Every economic crisis seems to bring out the day traders looking to make a quick profit in the stock market. The coronavirus crisis is no different. New investors are taking advantage of commission-free stock trading platforms. They’re following Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy’s day trading exploits and the meme stocks discussed on Reddit’s wallstreetbets. No matter where you turn, amateur investors are looking for the best day trading stocks and want a piece of the action.
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 investing like a pro before you know it.
The Top 10 Best Day Trading Stocks 2021
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 THRM TSXV Therma Bright Inc 5.22M 2 SLGG NASDAQ Super League Gaming Inc 5.2M 3 REI NYSE Ring Energy Inc 4.84M 4 AMRS NASDAQ Amyris Inc 4.82M 5 SENS CNSX Sensor Technologies Inc 4.73M 6 DIGI CNSX DigiCrypts Blockchain Solutions Inc 4.62M 7 AREC NASDAQ American Resources Corp 4.81M 8 BTE TSX Baytex Energy Corp 4.89M 9 CPG TSX Crescent Point Energy Corp 4.62M 10 WTI NYSE W&T Offshore Inc 4.58M
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 BTE Baytex Energy Corp 2 CPG Crescent Point Energy Corp 3 ATH Athabasca Oil Corp 4 NEXT NextSource Materials Inc 5 OGI OrganiGram Holdings Inc 6 MEG MEG Energy Corp 7 HUT Hut 8 Mining Corp 8 TVE Tamarack Valley Energy Ltd 9 SCR Score Media and Gaming 10 WCP Whitecap Resources 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, pharmaceutical, and entertainment.
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.
Best Day Trading Platforms in Canada
In the U.S., commission-free trading has exploded in popularity with platforms like Robinhood attracting millions of new users in 2020. 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. Promo: Get a $50 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.
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 2021, small companies like GameStop, AMC, and Blackberry were among the most popular day trading stocks. Most investors moved on from the meme stock phenomenon and have gone back to trading “story” stocks like Tesla, Shopify, and Apple. Cannabis stocks have also made a comeback in terms of trading volume, as has the ever-popular Air Canada stock.
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 infamous retail stock GameStop (NYSE: GME) debacle is a prime example:
The stock began the year trading at $17.25 before taking off to a high of $347.51 on January 27. GameStop then plunged all the way down to $53.50 just a week later, hovered around that price for several weeks, and then proceeded to rally again in March. 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 and 2021, 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.