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Your Ultimate Guide to Trading Stocks Read Article
Company spotlight Ally Invest Built for investors who want to manage their own portfolios, Ally’s self-directed trading gives you all the tools you need to buy and trade stocks, optimize your portfolio and stay on top of the market, all without the need for... Read Reviews
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It's every investor's worst fears come true – a market correction that turns out to the beginning of a larger bear market. If you saw the threat coming, you might not be surprised when it hits or even notice much of a change in your portfolio's performance if you made preparations. But those that don't see the warning signs could see their portfolio's performing gut-wrenching dives. Luckily, recessions don't happen by random occurrence, except for certain rare black swan events such as an asteroid strike or something of that nature. For the most part, recessions give signals before their arrival giving investors who know what to look for time to adapt. By following the right line of data, you should be able to determine at the very least if market conditions are headed towards trouble. Key indicators to watch out for One of the most tried and true methods for forecasting recessions is by examining overall market margin levels. Historically, a rise in margin levels has preceded a recession making it one of the most accurate predictors investors have. Interestingly,… Read more

Sometimes holding a portfolio of stocks that you buy and sell just isn't enough. Whether you're looking for risk management, higher returns, or just something to add a little excitement to your investment activity, options are a great addition to your investment strategy. By combining your stock portfolio with a few choice option trades, you can greatly reduce the overall risk to your investments or boost returns to a level that would be difficult to achieve with stocks alone. While many investors think of options as being risky profit-enhancing tools, in actuality they often help reduce risk by providing hedges or allowing speculation on a stock without committing a large amount of capital. Getting started with option trading Options come in two forms – calls and puts. A call gives investors the right, but not the obligation, to purchase 100 shares of a stock at a given strike price while a put is an obligation to sell 100 shares of a stock at a given strike price should the put be exercised. To simplify, you buy a call if you're… Read more

Three of the strongest forces to affect the markets, and subsequently your portfolio, are economic growth rates, interest rates, and the inflation rate. It's relatively easy to track each of these separately by looking at GDP data, the yield on the 10-year treasury, or the latest CPI chart. But understanding how these interact with each other is the key to predicting market moves and protecting your portfolio. After several years of stagnation, interest rates and inflation are back on the rise. Rates are at their highest level in four years and don't look to slow down anytime soon. Inflation meanwhile is around 2.5% along with a global economy that appears to be growing healthy and strong. But these currents are what drive markets, and investors need to know how to navigate the waters if they want to keep their portfolios in the black. A complex relationship Nothing in the economy exists in a vacuum. A change in bond yields affects the value of the dollar which impacts stock prices that in turn can influence commodities. The market is a dynamic… Read more

The traditional portfolio consists of stocks and bonds and little to nothing of other asset classes. Adding more than that to the mix has generally been left up to professionals to handle. But with the advent of ETFs and other asset creations, everyday investors now have relatively easy access to all sorts of alternative investments from futures to long/short equity funds to derivative investments. Investors can use alternative investments to boost returns or mitigate risk and with a plethora of options to choose from, there's virtually no strategy off-limits. The market for alternatives is growing fast with more than $300 billion invested in alternative mutual funds and ETFs as of 2012. Giving investors the ability to profit in any type of market seems like a powerful tool, but with limited data, their actual effectiveness varies. The role of alternatives in a portfolio The alternative investment space can be broken up into five main categories: equity-based funds, nontraditional bond funds, commodities, multi-currency funds, and derivatives. Let's take a look at how each one applies to a portfolio. The equity-based category can… Read more

Building a stock portfolio is no easy task – there are thousands of publicly listed stocks in the US alone. Trying to filter that down to a portfolio made up of 10 to 20 stocks can seem like an overwhelming challenge. But by keying in on just a few specific ratios, investors can narrow down their search options to a manageable level. Stock screeners come with any brokerage account and some are offered online for free as well. While there are a few differences, the ratios we'll be discussing can be found in any stock screener. By isolating just a few, you can eliminate worthless stocks and focus just on the ones that fulfill your criteria. Basic stock screening While certain industries are exceptions, most stocks can be filtered out by looking for specific ratios and fundamentals. Depending on whether you're searching for dividend payers, value stocks, or growth stocks, you'll likely change your search criteria as well. Regardless, there are a few important criteria you should know so you can search for the best stocks as efficiently as you… Read more