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What You Need to Know About Key Trading Terms

“Becoming a day trader is something that a lot of people see as an easy way to make money, where you don’t need much experience – just click a few buttons and hey, presto, you’re rich! But nothing is further from the truth,” said Deeyana Angelo, a managing director at Blahtech and Market Stalkers. “Day trading is a very difficult performance discipline, much like becoming a professional football player or playing a musical instrument to a virtuoso level. You first need to have a natural talent, followed by years of practice.”

According to Angelo, who has over a decade of experience with derivatives trading, day trading is a difficult task. She said it requires an analytical mind, and that many people she’s seen succeed have backgrounds in industries that require years of schooling and practice. If you want to become a day trader to get rich overnight, you’re going to end up losing large amounts of money. It takes time and practice to become an effective day trader.

There are a few other key terms that day traders should know:

Forex market. This term stands for the foreign exchange market. The forex market and stock market are two marketplaces where day traders commonly make trades.

Professional day trader. A professional day trader is someone who day trades for a living and is licensed to trade. If you’re looking to become a professional day trader and work for a brokerage firm or something similar, make sure it’s registered with the SEC.

Pattern day trader. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a pattern day trader is one who “day trades (buys then sells or sells short then buys the same security on the same day) four or more times in five business days, provided the number of day trades are more than 6% of the customer’s total trading activity for that same five-day period.”

Margin trading. To fully understand what a pattern day trader is, it helps to understand margin trading. Margin trading is when traders use borrowed funds from a broker to trade. Due to the risk involved here, margin trading takes place through the use of a margin account. FINRA has specific requirements related to this for pattern day traders. The organization says, “Under the rules, a pattern day trader must maintain minimum equity of $25,000 on any day that the customer day trades. The required minimum equity must be in the account prior to any day-trading activities. If the account falls below the $25,000 requirement, the pattern day trader will not be permitted to day trade until the account is restored to the $25,000 minimum equity level.”

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