Day trading is about buying and selling stocks within the same trading day, where investors look to capitalize on short term market fluctuations. When markets are extremely volatile, as they have been amidst COVID-19, individual stock prices can swing wildly up and down. Read more about how to find the best day trading stocks and how to start day trading. You’ll be a pro before you know it.
How to Know Which Stocks to Day Trade
Day trading should come with a warning label that the probability of success is low and the level of risk associated with speculating on individual stocks is very high. But if you’re going to do it, finding which stocks to day trade comes down to two metrics:
- High trading volume – This measures the level of activity for a stock, or how often the stock is changing hands. Higher volume indicates more interest in the stock and can also signal potential price movement for it.
- Price momentum – This technique looks for stocks with positive price momentum (i.e. stock price has gone up in recent days) in hopes it continues to move in that direction. Conversely, an investor would avoid trading stocks with negative price momentum.
Screening for these metrics can be done easily with one of the best discount brokerages in Canada. But as this data from Wealthsimple Trade shows, more and more day traders are jumping on trendy stocks without looking too closely at the metrics:
We tracked the most-traded stocks on Wealthsimple Trade this quarter and the results couldn’t be more appropriate for today. pic.twitter.com/p4sDN6r6JS
— Wealthsimple (@Wealthsimple) April 20, 2020
At the beginning of 2020, the most popular day trading stock (by far) was Aurora Cannabis Inc., followed by Canopy Growth. Cannabis stocks had been hit hard the previous year and investors – particularly day traders – tried to get in on the low prices to profit from a one-day pop.
By the end of March, well into the coronavirus shutdown, Air Canada became the most widely traded stock on the platform, followed closely by Bombardier. Even “good story” stocks like Shopify and Tesla cracked the top 10 most day-traded stocks in the first quarter of 2020.
Best Day Trading Platforms in Canada
In the U.S., commission-free trading has exploded in popularity with platforms like Robinhood attracting 3 million new users in the first half of 2020 alone. Here in Canada, we don’t have as many commission-free trading platforms, but here are your best day trading solutions:
Canada’s first and only option for commission-free trading, Wealthsimple Trade is a mobile-only platform that allows you to buy and sell stocks and ETFs for free. It makes DIY investing a cinch — just download the Wealthsimple Trade app and trade wherever and whenever. There’s no cost or account minimum to open an account, so you can start trading with as little as $1 once you’ve linked your bank account. Note that the platform does not provide real-time quotes (there’s a 15-minute delay) so day traders may be flying blind. Still, it is possible to purchase and sell the same asset within the same trading day. Promotional Offer: Get a $10 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade account
The king of low-cost trading, investors with Questrade can trade stocks for as little as $4.95, and purchase ETFs for free. Investors can access real-time market data, including the best real-time bid/ask price for any security traded on major North American exchanges. Bonus: Young & Thrifty readers get $50 in free trades when they open a Questrade account.
The Top 10 Best Day Trading Stocks June 2020
I looked for stocks with the highest trading volume and most bullish indicators (namely positive price momentum) trading on any North American stock exchange. Below you’ll find stocks in biotech, technology, healthcare, and household goods.
Rank Symbol Exchange Name Volume 90-Day Average 1 VXL TSXV Vaxil Bio Ltd 3,184,993 2 SCON NASDAQ Superconductor Technologies Inc 4,609,566 3 DDOG NASDAQ Datadog Inc 4,410,782 4 NOW NYSE ServiceNow Inc 2,341,667 5 LVGO NASDAQ Livongo Health Inc 2,673,638 6 CETX NASDAQ Cemtrex Inc 4,174,194 7 VCIT NASDAQ Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF 3,939,719 8 BB TORONTO BlackBerry Ltd 2,589,329 9 IWF NYSE iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF 2,311,076 10 CLX NYSE Clorox Co 2,300,745
It’s also surprising to find two major ETFs – the Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF and the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF – in this top 10 list but that speaks to the incredibly volatile stock and bond market over the past 90 days. Yes, investors day trade with ETFs, too.
Best Canadian Stocks to Day Trade Now
And, again, using our two metrics of high trading volume and price momentum, let’s look at the best day trading stocks in Canada right now:
Rank Symbol Name 1 AQN Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp 2 BIR Birchcliff Energy Ltd 3 BB BlackBerry Ltd 4 CSH.UN Chartwell Retirement Residences 5 AR Argonaut Gold Inc 6 RNW TransAlta Renewables Inc 7 CR Crew Energy Inc 8 SJR.B Shaw Communications Inc 9 MRU Metro Inc 10 SES Secure Energy Services Inc
These 10 Canadian stocks were screened for the highest 90-day trading volume and a price momentum trading indicator (stock price trending higher). It’s an eclectic mix of energy, mining, technology, retail, and real estate.
This is just one screen of thousands of possibilities, but this gives day trading investors an idea of the type of stocks that have the potential to be good day trading stocks this month.
Tips on How to Start Day Trading
Day trading stocks is not for the faint of heart. Wealthsimple says it generally discourages day trading and warns investors that, “trading the same security within the same day should be done with caution and that participating in this strategy means you are accepting any risk associated with it.”
Want to see the thrill (and risk) of day trading in action? The rental car company Hertz (NYSE: HTZ) is a prime example:
The stock price reached a high of $20.29 on February 20th and recorded a low of $0.56 on May 26th. Since then the stock price has doubled on three occasions and got cut in half twice more to sit at $1.84 as of June 16th. Talk about volatility.
Also, be mindful of which account you’re using to day trade. Trading within your RRSP or TFSA won’t lead to any tax consequences; however, any losses incurred can’t be used as a capital loss at tax time. And with an RRSP, you’ll lose that contribution room permanently. Day trading in a non-registered account will trigger capital gains and losses each time you sell a stock – potentially creating a nightmare when you do your taxes.
Still here and ready to proceed with caution? Okay. Here’s how to start day trading:
- Establish a dollar limit: Day trading is speculating, which is no different than gambling. No one knows the short-term direction of a particular stock. That means, just like stepping foot into a casino, you need to know your limits. Decide an amount you can afford to lose. Day trading shouldn’t be your core investment strategy. At most, it should represent 5-10% of your portfolio. The rest should be invested in low cost, globally diversified index funds or ETFs.
- Determine an exit strategy: Trading stocks can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re winning. But you need an exit strategy or at least to know when to stop trading a particular stock. Remember the Wealthsimple Trade graphic of the top day trading stocks and how it changed over time? Stocks fall in and out of favour and you don’t want to be left behind trading a losing stock. Decide when a stock no longer fits your volume + momentum metrics and move on.
- Mind your fees: Day trading can be an expensive hobby, not just with the risk of your stocks losing money but also with trading costs. Stick to a commission-free platform like Wealthsimple Trade or a low-cost broker like Questrade where you can limit the damage incurred by transaction fees.
Day trading has exploded in popularity in 2020, thanks to zero commission trading and perhaps boredom from staying at home during the pandemic. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably going to ignore the warning signs and start day trading on your own.
As a die-hard index investor, I’m too risk-averse to even dip my toes into individual stock picking, let alone day trading. But if you follow the volume + price momentum metrics and limit your day trading to no more than 5-10% of your portfolio as I mentioned, you can have some fun trading your favourite stocks, learn something about yourself, and hopefully (not likely) make some money in the process.