Hi. I am am the author of the FutureScalper platform and, hence, a vendor. So, by Mike's rules I'll try and keep this factual. Also, be aware that this platform works only on a Transact brokerage feed, available through various introducing brokerages so that is a requirement. These comments relate to futures contract trading only and this is highly specialized, so not suitable for most traders.
After hours trading of futures contracts is one area where FS has some specialization. I'd just like to mention a few considerations when trading in this environment, and how the FutureScalper platform helps. The platform is focussed on "scalping" or fairly short term trading.
If you like watching paint dry, grass grow, etc., then after hours trading is for you ;-) But, seriously, some may be located in timezones where this is a necessity. After hours markets are "in slow motion", so a move which might take 3 minutes ordinarily, can well take an hour in the after hours environments. (Varies, of course, by contract.)
As a caveat, technical analysis can be rather "thin" in after hours markets. Trade-based indicators are rather sparse, as well as DOM (Order Book) also being rather infrequently updated. Because the tape is thin, the DOM trend indicators are often your best clue as to where the market may be headed, even though (again) DOM can often be thinly updated as well in these market conditions.
Having said all that, here are some ways for the small trader to gain some edge in this environment. FutureScalper uses "Virtual Limit Orders" (aka vLimits) to achieve some of these goals semi-automatically, so I'll just mention some of the more common features from which the after hours trader could benefit. Basically, these are "clusters" of conditions which are evaluated in order to decide whether to trigger (buy or sell).
These are configured as independent conditions, but they are evaluated as a group, so keep in mind that the more conditions imposed, the less likely a trigger can occur. Best to keep things simple. Generally scalping is all about "price control" and so these various conditions aim to get you good entries.
Also, rather than to be straining to click the mouse, these conditions are evaluated by the vLimit trigger system about 6 times per second. So you can set your acceptable price (the "virtual limit price") and then let the vLimit trigger system do the hard work of deciding exactly when to strike.
SPREAD CONTROL. The Bid/Ask spread is usually such that no trader using Market orders can hope to profit. Obviously, limit orders are required for price control, especially for scalping. FutureScalper can strike when the market offers a particular Minimum and Maximum spread (in ticks or pips). Here you can choose whether you want to fill immediately or place an order inside the spread, depends on your goals.
STRIKE TYPE. The strike type is exactly where you want your order to be placed on trigger. Do you want to JOIN the bidders, JOIN the sellers at the offer, go BEST (BID+1 to buy, ASK-1) to sell, immediately hit the ASK to buy, the BID to sell, and so on... In combination with Spread control, you can customize exactly where your order is placed either to fill immediately, or perhaps to just step inside the market and then wait. In these markets, that advertises your presence, which is not such a great idea, but maybe OK for you. By waiting for Bid/Ask to close to 1 tick (if you think that might happen in the particular market), you could choose to strike RETAIL, meaning you would hit the ASK to buy or hit the BID to sell, and you wouldn't be paying a huge spread to get in.
SMALL RETAIL PLAYERS. The Market Makers in these after hours markets will never give you a good price. However, small traders throughout the world, offering 1 or 2 contracts, will often step inside the market. This is an opportunity for you to "take it from the little guy" by waiting until some guy happens to offer a contract at a better price, and then striking it, hoping to be fast enough. So, in a sense, we can profit from the somewhat random "mistakes" that individual small traders might make, as they offer contracts at a better price than you could ordinarily get.
PRELOADED ORDERS. You can specify that the real Limit order is placed in the market a good distance away, and is maintained outside the market. When the vLimit system decides to strike (all the conditions are true), then it "bumps" the price of that existing order to the Strike Price, as specified above.
Anyway, survival in these after hours markets is something which an integrated platform can help you with, by finding the "micro conditions" which are often rather fleeting, which often appear momentarily in these after hours markets, and thus allow you to get better prices, and enough of an edge to compete. So Analysis is fed into the Triggering system, and so trading takes on something of a "fire and forget" aspect, even though you should always be there and never allow a system to run unattended.
These are just a few of the possibilities, but personally I try and avoid having to work in these harsh after hours conditions and, if I do, then these features can often make all the difference.
Again, I don't recommend traders operate in these conditions, if there is any alternative. There may be better ways to spend your time, and risk your account capital ;-) Try and trade during regular trading hours.
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