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What is the commodity futures trading commission?

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent government agency that regulates the futures market. Futures are not considered securities, so the CFTC has jurisdiction over such exchanges while the SEC does not. The CFTC is the regulatory authority for the futures trade. This includes futures on currency, indexes, and stocks. Futures are not technically considered securities, because a security is defined as a contract that depends on the performance of a third party, while futures contracts only depend on two people. Any options that stem from futures are considered securities, however. Continue reading...

What is a short position?

A short position is a sale made by an investor for a security which he or she will deliver to the buyer in the near future, but which he or she is hoping will go down in price in the near future so that a profit can be retained from the price collected in the short sale. A short position is a bearish play on a security which an investor believes will decrease in price in the near future. The investor offers shares for sale, and collects the current market price for the shares from the buyer. Continue reading...

What is a Long Position?

A long position - or to be “long a stock” - means that an investor has share ownership and will receive an economic benefit if the share price rises, and vice versa. Creating and maintaining a long position is simple: an investor just buys and owns the investment. A “long-only” strategy refers to an asset manager that only buys and sells securities in the portfolio as a management strategy - they will not use options or shorting strategies as a result. Continue reading...

What is the Positive Volume Index?

The Positive Volume Index (PVI) is a technical indicator that tracks increases in trade volume for an index or security, as well as the changes in price on those days. Paul Dysart developed the original version of this indicator for market indexes using advance-decline numbers instead of prices. The Positive Volume Index was then redesigned by Norman Fosback for individual securities – the version commonly used today. Continue reading...

What Does Having a Long Position Mean?

A long position in a security means owning shares and having a positive investment balance in a stock, bond, commodity, etc. This is done by simply buying and owning the investment. An investor with a long position in a stock will benefit financially when the price of the stock rises. What is a Short Position? What is Short Selling? Continue reading...

What is a long position in options trading?

To be “long” means to own a security, and to essentially be bullish on it. A long position is to own a security and to expect it to appreciate. When people buy stocks, they are “long” those stocks. Listening to fund managers giving market commentary, you may hear them say they are “long” on China or Industrials or Apple Inc., and this means that even though they may have hedged their position with some “short” sales, their outlook for those markets is optimistic and their bullish bets outweigh their bearish ones. Continue reading...

What is a Limit Order?

A Limit Order is a type of order to buy or sell a security, where the trader wants to set a specific price for the trade, or any price that’s better than the price set. From a buy and sell standpoint, a buy limit order would be designed to have the trade executed at the designated price, or any price lower than that. A sell order is just the opposite, where the trader hopes to execute the trade at a minimum set price. Limit orders typically have a period of time before they are canceled, if the designated price is not reached by a certain period. Continue reading...

What is a short position in options trading?

Taking a short position is selling a security that you don’t own because you anticipate that its value is set to fall. In simple terms, an investor that takes a short position is betting against it. “Shorting” is the opposite of being “long” in a security, where being “long” means to actually own it and to wait for it to appreciate. When you contact your broker or custodian to take a short position on a security, you essentially sell shares you don’t own, and then after a period, you have to return those shares to the custodian. Continue reading...

What is a Stop Limit Order?

A Stop-Limit Order basically automates the preferences of an investor or trader, to reduce exposure to price uncertainty even after a trade ticket is entered, by stipulating a price at which the search for a bid/ask price is to begin, but limiting the range of prices at which an order can actually be entered or executed. A Stop-Limit Order has two parts: the Stop Price and the Limit Price. The stop price is like an amendment or contract rider on a security that is held which stipulates that if the price of the security crosses the Stop price, the search for an agreeable price begins. Continue reading...

What are the IRA Contribution Limits?

The IRS adjusts the contribution limits year to year to accommodate cost-of-living adjustments. There are limits to how much money you can deposit annually into your IRA, and these limits are adjusted for cost-of-living by the IRS. These limits change at least every few years, so you will want to check the current IRS tables on their website. There are full deduction limits, and there are also limitations that may make some or all of these contributions non-deductible. Continue reading...

What are the 401(k) Contribution Limits?

The contribution limits of 401(k)s are generally increased year-to-year and published by the IRS. As of 2016, an individual can contribute up to $18,000, or 100% of compensation, into their 401(k) account on a pre-tax basis. This is the employee’s contribution only, and does not include employer contributions. There is a $35,000 window that can hold employer contributions, which may contain matching contributions as well as a profit-sharing component for a total of $53,000 in employee/employer contributions per year. Continue reading...

What are the contribution limits for my Roth 401(k)?

Roth 401(k) contributions have the same limits as regular 401(k) contributions. The contribution limits for your Roth 401(k) are the same as the contribution limits for a traditional 401(k), which, in 2016, is $18,000, but these limits are adjusted upwards to account for inflation. If you’re over 50, you can add a catch-up contribution of $6,000 on top of the $18,000 for a total contribution of $24,000. Continue reading...

What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

A limited liability company (LLC) establishes a separate entity from the sole proprietor or partners in a business which shields them from some of the liability associated with the business. An LLC is a business entity that creates a distinction between the business’s assets and liabilities and the assets and liabilities of the owner or partners. Sole proprietors and partnerships who do not file for this distinction leave themselves and all of their personal assets at risk, in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. Continue reading...

What is Stop-Loss Order?

A stop-loss order is appended to a securities position being held long or short, and stipulates that the security is to be sold or bought if the price moves beyond the stop price, at which point the investor seeks to "cut his losses," or limit his potential exposure to losses. A stop-loss order will name a price below the market price on a long position and above the market price on a short position, at which point a sell order will be triggered for the long position and a buy order will be triggered to cover the short position, with the goal being to limit the potential losses to which an investor is exposed. Continue reading...

What is a put time spread?

A put time spread is an options strategy that has the investor implementing a short put and a long put at the same strike price, but with different expirations. Time spreads can also be called calendar spreads or horizontal spreads. A put time spread will use two put contracts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates. One of the puts will be sold short, and one will be held long (this is the nature of spreads). Continue reading...

What is a bull call spread?

A bull call spread is a vertical spread that buys and sells calls in a way that benefits from upward price movement but limits the risk of the short position. Using calls options of the same expiration date but different prices, a bull call spread seeks to maximize profits for moderate price movements upward. A long position is taken in a call contract (meaning it is bought and held) that has a strike price near the current market price of the security or is at least lower than the other call contract used in this strategy. Continue reading...

What is a short squeeze?

A short squeeze occurs when many short-sellers attempt to cover their positions at the same time, and it drives prices up rapidly. A short squeeze is a bottleneck situation where many investors who have sold a security short, suddenly become very interested in covering their positions - usually, because the stock starts on a strong uptrend. The squeeze will actually cause the price of the security to rapidly increase, more than it would otherwise, because so much demand has hit the security at once. Continue reading...

What is a ratio call spread?

Ratio call spreads are options strategies where the investor combines purchased calls and short calls at the same expiration but with different strike prices. A Ratio Call Spread starts off as a delta-neutral strategy, which means that even if you have two long calls and one short call, the sensitivity of your overall position to move in the underlying is equal whether it moves up or down by small amounts. Continue reading...

What kind of hedge funds exist?

Hedge funds can employ many strategies and focus on virtually any kind of investing style or market. They also have the flexibility to change their strategy as they see fit. Morningstar and other services will group hedge funds into categories and provide benchmarks based on their average performances. As of 2016, there are over 12,000 hedge funds, and over half of those are required to report to the SEC. Continue reading...

What is passive investing?

Passive investing relies on market indices and unmanaged approaches to investing, with the idea being that attempting to beat the market is futile, especially if such attempts involve fees and speculation. Passive investing favors buy-and-hold strategies using no-load, low-fee index funds and other securities meant to be held long-term, in a portfolio allocation suiting the investor that will usually be rebalanced over time to prevent overweighting anything. Continue reading...