Electronic stock trading gadgetry

 

No matter what they tell you, the world of electronics has not fully caught up with all the nuances of online stock trading. But it's so close s to almost be a bit.

 

I guess that’s a personal matter. For those surfers who have not fully enmeshed themselves in online stock trading, please note that stock trades can be executed in a number of different ways:

 

You can call your broker on a land line or cell and ask him to place an order for, say, 100 shares of XYZ stock. That’s the most expensive way to effect a trade because you’ve got a live body on the other end who places the trade for you.

 

You can use your telephone (land or cell) and enter the order electronically with your touchtones. Some brokers charge more for this service than a regular online Internet order, but less than the “broker-assisted” order.  Please note that both of these ordering systems assume that you already know what you want to buy. But what if you don’t? Well, you need something a bit more sophisticated than the Pocket PC on the right.

 

Enter, the smartphone. . You can use your Palm-compatible device, WAP-enabled cell phone, Pocket PC like the one show above, or Blackberry to connect with any of the major online brokers and execute your trades electronically. Not only can you place orders, you also can get real-time quotes, check balances, positions, order status and transaction history. All this for no additional transaction fees from most brokers.

 

  

BUT---PDA's leave something big to be desired by your average trader.

 

Most traders need a variety of info before they start throwing thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars at the daily ticker, data that simply cannot be crunched by a Blackberry or Palm-Pilot, no matter how expensive.

 

I am an experiment of one but before I make a trade I want to see:

 

1.  A  full day’s chart on the stock, preferably a streaming chart. And you can’t get that on anything less than a laptop. Yet. I'm sure it's coming, but it ain't here yet.

 

2.  Streaming Level II quotes on the stock. Level I, for the uninitiated, shows the bid/ask price of stock together with how many shares have been traded, the stock’s high and low, etc.  But Level II also shows a more complete order book for the stock including who is offering to buy or sell how many shares of what stock and what price. Now you’re going face to face with the ECNs and the market makers like Archipelago, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, etc. For anybody who trades stock this is a must, and the hand-held devices simply don’t have it.

 

3.  Plus, there’s a ton of other data that’s not available on Blackberries and the like. You can’t really browse other Web sites for background info since they’re not all compatible with those tiny PDA screens.

 

 Am I saying that PDAs are useless pieces of trading junk? Not at all. In my opinion they’re a good adjunct to trading after you’ve entered the market  to keep tabs on trades you’ve already decided to make. When that happens, I use a PDA to take advantage of rapid changes in the stock market wherever I happen to be at the exact moment an opportunity arises.

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