A stock screener is a program with a user interface designed to search for stocks using filters selected by a trader. Day traders use stock screeners to narrow down the list of over 7,000 stocks traded on U.S. exchanges. Screeners help traders focus their trades on a small list of equities that possess the characteristics they're looking for.
Traders can select from many different filters, including trading volume, chart patterns, stock price, volatility, recent performance, and more. If you're looking for a way to sift through the mountains of stock information to find one to trade, here are four popular screeners that can make the task easier.
StockFetcher takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's one of the most powerful stock screeners available. With StockFetcher, you can select from pre-existing stock screens or create your own.
Using a specific format (some examples are listed on its site), type in the exact parameters for the stock screener. A nearly infinite combination of filters and criteria is possible.
The free version of StockFetcher allows you to see five stocks from the stock screener's search results. When day trading, this is usually sufficient for finding a few high-quality stocks to trade. The standard version of StockFetcher, which allows you to see all the search results, starts at $8.95 per month or $24.95 per quarter, while the advanced version is $16.95 per month or $44.95 per quarter.
Use Finviz to reduce the U.S. equity market down to a handful of the best day trading stocks with thousands of potential filter combinations.
The site is easy to use. Click the screener tab, and start adding criteria to the three major sections: Descriptive, Fundamental, and Technical. Once you've added some requirements, you'll get a list of stocks that match them. Change the information you see on these stocks by adjusting the view.
There are 14 views to choose from. These views include Overview, Valuation, Financial, Performance, Technical, Charts, and News. Change the view, and sort by information type to see the top- or bottom-ranked stocks on your list.
Finviz is free—although quotes are delayed 15 minutes for the NASDAQ and 20 minutes for NYSE and AMEX. This typically works if you run your stock screens at night, searching for trade candidates for the next day.
If you want a scanner that offers real-time data, you can upgrade to Finviz Elite. It includes additional features and costs $39.50 per month (monthly plan), or $24.96 per month (annual plan, $299.50 per year).
ChartMill's stock screener gives you eight options for finding day trading stocks. The general section lets you choose routine stock information.
The performance tab allows you to specify performance criteria such as beta or historic relative strength. The other tabs give you more options to help you choose your trade, such as indicators or support and resistance factors.
Each category has many filters to choose from to help traders select stocks that closely match their trading criteria.
Like Finviz, the free stock screener is easy to use. The site works on a credit system, giving you 6,000 free credits each month that accumulate if you don't use them.
Running the scanner costs a few hundred credits. The free monthly credits are enough to allow most users to frequently utilize the site without paying for more. When you have used up all of your credits, you can use the site but with minimal functionality.
You can buy credits in blocks of 10,000 ($10) or upgrade to unlimited usage for $29.97 per month or $259.97 per year ($21.66 per month).
It's quick to find stocks near highs or lows for various time frames or find some that show a lot of price momentum (up or down). Track which stocks are being traded by popular hedge funds, and create custom screens, watchlists, and portfolios.
StockRover also allows for backtesting and creating equations—combining multiple filters into a mathematical equation to further fine-tune results.
Hundreds of functions are available to all users, although paid users have access to additional features such as equations, data exporting, filters, portfolio analytics, and alerts. An entry-level paid subscription is $79.99 per year, the Premium plan is $179.99 per year, and the Premium Plus plan is $279.99 per year.
Maximizing the Effectiveness of Stock Screeners
As a day trader, it's easy to get caught up in constant research while trying to find the latest stock poised for a big move. While this can be effective, usually it results in burnout and poor performance, because the movement has already happened by the time you find out about it.
Instead of trying to identify the next great trade, use these stock screeners each night or once a day. You could also use them on the weekend to find a handful of suitable stocks to trade the following week.
If you already have a broker, you might see whether they have a stock screener on their website, so you don't end up paying extra subscription fees elsewhere.
Then, focus on only day trading between one and three stocks during the next trading session or week. This approach requires much less time than actively scanning. Since you're only watching a few stocks, you're alert and ready to buy or sell at the right times.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What's the difference between a stock screener and a stock scanner?
Stock screeners are different from stock scanners, which are designed for constant monitoring and use real-time stock data. Stock scanners are designed for traders who want pricing information as it is happening. Screeners are designed for traders who do not want to trade on price movements as they happen.
How do you find low-float stocks on Finviz?
Low-float stocks are those with relatively few shares available for trading. On a stock screener like Finviz, you can search for these stocks with the "shares outstanding" filter option. When a stock has few shares outstanding, it is a low-float stock.