In layman terms, we can say that day trading and investing are like chalk and cheese! Both involve buying shares but the underlying phenomenon is completely different. Both cannot be mixed as the first one takes into account technical knowledge while the latter one focuses on fundamentals. So while stock trading and investing might sound like synonyms but there is a major difference between them!
The Basic Difference
The basic difference between day trading and investing lies in activity frequency and the time period for which positions are held! Day trading requires active management and the positions are held for very short span of time whereas investing requires passive management and are done with an objective of long term holding. Systematic investment plans are basically investment and that is why they are called so whereas long, short and buying and selling of mid-cap and liquid funds is an example of day trading.
Frequency of commissions
Commission is basically dependent on the number of transactions and because day trading involves more number of transactions, it leads to higher commission costs. Commission is charged on every purchase and sale of a stock and a day trader buys and sells multiple times during a day. On the other hand, investors hold the positions for months and years and thus for them commission amount and frequency is insignificant. Day traders are sensitive to commission costs and it basically increases their purchase value and decreases their sale value.
Notion & Strategy
Day traders are not concerned if the company is running on hype or not because their focus is on price. They just target volatile stocks with high volume through which they can earn short term gains. They look for stocks which are highly liquid, profitable and saleable so that they can get out as quickly as they got in! Investors are always focused on investing in quality companies which have bright future. They want to invest their money for long term in those companies on whom they can rely on so that their money stays safe and secure. Investor is focused on underlying asset which is generating the income and day trader is focused on income itself!
Day traders have to be actively involved and monitor the market indices closely as sudden hypes and lows can have a huge impact on them. On the other hand, investors read the news of day hype after they get back from their work as they are more focused towards long term price movement of the stock.
Traders have different threshold of risk tolerance as compared to investors. This is because investors carry a mind-set of holding that stock for months/years to come and thus intraday movements because of launch of IPO or merger is irrelevant for them. On the other hand, traders are sensitive and thus a minute drop say 5% makes them change their entire strategy for the day as they aim to square their accounts at the end of the day!
Apart from the differences listed above, there are separate tax regime for intraday and investing profits and losses!