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Position trading

Position trading is a popular long-term trading strategy​ that allows individual traders to hold a position for a long period of time, which is usually months or years. Position traders ignore short-term price movements and prefer to rely on more precise fundamental analysis​​ and long-term trends. This is the type of trading that most closely resembles buy and hold investing, with one crucial difference: buy and hold investors can only take long positions, whereas position traders can take both long and short.

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What is position trading?

Of all the types of trading, position trading is the one with the longest holding times. Consequently, the profit potential is greater, but so is the risk. History is full of famous examples of great traders who made their fortune by implementing position trading strategies.

For example, in one of his latest newsletters, Joe Ross spoke of what is surely the longest example of position trading on record, which lasted almost ten years (from 1991 to 2000). The investor in question opened a long-term position in the S&P 500, which he held for a long period of time, by setting a trailing stop​​ that was triggered only when he felt that a good profit had been made, thus finally closing the position with a profit of 16 million dollars.

Another famous position trader was Philip A. Fisher, who, in addition to being a great investor and being followed by a large crowd of admirers, including Warren Buffet, made excellent investments, focusing on good companies with very encouraging data. In 1955, Fisher made a long-term investment in Motorola shares and held that position until his death at the age of 96.

Features of a position trader

The term position trader refers to a type of trader who holds investments for a long period of time. As already mentioned, positions can be held on average for months or even years. Position traders are less concerned with short-term fluctuations, unless they can impact the long-term outlook of their position, and are by definition trend followers. Usually, most position traders do not trade actively, and are surpassed by long term buy and hold investors in the length of the time they hold their positions.

Position traders usually use a combination of technical analysis​ and fundamental analysis when making decisions, but also take into considerations other factors such as market trends and historical patterns. Good position traders are those who can successfully identify the right entry and exit points and know when to place a stop-loss order​.

Position trading strategies

Position trading is the trading strategy most similar to traditional investment. Position traders profit from long-term price movements and, consequently, are more interested in markets that have well-defined trends and narrow price ranges, rather than markets that experience high volatility and wider trading ranges.

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Positional share trading

Position traders often trade company shares​. As a general rule, asset classes such as stocks tend to follow more stable trends than volatile markets, such as cryptocurrencies and some forex markets. Despite the occurrence of certain events, such as market announcements or relevant news, fundamental analysis of an underlying company​ represents a solid base from where position traders can evaluate the true value of a company and consequently, select the best opportunities for them. They can negotiate based on where they think some companies, or even industrial sectors, will find themselves in a year from now.

Positional commodity trading

Like stocks, commodities​​ are more closely connected to long-term trends than other markets, such as cryptocurrencies and currency pairs. This is not to say that raw materials are not volatile; commodities can be volatile as well, but they tend to stabilize faster than other markets.

Positional index trading

Stock indices​ include large clusters of companies that are grouped together based on the fact that they are all located in the same geographical area, country or continent, or that they belong to the same commercial chain. As a result, indices have more stable trends and are preferred by position traders.

Position trading in forex

Currency pairs are generally less favoured by position traders, due to their consistent volatility. Forex trading​​ is very popular among short-term traders, such as day traders​​ and forex scalpers​.

Trading breakouts

Trading breakouts in any financial market can be useful for position traders, because they can provide significant information about the beginning of the next significant movement on the market. Traders who adopt this technique are attempting to open a position at the beginning of a trend.

Positional trading indicators

Position traders tend to use both technical and fundamental analysis to evaluate potential price trends on the market. Here are some examples of popular technical indicators​ that can be used for position trades on any of the financial markets mentioned above.

Moving average over 50 days

The 50-day simple moving average​ indicator is an important technical indicator in position trading. The reason is that 50 is a factor of both 100 and 200, which have corresponding moving averages that are rather precise indicators of significant long-term trends.

Support and resistance

Support and resistance​​ levels shows the direction in which the price of an asset is going and therefore indicates to position traders whether it is better to open or close a position on a particular asset. Short-term support levels may occur, as well as historical support levels that persist for years. On the other hand, resistance level refers to the price threshold that a security seems historically unable to overcome. Position traders will use long- term resistance, for example, to decide when to close a position, relying on the expectation that the security would drop upon reaching this level. Likewise, position traders could buy at historic support levels if they believe a long-term upward trend will begin.

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Position trading vs swing trading

Despite being based on similar concept of trend following, position trading and swing trading​​ differ in the length of the investment. Position traders hold their position for a longer period of time than swing traders, usually months or years, whereas swing traders usually hold their positions for several days or weeks.

Position trading vs day trading

Position trading can be considered the polar opposite of a day trading strategy​​, which mostly takes advantage of short term market fluctuations. Day traders aim to buy and sell multiple assets with the aim of closing their positions before the end of the trading day, rarely holding them overnight.

Advantages of position trading

  • It is a long-term strategy that can lead to big gains.
  • There is less stress for the trader than certain short-term strategies because positions don’t need to be monitored on a daily basis.
  • There is more time to spend on other transactions or other professional activities, as position trading only takes time when analysing the prospective stock.

Disadvantages of position trading

  • A lot of capital is needed to keep positions opened for a long period of time, as trades can last for several months, meaning that the capital is locked.
  • Large deposits are needed as trading positions with minimal funds is unfeasible. Strong price fluctuations are therefore more likely to lead to a total loss of the invested capital.
  • If the position stays open for a long period, swap fees can accumulate to a huge amount.
  • The risk involved in position trading is much lower than that daily trading or swing trading, but if a mistake is made, it will likely be fatal. If a trader goes against the trend, they will lose not only his deposit, but also the time they invested. Read more about managing trading risks​​.

Start position trading with CMC Markets

Test your position trading skills on our award-winning trading platform, Next Generation. Open a demo account and practise first with £10,000 worth of virtual funds, which allows you to try out our platform in a risk-free environment. Otherwise, if you are ready, open a live account to deposit funds and start trading.

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.

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