What about data sources – where to find reliable realtime stock data that doesn’t cost too much?

You will get free real time data on any spread betting provider you sign up to. Typically, the spread betting companies add their extra spread to the market price. On shares in the United Kingdom this usually amounts to market bid price -0.075% for their bid, market ask price +0.075% for their ask. If its Level 2 data you are after you might want to open an account with CFD provider IG Markets, the level 2 is offered at a nominal fee per month.

If you are looking to speculate on the financial markets you also need to make sure that you are able to follow the news – from daily market commentaries to financial newspapers/magazines (the major newspapers normally have business sections with market and company-specific news) and websites, you really need to make use of any resources that are available to you to enhance your market knowledge. When you place a spreadbet on a financial instrument, you need to know how and what makes the market move, and if there are any scheduled announcements which may trigger a change in direction. Again, most spread betting providers will provide a summary of financial data and some will also include details of director dealings and analysts estimates.

Tip sheets and investor magazines also come in helpful here even if these normally aren’t free. The likes of Investor Chronicle and Shares Magazine have dedicated teams of analysts that continually monitor the market. In that respect these companies have probably better resources as far as researching and analysing the market than any individual or private trader. But really you should consider such sources as only a start point and you should still dedicate some time to do your own research on any markets you want to trade. Having said that, be careful and smart in selecting the news sources so you don’t end up distracted by too much information; you don’t want to end up in a situation where you are constantly distracting reading the news that you forget about your trading.

I’ve also found www.halifaxmarketwatch.co.uk useful for analysing companies and key financial data including news and director deals along with the latest prices. Apart from these the obvious financial news forecasts, corporate earnings reports and trading forecasts etc are all good ways to digest information on the market you are think wish to invest in before placing your trade.