Experienced traders will often say "trend is your friend" or "do not overtrade". What does it mean? The links below will lead you to pages where you can read more about basic trading guidelines, general information about the technical and fundamental analysis, and some simple ideas about risk management. These are just basics - you will need to read much more related literature to become a successful trader.
General Trading Guidelines
Plan your trade and trade your plan: You must have a trading plan to succeed. A trading plan should consist of a position, why you enter, stop loss point, profit taking level, plus a sound money management strategy. A good plan will remove all the emotions from your trades.
The trend is your friend: Do not buck the trend. When the market is bullish, go long. On the reverse, if the market is bearish, you short. Never go against the trend.
Focus on capital preservation: This is the most important step that you must take when you deal with your trading capital. You main goal is to preserve the capital. Do not trade more than 10% of your deposit in a single trade. For example, if your total deposit is $10,000, every trade should limit to $1000. If you don't do this, you'll be out of the market very soon.
Know when to cut loss: If a trade goes against you, sell it and let go. Do not hold on to a bad trade hoping that the price will go up. Most likely, you end up losing more money. Before you enter a trade, decide your stop loss price, a price where you must sell when the trade turns sour. It depends on your risk profile as of how much you should set for the stop loss.
Take profit when the trade is good: Before entering a trade decide how much profit you are willing to take. When a trade turns out to be good, take the profit. You can take profit all at one go, or take profit in stages. When you've recovered your trading cost, you have nothing to lose. Sit tight and watch the profit run.
Be emotionless: Two biggest emotions in trading: greed and fear. Do not let greed and fear influence your trade. Trading is a mechanical process and it's not for the emotional ones. As Dr. Alexander Elder said in his book "Trading For A Living", if you sit next to a successful trader and observe him or her, you might not be able to tell whether he or she is making or losing money. That's how emotionally stable a successful trader is.
Do not trade based on tips from other people: Trade only when you have done your own research. Be an informed trader.
Keep a trading journal: When you buy a market instrument, write down the reasons why you buy, and your feelings at that time. You do the same when you sell. Analyze and write down the mistakes you've made, as well as things that you've done right. By referring to your trading journal, you learn from your past mistakes. Improve on your mistakes, keep learning and keep improving.
When in doubt, stay out: When you have doubt and not sure where the market is going, stay on the sideline. Sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing to do.
Do not overtrade: Ideally you should have 3-5 positions at a time. No more than that. If you have too many positions, you tend to be out of control and make emotional decisions when there is a change in market. Do not trade for the sake of trading.
Technical analysis differs from fundamental analysis in that technical analysis is applied only to the price action of the market, ignoring fundamental factors. As fundamental data can often provide only a long-term or "delayed" forecast of market price movements, technical analysis has become the primary tool with which to successfully trade shorter-term price movements, and to set stop loss and profit targets.
Technical analysis consists primarily of a variety of technical studies, each of which can be interpreted to generate buy and sell decisions or to predict market direction.
Support and Resistance Levels
One use of technical analysis, apart from technical studies, is in deriving "support" and "resistance" levels. The concept here is that the market will tend to trade above its support levels and trade below its resistance levels. If a support or resistance level is broken, the market is then expected to follow through in that direction. These levels are determined by analyzing the chart and assessing where the market has encountered unbroken support or resistance in the past.
Popular Technical Analysis Tools
Moving Averages (MA): Indicators used to smooth price fluctuations and identify trends. The most basic type of moving average, the simple moving average, is the average of the past x bars ending with the current bar;
Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD): Indicator that utilizes moving averages to identify possible trends and an oscillator to determine when a trend is overbought or oversold;
Bollinger Bands: Bands that are placed x moving average standard deviations above and below a simple MA line;
Fibonacci Retracement Levels: Indicator used to identify potential levels of support and resistance;
Directional Movement Index (DMI): A positive line (+DI) measuring buying and a negative line (-DI) measuring selling pressure;
Relative Strength Index (RSI): Momentum oscillator that is plotted on a vertical scale from 0 to 100;
Stochastics: Momentum oscillator that measure momentum by comparing the recent close to the absolute price range (high of the range minus the low of the range) over a period of x bars;
Trendlines: Straight line on a chart that connects consecutive tops or consecutive bottoms of prices and is utilized to identify levels of support and resistance;
Fundamental analysis is the evaluation of non-visual information to evaluate trading activity and make trading decisions. Whereas technical analysts utilize charts and mathematical indicators to quantify price activity, fundamental analysts utilize market news and market forecasts to qualify price activity.
There are numerous market events that move financial markets every week. Some affect every market instrument while others affect specific instruments. If the outcome of a market event has been fully discounted by the market, traders will not notice any discernible impact on their charts. If the outcome of a market event has not been fully discounted by the market, the result is either price appreciation or price depreciation and traders will see this activity on their charts.
Every week, there are fundamentally-important market events that are scheduled in every country at specific times. Similarly, there are fundamentally-important market events that may not be scheduled for specific times. Some countries (Germany, for instance) often do not schedule market events for specific times. The outcome of market events is sometimes leaked in advance in certain countries (Germany, for instance) for different reasons.
Market events include the release of economic data, speeches and testimony by government officials, interest rate decisions, and others.
Controlling risk is one of the most important ingredients of successful trading. While it is emotionally more appealing to focus on the upside of trading, every trader should know precisely how much he or she is willing to lose on each trade before cutting losses, and how much he or she is willing to lose in trading account before ceasing trading and re-evaluating.
Risk will essentially be controlled in two ways: by exiting losing trades before losses exceed your pre-determined maximum tolerance (or "cutting losses"), and by limiting the "leverage" or position size you trade for a given account size.
Too often, the beginning trader will be overly concerned about incurring losing trades. Trader therefore lets losses mount, with the "hope" that the market will turn around and the loss will turn into a gain.
Almost all successful trading strategies include a disciplined procedure for cutting losses. When a trader is down on a position, many emotions often come into play, making it difficult to cut losses at the right level. The best practice is to decide where losses will be cut before a trade is even initiated. This will assure the trader of the maximum amount he or she can expect to lose on the trade.
The other key element of risk control is overall account risk. In other words, a trader should know before start of trading endeavor how much of trading account he or she is willing to lose before ceasing trading and re-evaluating strategy. If you open an account with $2,000, are you willing to lose all $2,000? $1,000? As with risk control on individual trades, the most important discipline is to decide on a level and stick with it. Further information on the mechanics of limiting risk can be found in trading literature.