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Company spotlight Scottrade One of the most recognized and respected names in stock and commodities trading, Scottrade has been developing industry-standard tools for over three decades. The company offers several trading platforms and research tools, which could help you stay informed and ahead... Read Reviews
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If you watch any financial news program or read investment-based articles, you might notice something interesting – they're usually about stocks. There might be a bit about currencies, commodities and bonds, but by and large stocks get the most coverage. There's a good reason for it: stocks tend to be the first type of asset class anyone can invest in, generally through mutual funds and 401k's. When you open up a brokerage account, you'll likely trade stocks and not get access to more complex investments, like futures and currencies. The problem is that this unequal distribution can lead to investors neglecting other assets like bonds in favor of stocks. A portfolio made up of just one asset class – even if it's internally diversified – can lead to big losses for those that aren't aware of the risk they're taking on. Allocation and Risk Tolerance Having a diverse set of assets in your portfolio is the key to maximizing returns without taking on undue risks. But, in order to know what kind of setup you need to have, you need to… Read more

If you're looking for another way to make your dollar grow, you might consider doing away with the dollar entirely and investing in foreign currencies. The Forex market, once the home of large institutional brokerages and hedge funds, is now available to everyday investors through margin accounts. While it may sound risky and exotic, foreign currency exchanges are now part of the financial globalization process with instant access to virtually any type of currency to anyone with a computer. If foreign currencies sound like they might be for you, there are a number of ways you can invest in them right from your home. The Foreign Currency Market Most investors are accustomed to basing gains and losses on the value of the U.S. dollar, but thanks to globalization, there are now ways to profit from other currencies. The dollar's value fluctuates on a daily basis against other foreign currencies like the euro and the yen. A strong dollar means goods from overseas become cheaper by comparison, while a weak dollar means more goods can be exported as foreign currencies go… Read more

It's no secret that one of the primary focal points of the new Trump administration is going to be China. His ideals regarding the One-China Policy are just one of the many controversial plans he has regarding U.S. foreign policy. His recent telephone call with the Taiwanese leader was the first contact a U.S. President or (President-Elect) has had with Taiwan since the late 1970's and has set the stage for what many believe could be a series of progressive economic escalations. Business negotiation or thinly-veiled threat? One of Trump's platforms is to renegotiate trade deals the United States has with foreign nations in order to foster better terms for the U.S. On the surface, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get the best deal possible, but Trump's approach is abrasive and thoughtless when it comes to the potential ramifications his trade deals could have on the global economy and trade. By using Taiwan as leverage, Trump hopes to negotiate trade deals with China, but the plan has many pitfalls. The benefits of fighting back against devaluation stemming from China… Read more

If you've decided to take control of your own financial future by starting an investment account – congratulations! You've taken the first step toward gaining true financial independence. But before you open your first brokerage account and beginning trading stocks, there are a few things you'll want to know first. An investment portfolio is more than just stocks and mutual funds. It should work together to serve a common purpose. You might think all you need to do is spread around you money and invest in a number of different things, but there's more to it than just that. While diversification is something you'll likely hear repeated over and over, it means nothing if you don't understand how diversification is supposed to be applied. Asset Classes When designing your investment portfolio, you'll want exposure to a diverse range of asset classes. That includes stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities. Of course, you may find that investing directly in currencies and commodities presents a bit of a challenge. Many of these types of assets trade on the futures market – something that… Read more

Investors have always looked for an edge in the marketplace. Any detail, no matter how small, is an advantage if it could predict future stock movements. Aside from the obvious, like economic data and stock returns, one element in particular carries a lot of weight when it comes to predicting stock market corrections and crashes: margins. Trading activity can reveal a lot about the economy – in particular, how leverage and margin accounts are used. Investors with an appetite for risk use leveraged strategies to boost returns by borrowing money at a predetermined interest rate and using it to invest at a higher rate of return. When margin is high, it generally means that investors have a large risk appetite and are bullish about the future. But it also means there's far more volatility in the market and a lot more debt. Any slight downward correction when margins are high can mean dramatic declines or even crashes, as investors desperately seek to cover their loans by selling out of their positions. How Margin Acts as a Prognosticator   Margin levels… Read more