Don’t Overlook Three Symbol Stocks

One of the things a new trader learns within a few weeks or so of beginning his new adventure into the world of day trading is the difference between three symbol stocks and four symbol stocks.

trading-biotech-stocks-imageThe first thing to be learned, with a few exceptions, is that three symbol stocks are listed on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) or the AMEX (American Stock Exchange), while the four symbol stocks are listed on the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System). You can read more about the three different exchanges and how they operate by visiting their individual web sites.

Next, the new trader usually learns that most day traders prefer to trade NASDAQ stocks over “listed”, a term that usually refers to AMEX and NYSE stocks but not NASAQ stocks.

The reason is quite simple. Historically, the root of it goes back to the hay days of day trading in the pre year 2000 bubble days. Most of the fast moving stocks were NASDAQ stocks. This is where the largest percentage of the high tech wonders were traded. It was then, and is today, where most of the day trading action is.

A lot of tools were developed or made available to day traders for the first time, and many of them were based on trading NASDAQ stocks.

However, along with that action comes a much higher degree of risk. NASDAQ stocks are much more likely to give you huge moves up and down with tremendous spurts of volume, making them much more risky. Of course, with that higher risk also comes the potential of higher profits…or larger… much larger losses than slower, more orderly moving stocks.

That’s why I like three symbol stocks.

As a general rule they will move in a much more orderly fashion. You are less likely to get whip lashed all over the street on listed stocks. They usually move much more slowly, making it easier to read the potential move via such tools as Level2 and Stochastic charts.

However, even three symbol stocks with the right news or set of events can trade in huge volume, causing wide swings and added risks. Yet, as a general rule they will trade somewhat boring compared to their cousins on the NASDAQ.

Normal everyday events like analyst upgrade and downgrades usually do not send the average NYSE or AMEX listed stock into a mania move. Instead they will trade in a more orderly pattern. Depending on the news they will often slowly tick up or down, very often taking thirty minutes, an hour or even more to get a decent profit. They often make a number of stop and goes, minor pullbacks, but they usually do not make the drastic pullbacks that NASDAQ stocks so often do. In I refer to that as a pop’n flop.

I find both Level 2 and Stochastics charts much easier to use in predicting their behavior. (See: Tools of the Trader at and other information on Level 2 and Stochastics if you are not familiar with these terms.

Keep in mind I am talking in general terms here. Certain three symbols, NYSE or AMEX stocks, can trade every bit as radically as any stock on any exchange. There are few that have a huge day trader following and can be sent into a frenzy if the right news hits the tape.

Some these “high flyers” come out the high tech sector, which includes the Internet stocks and semiconductors. Other “high flyers” come from the biotech stocks, which have increased volatility from such news as FDA approvals. After a while you will recognize the symbols because there are fewer of them than on the NASDAQ that trade like a house on fire on the right news.

Give them a try and see if you don’t lower you blood pressure just a bit!

Happy trading!

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Floyd Snyder has been trading and investing in the stock market for three decades. He was on the forefront of the day trading craze that swept the nation back in the late 1990’s, both as a trader and as the moderator of one of the Internet’s largest real time trading rooms, [] He is the owner of [] and Strictly Business Magazine at []

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