Managing Multiple Trades

Well that was a busy morning. It all kicked off at the same time, leaving me with a couple of trades to manage at once. One of the reasons I only trade the morning session is because I am not blessed with great intelligence or brainpower, so I have to try to use what little I have as best I can. I’m fresher and more alert at the start of the session, so am better able to juggle a couple of trades at once. Here’s the first of two trades I was running concurrently:

QCOM is like an old friend I haven’t seen in ages. It has been on and off my core stock list over the years. Right now it’s off the list. Any hint of possible movement puts it right near the top of my daily watchlist though. This was a lovely setup and such a no-brainer that I took the slightly earlier entry.

The reward was a well-signaled exit with plenty of time to get out, taking $750 in under a quarter of an hour.

That the trade gave me all that time to exit was handy, because while QCOM was falling, I had also been keeping an eye on this one:

Another chip-maker (remember what I said about watching sectors the other day?). NVDA is a higher priced stock and one that tends to be more volatile than QCOM, so I gave it some respect and waited until the main entry rather than go early. Besides, I was already managing QCOM. The exit here came on a bounce with a serious turn in momentum. The trade was over more quickly, but that volatility meant a bigger profit in a shorter amount of time.

One Screen

A question that comes up from time to time is how many screens do I use to trade with? The answer is one, and it’s a laptop. I’ve never been into the whole multi-screen thing (I tried it for a month or two at the start of my career — didn’t get on with it). I like to keep things simple. That means simple charts with a single indicator, and a simple screen setup. A laptop has the advantage that it keeps going in the event of a power outage. Okay I might lose my internet connection, but I just switch to my phone’s hotspot if that happens (and it has happened more than once).

Mainly though, I use a single screen because of that limited brainpower I mentioned at the top. My eyes can only focus on one thing at a time, and my brain is best when it’s concentrating on one thing. Having piles of charts flashing away all over the place is a distraction. I want to see what I’m trading.

So what happens when I’m trading two things at once, like QCOM and NVDA? It’s pretty simple — I just flip between them. I already have my watchlist loaded up in a quote window which is linked to my main chart, so when I click on a symbol the chart changes to show that symbol. It takes less than a second to switch between charts. Given I’m trading five-minute charts, I have more than enough time to cycle through all my symbols multiple times per bar. If I’m in a trade, there’s usually enough time to keep popping back and looking through the other symbols to see if anything is setting up. I’ll focus on just those most likely to present another trade imminently.

If I’ve got two trades running, as was the case above, I’ll switch between the two of them and manage them accordingly, leaving the rest of the watchlist alone. Once one trade is closed, that frees up some time and mental capacity to go back and look through the rest of the list again.

Does this mean I miss trades sometimes? Of course. Missing trades is part of the business and something we have to accept as a given. I could have twenty screens in front of me and still miss trades because my eyes and attention can only be in one place at a time.

That’s why I use a single screen. It keeps things calm, ordered, and simple. And as far as I’m concerned, the simpler the better.