down all day. Therefore, scalpers do not need volatility, and many of them actually step back and refrain from trading when the market is showing signs of becoming more volatile.

Benefits and Risks of Day Trading

Day trading comes with its set of advantages and risks. The potential for quick profits is one of the most appealing aspects of day trading. Moreover, the ability to work from anywhere and the possibility of turning it into a full-time profession are other attractions. 

However, the market’s volatile nature makes day trading risky. Traders can lose substantial amounts of money, especially when they fail to adhere to a consistent strategy. Thus, day trading requires a solid understanding of the markets, careful strategy planning, and a high risk-tolerance level.