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What is swing trading?

Learn more about swing trading, a strategy used by active investors to make short-term gains.

Swing trading is an active type of short-term investing. Swing traders use technical analysis to anticipate stock movement and trade based on these predictions with the ultimate goal of realizing capital gains. Unlike day trading, a swing investor purchases stocks on the market and holds them for a few days or weeks.

What is swing trading?

Swing trading is an active, short-term form of investing. It is the opposite of passive investing, which involves purchasing and holding assets for long-term profit. Swing trading stocks requires a risk-reward analysis to determine point of entry, stop loss and exit points that will result in capital gains.

Swing trading vs day trading

Swing trading and day trading share a lot of similarities. For example, they both involve a strategy and technical analysis, and both are active investing methods. However, there are several differences to consider too. The main difference is the frequency of trades. Let’s explore swing trading vs day trading in the table below.

Swing tradingDay trading
FrequencyMultiple trades per weekMultiple trades per day
CostsLowerHigher
Return periodLongerShorter
Time commitmentPeriodicConstant attention
Trading platform needsCan use a brokerage accountNeed up-to-the-minute trading software

Keep in mind that many active investors participate in both day trading and swing trading simultaneously. By using both tactics, you may be able to diversify your profits further. However, neither strategy is for beginners.

Pros and cons of swing trading

Pros

  • Less of a time commitment than day trading.
  • You can use a regular brokerage account.
  • You can earn an income from short-term gains if you’re skilled at swing trading.
  • Active investment strategy that can help diversify your portfolio when combined with passive strategies.

Cons

  • Swing traders can miss out on long-term gains by focusing solely on short-term gains.
  • More strategy is required than passive investing. Swing trading requires a solid strategy in order to determine what and when to buy and sell.
  • Weekend and overnight market risk.

Swing trading strategies

In general, active trading requires some kind of strategy. Your strategy may evolve over time as you become more skilled, but it’s important to start somewhere. Swing trading usually involves technical analysis to employ your strategy. Below are commonly used swing trading strategies to look into further.

  • Using support and resistance triggers
  • Assessing moving averages to identify bullish or bearish crossover points
  • Contrarian investing (or “fading”)
  • Using daily and 60 minute charts

Start swing trading with these online brokers

Name Product Finder Rating Stock Trading Fee Account Fee Available Asset Types Feature Table description
FREE TRADES
Wealthsimple Trade
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
3.9 / 5
$0
$0
Stocks, ETFs
Get 2 free stocks (total value up to $9,000) when you deposit and trade $150.
Pay no commissions when you trade Canadian stocks and ETFs with Wealthsimple Trade.
Scotia iTRADE
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
3.8 / 5
$4.99 - $9.99
$0
Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.
Interactive Brokers
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
4.1 / 5
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5%
$0
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Extensive trading capabilities and global investment tracking.
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
OFFER
CIBC Investor's Edge
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
4 / 5
$4.95 - $6.95
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $100/year
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs
Get up to $2,000 cash back. Conditions apply. Offer ends March 1, 2022.
An intuitive and easy-to-use platform with access to a variety of tools that help you make smart decisions and trade with confidence.
Questrade
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
4.2 / 5
$4.95 - $9.95
$0
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
Get $50 in free trades when you fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Qtrade Direct Investing
Finder Rating:
★★★★★
4.1 / 5
$6.95 - $8.75
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
Get a $50 bonus when you open a new RRSP, TFSA or RESP and start pre-authorized contributions of at least $200/month. Valid until March 1, 2022.
Qtrade Direct Investing offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
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Bottom line

Swing trading is an active form of investing that yields profits over a short period of time. If you’re ready to try swing trading, be sure to spend time gathering knowledge and developing a strategy. For those who don’t have the means to participate in swing trading, consider long-term investing instead.

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