The market determines the value, also known as an exchange rate, of the majority of currencies. Foreign exchange can be as simple as changing one currency for another at a local bank. It can also involve trading currency on the foreign exchange market. For example, a trader is betting a central bank will ease or tighten monetary policy and that one currency will strengthen versus the other.
Big news comes in and then the market starts to spike or plummets rapidly. At this point it may be tempting to jump on the easy-money train, however, doing so without a disciplined trading plan behind you can be just as damaging as gambling before the news comes out. This is because illiquidity and sharp price movements mean a trade can quickly translate into significant losses as large swings take place or ‘whipsaw’.
An investor can profit from the difference between two interest rates in two different economies by buying the currency with the higher interest rate and shorting the currency with the lower interest rate. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, it was very common to short the Japanese yen (JPY) and buy British pounds (GBP) because the interest rate differential was very large. This strategy is sometimes referred to as a "carry trade."
In 1944, the Bretton Woods Accord was signed, allowing currencies to fluctuate within a range of ±1% from the currency's par exchange rate. In Japan, the Foreign Exchange Bank Law was introduced in 1954. As a result, the Bank of Tokyo became the center of foreign exchange by September 1954. Between 1954 and 1959, Japanese law was changed to allow foreign exchange dealings in many more Western currencies.
Despite being able to trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, you shouldn’t (Forex trading is not quite 24.7). You should only trade a forex pair when it’s active, and when you’ve got enough volume. Trading forex at weekends will see small volume. Take GBP/USD for example, there are specific hours where you have enough volatility to create profits that are likely to negate the bid price spread and commission costs.
Leverage: Leverage is capital provided by a Forex broker to bolster their client's trading volume. For example, if you use a 1:10 rate of leverage and have $1,000 in your trading account, you can trade $10,000 worth of a currency pair. If the trade is successful, leverage will maximise your profits by a factor of 10. However, please note that leverage also multiplies your losses to the same degree, so it should be used with caution. If your account balance falls below $0, you may trigger a broker's negative balance protection settings (if trading with an ESMA regulated broker), which will result in the trade being closed. Fortunately, this means that your balance cannot move below $0, so you will not be in debt to the broker.
Since the market is made by each of the participating banks providing offers and bids for a particular currency, the market pricing mechanism is based on supply and demand. Because there are such large trade flows within the system, it is difficult for rogue traders to influence the price of a currency. This system helps create transparency in the market for investors with access to interbank dealing.
When you're making trades in the forex market, you're basically buying or selling the currency of a particular country. But there's no physical exchange of money from one hand to another. That's contrary to what happens at a foreign exchange kiosk—think of a tourist visiting Times Square in New York City from Japan. He may be converting his (physical) yen to actual U.S. dollar cash (and may be charged a commission fee to do so) so he can spend his money while he's traveling.
Leveraged trading in foreign currency contracts or other off-exchange products on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. We advise you to carefully consider whether trading is appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. You may lose more than you invest (except for OANDA Europe Ltd customers who have negative balance protection). Information on this website is general in nature. We recommend that you seek independent financial advice and ensure you fully understand the risks involved before trading. Trading through an online platform carries additional risks. Refer to our legal section here.
Unlike stocks, forex trades have low, if any, commissions and fees. Even so, new forex traders are always advised to take a conservative approach and use orders, like stop-loss, to minimize losses. High leverage, which should be prudently applied, gives traders the opportunity to achieve dramatic results with far less capital than necessary for other markets. Forex trading requires training and strategy, but can be a profitable field for individuals looking for a lower risk endeavor. Learning currency trading gives traders a range of exciting new opportunities to invest in.
Stay calm: As exciting as trading can be, it is still stressful work. There will be a lot of setbacks on your way to the top. Emotions can force your hand to open a trade too early and/or close it too late. The main cause of stress for beginners in trading is the fact that some Forex trades will end in loss no matter what – it's just the way the market is. Just remember that war is not won with a single battle. Rather, it is overall performance that counts.