Whether you're starting out as a stock investor or trader, you need stock charting software. You could use the charts that come with your online broker account, but the best stock charting software available offers more than simple daily charts.
Regardless of how long you've been at the stock trading game, you can benefit from MetaStock. The software includes a variety of tools to help you figure out which securities to buy, whether your strategies will work, and when to buy or sell. Although no stock charting software can perfectly predict the ups and downs of the market, it helps you make an educated guess. MetaStock isn't cheap by any means, but for the serious trader or investor, it could be worth every penny.
- Scan & Filter: You set the criteria you want in order to find buy and sell signals on specific securities, which helps you find stocks to trade.
- Backtesting: This is a feature of MetaStock that lets you run through mock trades using one or more strategies so you can see whether they would work the way you expect.
- Forecaster: MetaStock takes past prices into account when looking at the future, so you can see how a stock is expected to fare in the next few days, weeks or months. This helps you set your stops, which could lead to more profit.
- Xenith: You get real-time news, data and analysis, which is vital to the day trader who bases many stock trades on daily news.
One of the best-known stock charting programs is eSignal, and it earns its reputation as a comprehensive solution for all types of traders. Although this stock charting software isn't free, its entry-level plan is fairly affordable and includes many features to help you pick the right stocks. It's also an all-in-one trading platform, so you can execute buy and sell orders with brokers from within eSignal.
- Intraday Data: Having data on stocks throughout the day is important for day traders who need to know what's going on with each stock on their watchlists throughout the trading day. The data on eSignal has a 15-minute delay for the least expensive plan, though.
- Real-Time Data: Sign up for eSignal's pricier plans and you get to see what's happening with the stock markets in real time, which could make or break a stock for some short-term traders.
- Historical Data: Some of eSignal's plans let you view up to one year of retroactive numbers for stocks, which can help you predict which way an investment could go in the future.
- Advanced Charts: The bread and butter of eSignal are its chart tools. You get several technical indicators, and you can filter for the mathematical calculations you want to see.
Another big player in stock charting programs is TC2000. It's an excellent choice for beginner or intermediate traders who can benefit from performing mock trades using new strategies. You can use its charts to look at technical or fundamental indicators – mathematical calculations and an evaluation of a company's financial situation, respectively. There's a cost to use TC2000, but it's much more affordable than the other big names in stock charting software.
- Chart: Create your charts with confidence. You can view historical data to help you assess a stock's movement in the coming days or weeks, and you can choose from a variety of technical or fundamental indicators – or both.
- Scan: Use intraday scanning of securities to see what's moving on volume or price and find patterns. You can find the stocks that are moving and add them to a watchlist and keep an eye on them for a few days.
- Trade: Many people use stock charting software outside of their brokers, but if you use TC2000 Brokerage, you can trade directly from TC2000. Alternatively, you can use the trading feature to set up mock trades in a simulator to see how you'd do without risking your life savings.
New traders would be smart to start with one of the best free stock charting software applications available: FreeStockCharts.com. It comes from Worden, the same developer as TC2000. It's completely free – you don't even have to register to use it (though you may want to for access to other features). You may experience some lag with these charts, but, hey, it's free.
- Chart: You can see charts on several stocks based on price, volume or percentage change as the default. If you have other criteria you want to apply, you get multiple options, such as today's net, percentage or volume buzz. Plus, you can look at fundamental indicators, such as debt-to-equity ratio, earnings over one year or gross margin.
- Scan: Once you register, you can set up scans for stocks you're watching.
- Scrolling Ticker: Keep an eye on any market with a scrolling ticker of stocks at the top of your screen. You can switch it up to see the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, Forex or any other market you want.
Choosing a stock charting program starts with knowing what features you want and need, and then deciding how much money you're willing to pay for those tools. There are plenty of free charting programs out there that may give you what you need, such as Finviz, Yahoo or Google Finance, and TradingView. Other stock charting programs that may suit your needs include NinjaTrader (which also has a free version) and Optuma.