Stocks bounced back Thursday and recovered a respectable chunk of Wednesday’s losses. In fact, it even got to the point where anyone who shorted Wednesday’s crash was left sitting on a pile of losses. Ouch! So much for chasing an easy short. But that’s not unusual. Anyone that shows up late to the party is often left holding the bag.
Crashes by nature are breathtakingly quick and they usually end with sharp bounces. Hold a few hours too long and nice short profits evaporate before our eyes. That’s exactly what bit everyone who shorted Wednesday’s tumble and didn’t harvest profits.
That’s not to say bulls don’t also commit the same foul. The indexes are down in Thursday’s after-hours session and virtually every bull that bought Thursday’s bounce is now sitting on a pile of losses. How’s that for equal opportunity humiliation!
And so continues the meatgrinder, a.k.a. the stock market. This is an extremely volatile period for equities and that means big swings in both directions. Every day of up is inevitably followed by a day of down.
There is nothing wrong with being aggressive and grabbing ahold of these large intraday swings. But be smart enough to recognize these profits are fleeting and they will be gone within a few hours. Take worthwhile profits and be ready to do it again in the other direction a few hours later.
As for what comes next? Expect more of the same. Wednesday’s 3.5% tumble was far too large to brush off with a single up-day. This volatility will stick around until at least after the election and probably a couple of weeks beyond that too.
That said, there is no reason to fear this volatility as long as we are smart about it. Put tripwires on either side of the open and grab ahold of that early move, whichever direction it happens to be. Place your stop-loss just on the other side of the open and be ready to lock-in a pile of worthwhile profits later that afternoon. Rinse and repeat the next morning.
If the trade doesn’t work and we get stopped out, no big deal, especially if we got in early enough and were able to move our stop to our entry point. That turns this into a free trade. It’s hard to beat that risk/reward.
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Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two children.