Scalping

Updated on March 27, 2024
Article bySusmita Pathak
Edited bySusmita Pathak
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Scalping Meaning

Scalping refers to an intraday trading strategy in which traders seek to profit from small price swings in securities, currency pairs, and commodities over a short period. It requires them to enter and exit a trade in a matter of seconds, minutes, or hours in a single day.

Day traders can use this approach to take as many trades as they like during the day, whether it is 10 or 100. They can still earn from the positions they buy or sell, even from small changes in the prices of stocks. Scalpers are traders who use this type of trading style. In short, their goal is to make tiny profits from trading enormous volumes of securities.

Key Takeaways

  • Scalping is an intraday trading method in which traders attempt to profit from minor price movements in stocks, currency pairings, and commodities in a few seconds, minutes, or hours. 
  • A scalp is any trade with a risk-to-reward ratio of 1:1 to profit. Hence, scalpers must exit trades as soon as they hit target profit or loss levels.
  • Scalpers, unlike traditional traders, aim for a small profit percentage, hold large position sizes, set strict trading limits, open and close positions many times throughout the day, and liquidate their holdings instantly.
  • Scalpers use technical analysis tools like moving average convergence divergence, candlestick charts, pivot points, and Relative Strength Index to predict price movements.

How Does Scalping Trading Work?

Scalping trading is the practice of buying and selling securities multiple times a day and making an incremental profit from the price difference. In the process, the trader holds a position for a few seconds, minutes, or hours and then liquidates it. Typically, traders buy securities at lower prices and sell them when they are high, even if the difference is only a few cents. While scalping Forex, scalpers trade currency pairsCurrency PairsA currency pair is a combination of two different national currencies valued against one another. Its purpose is to compare the value of one particular nation’s currency to another.read more with a brief holding time, executing them several times a day.

How Does Scalping Works

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Scalpers involve in this fastest form of intraday trading to profit when the market is favorable. They also use scalping to reduce losses by closing their positions as soon as the market turns unfavorable.

A common misperception is that scalpers make less money. However, by executing multiple trades, the latter has a greater chance of profiting from favorable trades. In a nutshell, Instead of focusing on generating high gains from a small number of orders, the scalping trading strategy focuses on making modest gains from a large number of deals.

Regular traders look for an average position size with a high-profit percentage. Scalpers aim for a small profit percentage in the shortest time while holding a relatively bigger position size by executing multiple trades. It is because they consider betting on small price movements less risky than large ones.

Scalpers, unlike conventional traders, open and close their positions many times during the day based on changing market patterns. They do this by imposing strict trading limits, both in terms of price fluctuation and time. Finally, while typical traders hold on to rallying stocks, scalpers sell them immediately, regardless of the upside moves.

How To Execute An Effective Scalping Strategy?

Scalping allows traders to earn from multiple trades rather than individuals throughout a trading day to add to the profit. However, the excessive usage of leverage makes it extremely risky. Therefore, scalpers need a well-thought-out strategy to succeed, such as:

Scalping Strategy

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Examples

Let us consider the following scalping examples to get a better understanding of the concept:

Example #1

Robin enters and exits deals frequently and swiftly as a scalper. Sarah, a regular trader, criticizes him for getting involved in trades that hardly provide him with any profit. When Robin stated that he earned as least as much as she did, she challenged him to compute a day’s earnings and compare.

Sarah made $10,000 by trading equities worth $500,000 at a profit rate of 2%. On the other hand, Robin sold his asset for $5 million at a profit of 0.2%, nettingNettingNetting is a method of settling pending transactions by offsetting them against each other in favor of one.read more a $10,000 profit. Furthermore, the latter made many trades in a single day, thus earning significantly more than Sarah.

Example #2

Scalping could also act as a deceptive kind of market manipulation. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently ordered a ban against former CNBC Awaaz television show ‘Stock 20-20’ host Hemant Ghai, his mother Shyam Mohini, and wife Jaya.

His mother and wife acquired equities the day before the buy recommendations were made and sold them shortly after the show aired. SEBI also discovered that the trades made from January 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020, through Jaya and Shyam Mohini’s trading accounts operated by Hemant violated the SEBI Act and the SEBI Prohibition Of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Relating To Securities Market Regulations.

Both Jaya and Shyam Mohini conducted fraudulent and unfair trade practices based on Hemant’s buy recommendations made on the show, impacting the share price and volume. The order barred them from trading in the securities market or engaging in any investment-related activities.

Scalping vs Day Trading vs Swing Trading

When it comes to trading, there are two types of strategies: day trading and swing trading. While day trading entails making multiple trades in a single day, swing trading implies holding stocks for several days to profit.

Scalping is a sort of day trading in which traders use unique strategies to close a position in seconds, minutes, or hours. Given the significance of these three types of trading, it is essential for traders, especially beginners, to understand the differences. Let us look at the distinctions between them in the table below:

ParametersScalpingDay tradingSwing trading
BasicsDay trading involving scalping tricksMay or may not involve scalping trading strategyNot characterized by any such trait
Holding PeriodHold stocks for seconds, minutes, or hours in a dayKeep stocks until the market is open on a dayHold stocks for days, weeks, and even months
Trade FrequencyMultiple trades in a daySeveral trades throughout a dayMultiple trades in a week
Profit TargetsSmall but multiple profitsSmall but multiple profitsA few large profits
Trader LevelNot recommended for amateursFor both mature and novice tradersFor all kinds of traders
Monitoring RequirementRegular monitoring requiredMonitoring at regular intervals recommendedReasonable monitoring expected

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is scalping?

Scalping is the act of purchasing and selling securities, currency pairs, and commodities several times a day to profit from the price differential. A trader employs technical momentum indicators before entering a trade and will hold a position for a few seconds, minutes, or hours before liquidating it using various technical momentum indicators. Scalpers also use it to limit losses as soon as the prices start to decline.

Is scalping illegal?

Scalping is a legal trading strategy. The method, however, becomes illegal if it does not comply with rules and regulations governing the trades. Therefore, scalpers must do it per market laws and ethics.

Is scalping recommended for beginners?

No, scalping is not for novice traders. This approach determines whether scalpers win or lose in seconds, minutes, or hours. As a result, traders in this situation must be the most experienced, acquire complete market knowledge, and remain vigilant until the trade is completed.

This has been a guide to Scalping and its meaning. Here we discuss how to execute an effective scalping trading strategy along with examples and its differences with day & swing trading. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –

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