‘This is addicting’: How the new retail investor mania is changing the stock market game

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For the past five months, Jayden Smit has been working two jobs.

In the evenings, the Prince Edward County, Ont., teen works part time at a grocery store, where he’s lucky if he pulls in $1,000 per month stocking shelves and cleaning the store. 

His day job, on the other hand, is proving to be much more lucrative — as a bonus, he can do it from the comfort of his living room couch.

Smit, 19, is one of thousands of Canadians who started investing for the first time earlier this year, when major stock indices declined between 30 and 40 per cent as governments around the world imposed social distancing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

He now considers himself a daytrader, andsaid he is closing in on $10,000 in returns. Hesaid healready doubled his money on a quick trade in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. — Richard Branson’s space tourism company — while dabbling in risky psychedelic drug companies and tracking retail investor volumes to identify opportunities for one-day swing trades. He’s even learning technical analysis.

The Financial Post spoke with 15 Canadian retail investors who started investing for the first time around the market crash. Brice Hall/National Post Illustration

The influx of new retail investors like Smit, many of them young and some willing to bet heavily on risky names that have suffered the most during the crash, has left veteran market watchers befuddled. Analyzing company fundamentals no longer seems to work when a group of investors ignoring them is leading the charge.

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