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Stocks vs Futures
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Stocks vs Futures

  #1 (permalink)
Elite Member
Burlington, VT
Trading Experience: Intermediate
Platform: IB
Favorite Futures: Stocks
UnderPar's Avatar
Posts: 17 since Jan 2012
Thanks: 7 given, 17 received

Stocks vs Futures

Having only traded equities with break-even success, I'm starting to get more interested in futures. I know most people will say futures are much more difficult and if you aren't successful with stocks you shouldn't try for futures.

This being said, and the fact that I still consider myself a beginner, I think my personality might be better adapted to trading futures...

Stocks present me with the following two issues:

1. There are so many stocks that I find myself bouncing around to whatever is moving or has some volatility.... and never truly learning how ONE stock behaves.

2. The fundamental aspect of stocks (analyst upgrades & downgrades / sector news / earnings / guidance) there is just so much to follow and even if I'm just tying to trade with a technical bias, these things all come into play.

I think with a quasi-add personality trading stocks is to my detriment and I would be better served only focusing one the behavior of ONE instrument and learning it.

Does this make any sense?

Has anyone had success with futures after not being very successful trading equities?

Obviously, I'd start with a slower moving instrument and bring all the risk management rules I have with me to the other side.

Thanks so much for the advice!

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  #2 (permalink)
Quick Summary
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Last edited by Big Mike; October 26th, 2013 at 04:18 AM.
  #3 (permalink)
Elite Member
desert CA
Trading Experience: Intermediate
Platform: NT7, TOS, IB
Broker/Data: AMP/wCQG, TDA, IB
Favorite Futures: CL,NQ,YM
Posts: 2,063 since Jul 2011
Thanks: 2,257 given, 1,603 received

Most of the traders here on (formerly BMT) imo are futures day traders. Futures like options are leveraged instruments so profits can be bigger however there are the risks of margin calls rules of which are set by your broker. What you say makes a good point. Even stocks fundamentally change their behavior over time. AAPL was a dud until Steve Jobs came back with the iPod. One can trade small like 100 shares on the SPX for daytrading, but then you might as well just trade 1 contract on the ES future. I've noticed the calls by Cramer or the crew at Fast Money don't really have a better win/loss ratio than average. Makes me feel like the brokers or fund managers are consistently making profits more from commission/fee/consulting/reporting and related business outside of the actual trading rather than the investors or traders themselves. You could check the (formerly BMT) journals. I think other than the futures only trading journals, there are a few stock trading journals, weekly options trading, and a thread on selling options on futures. Good luck.

Big Mike also has an intro to trading video here which compares trading instruments:

Last edited by Cloudy; January 9th, 2013 at 12:58 AM.
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  #4 (permalink)
Elite Member
wa/ usa
Trading Experience: Intermediate
Platform: schwab, metatrader, OEC,T4,TDameritrade
Favorite Futures: CL ES 6C 6E
Posts: 255 since Oct 2012
Thanks: 198 given, 442 received

Just my 2c - I trade both stocks and futures.

Futures -
Highly leveraged, single focus ( generally you can watch for expected release time of news-not saying its going to protect you from a black swan moment but its not like CCL is getting hit on earnings so RCL takes a hit with it or something). You can just watch one instrument and get skilled in that and make a decent living if you are good at it. E mini are pretty liquid and fluid during RTH. Downside is the high leverage. You can do downhill real fast if you are not careful. Trade pretty much 23.5/5 1/2 days except the weekend(barring the settlement break). No PDT rules and better tax treatment. Easier tax filing too.

Stocks: Only trade during market hours. Lower leverage, more to choose from(pro and con), Tax nightmare esp with new constantly changing rules. If you have a solid strategy thats on a slightly longer time frame than watching every tic its fairly easy to trade. Collect some dividends too if you are into that. Can trade on cruise control.

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  #5 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
San Francisco, California, United States
Trading Experience: Intermediate
Platform: Sierra Chart
Favorite Futures: ES
Posts: 7 since Aug 2012
Thanks: 1 given, 1 received

Select 2-5 high quality stocks and follow those

I know lots of people who narrow down to a few stocks of high quality companies. The stocks move in 10 + point swings and they have them well-covered without being overwhelmed.

One guy makes a living just trading Google. He knows EVERYTHING about Google.

Futures are challenging. If you go there, paper trade first and be prepared to possibly lose your whole account balance if you begin trading right away without a trading plan and without demo / sim-trading experience.

Good Luck!!


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  #6 (permalink)
Trading for Profit
Munich, Germany
Trading Experience: Advanced
Platform: TradeStation
Favorite Futures: Equity Index Futures
Posts: 285 since Apr 2012
Thanks: 121 given, 116 received


The comments on leverage and futures can be a bit misleading.

Yes, you can trade some futures contracts with a leverage of approx. 15:1 (or even more intraday), but you don't have to. I would assume that most consistently profitable traders don't make use of such high leverage.

Depending on the capitalization of your account you can trade them without any leverage or anything in between 1:1 and 15:1 (or more intraday).

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  #7 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
Trading Experience: Advanced
Platform: Ensign Soft
Favorite Futures: Russell 2000 and ES
Posts: 25 since Jun 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 8 received


Agree on last post about leverage.

It is up to you to use it or not.

If you daytrade ES(emini s&p 500 index futures) you can get a daytrading margin as low as $400 on a contract value of $81,250(currently @1625.00). We're talking about 200 to 1. Very few people can handle that kind of leverage on a daily basis and being consistent at winning.

15:1 is a bit uncomfortable for me

I tend to stick between 5:1 and 10:1

but we're all different, you'll see what's ok for you when you get there.

Too many "gurus" will show you in their demo videos to trade 10 ES contracts with only $5000 and of course only showing you winning trades. Inexperience + high leverage is an almost guaranteed economical disaster.

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  #8 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
Trading Experience: Advanced
Platform: Ensign Soft
Favorite Futures: Russell 2000 and ES
Posts: 25 since Jun 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 8 received


as well if you decide to daytrade futures, you will more than likely become very specialized choosing one or 2 instruments and you will get to know them inside and out.

I do not understand how people can manage to daytrade different stocks everyday and still be profitable(oh yes it ca be done), as it is already complicated enough to get to know intimately one or two future instruments.

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  #9 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
Trading Experience: Advanced
Platform: Ensign Soft
Favorite Futures: Russell 2000 and ES
Posts: 25 since Jun 2013
Thanks: 0 given, 8 received

Has anyone had success with futures after not being very successful trading equities?

to answer your question, yes that's me!

with stocks I was all over the place, did not like the fact things could take weeks to become profitable, did not like the fact of holding a position on weekends. I was not daytrading stocks. I discover daytrading with futures and wanted to do something different with stocks. I gave up a long time ago.

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  #10 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
Harrisburg PA/USA
Trading Experience: Master
Platform: TradeStation
Favorite Futures: Futures
Posts: 5 since Jun 2013
Thanks: 1 given, 11 received

As you can tell by my name, my preference is for the futures markets. I personally have found that it is easier to develop a trading plan for futures, whether you are trading one market such as the E-Mini S&P, or a diverse portfolio. I also like the fact that news relating to futures markets tends to be more transparent. In stocks, you may not get any news for weeks, and then all of a sudden, a lousy earnings report or court ruling, and bam, the stock is down 20% or more. In futures markets, you generally get a steady drumbeat of news in most markets, so there are fewer surprises.

Just my two cents for now.

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