From the March 01, 2011 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

To scalp or swing trade? That is the question

The swing trading camp argues for more patience and will claim the ability to realize sizable intraday price moves. In the case of the ES contract, 10-point home run trades often are claimed as practical. "Swing higher" (below) shows a market-profile-based swing trade in the Russell 2000 mini contract (TF). When the market opens gap up (Jan. 3, 2011), a retracement to the previous session’s Value Area High (VAH) is a significant price action event that can be used by the swing trader. Scale-out profit-target exits may be used on fractional portions of the original position.


Trading is about finding a niche that works. Traders with moderate day-trading experience, or more experienced traders having recent difficulty with profitability, probably have the debate on their minds. In addition, the unpredictability of the market forces traders to make a decision regarding scalping or swinging a position at any point in time. Perhaps a successful trader becomes accomplished at both, much the way a golfer perfects both the long and short game.

We’ll look at both strategies and provide some data that will help refine our plan. While the discussion applies to day-trading any asset, the focus is the electronically traded mini stock index futures contracts traded during the U.S. day session.

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