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MACD - Moving Average Convergence-Divergence. A widely used technical indicator that measures the difference between two moving averages as a way of highlighting early change in direction of the underlying price.

Market scanning - use of computer logic to find trading opportunities that have trigger pre-set technical indicators.

Momentum - a subset of technical analysis indicators that measure the speed with which a price is moving in a particular direction rather than its absolute level.

Moving average - an arithmetic average of several periods' prices, recalculated as each successive period elapses. Used to display an underlying price trend by eliminating the underlying "noise."

"Noise" - random price movements, considered to be of little lasting significance.

Optimization - fine-tuning of the period length for calculating moving averages and the like. Done by comparing the results of signals for various different combinations of calculations, and picking the best.

Pattern recognition - automatic system for detecting signals in technical analysis systems that are sensitive to particular patterns; for example, candlestick charting.

Point and figure (P&F) - a charting system that simply records specific and significant directional movements in a price chart, with the time factor stripped out.

Real-time prices - prices that update second by second, as they change "in real time." Real-time data is generally more expensive than end-of-day data.

Relative Strength Index (RSI) - a momentum oscillator technical indicator that measures where price is today relative to where it was over the last x time periods.

Simulation - a system by which investors can test their trading skills using past price histories.

Stochastics - to measure when markets will reach extreme conditions.

Stop Loss - the discipline of selling a loss-making investment automatically at a pre-determined price level.

Volatility - the degree to which a price swings around its central trend. Normally equates to the standard deviation of the price series. Volatility is generally regarded as a proxy for risk.

ShareScope has been deliberately engineered as a relatively low-cost product with no minimum contract period. The software is acquired for a single one-off payment supplemented by a monthly charge to reflect the cost of the data option that is chosen by the user. At the time of writing it was anticipated that Updata would move shortly to a similar way of charging for the product, with unlimited world markets end-of-day data available for less than £30 per month and correspondingly higher charges for real-time data. Exchange fees are included in these figures. ShareScope charges around £10 a month for end-of-day data.

The sharpest distinction between the two is that ShareScope includes an element of fundamental data in its offering. It has the ability to tabulate it and search for combinations of both price and fundamental data through its data-mining facility. Updata's product is purely based around share price charts and the large number of indicators calculated from them. ShareScope includes unit trust data, while Updata is based around equities but is increasingly building a "global" feel for the product, with localized versions of the software in 17 countries.

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