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Simulated Trading Sites

07/28/01 12:04:01 PM PST
by Working Money Magazine

Simulated Trading Sites

Maybe you are hesitant to put money in the stock market. Or maybe you would like to diversify your trading to include futures, options or currencies. Whatever category you might fit into it's always a good idea to get a feel for trading or investing in a specific market and there's no better way to learn than using fictitious money. Of course, nothing can take the place of investing real money where the driving force is the intensity of your emotions. But paper trading is worth trying out, if nothing else, to gain confidence and also get a realistic view of what investing is all about.

CLOSE TO THE "REAL THING" - If competition is your driving force, check out this site. Although you have to pay a $50 registration fee, it may be worth your investment. If you are one of the top 20 players you will receive a prize that could very well be above the $50 investment. It's about as realistic a simulation you can find. Each player starts with a fictitious $100,000 cash portfolio. You receive real time quotes, commissions are taken into account, you can place market, limit and stop loss orders, and trade on margin -- just about everything you need to trade in the real world. - This site is run by Ameritrade and although the intention of the game is to improve your trading skills, it's also a play to attract customers. Registration is free and you manage a $50,000 portfolio in real time. You can buy long, short, and trade on margin. If you're serious about opening an account with Ameritrade, there's a chance that you could win a $10,000 Ameritrade account, which isn't a bad amount to start off a trading account. - Here's another competitive game where each player is given $500,000 of starting capital. You can buy long or sell short. Commissions are calculated and unspent money is allowed to accumulate interest. This game allows you to sell short. Other features include some rudimentary screening capabilities, links to an article archive that provides some of the better explanations of investment terms, a well-organized chat section typical of a game environment -- long on attitude and short on meaningful advice. - This site, MarketPlayer, starts you off with $100,000 and gives you two options: you can compete for weekly prize money or trade for no prizes. If you opt to compete for the weekly prize of $1,000 there is a $50 entrance fee and you get unlimited real time quotes. Like other trading simulation sites you build your portfolio with either long or short positions. This site offers private competitions hosted at the MarketPlayer website. Commissions and interest on your investment capital are calculated. The site has both a portfolio summary and a list of pending trades. It also contains an above average stock screener. The screening includes both fundamental and technical criteria. You can choose between prebuilt screens or create a custom screen of your own. If you are competing for weekly prizes the technical data is likely to have a stronger influence on trading decisions. Surprisingly, the technical screening criterion is limited to specifying a limited set of moving averages. - Like most other sites, this site starts you with $100,000 and awards prizes, but there is no entrance fee. You can trade both US and Canadian stocks and options. You have access to your current positions, pending positions and trading history. The number of options you can buy or sell is limited. To input options data you need to visit the Chicago Board of Options Exchange site and retrieve the options symbol and strike price, which by way of actual practice is not a bad idea. Since options provide a way of hedging, this site provides some valuable practice to round out your investment skills. If you trade stocks, you have the option of going long or short.
Additional features include a short glossary and stock screening via a link to Multex Investor. As with other sites you can choose between prebuilt screens or create a custom screen. Your choice of screening criteria is decidedly fundamental in nature. Trading commissions are calculated but interest on unspent money is not. also supports private group competitions as well. Participants receive e-mail containing helpful thoughts and suggestions. - Stocktrak claims that you can trade stocks, options, futures, bonds, mutual funds, and spot contracts. The cost is $19.95 for 13 weeks and you can start with either $100,000 or $500,000 in fictitious money that may be placed in a margin account. Commissions are calculated as well as interest on unspent money. What's unique about this site is that you can trade a wide range of options. Links are provided to other sites for explanations and there are some sites that might be better choices. There is no screening offered or any summary of pending trades. Commissions are calculated as well as interest on unspent money.

STOCKS AND MUTUAL FUNDS - If your interests are to trade only stocks and mutual funds you may want to visit this site. Each player receives $100,000 in fantasy money to purchase stocks and mutual funds. Registration is free. Your trading is limited to long positions in stocks and mutual funds from most major US exchanges. You cannot, however, short stocks, or trade options and bonds. - Although the game is the focus of this site, the more attractive feature is the educational section where you can learn about investing and read about real-world experiences of young investors. With the free registration you receive $100,000 of virtual money to invest in stocks or mutual funds. Trading and updating of your portfolio are all done on the basis of delayed quotes. In addition to playing individually, you an also establish group accounts. - The folks at have really simplified the trading process by starting out their participants with $1 million (of virtual cash of course). All you do is enter a ticker symbol, the number of shares and whether you wish to buy or sell them. Registration is free. You can check your portfolio on a daily basis, check your trading history, see the top 10 players, the bottom 10 players and where you rank. - Given its Spartan appearance, why they call it "the great game" is mind-boggling. You start out with $10,000 and your portfolio by default has three equities, which you can add or delete. You can also add additional equities. Unfortunately, this game is not as sophisticated as some of the others that have been reviewed.

CURRIENCIES AND GLOBAL MARKETS - Want to expand your trading beyond the US markets? Here's a site where you can play the stock market in five global markets. All participants start out with EUR 100,000 and can trade any stock on the Nasdaq, NYSE, the London Stock Exchange, the Bourse de Paris, or the Swiss Exchange. You can't trade futures, options, bonds or mutual funds. Neither can you short stocks. All trades are executed at the market price and can only be transacted when the market is open. Quotes are delayed. Commissions and taxes are taken into account. The value of your portfolio is calculated daily after the market closes. And if you see your name displayed on the home page, you can give your ego a boost -- you're one of the top players. - Ever considered venturing into currency trading? Yes, it's risky, it moves quickly and we're talking about being a part of a trillion-dollar market. Gain Capital, a brokerage firm specializing in trading currencies, provides potential customers $25,000 virtual cash to take advantage of its demo platform. Just keep in mind that it is a brokerage firm and its intentions are to attract customers.

TRADE SPORTS STOCKS - For all you sports fans, this site offers a different twist on stock trading. It's free and instead of trading stocks, you buy and sell shares of your favorite athletes. The price of each athlete changes based on their performance and market activity. Each athlete has a four-letter symbol and you place trades the same way you would a stock -- enter a symbol, state the quantity and either buy or sell. Athlete prizes are updated real-time so you can help keep track of the performance of your portfolio. And top performers win prizes. - Another website catering to those with opinions on sports and athletes. You can pull up price charts on an athlete and see the price history and decide if you want to buy shares of a specific athlete. If the market behaved the same way that these mythical shares of stock do, it would be an easier place to do business. The only resemblance to a head and shoulder pattern you will find is not in the price, but of the players themselves. This site would probably not be a prelude to trading, but it could be fun for sports fans. - This one is really fun. Instead of trading athletes you trade contracts of major professional sports teams at any time of the day. The market never closes. And what's more interesting is you receive fictitious currency known as sports dollars. Each player starts with SD $100,000, which you can invest for the long-term or trade actively. You can even short those teams you think are overvalued.

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