Monday, October 09, 2006

Coaching Hotline Call Re: Short Sale

Curtis from the TMTT called me back today after I left a message on the coaching hotline. The question I left on the hotline was essentially: I've received the following message: "XYZ stock is not available for short sale." What's up with that? (BTW the two that I've received this message for are: NURO & NTES).

The answer is in the error message, thems the rules. Apparently there can be a variety of reasons and I should talk to my brokerage firm about finding a way to display the status of whether or not the stock is available for short sale. Curtis also clued me in that there are some stocks that only allow certain amounts or percentage of margin, with some stocks that can't be traded using margin at all.

With that answer we kind of flowed into a couple other questions that have been on my mind. One was about stocks gaping at opening, how and when do I know if a stock is going to gap at opening? The answer is simple enough. If the Bid & Ask straddle the last price, there's no gap at open. The question about when is a bit more difficult. There's both post- and pre-market trading that can affect the opening price based on news reports, etc... Because of pre-market trading, the only time you can really know is just before market open. I'm interested in managing open positions that gap against me, not in playing gaps at this point in time. I am aware of some gap based strategies, but primarily I'm wanting to see if I can reduce my losses by managing the gap by hand instead of just being stopped out for maximum loss. Gaps do often fill, but not always. Let's take a long position, for example. If I'm going to be stopped out because of a down-gap, what's the harm in setting a new stop just below the opening price? If the gap just continues down then I loose a bit more, but if it begins to fill the gap I can manage the trade by following the swing lows and adjusting my stop to follow the gap being filled in until it shows weakness and goes against me, possibly turning a loser into a winner, or at least take less of a loss. Granted this is a more active management strategy and means I'll need to be in front of the market for such management decisions, but it's a likely management tactic that I will employ when possible.

I then asked about Curtis' trading style and asked how he managed trades. He manages his trades based on the daily chart. Other strategies take more time. Curtis also shared with me that he doesn't really worry about gaps. They're going to happen and they'll either work for him or not. First, they're not that common and it's just part of trading. It's an odds based business and even though those occasional losses may hurt, they won't take you out of the game if you're managing your money properly.

Curtis was also able to field a question I've had about determining the number of option contracts. This has everything to do with money management. His answer is he purchases the number of contracts that will only lose him the amount he's willing to give up. So if he's able to take a $500 loss on any given trade he calculates the number of options that will give him a $500 loss based on the initial stop with the cost of the spread (which is 5 to 20 cents) factored in. That's smart money management. You only risk what you can afford to lose, which could mean that you'll only be trading a handful of option contracts on any given trade.

So we had about a 1/2 hour long conversation which was quite pleasant and I'll be calling the coaching hotline when more questions arise.

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