FYI: Two new trading tools

Attending financially-focused shows like the LA Traders Expo last week is a good way to not only learn new investing and trading concepts but it’s also a great way to discover and possibly test-drive new trading tools. During my stroll down Exhibit hall, I stumbled upon a couple of new tools that I hadn’t known about. I’d like to share them with my readers as you might find them to be valuable additions to your own trading toolbox.  (I’m not getting paid for this review.)

The first is FreeStockCharts.com. This is a real-time streaming charting service that offers many of the bells and whistles of other such services but the difference is that this one is completely free of charge. Hence the name.

So, what’s the catch? The catch is that about an inch or so of the very right side of the charting display is devoted to paid advertising similar to that found on the right side of a Google search page. That’s it. Considering all of the bang you get, it’s certainly worth the minor inconvenience, at least for me.

You can personalize your chart settings: arithmetic or log scaling, bar or candlestick price plotting, black or white chart backgrounds, etc. It also comes with many of the more popular indicators including the Parabolic SAR, an indicator I like but costs extra with my expensive charting service, plus some I’ve never seen before in a charting program. Those include moving linear regression, moving VWAP, and time series forecasting. To find out what these meant, I went to their help menu and found that it is virtually non-existent. Since the site is new, I’m hoping it’s still under construction and will be finished soon.

The software also features cool drawing tools including many Fibonacci-based ones. The quad and H line tools are two that I’ve never encountered before, and am hoping those, too, will be included in the future help menu.

The program lets you look at any publicly traded US stock, ETF, or index. It also provides quotes for Canadian stocks, another something I have to pay extra for on my charting service. You can enter a stock symbol individually or you can bring up one of their watch lists categorized by ETF, industry, or index components. Now you have no excuse knowing which stocks make up the Dow 30. Another nifty feature is that these watch lists can be sorted according to price, volume, % gain, and net change. There’s another sorting tab called “Volume Buzz” but I have no idea what that is, either.

When you highlight a stock symbol, the recent news for it pops up in another window. That’s a feature my high-priced charting service doesn’t include. If you login to the service (at no charge), you can set up your own portfolios. Switching between them is easy via tabs. As with any complex piece of software, there’s a learning curve involved but I have to say that it’s worth the time to get to know it especially if you’re having problems justifying the cost of a charting service. If your trading doesn’t require the more exotic features, why pay for them?

The second one is Solaris Securities, SolarisSec.com. They’re a new company primarily set up for the day-trader, but in talking with the owner–a former day-trader himself–I found that his company will work with the more traditional trader whose idea of holding a stock is for longer than five seconds. Veteran traders who don’t require the services of a full-scale online broker and frequent options traders, especially, might find their low pricing of $2 per stock or futures contract to be particularly appealing. They guarantee the best execution and order routing (call them up for further info). Day-trading equity orders are $1 and probably a bit higher for the less frequent trader, but you’ll have to call for a quote. Plus, they only require $2000 to set up a non-day-trading account. Trading is free via their web browser, but they do charge for their more sophisticated platforms.

Most likely there are other shops similar to Solaris but this was the one that was represented at the show. Their representatives were very nice and knowledgable, and they seem to provide a quality product.

Summary
The thrill of discovering new tools is just one reason to periodically attend these shows. The fun part is talking shop with other like-minded folks and exchanging trading ideas. If you’re in a trading slump (as many of us are from time to time), going to these shows is a great way to re-energize your enthusiasm. The best part is that most of them cost nothing to attend, and as you can probably tell, “free” is the operative word for me.

Author’s note: I do not have any personal or professional affiliation with any of the products mentioned in this article nor am I receiving compensation for my review (alas!). I did attend the recent LA Traders Expo as an unpaid workshop speaker.

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