Day trades

All posts tagged Day trades

Going Live

For the past six months, I have been paper trading with a view of gathering information about my systems so that I can be comfortable trading with real dollars on the line. As we enter the second part of 2018 and with the backtests I’ve run in hand, today felt like the right time to move from the demo account back over to real dollars. I was comfortable with the trading platform, so was not expecting any problems.

Trading Platform

I’ve used Interactive Brokers for several years for my trading. I feel quite comfortable with the platform. I can enter orders, stops, find my way through tables of options and even use the Book Trader.

Today, however, I was thrown a curve ball.

Two very important buttons in Book Trader (Close Position and Reverse Position) were not functioning when I needed them to be. This left me in a panic as I saw the market moving against me, and while I could have calmly placed a sell order (or two) along the side where sell orders would normally appear, I got a nice rush of adrenaline and freaked out for a couple of minutes. This led to me exiting at the worst possible moment. I didn’t exit at the bottom tick of the move, but I did exit during the bar with the bottom tick!


After taking a mental break and going to get my morning coffee, I returned to the trading platform to figure out what went wrong. Was there a setting I needed to change? I placed another trade to see if the buttons would work this time, but quickly exited when they did not. I believe I dug around through the trading platform options and changed a couple of settings before trying again. With no success so far, I decided to try the chat help from IB. After waiting a long time, I finally got someone who proceeded to investigate, but could not replicate my problem. In the end, I closed out the Book Trader window, opened a new one, and then the trading platform was fully functional again.

I have to toss this into the same box of unexpected situations as trading during a power outage. I was fortunate that I was still paper trading then, and it occurred outside normal market hours. Today’s surprise was with real dollars and in a way I would never have expected with a familiar trading platform. I paid for today’s lesson with real dollars. Not my idea of a great way to start trading again with real money, but also a reminder that there are still plenty of surprises that can show up. I spent the rest of the trading day cleaning up old positions that should have been closed some time ago so that the results I create now will be purely from the trades I describe here.

Swing Trades

There are still a few swing trades left from last week on the paper trading platform. GIS, CME and APPL closed out for a total -2.08R. The remaining three open positions show +3.15R.
Long: MKC, TLT, X.
Short: none.

Daily Reports

It’s been a few days since I have been able to post because I was traveling. I was not sure what sort of internet access I would have or how much time I would have to devote to trading, but I was hopeful that I will be able to do my basic 30 min to one hour routine. That didn’t happen, so I’m playing catch up tonight. The charts would be too numerous to post here as I’ve closed out 27 trades since my last report, so I’ll stick to the reflections on my experiences and the next steps I plan to take.

Day trades

On 20 June 2018, I was able to place day trades, building off of my experience using the spreadsheet I’ve built. Recognizing that entering orders was a difficult part of the process, I decided to prefill orders with the size and type for each of the potential trade candidates. Once the market opened, I would then only need to fill in the appropriate price. These seemed like a potentially quicker method, but I tried to be too efficient and added stop and take profit orders as well. This made for an overwhelming order screen. Because I could not adjust all three prices (entry, stop and profit) quickly, I ended up canceling all the stop and take profit orders. This cleaned up my screen, but not before I made some order entry mistakes. I sold at least one stock when I was supposed to enter long. I happened to profit on that trade, but I also had a trade run to -1.5R before I got out because I didn’t have the stop in place and wasn’t watching carefully. With 14 trades, I netted +.17R.

Day trading lessons learned

I tried to push my span of control by pre-entering orders. I got more trades, but not better returns. I either need to figure out better order entry method and/or reduce my possible target set. I also have been placing all these trades without looking at a chart. It’s possible that there are other signals I would have seen on a chart that would have cut some of my losses sooner. If I reduce the number of possible targets, I should be able to better manage the orders and watch the chart. While this will limit my data sample, it will increase my accuracy, which should lead to an increase in my bottom line. My intention for 2018 is to be more focused. Here is another example of where I need to be less scattered, even as I am focusing on one technique. Living to trade another day is better than practicing mistakes and creating bad habits. I don’t need to catch all the possible trades. I need to execute my plan and let the trades take care of themselves.

Swing Trades

Eight swing positions were opened since the last update. Four of those were closed yesterday, and four remain open. Overall 13 trades were closed for -8.27R. Only one trade closed for a loss greater than -1R, and that was just -1.04 because it opened above the stop (it was a short). Market conditions turned unfavorable for swing trading at the end of the week, and because I was not watching closely, several of these trades went all the way to full -1R losses because I never adjusted the original stop. I believe some of the losses would have been smaller if I had paid better attention to what was happening. I do not expect to initiate any swing trades for the next few days unless they are residual portions of successful day trades. I will be more ruthless in my stop management for the remaining swing trades that are open. Seven positions are open showing a combined +.36R

Long: AAPL, CME(2), GIS, MKC, TLT, X.
Short: none.

Spreadsheet Day 2

With what I learned yesterday, I was a little more prepared today to enter orders from the spreadsheet. I had already pared the list of targets down and chose to enter orders manually as quickly as I could for the targets that fired first. I ended up placing trades in XLV, HD, AXP, XLU, and JNJ. It was hectic transferring the entry orders and position sizes manually from the spreadsheet because the market was moving quickly. Here are the charts of the trades:

While I feel there is definitely room for improvement in what I managed to do today, the results (+2.25R) for the 6 trades were certainly acceptable. I may be stretching my span of control by following so many possible targets, but as long as I am paper trading this idea, I will continue to enter as many as I can manage so that I can look for other qualities to screen on the spreadsheets to help give me another edge.

Swing Trades

No swing trades were opened today. The double position in CAT was stopped out as well as OKTA. Net for the three positions was -1.51R. when combined with the day trades above, that gives me +.75R for the day.

Short: XES.

Excel Spreadsheets

For many years, I have used Excel and XLQ to run daily screens for trade candidates. At one point, I was working with the Excel API from IB to submit and monitor trades directly from Excel. This probably still the way that comes closest to using what I know to automate my trades, however the spreadsheet connection was not stable, so I’m back to looking at other options.

Because spreadsheets are how I continue to review the market and search for trades, I updated a spreadsheet to assist me with my day trades. Today I made an attempt to use the spreadsheet to manually enter trades. By doing so, I made a few discoveries about the sheet and my trading style. I quickly used a filter to limit what was showing on the spreadsheet to only those targets with a history of high reward to risk ratios. The part I missed was the need to monitor the distance to my stop loss. There were a few candidates on the list that had very small movements as units of risk. For example, GDX used a stop loss of only 8 cents. I realized this after I placed my order to buy. That makes each penny change in price .125R. I chose to then limit my targets to those with a stop of 20 cents or more.

By the end of the day, it always shows me a nice potential profit, so I’ll continue to work with it until I can get the execution in place.

Swing Trades

Five trades were opened today while the double position in INTC was stopped out.

Short: XES.

Swing Trades

Three trades were framed for today, all channel system trades, so they were all filled at market open. Two stocks hit stop losses and were closed, removing three positions. Total return for the three: -.18R.

Current holding 20 open trades showing +2.14R.
Short: SKT.

Day Trades

I missed the market open today, but was able to watch for a few select windows of time. The first trade went all the way to +1R, though I missed capturing that by just a couple of points. The other two times I exited when I needed to walk away from the screen. If the trades had been solidly in the green, I might have been willing to put in a trailing stop. Net results for 4 trades; +1.43R.


Today seemed to be a back and forth sort of day. I feel fortunate to have caught one of the larger swings on my first trade. It was interesting to notice the possibility of closing trades before they developed as I had hoped. Fridays can sometimes lead to big moves, but this was a quiet one. Knowing the markets I perform worst in are the ones headed into sideways quiet, I was happy to be out of the market most of the time. Follow the process and let the results take care of themselves.

Swing Trades

There were two channel trades today that were filled at market open. One position hit it’s exit point, OXY:

There are thus 17 open trades in the portfolio now:
Short: SKT.

Combined, they show a return of +3.43R

Day Trades

There was no day trade update yesterday because I broke a rule and kept positions on overnight. Here’s how the morning went:

If I had entered my stop losses in the market, they would have been hit during a plunge down later in the day. The wisest move would have been to exit when I walked away from the screen. I was very fortunate that today, the market eventually moved back up and enabled me to bank, not just my daily +1R for today, but for yesterday as well. It was not pretty, and I’m sure part of the reason I held on was because it is a paper trading account.


If the point of paper trading is to practice good behavior, then I did not do that yesterday. It is the process of trading that I need to make my focus, not the dollar results. Letting day trades or swing trades become position trades is a common fault that will sink traders. This did not become a trade to sink the account, but it did demonstrate how attached I still am to the results rather than the process. The relatively new +1R target goal for the day may need to be dropped for a return to focusing on the process of trading and generating whatever return happens to come my way.

Swing Trades

Today I framed thirteen symbols for possible trade entries. Eight were filled and currently show +.47R for the day. The only one showing a loss for the day was the “2nd position” I added to PYPL. No trades were closed today. This brings me to 24 open positions showing +14.46R.

Short: none.

Day Trades

I had just over an hour to make day trades this morning when the market opened. After three trades, I was up +.73R. I considered walking away, but committed to trading until my time was up, I had four losses, or I made it to +1R. I ended up creating two more losses when I reversed my position on the next set of trades and reduces my return for the day down to +.45R before my time was up.

Finally, I will post a chart of my day trades. They are not stellar results, and I could have done better with the window of opportunity I had today, but I want to start holding myself to the same level of accountability with the day trades that I do for the swing trades which means posting them here when they are closed.


I will have more reflections on trading with a target of +1R/day as well as the time crunch of possibly walking away before a trade closes sometime soon. Right now, I need to take care of myself by getting some sleep.

Swing Trades

Returning to the daily posts about my trades, I framed 10 possible trade targets today and received fills on 6 of those. No trades were closed today. There are 23 current open positions showing +5.34R.

Short: JPM.

Day Trades

Today, I only opened and closed one day trade. Net result: +1R. Today I chose to be more selective on my trades. My goal was to bank 1R and then walk away. I got lucky and happened to do this on the first trade, so I sat and watched several other moves throughout the day. Some I missed. Some would have chopped me up. I need the experience and comfort of knowing I don’t have to catch every move and that my account can grow slowly over time. Making 1R each day will generate a stellar annual return. My plan is to stick to the 1R cap for 30 days. I expect it will take more than 1 trade each day in order to do this. On the flip side, I will limit my trades to 4 losers each day.

In baseball terms, my goal is to get on base (+1R). I can swing at the pitch whenever I think best. A loss is when the bat doesn’t connect with the ball. Four losses (strikes) and I’m back on the sidelines. A small win will get me another chance at bat and effectively shorten the distance to first base. I don’t need to hit home runs, and I’m not looking to do that right now. My hope is that each loss will be less than 1R, so that my max loss per day is 2-3R. If baseball players can earn millions of dollars with a .300 batting average, even netting +2R per week should get me the returns I’m looking for.

Swing Trades

Due to some circumstances to be commented upon below, I was not able to make daily posts this week. Below is the summary of swing trades opened and closed for the week.

Date 4/30 5/1 5/2 5/3 5/4
Framed 4 7 4 0 0
Opened 4 7 5 0 0
Closed 1 2 0 9 6
Return -1.02 -1.4 0 -2.34 +1.84

Remaining holdings are now:
Long: AEM, BMY, CAT, EQR(1/2), FNV, GLD(2), INTC, KR, PVG, PYPL(2), RIO, TWTR, XME(2).
Short: JPM.

Day Trades

I started well on Monday, but then my classic mistake occurred. Every time that I have blown up, it is because I have held onto a position too long, adding to it instead of exiting or reversing. This feeds into my desire to be right. There is also a touch of revenge trading when I do this in that I am usually looking to fix n earlier mistake, either missing a major move that I had framed properly but exited too soon, or if I get whipped back and forth changing directions because my position size it actually too large.

On Monday, I made a conscious choice to continue past my stopping point (unlike 25 April), and ended up suffering through the night and into the next day until I finally let the position go. This rattled me emotionally, so I basically made an effort to do the minimal amount of work necessary to manage my swing trades over the next few days. If I had been in a better mental state, I could have pared down some of the losses, or maybe even captured a profit, but those are only lessons I have learned after going through this experience.

On Friday, I started day trading again, and did reasonably well for the first two trades. Once again however, I missed a move and built up a massive position that was not moving in my favor. Strangely though, I did not have the same emotional connection to this position. Perhaps it was because I knew it was the paper trading account, but I also believe it was the dots I had connected during the few days off the screen.

As I mentioned in I am smart, I have a disposition to want to be right. I place too much effort and attachment to having each trade go my way, rather than a more healthy attitude of accepting what the the market gives and trusting my overall results to generate a positive bottom line. Wins and losses are like breathing in and out. They are a necessary activity for healthy living. This week, I believe I took a significant step towards wiring my brain according to the blue arrows in the diagram below as compared to the orange arrows which I believe have created many of my past disasters.

There is the possibility that this behavior will raise it’s ugly head again, but the re-framing and removal of the emotional charge gives me confidence that I can trade in a more healthy manner going forward. While there have been many psychological issues for me to confront on my trading journey (and likely more to encounter), I feel like this is the largest one I have yet to conquer. It set me back this week, but I believe I know more now about it and the feelings it brings on so that should it show up again in the future, I will be better able to act in a healthy and appropriate manner.

I expect to return to daily reports again next week.

Swing Trades

Today, I closed nine and a half swing trade positions. Some hit their stop loss. Some (including the half) were strikes to bank some profits.

First up is INTC. While I was writing my report Thursday evening, I noticed there was a major move up. Intel had reported earnings after the close. Since I had two positions on, I chose to exit one then and there. As you can see from the chart, the fill was well outside any reasonable range of normal. I kept the other position open on the chance that it might be a “gap and go” sort of move. Once it became clear that it was moving down from the opening gap, I closed the other half.

AEM, TSLA, and MO all hit their stop losses.

The next exits were more discretionary. The NYT short has been open 10 days, and while it is at the lower end of the range, I feel like it is money that might be better used in another trade. I also was not a fan of the fact that the stock only trades in .05 increments. Because of this, it will no longer be one of the targets on my radar.

The other trade that was both opened and closed today that will be removed from my radar screens is ESPR. It made it to +1R today, but the bid-ask spread was so wide that I couldn’t get a fill on my limit order. I finally got a fill for an exit at +.71R.

The long position in O moved +1R in my favor today. It touched the upper bollinger band, so while there might be more left on the upside, it felt wiser to take the money off the table.

EQR also moved more than 1R in my favor today. Rather than exit the entire position, I chose to exit half. EQR seems more bullish to me that O, so I’m waiting to see what happens next here.

I think that just leaves RL as the final trade I closed today. With two positions on and some indecisive back and forth sorts of move, I felt better reducing exposure here.

Five swing trades were framed for possible starts today, and four of them filled. As mentioned above, I closed out ESPR already. Net results for all closed trades today: +4.93R plus the half of EQR (+1R). There are 19 current open positions showing +3.44R.

Long: AA(2), AAPL, BMY, EEM(2), EQR(1/2), EWG, FNV, GLD, ILF(2), KR, LRCX(2), RL, WPM, XLF.
Short: PG.

Day Trades

I was much more selective in my day trade entries today and only took 9 trades in the morning. Friday afternoon can be a slow grind or have crazy swings, so I chose to stay out after lunch. The nine trades generated +2.5R and had only one small loser. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Be more patient and more picky about when to enter and make sure there is a reasonable reward target available for the risk. Current commission costs are such that I pay 1R for every 25 trades. Keeping my number of trades down will reduce my commission costs and increase what I get to keep.


All the trades I chose to close arbitrarily today were winners. What about the positions showing losses? Would there have been benefit to reducing my exposure there instead or as well? What about the saying to cut your losses short and let your winners run? I closed out the winners, not the losers today. Was that wise?