Foreign exchange, more commonly known as Forex or FX, relates to buying and selling currencies with the purpose of making profit off the changes in their value. As the biggest market in the world by far, larger than the stock market or any other, there is high liquidity in the forex market. Therefore, the forex market attracts many traders, beginners and experienced alike.
The Forex Market
With approximately $4 trillion USD traded in the market every day, the forex market has the highest liquidity in the world. Basically, this means that one can buy almost any currency he wishes in high volumes while the market is open. The forex market is open 24 hours, 5 days a week – Monday to Friday. Trading begins with the opening of the market in Australia, Asia, Europe to follow and then the USA until the markets close.
The forex market start time during the summer is on Sunday at 9:00pm GMT, and ends at 9:00pm GMT on Friday. In the winter it’s 10:00pm-10:00pm accordingly. That results with currencies being traded at all times, day or night. Unlike some other instruments, where a downfall of the market would leave traders with untradeable assets, the forex market can always find a buyer or a seller.
There are hundreds of currencies in the world, and each has a three letter symbol. American Dollars are USD, Euros are EUR, Swiss Francs are CHF, British Pounds are GBP and onwards to all the currencies.
Currencies are divided into two main sorts – Major currencies and minor ones. The major currencies are derived from the most powerful economies around the globe – the US, Japan, the UK, the Euro Zone, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand. Together with the other currencies they create forex pairs.
When going to a store to buy groceries, we need to exchange one valuable asset for another – money for milk, for example. The same goes for trading forex – we buy or sell one currency for the other. The currencies in the pairs are referred to as one against another.
There are three types of forex pairs; Major pairs, Minor pairs and Exotic pairs. The major pairs always involve the USD, and are the most traded ones.
Forex Trading Basics
The most popular pair traded is the Euro vs. the American Dollar, or EURUSD. The currency on the left is called the base currency, and is the one we wish to buy or sell; the one on the right is the secondary currency, and is the one we use to make the transaction. Each pair has two prices – the price for selling the base currency (bid) and a price for buying it (ask). The difference between them is called a spread, and represents the amount brokers charge to open the position. The more a currency is traded, i.e. high volatility, its spreads will be narrower. The rarer the pair is, the wider the spreads will be.
Usually a quote will be presented with four numbers after the dot, for instance 1.2356. In the case of EURUSD it means for every Euro the trader wishes to buy he will have to invest 1.2356 US dollars. Any change in the currency value will usually be seen on the fourth figure after the dot, mainly known as a pip. The spreads, gains and losses will usually be presented in pips.
Some other terms of the online forex trading world are Going long and Going short, which stand respectively for ‘buying’ and ‘selling’. A trader who speculates the market will rise is called a ‘Bullish Trader’, while on the other side stands the ‘Bearish Trader’, who is more on the defensive side. In accordance, the terms ‘Bull Market’ and ‘Bear Market’ are used to describe the way the market goes.
A bull market is on the rise, and a bear market is usually decreasing.
Experienced traders will decide their strategy depending on the market trends, and will make sure to follow all relevant events so they can precede the changes in the market and gain profit.
In the past, every trader called his broker and instructed him on actions to be made.
Today the trades are done directly by the client on a software, called a trading platform. Many of the platforms are available for computer, internet and mobile. Every trader has his own strategy, and he should find the platform that will enable him to perform it in the best way possible, i.e. that he will feel most comfortable in.