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Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting A Handle On ETF Trading Strategies

By Patrick Deaton

As an investment vehicle that can promise a consistent -- and sometimes exceptional -- rate of return on investment (ROI), exchange traded funds can really deliver. Getting a handle on ETF trading strategies will be necessary, though, before jumping into investing in ETF's in any meaningful way. There are a few things to know, first of all, about exchange traded funds.

These particular funds resemble mutual funds in some ways, especially in how they are set up. Additionally, ETFs usually restrict membership -- if you want to call it that -- to what ETFs refer to as "authorized participants." This usually means institutional investors who have the ability to buy and sell huge blocks of assets. Small investors can participate through ETF trading systems, though.

Imagine corporate stocks and how they are traded or bought and sold and you will have a good idea of how exchange traded funds are also moved through the markets. Almost every exchange traded fund establishes its operations so that it can track one or several of the major market indexes. For example, many track the S&P 500. This makes it easier to follow trends and set up trading strategies.

There are a huge variety of trading strategies out there when it comes to tracking market movements and then setting up a timed strategy for getting in and out of those markets. Usually, though, all strategies tend to fall into two major categories known as technical and fundamental. Strategists who use technical methods think they can discern shapes and patterns in market movements.

Being able to discern these patterns or shapes in a stock chart (basically up-and-down movements of the stock over a defined period of time) can give a signal of the possibility of profitable trading opportunities which might exist. Many traders claim that they can make consistent profits from trading using technical analysis in this manner.

Probably one of the most ubiquitous strategies when it comes to technical trading is to employ what traders call a moving average cross. These crosses attempt to line up the short-term movements in the price of a stock or a fund and then place that short-term movement over a long-term trendline in the market or the stock. Short-term movements over-- to 25 days can establish the moving average line.

After that moving average line has been created, most traders will superimpose that over an analysis of the short-term movements in an attempt to discern the actual movement the price of the stock or stock held in the ETF will take once it crosses the moving average line. Long-term trendline analysis, which is the second element, takes a 50 day moving average, which can damp the short-term trend.

In this way, ETF trading strategies involving the long-term trend can be used as what industry experts call a "moving support line." A typical strategy by most traders in this instance would be to purchase a stock or an asset in the ETF when it is in the beginning of an uptrend or if the stock price goes back up after it either touches or barely penetrates the 50-day moving average. One could short the stock also. - 23208

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