The Traders Journal

A Day in the Life of a Stock Market Trader: The First 3 Hours


Images (2)I’ve known a lot of great traders.  Yes, they are out there.  Some eventually became money managers, and then their careers evolved into more client hand-holding and less real trading.  Clients can kill an exceptional trader.  That’s the qualifier.  A day in my life is a day with no clients.  Contra mundum.  I have a need to exercise my own ideas without the baggage of others. 

The best traders make it look easy.  It’s not.  Great trading is the result of years of consistent effort, disciplined routines and cultivating an intuition for the markets.  You learn to manage what is in your control, accept the uncertainty built into every investment, acknowledge that you can never totally defeat uncertainty and then quickly put behind you the inevitable bad decisions. 

Having said that, I’ll share with you how a typical market day begins for me.  Understand that I live in Seattle, and my time references relate to that orientation.  The other pertinent fact here is that I have 2 offices – each a mirror image of the other.  One is in my home; the other is downtown.  I am a morning person and operate at my best by getting up early.  As I’ve written many times before, to be a profitable trader, you must “know thy self.”  The markets open at 6:30 AM west coast time and that suits me fine. 

I operate comfortably from my home for the first 3 hours of the day.  I have wired my master bathroom with speakers and a television, so the day’s news starts to flow as soon as I stumble into the shower.  With coffee in hand, I then venture into my home office and boot up the screens before the market opens to check activity on the NASDAQ pre-market pages, as well as checking on overseas markets.  Since I’ve spent a good deal of effort organizing and populating my ChartLists on, my morning routines allow me to quickly check on the markets and all my positions.   That done, I can then focus on index and sector analysis, as well as breadth and sentiment.  As the market opens, I’m very interested in and am looking closely at the psychology of the market for that day, tracking volumes, price action, VIX and VXX. 

Wall Street offers up a number of clichés concerning the opening hour, but suffice it to say, most converge on the belief that the retail market (i.e. individual investors) drive the opening as they execute their trades before they hustle off to work.   Politely paraphrased, it’s the “weak hands” either buying or selling to the “strong hands” (i.e. institutions).  For this reason, I’m seldom active as a participant in that first hour. 

My early morning modus operandi is more that of reviewing my charts and adjusting alerts (not stops) which are set with one of the four brokerage houses I use.  Because I watch the market closely during trading hours, I tend to use soft stops as opposed to hard stops that are entered in the market with your broker. With soft stops, if my price is hit on light manipulated volume, I will often sit tight.  By 8:30 AM (11:30 in New York), I’ve already been up for 3 hours and read both Investors Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal.  I have a firm handle on the market’s psychology and I’m packing up for the 20 minute commute to my downtown office where I’ll focus more on finding the low door on the castle wall!

This blog takes a different tack from my previous ones.  If there’s any interest out there in the readership universe for the balance of my day, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

Trade well; trade with discipline!
-- Gatis Roze

Personal Note:  I want to thank my readers for all the kind comments and encouragement.  Your responses most definitely motivate me.  For those of you who are not yet using the automatic delivery feature, please check it out.  This feature makes it easy to receive fresh content every Friday by various delivery methods of your choice.  See the options under the heading “Subscribe to this blog” on the right. 

Gatis Roze
About the authors: , CMT, holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a past president of the Technical Securities Analysts Association (TSAA). He is also the co-author of Tensile Trading: The 10 Essential Stages of Stock Market Mastery (Wiley, 2016). A full-time investor for over 25 years, Gatis has taught sold-out investment courses throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond since 2000. Learn More

Grayson Roze
is the author of Trading for Dummies (Wiley, 2017) and Tensile Trading: The 10 Essential Stages of Stock Market Mastery (Wiley, 2016). He has worked in the financial services industry for since 2012, and now serves as the Business Manager for the company. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College. Learn More
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Hi Gatis, It's been awhile since I read your blog from the StockCharts site, since I have it delivered to my email each week. Thank you for organizing/tagging your blog entries by the stages you use in your tensile trading system! -- Sharon
Gatis, I would love to hear about the rest of your typical day. :-)
Thanks Gatis for sharing all of this with us. I personally would be interested in how you manage the rest of your day at the downtown office. It is very useful to have this as a model for what I might consider doing to improve my daily routines. I am confident that others would be also.
Gatis, please continue with your afternoon. I pretty much do what you do in the morning,reading IBD and WSJ and checking all my stockcharts like you do. But since I have only been trading for a year I still havn't nailed down a disciplined trading system. Would love to learn more!
Love to hear about a typical day. Routines keep systems operating as planned.
Thanks Jesse L for 'reminiscing' about your operating modus ...more please!! Did I say Jesse? I meant Gatis...
Hi Gatis, add me to the list of the ones wanting to know how you manage the rest of your typical day trading day.
Knowing what I don't know is a big step forward. I have been able to take more actions the last few days than the last few weeks working on trading as a business. Thanks for putting a light at the end of the tunnel.
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