Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

How to find stocks for day trading

Continue reading to discover how to find day trading stocks to add to your portfolio for short-term trading opportunities and intraday price movements of equities.

See inside our platform

Get tight spreads, no hidden fees and access to 11,000 instruments.

Why day trade stocks?

Stocks have lots of intraday price movement and volume, which provides multiple short-term trading​ opportunities every day. While these types of stock may also be attractive to swing traders and investors, day traders are solely focussed on intraday price action. Here’s how to find day trading stocks that could be provide potential for profits, and the characteristics to look for.

At CMC Markets, we offer more than 9,000 stocks from exchanges around the globe, with no shortage of opportunities in the equity market. There is always a stock exchange open somewhere, and there are always stocks offering day trading opportunities.

Because of the number of stocks there are in the world, there is something for everyone. Some day traders prefer range bound stocks, while others prefer stocks that are trending. Some prefer a lot of volatility and big price swings, while others don’t. Based on their preference, day traders can find stocks that suit their individual trading style.

Our day trading guide​ covers more on day trading stocks and other markets.

What are some characteristics of stocks that day traders may look for?

Depending on a day trader’s preference, they may look for all the characteristics below, or focus on only a few. Trading strategies can be created based on the preferences and characteristics chosen. Key characteristics may include volatility, volume, technical levels, earnings, and market sentiment.

Volatility

Large price movements may attract short-term traders that want to capitalise on big price swings. If a stock is volatile, it will often continue to be volatile as people continue to trade it. Day traders may choose to focus in on stocks that are moving a lot on a single day, or trade stocks that tend to move a lot most days.

Stocks that are the ‘Biggest Risers’ and ‘Biggest Fallers’, as well as ‘Price Movers’ can be found on our Next Generation trading platform. There are lists of stocks making the biggest moves that day, which may be of interest to short-term traders.

While volatility is sometimes viewed negatively for a day trader, it is generally positive since they can potentially profit from going short or long, multiple times each day, as the short-term trends change.

If a stock has very little price movement, there is less profit potential since there is likely to be only a small difference between the entry and exit prices. For a volatile stock, entries and exits have the potential to be wider apart, thereby offering more profit potential.

Liquidity and volume

Volume and liquidity usually allows days traders to get in and out of their short-term positions with ease. Higher volume also typically equates to a tighter spread, which can benefit day traders. Therefore, traders may focus on stocks that trade at least one million or more shares per day, and often multiple millions.

Volume spikes can be used to find stocks that are seeing a lot of interest. The ‘Hot Products’ list in our product library highlights stocks that are trading at a higher trade volume than normal. Day traders monitor these stocks since the increased volume may provide opportunities to get in and out quickly. Higher-than-normal volume and volatility tend to be seen together.

See a list of hot stocks​ that are trending right now.

Technical analysis set-ups

Technical analysis set-ups may provide day traders with insights into what to buy and sell, and when. For example, as a stock price approaches a support level, this may present a buying opportunity if it bounces off it or a short trade if it keeps falling through support. Resistance may provide a shorting opportunity or a buying opportunity if the price rallies through resistance, based on if the trader thinks it will continue the stock breakout​ or if it’s a false breakout.

Day traders may look for chart patterns such as ranges/rectangles, head and shoulders patterns, trend channels, triangles, or wedges to name a few (see 11 most essential stock chart patterns​). These patterns or other technical price action or indicator set-ups may all provide opportunities in the stocks that present them.

Reporting earnings

Stocks tend to be highly volatile after an earnings release. The highest-volume days for many stocks are the four days per year that a company reports earnings.

Day traders may seek to trade the aftermath of the announcement. Whether the earnings are better or worse than analyst estimates may provide some clues as to the price direction of the stock. However, this should not be relied on exclusively as sometimes traders buy the rumor and sell the news​.

Taking a trade before the announcement can be risky as the price may gap on the news. It’s possible for the price to even gap through a stop-loss, resulting in a bigger loss than anticipated.

Because of this, day traders tend to enter at least a few minutes after the earnings have been reported. That is when the spread begins to shrink again, but there is still lots of volatility and opportunities likely to occur over the following several hours.

Trading interest/social media buzz

Very active day trading stocks often have a lot of social media buzz around them. So-called meme stocks​, such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment, are examples of this. There are even websites that track how often stock names/tickers are mentioned on social media or by the Reddit subgroup called WallStreetBets.

Google Trends also provides data on web searches, which may highlight stocks that are receiving the most interest and, therefore, may be worthwhile taking into consideration for day trading.

Keep in mind that high interest can be a contrary indicator. For example, a peak in Google Trends web searches for a particular stock will often coincide with at least a short-term top in the stock price as well.

How to find stocks to day trade

As mentioned, the ‘Biggest Risers’, ‘Biggest Fallers’, ‘Price Movers’, and ‘Hot Products’ are all regularly updated lists in our Next Generation trading platform that may provide stocks of interest for day trading. These categories are pre-built watchlists on our platform that offer an insight into the most volatile, popularly traded, and talked about stocks, which are usually updated on a hourly or daily basis.

Stock screeners​ are another way to find day trading stocks. With these, you can add criteria such as:

  • Daily average volume greater than 1 million shares (typically higher).
  • Share price criteria, such as “above $5 or £5.”
  • Indicators such as the average true range (ATR) or average true range percent (ATRP) can be helpful for finding stocks that tend to move a certain amount each day in terms of dollars/pounds or percentage.
  • Filter further by adding specific stock exchanges.

Some stock screeners and trading platforms have chart pattern recognition. This can be used to find technical patterns on stock charts that may provide day trading opportunities. Learn more about using our chart pattern scanner​.

Day trade on 9,000+ stocks

Top UK stocks to day trade

These are some of the top UK stocks that day traders could consider applying their trading strategies to, based on average volume, liquidity and volatility within the stock market, according to statistics taken from Yahoo Finance:

Company Analysis
Lloyds Banking (LLOY) High average volume, typically over 100 million shares per day and moderate intraday movement.
Barclays (BARC) Higher daily movement (in pounds) than Lloyds due to the higher share price and still substantial volume, typically over 30 million shares.
Vodafone Group (VOD) Daily volume is typically over 60 million shares and usually a pound or more of movement in the share price.
BP (BP) Active intraday movement and more than 30 million shares typically change hands each day.
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR) Typically, a pound or more of price movement each day combined with a daily average volume north of 30 million shares.
Glencore (GLEN) More intraday movement than most of the others on the list due to its typically higher share price, but the stock still trades more than 30 million shares per day.
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) A stock that is sensitive to economic conditions and can have large price moves. Typically trades more than 20 million shares per day.
HSBC (HSBA) One of the higher-priced stocks on the list. More than 15 million in daily average volume.
NatWest Group (NWG) A stock that tends to be more stable in terms of price movement and trades more than 15 million shares per day.
Tesco (TSCO) Capable of moving several pounds a day and daily trading volume typically exceeds 15 million shares.

Top US stocks to day trade

Company Analysis
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Typically moves more than a few percentage points each day with average daily volume typically over 30 million shares.
Cleveland Cliffs (CLF) Daily average movement often averages 5%, and the daily average volume is north of 20 million shares.
US Steel Corporation (X) Daily price movement is typically near 5%, and the average daily volume is usually over 15 million shares.
Tilray (TLRY) A volatile stock with a volume usually over 15 million shares per day.
Snap (SNAP) Daily average movement is usually above 3%, and the daily average volume is 15 million.
Freeport McMoRan (FCX) Daily movement tends to be above 3% per day, and the daily average volume is usually above 15 million shares.
NVIDIA (NVDA) This stock tends to have a large average true range with lots of dollar movement most days. The average volume is above 5 million shares.
Microsoft (MSFT) A heavily day traded stock with multiple dollars of movement a day and greater than 10 million average daily share volume.
Apple (AAPL) One of the higher volume stocks, combined with ample daily dollar movement. This stock typically trades more than 50 million shares per day.
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) Not a stock, but an ETF, this is one of the most heavily traded financial products in the US with 30 to 100 million shares changing hands daily.

What else do I need to know about day trading stocks?

Finding the right stock to day trade is only part of the battle. A trader also must first know how to trade stocks​. Trading stocks effectively requires an entry and exit method (stop-loss, profit target, and/or trailing stop-loss), as well as risk-management strategy​​​ and position sizing.

Day traders who spread bet or trade CFDs can go long and short a stock at will. This also means that there are no overnight holding costs if the position is closed prior to the closing bell. Some strategy ideas include:

  • Trend trading – taking trades in the dominant direction of the price action.
  • Gap trading – placing a trade in the gap direction or against it, depending on how the price moves after the gap.
  • Trading the news – trading stocks on major news announcements or earnings.
  • Pairs trading – going long and short on two assets that typically move together but that have recently diverged.

How to start day trading on stocks

  1. Practise trading and get used to our Next Generation platform using a risk-free demo account with £10,000 of virtual funds. Please note that demo account holders will only be able to trade on stocks for a month before they are required to deposit funds.
  2. Decide how you will find and scan for day trading stocks.
  3. Decide on a strategy to use and practice implementation.
  4. Switch to a live account to potentially make real money (or equally, losses).
  5. To convert a demo account into a live account, click the ‘Open Live Account’ button in the upper corner of the Next Generation trading platform. You’ll be led through three simple steps to get your account opened and funded.
Day trade with £10,000 of virtual funds

Seamlessly open and close trades, track your progress and set up alerts

FAQS

Can day trading stocks be profitable?

Day trading stocks can be profitable, but you can also lose money. Day trading profitability depends on the strategies and risk-management methods of the individual. All financial markets provide opportunities and it is how the individual utilises those opportunities that determine profits. Read our risk-management guide for more information.

What are stock trading hours?

US stock exchanges are open from between 14:30-21:00 GMT time, while UK stock exchanges are open from 08:00-16:30 GMT time. Stock trading can also take place outside these hours, in what is called pre-market and post-market (or after-hours) trading. See our guide to stock market hours.

Is day trading indices a good idea?

Indices are widely day traded since they have daily movement and are not subject to the same risk as individual stocks. A stock can go bankrupt, but an index tracks many stocks and therefore tends to be more stable than individual stocks. While indices may experience less volatility than some individual stocks, they still present opportunities that day traders can develop strategies around. See our indices offering.

Disclaimer: CMC Markets is an execution-only service provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. The material has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research. Although we are not specifically prevented from dealing before providing this material, we do not seek to take advantage of the material prior to its dissemination.