Mobile Markets for High-Tech Plungers

We may live in a global world where the financial markets never sleep, but keeping in touch with the latest prices no longer requires us to be tethered to a laptop or desktop computer. The new breed of mobile apps allow us to receive up-to-the-minute charts, figures and analysts’ reports while equipped with nothing more than a free-wheeling tablet or smartphone. Below we’ve included ten of the best apps we can find, given the rather specific demands of these programs.

The best of these apps are far more than mere conversions of existing desktop software. Even in the normal-sized trading world, debates proliferate about whether it’s better to be a ‘Technical Analyst’, using chart action to plot the next move, or a ‘Fundamentals’ trader, combing the balance sheets for such old-fashioned snippets of info as revenue and cash flow. Either approach, though, demands access to lots of intricate data, and the cramped screens and limited workspace of even relatively large tablets aren’t a natural fit. However, by simplifying the controls, and creating nimble interfaces that allow users to effortlessly zoom in and out, or switch between timeframes, even stunningly ornate charts can be recreated in something like their full glory. The wonder ofiChartist, for instance, offers many of the everyday tools that a market trader might require. On the other hand, Stock Guru arms investors with all the stats, sheets, and ratios that they might need. In the capable hands of such apps, the financial markets have made a successful transition to the small screen.

There are some important points to remember. Most of the best financial apps are Apple only, and Android users will find themselves with fewer options – if you’re thinking of buying a device in the coming months, you’ll be more comfortable if you opt for Apple. Many of the apps here are cheap compared to desktop applications, but you’ll often have hidden charges. If you want anything other than delayed prices or end of day data, you’ll probably need to factor in exchange fees. You may also be forced to switch your money to another broker in order to get the full benefit of some apps. Make sure that the app itself is designed to handle the type of markets that you’re interested in. Playing the stock market, for instance, is very different from dealing in commodities or forex (foreign exchange). Options traders will likely need an app tailored to their needs. Also, a desktop PC is rather hard to lose. An iPad less so. If you’re looking to carry your device around with you for frequent updates, the risk of damage will be higher. Luckily, it’s quite easy to find some juicy policies for iPads that can cover you against theft, damage, and even the risk of pouring a cup of coffee onto the screen as your new stock climbs unexpectedly into the green.

Top 10 Apps

1. Stock Guru (Apple) – $19.99 – Stock Guru has quickly established itself as the essential app for those who work with old-fashioned fundamentals rather than Technical Analysis. It holds details of close to 7,000 stocks and shares (on NYSE, AMEX and NASDAQ), and collates many of the best-loved tools and reports. The Sharpe Ratio and Risk scores let you root out the safer picks, while financial strength and momentum ratings add texture to your findings. You can see what business luminaries are saying about specific stock, and check out their raw figures, using screening tools to remove the chaff. It’s not cheap, at $19.99, but to any serious investor, this will be money well spent.

2. iChartist (Apple) – $8.99 – In some senses the flipside of Stock Guru, iChartist is aimed squarely at Technical Analysis mavens. Effortlessly dodging the usual pitfalls of displaying charts on the small screen, iChartist impresses with a superb interface thatlets you zoom in and out with a quick pinch or squeeze of the fingers. You can choose between candlestick, line and OHLC charts. Impressively, you can even add trend lines, Fibonacci retracements, and such essentials as Bollinger Bands and MACD. It can even cater for commodities and forex, as well as stocks and shares. It’s not cheap, but the price does contain end of day data. You will get a fuller features list with a desktop version, but in the world of apps, this is the TA king.

3. StockWatch (Apple) – $2.99 – This app concentrates less on bringing you lots of information and analysis, and more on letting you check your entire portfolio at a glance. You can monitor every stock you own, stealing a quick glance at the price and gain/loss whenever you wish. Vastly simplified, it’s a neat way of checking where you are within seconds.

4. CBNC Real-Time (Apple) – Free – Probably the best of the news apps, CBNC’s slick interface lets you keep up with the latest events. Stock quotes even extend to pre- and post-market data, so you can see how participants are reacting to breaking news stories, financial results announced after the market close etc. A good use of graphs illuminate key stories, and historical charts are available to add a little context. News clips are collected from the television channel, so there’s a constant injection of new material. This is about the best there is for free. The Bloomberg app is also worth catching, though, especially with its use of push notifications to keep you fully informed throughout the day.

5. StockTwits (Apple/Android) – Free – Market trading is really about having the right information. As the name suggests, StockTwits tries to create a Twitter-style network for market enthusiasts, letting them talk figures and buy/sell signals all day long. You can follow all messages on a specific stock, or just subscribe to particular users instead. Like its model, StockTwits has plenty of babble, but if you’re prepared to sift a little, you can pick out sparkling nuggets of information. One to keep an eye on, but also one to try not being distracted by.

6. JStock Android (Android) – Free ($4.99 to lose advertisements) – Android users aren’t best served by general charts packages, but this is one of the better options, and covers most stocks. The effective use of color makes it a pleasure to use, and a number of useful filters and conversion tools help you to keep on top of your stocks. It lacks the sophisticated features of Stock Guru or iChartist, but will be a workable substitute for Android users.

7. FuturesLive (Apple) – $1.99 – Dedicated to the commodities markets, this app makes it very easy to monitor the price of pork bellies, orange juice, oil, gold, or just about any commodity. In all honesty, the commodities markets are extensive enough in their own right, so it’s nice not having to give extra room to also accommodate the stockmarkets. It lacks the advanced features of iChartist, but will provide commodities specialists with the best way of keeping an eye on their portfolio.

8. OptionsHouse (Apple/Android) – Free – The maths-heavy world of options trading isn’t for everyone, but this is the top app in that field. You may want to look elsewhere for properly designed charts and news, but many of the options-specific features are stunning, including the wonderfully intuitive handling of options chains. You will need to open an account with OptionsHouse but, otherwise, this is an exemplary guide through the esoteric landscape of options trading.

9. iTrade Stock Market Simulator (Apple) – Free – A simulation of the stock market that allows would-be investors to have a plunge without putting their real funds at risk, this is a sparkling introduction to the markets. You’re given up to 100K to build a portfolio, and you even get the chance to do research and follow the news stories on your choices. It can’t recreate the nervous tension that most real-life investors will be familiar with, but it does give you a taste of what will be needed to succeed. You can add extra pep by getting your friends and family to join, and you can even create a private leaderboard to increase the competitive edge. The Fantasy Stock app is another very nice variation on this theme.

10. Stockmarket Technical Analysis (Android) – Free -Everyone needs to start somewhere. This app takes you through all the basics (and some of the more advanced features) of technical analysis, using clear illustrations to make the point. It perhaps doesn’t do anything a decent web-site can’t, and serious users would be better off burying their heads in a copy of John J Murphy. But as an intro to the unforgiving world of TA, this is a nice little app.

This post is written by Eve Pearce who has a Graduation in International Business and Journalism

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