This video will teach you the basics of trading ETFs.
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How do you trade ETFs? It’s a great question.
The fact that ETFs trade on an exchange like stocks is one of their biggest selling points. It means you can trade any time the market’s open, rather than waiting until the end of the day like you do with traditional mutual funds.
You can also trade an ETF the same way you would trade any stock: You can buy it on margin, if you have that feature in your account. You can even short sell most ETFs. But this liquidity comes with several costs which are important to keep in mind when you’re investing in ETFs. Let’s talk more about two of these costs…The first cost is obvious: the commission. Like with any stock, you have to pay a commission when you buy or sell an ETF. This can really add up if you trade a lot.
Imagine, for instance, that each month you invest $1,000 into a basket of five different ETFs. Five times $7.95 per trade is close to 40 dollars, or 4% of your total investment. The good news is that most brokerage firms now offer a certain number of ETFs commission-free. You should consider these carefully, as saving on commissions can be a big deal.
The spread is the difference between where someone is willing to buy an ETF (or a stock) at and where someone is willing to sell. For instance, if an ETF is trading at $20/share, you might see that it has an “average spread” of “$0.01.” That means you can buy the ETF for $20.01, but you can only sell it for $20.00. Another ETF might show an average spread of “$0.25,” which means you have to buy the ETF for $20.25, but you can only sell it for $20.00. The smaller the spread, the better. Lastly, it’s smart to use good basic trading practices.
In general, you should consider using limit orders which are instructions to buy or sell securities at a specific price or better. But remember, if your limit is set to something unrealistic, or if the market’s moving quickly, you’ll need to monitor and adjust your limits to make sure you get your trade executed and you get the price you want – or better. So let’s review a few key points when it comes to trading ETFs:
• Remember commissions.
• Look at the spread.
• Consider using limit orders.
ETFs now make up about a quarter of all the volume on the New York Stock Exchange, so plenty of investors are trading ETFs.
With a little care and effort, you can too!
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