Unlike stock markets, which can trace their roots back centuries, the forex market as we understand it today is a truly new market. Of course, in its most basic sense - that of people converting one currency to another for financial advantage - forex has been around since nations began minting currencies. But the modern forex markets are a modern invention. After the accord at Bretton Woods in 1971, more major currencies were allowed to float freely against one another. The values of individual currencies vary, which has given rise to the need for foreign exchange services and trading.
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Hedge funds – Somewhere around 70 to 90% of all foreign exchange transactions are speculative in nature. This means, the person or institutions that bought or sold the currency has no plan of actually taking delivery of the currency; instead, the transaction was executed with sole intention of speculating on the price movement of that particular currency. Retail speculators (you and I) are small cheese compared to the big hedge funds that control and speculate with billions of dollars of equity each day in the currency markets.
We gathered a list of 65 forex trading brokers and narrowed it down to the best five by analyzing research features, customizability options, and trading platforms. While introductory incentives (special offers, free demos, referral programs) can make brokerages attractive for the short term, we looked for standard practices that keep you happily trading for the long term. Responsive client support, for example, earned a company more points than first-time perks.
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.
Prepare for the worst: While this might sound pessimistic, in Forex trading it is better to prepare for the worst than expect the best. There have been many times in history when financial markets and individual trading instruments have experienced sudden spikes or drops in value. By considering the worst possible outcome of a trade, you can take measures to protect yourself, should this happen, such as by setting a stop loss in advance.
Due to Forex CFDs being leveraged, traders can access large portions of the currency market at a very low margin - sometimes as low as 1/500th of the size of the market they want to access (based on a leverage rate of 1:500). There are few additional costs as well - most Forex trading accounts have little (or no) commissions, order fees, and account management fees. If there are any trading fees, these are usually a markup the broker has added to the spread.
One of the most common trading and investment philosophies is to 'buy low and sell high' - this is particularly the case with long-term investments, such as investing in stocks or bonds, which rely on the asset increasing in value. In the Forex market, you can also sell high and buy low. This way, you can potentially make profits on both downward and upward trends.