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What is a Preferred Stock?

Preferred stock are dividend-paying equity shares issued by corporations, which pays a dividend with a higher priority than common stock, but lacks the voting rights that come with common stock. Preferred stock is very similar to a bond, because it will often be issued to raise capital for projects, and dividends (or interest) are expected to be paid regularly by the issuing company, but it still experiences the appreciation (and depreciation) of equity shares. Continue reading...

How Does the Money in My 401(k) Get Invested?

Employers sponsoring 401(k) plans are required to give employees the information and ability to manage their own accounts, using the investment options provided to them by the plan administrator and custodian. Sometimes employers and 401(k) custodians will provide employees with simplified systems by which to determine what kinds of investments appeal to them, and how they would like to allocate their portfolio in pursuit of their retirement goals. Continue reading...

What is market exposure?

Market exposure is the degree to which an investor is participating in the risks and returns of the market as a whole or a particular sector. Exposure can have a positive or negative connotation, but, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Market exposure allows an investor to participate in the potential upside of the market, but can also subject the investor to the inherent risks. Some people save money religiously but are not likely to retire the way they want to because they aren’t willing to let their money be risked in the market. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Work?

You may know that a 401(k) allows you to make payroll-deducted contributions to a retirement account before taxes are taken out, but how does it work? Employees can either become participants in a 401(k) by voluntary enrollment or by automatic enrollment with the ability to opt-out. Contributions go in before taxes are taken out, and this can reduce an individual’s taxable income or even income bracket for the year. Continue reading...

What is an Accelerated Return Note (ARN)?

An accelerated return note (ARN) is an unsecured debt instrument that uses derivatives to offer leveraged returns and minimal loss exposure to retail investors. Accelerated Return Notes came onto the scene around 2010-2012. They are a form of structured note marketed primarily by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. They were packaged as offering “accelerated” returns on familiar indexes and stocks. The way such returns are generated is by taking up 2x or 3x positions in calls and futures on the index or stock of choice. Continue reading...

Who Can Participate in an HSA?

In order to be eligible for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) that is HSA-eligible. You must also not be enrolled in Medicare and you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s health plan. Your health insurance must also be part of a high deductible plan with substantial out-of-pocket costs. How Does a Health Savings Account Work? Where Should I Put my Healthcare Savings? What is Medicare and Medicaid? Continue reading...

What is pre-market trading and what are the benefits of participating in pre-market trading?

Venturing into the world of stock trading? Dive into the realm of pre-market trading, a unique window before the regular market session. This guide unravels the mechanics of pre-market trading, highlighting its advantages, like quick reactions to overnight news, and its challenges, such as heightened volatility. Whether you're an institutional investor or a retail trader, understanding pre-market trading is crucial in today's dynamic financial landscape. Equip yourself with insights on how early trading decisions can shape the day's market movements. Join us as we explore this fascinating facet of the stock market. Continue reading...

Which ETFs Are Ideal for Contrarian Investors Anticipating a Summer Fade?

Wall Street surged ahead in June. The S&P 500 Index registered its best return for the month since 1955 – adding 6.9% – while its industrials counterpart, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), logged a 7.2% gain to record its most impressive June since 1938. Last month's stellar performance even prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to take some credit for the buoyant stock market. "Stock Market is heading for one of the best months (June) in the history of our Country. Thank you Mr. President!," he tweeted. Continue reading...

What are futures contracts?

Futures contracts constitute a binding agreement to trade a commodity, share, or instrument at a future date at an agreed-upon price. They are auctioned on regulated futures exchanges. Futures contracts are used primarily to deal with agricultural assets and natural resources but have come into use for anything that can be commoditized, including financial instruments and technological resources. Continue reading...

What is a 457 Plan?

A 457 is a deferred compensation arrangement that is available to some government employers and non-profit organizations. A 457 Plan, offered to state and local public workers and employees of a few nonprofit organizations, functions similarly to a 401(k) or 403(b): the contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck before taxes and transferred into your account, where they grow tax-deferred until retirement. Continue reading...

What is a Thrift Savings Plan?

A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a 401(k)-style plan for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan functions the same way a 401(k) does – you can elect to contribute a portion of your salary, known as an employee deferral or employee contribution, and the money will be allowed to grow in the account tax-deferred. The TSP is only available to Federal Employees and United States military personnel. There is a flat contribution of 1% from the employer, and, depending on the type of Federal job, employees may be eligible for a matching contribution from the employer. Continue reading...

What Is the Economic Calendar?

Continue reading...

What is currency exchange?

Currencies can be exchanged for other currencies, and there are more reasons to do this than most people realize. People are familiar with the currency exchange in the context of tourists stopping by a currency exchange kiosk so that they can buy trinkets at the local tourist traps, but the Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, where currencies are traded, is the largest market in the world by far. Currencies are exchanged for each other on a massive scale on the international Forex market. Thousands of banks connect through electronic trading systems which are part of the interbank forex market. Millions of smaller-scale traders and individuals also engage in Forex trading, either over-the-counter or on regulated international exchanges. Continue reading...

What is short interest?

Short interest is a term used to describe how many short positions are open for a given security or market at a given time. It is often expressed as a percentage of the total securities outstanding and is used for the short interest ratio. This serves as a gauge of bearish market sentiment, since short-sellers are expecting price action to trend downward. The short interest ratio (SIR) provides a context for the quantity of short interest outstanding by stating this amount in relation to the average daily trading volume. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Lump-Sum Distribution From my Cash-Balance Plan?

Absolutely – this is what separates them from traditional pension plans. Yes. Cash balance plans maintain a hypothetical account balance for the participant, and the ending balance is known and guaranteed from the time the contributions occur. Many participants opt to take this lump sum balance and move it into their own IRA, or just to pay the taxes on it and be done with the plan. The other option is to have the balance paid out in the form of a life annuity, with equal payments for the rest of your life like a traditional pension. This option can be more risky simply because it is forfeiting the safety and security of monthly payments for life, in favor of a one-time distribution. Continue reading...

Exploring the Symmetrical Triangle Top (Bearish) Pattern in Stock Trading

Dive into the world of stock trading with our insightful analysis of the Symmetrical Triangle Top (Bearish) Pattern. Learn how this key pattern forms in directionless markets and signals significant price movements. Discover effective breakout strategies, how to calculate pattern height for exits, and the crucial role of psychology in pattern trading. Continue reading...

What is market psychology?

Market psychology is the overarching sentiment of investors toward the stock market, and also their tendency as a group to pile-on in certain situations whether or not it is rational behavior and to exhibit other idiosyncrasies. Market psychology usually comes into conflict with the efficient market hypothesis tenet that investors are rational. Behavioral finance and the study of market psychology has become a more relevant topic in the last 30 years or so since more main street investors are influencing prices in the market. If you have taken a psychology course, you will know that sometimes people behave in ways that are incongruent with what they believe or what is rational. Continue reading...

What does Arbitrage Mean?

Arbitrage is the practice of buying a security/product in one market and selling it in another, in an effort to capitalize on price difference. Arbitrage can take many forms in trading: buying a security in one market and selling it in another for a better price (market arbitrage); borrowing money in one currency at a lower interest rate in order to pay off debt in another currency with a higher interest rate (currency arbitrage); buying and selling the same security on different exchanges or between spot prices of a security and its future contract; and so on. Continue reading...

What does open interest mean?

Open interest is a measurement of the outstanding open positions in a derivative security. Strong open interest means the derivative will have high liquidity. Open Interest is not the same thing as Trading Volume, but it does give an indication of liquidity and activity in a derivative. Open Interest is the number of open positions for a derivative, like an option. The Options Clearing Corporation tallies up the ‘open interest’ numbers, but they are not posted until the morning following the count. Open Interest isn't necessarily indicative of a bullish or bearish forecast for the underlying security, but it does generally mean that the option will have high liquidity and that a seller will be able to find a buyer. Continue reading...

What is a market-on-open order?

Traders can enter time-specific trade orders in the form of opening or closing orders, which are only to be executed as close to the opening or closing price as possible. Market-on-open orders are looking to buy or sell immediately after the market opens, at the opening price. Market-on-open orders are instructions for a broker or floor trader (even though we don’t see those much anymore these days) to buy or sell shares at opening price of the stock being traded. Continue reading...