Foreign exchange (Forex or FX) is the largest financial market in the world with a daily turnover of over $2.0 trillion.
What is traded on the Foreign Exchange?
The answer is money. Forex trading is the simultaneous buying of one currency and selling of another. Currencies are traded through a broker or dealer and are traded in pairs; for example the Euro dollar and the US dollar (EUR/USD) or the British pound and the Japanese Yen (GBP/JPY).
This kind of trading is often very confusing to people because they are not buying anything physical. Think of buying a currency as buying a share in a particular country. When you buy, say, Japanese Yen, you are in effect buying a share in the Japanese economy, as the price of the currency is a direct reflection of what the market thinks about the current and future health of the country's economy.
Unlike other financial markets, the foreign exchange market has no physical location and no central exchange. The Forex market operates 24 hours a day through an electronic network of banks, corporations and individual traders. Forex trading begins every day in Sydney, then moves to Tokyo, followed by London and then New York. The major market makers, or dealers, consist of the commercial and investment banks, the exchange traded futures, and registered futures commission merchants. Our dealing desk is open 24-hours a day from Sunday 17:00 EST to Friday 17:00 EST.
Foreign Exchange Prices
Foreign exchange markets and prices are mainly influenced by international trade flows and investment flows. The FX markets are also influenced, but to a lesser extent, by the same factors that influence the equity and bond markets: economic and political conditions especially interest rates, inflation, and political instability. Those factors usually have only a short-term impact, which makes Forex attractive as it offers some of the diversification necessary to protect against adverse movements in the equity and bond markets.
Currencies are usually quoted to four decimal places, such as the Euro/US Dollar trading at 1.2400/1.2403, with the last decimal place referred to as a point or "pip". A pip for most currencies is 0.0001 of an exchange rate; the one exception is the USD/JPY quote in which each pip is equal to 0.01.
How an FX Trade Works?
In this market you may buy or sell currencies. The objective is to earn a profit from your position. Placing a trade in the foreign exchange market is simple: the mechanics of a trade are virtually identical to those found in other markets, so the transition for many traders is often seamless.
Example of How FX Trade Works
|A trader purchases 10,000 euros in the beginning of 2001 when the EUR/USD rate was .9600.
|In May of 2003 the trader exchanges his 10,000 euro back into US dollar at the market rate of 1.1800.
|In this example, the trader earned a gross profit of $2,200.
Currencies are quoted in pairs, such as EUR/USD or USD/JPY. The first listed currency is known as the base currency, while the second is called the counter or quote currency. The base currency is the "basis" for the buy or the sell. For example, if you BUY EUR/USD you have bought euros (simultaneously sold dollars). You would do so in expectation that the euro will appreciate (go up) relative to the US dollar.
In this example euro is the base currency and thus the "basis" for the buy/sell.
If you believe that the US economy will continue to weaken and this will hurt the US dollar, you would execute a BUY EUR/USD order. By doing so you have bought euros in the expectation that they will appreciate versus the US dollar. If you believe that the US economy is strong and the euro will weaken against the US dollar you would execute a SELL EUR/USD order. By doing so you have sold euros in the expectation that they will depreciate versus the US dollar.
In this example the US dollar is the base currency and thus the "basis" for the buy/sell.
If you think that the Japanese government is going to weaken the yen in order to help its export industry, you would execute a BUY USD/JPY order. By doing so you have bought U.S dollars in the expectation that they will appreciate versus the Japanese yen. If you believe that Japanese investors are pulling money out of U.S. financial markets and repatriating funds back to Japan, and this will hurt the US dollar, you would execute a SELL USD/JPY order. By doing so you have sold U.S dollars in the expectation that they will depreciate against the Japanese yen.
In this example the GBP is the base currency and thus the "basis" for the buy/sell.
If you think the British economy will continue to be the leading economy among the G7 nations in terms of growth, thus buying the pound, you would execute a BUY GBP/USD order. By doing so you have bought pounds in the expectation that they will appreciate versus the US dollar. If you believe the British are going to adopt the euro and this will weaken pounds as they devalue their currency in anticipation of the merge, you would execute a SELL GBP/USD order. By doing so you have sold pounds in the expectation that they will depreciate against the US dollar.
In this example the USD is the base currency and thus the "basis" for the buy/sell.
If you think the US dollar is undervalued, you would execute a BUY USD/CHF order. By doing so you have bought US dollars in the expectation that they will appreciate versus the Swiss Franc. If you believe that due to instability in the Middle East and in U.S. financial markets the dollar will continue to weaken, you would execute a SELL USD/CHF order. By doing so you have sold US dollars in the expectation that they will depreciate against the Swiss franc.
First, you should determine whether you want to buy or sell.
If you want to buy (which actually means buy the base currency and sell the quote currency), you want the base currency to rise in value and then you would sell it back at a higher price. In trader's talk, this is called "going long" or taking a "long position". Just remember: Long = Buy = Ask.
If you want to sell (which actually means sell the base currency and buy the quote currency), you want the base currency to fall in value and then you would buy it back at a lower price. This is called "going short" or taking a "short position". Short = Sell = Bid.
» How to calculate Profit and Loss
All Forex quotes include a two-way price, the bid and ask. The bid is always lower than the ask price.
The bid is the price in which the dealer is willing to buy the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. This means the bid is the price in which you the trader will sell.
The ask is the price at which the dealer will sell the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. This means the ask is the price in which you the trader will buy.
The difference between the bid and the ask price is popularly know as the Spread.
Let's take a look at an example taken from a trading software:
On this EUR/USD quote, the bid price is 1.2293 and the ask price is 1.2296. Look at how this broker makes it so easy for you to trade away your money. If you want to sell EUR, you click "Sell" and you will sell Euros at 1.2293. If you want to buy EUR, you click "Buy" and you will buy Euros at 1.2296.
I don't have enough money to buy $10,000 EUR. Can I still trade?
Yes, You can with margin trading! Margin trading is simply the term used for trading with borrowed capital. This is how you're able to open $10,000 or $100,000 positions with $50 or $1,000. You can conduct relatively large transactions, very quickly and cheaply, with a small amount of initial capital.
You believe that signals in the market are indicating that the British Pound will go up against the US Dollar. You open 1 lot ($100,000) for buying the Pound with a 1% margin at the price of 1.5000 and wait for the exchange rate to climb. This means you now control $100,000 worth of British Pound with $1,000. Your predictions come true and you decide to sell. You close the position at 1.5050. You earn 50 pips or about $500. (A pip is the smallest price movement available in a currency). So for an initial capital investment of $1,000, you have made 50% return. Return equals your $500 profit divided by your $1,000 you risked to trade.
» More information on Margin Trading
For positions open at 5pm EST, there is a daily rollover interest rate that a trader either pays or earns, depending on your established margin and position in the market. If you do not want to earn or pay interest on your positions, simply make sure it is closed at 5pm EST, the established end of the market day.
Since every currency trade involves borrowing one currency to buy another, interest rollover charges are an inherent part of FX trading. Interest is paid on the currency that is borrowed, and earned on the one that is purchased. If a client is buying a currency with a higher interest rate than the one he/she is borrowing, the net differential will be positive and the client will earn funds as a result.
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Analysis of Foreign Exchange Markets
Foreign exchange traders base their decisions on either technical analysis and fundamental analysis.
Technical traders use charts, trend lines, support and resistance levels, mathematical models and other means to identify opportunities and drive trading decisions. Click here for more information on Technical Analysis
Fundamental traders identify trading opportunities by analyzing economic information.Click here for more information on Fundamental Analysis
24-Hour Access to the World
When you choose to trade currencies, you’re choosing greater freedom in your trading. With the ability to trade forex 24 hours a day, 5.5 days a week with extreme liquidity, you participate when you want to, not when the market dictates.
The market is able to stay open 24 hours a day, 5.5 days a week, because trading begins with the open in Australia, and flows through the open and close of the major financial trading centers in Asia, Europe, the United States and back again to Australia.
The daily foreign currency trading volume is determined by which markets are open at any point in time. When international market open times overlap, such as when the U.S. and British market are open simultaneously, greater trading volume is seen, resulting in peak trading.
Forex Open Market Time (* time displayed as EST):