Swing trading is the act of making money from securities that have short-term price movements between a few days, to a few weeks in length. Once in awhile this can hit a month or two maximum, but usually it’s within a time frame of a few days. Swing traders are individuals and sometimes institutions like hedge funds. Usually they do not have positions 100% of the time; instead they wait for the right opportunities to jump in. Their goal is to take advantage of a significant up or down trend in pricing. When the stock market is gaining and doing well, they buy more then they sell. When the market is weak, they are short more then they buy. When the market is not doing well at all, they sit on the side and wait for another opportunity.
Are far as taxes go with Swing Trading, there are a few important things to know. How much tax you pay on your earnings depends on a few different factors. First is how long you are holding your positions. If you hold a position 366 days, just 1 day over a year, then you sell it, you will pay a lower tax rate than normal on your profit. This income rate is usually at about 15% for most people, but can be as low as 5% for people with lower income. The current tax law that sets the 15% tax rate is set to expire at the end of 2010, so it could change after that date.
Swing traders will usually not qualify for this rate as they do not hold onto positions for very long. Short term profits are usually taxed at an individuals normal taxation rate. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are classified as a pattern day trader and you trade four or more round-trip day trades each 5 business days, then you can treat your profits and losses as a cost of doing business. You also have to maintain an account with $25,000 or more in it. This can be very useful as you can classify capital gains and losses as normal income and loss. If you are doing high volumes of trading you can save a lot of money this way. This is not for everyone, as you have to have a good amount of money to trade with.
There difference between a swing trader and a buy and hold investor is that the buy and hold investors do not care about price swings. They are only interested in the long term growth of their money, so they assume that their positions will go up in price over a longer amount of time. Usually this is several years down the road, so they are not looking at day to day price swings, just the big picture. Buy and hold investing is not very time intensive and can bring a lot of profit if you are not in need of a cash flow.
Swing trading is not for everyone, but for someone that has a lot of self control and a good work ethic, there is a lot of profit to be made. Being educated, experienced and dedicated is a large part of being a successful swing trader.