Believe it or not, this question does come up from time to time, especially from anyone unfamiliar with the foreign exchange market. Unlike the futures markets, there is no central governing body nor any arbitration panels or clearing houses that control the foreign exchange market. All trade is conducted through credit agreements between individual members.

Currencies are traded against one another in pairs. Each currency pair thus constitutes an individual trading product and is traditionally noted XXXYYY or XXX/YYY, where XXX and YYY are the ISO 4217 international three-letter code of the currencies involved. The first currency (XXX) is the base currency that is quoted relative to the second currency (YYY), called the counter currency (or quote currency). For instance, the quotation EURUSD (EUR/USD) 1.5465 is the price of the Euro expressed in US dollars, meaning 1 euro = 1.5465 dollars. The market convention is to quote most exchange rates against the USD with the US dollar as the base currency (e.g. USDJPY, USDCAD, USDCHF). The exceptions are the British pound (GBP), Australian dollar (AUD), the New Zealand dollar (NZD) and the euro (EUR) where the USD is the counter currency (e.g. GBPUSD, AUDUSD, NZDUSD, EURUSD).
More specifically, the spot market is where currencies are bought and sold according to the current price. That price, determined by supply and demand, is a reflection of many things, including current interest rates, economic performance, sentiment towards ongoing political situations (both locally and internationally), as well as the perception of the future performance of one currency against another. When a deal is finalized, this is known as a "spot deal". It is a bilateral transaction by which one party delivers an agreed-upon currency amount to the counter party and receives a specified amount of another currency at the agreed-upon exchange rate value. After a position is closed, the settlement is in cash. Although the spot market is commonly known as one that deals with transactions in the present (rather than the future), these trades actually take two days for settlement.

The foreign exchange market is unique for several reasons, mainly because of its size. Trading volume in the forex market is generally very large. As an example, trading in foreign exchange markets averaged $5.1 trillion per day in April 2016, according to the Bank for International Settlements, which is owned by 60 central banks and is used to work in monetary and financial responsibility. 
The spread, in Forex, is the difference between the bid and ask price of a currency pair. For example, if the Bid price of the EUR/USD is 1.16668, and the sell price is 1.16669, the spread will be 0.0001, or 1 pip. In any Forex trade, the value of a currency pair will need to cross the spread before it becomes profitable. To continue with the previous example, if a trader entered a long EUR/USD trade at 1.16668, the trade wouldn't become profitable until the value of the pair was higher than 1.16669.
^ The total sum is 200% because each currency trade always involves a currency pair; one currency is sold (e.g. US$) and another bought (€). Therefore each trade is counted twice, once under the sold currency ($) and once under the bought currency (€). The percentages above are the percent of trades involving that currency regardless of whether it is bought or sold, e.g. the U.S. Dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all trades, whereas the Euro is bought or sold 32% of the time.
Whether you are a beginner trader or a pro, it is best to trade with what you see and not what you think. For example, you might think that the US dollar is overvalued and has been overvalued for too long. Naturally, you will want to short and you might be right eventually. But if the price is moving up, it does not matter what you think. In fact, it doesn't matter what anybody thinks – the price is moving up and you should be trading with the trend.
The purpose of this method is to make sure no single trade or single day of trading hurts has a significant impact on the account. Therefore, a trader knows that they will not lose more in a single trade or day than they can make back on another by adopting a risk maximum that is equivalent to the average daily gain over a 30 day period. (To understand the risks involved in forex, see "Forex Leverage: A Double-Edged Sword.")
In developed nations, the state control of the foreign exchange trading ended in 1973 when complete floating and relatively free market conditions of modern times began.[48] Other sources claim that the first time a currency pair was traded by U.S. retail customers was during 1982, with additional currency pairs becoming available by the next year.[49][50]
From a historical standpoint, foreign exchange was once a concept for governments, large companies, and hedge funds. But in today's world, trading currencies is as easy as a click of a mouse—accessibility is not an issue, which means anyone can do it. In fact, many investment firms offer the chance for individuals to open accounts and to trade currencies however and whenever they choose.
Currencies are always traded in pairs, so the "value" of one of the currencies in that pair is relative to the value of the other. This determines how much of country A's currency country B can buy, and vice versa. Establishing this relationship (price) for the global markets is the main function of the foreign exchange market. This also greatly enhances liquidity in all other financial markets, which is key to overall stability.
By contrast, the AUD/NZD moves by 50-60 pips a day, and the USDHKD currency pair only moves by an average of 32 pips a day (when looking at the value of currency pairs, most will be listed with five decimal points. A 'Pip' is 0.0001. So, if the EUR/USD moved from 1.16667 to 1.16677, that would represent a 1 pip change). The major Forex pairs tend to be the most liquid, and therefore provide the most opportunities for short-term trading.

As traders, we can take advantage of the high leverage and volatility of the Forex market by learning and mastering and effective Forex trading strategy, building an effective trading plan around that strategy, and following it with ice-cold discipline. Money management is key here; leverage is a double-edged sword and can make you a lot of money fast or lose you a lot of money fast. The key to money management in Forex trading is to always know the exact dollar amount you have at risk before entering a trade and be TOTALLY OK with losing that amount of money, because any one trade could be a loser. More on money management later in the course.
The most common type of forward transaction is the foreign exchange swap. In a swap, two parties exchange currencies for a certain length of time and agree to reverse the transaction at a later date. These are not standardized contracts and are not traded through an exchange. A deposit is often required in order to hold the position open until the transaction is completed.
As traders, we can take advantage of the high leverage and volatility of the Forex market by learning and mastering and effective Forex trading strategy, building an effective trading plan around that strategy, and following it with ice-cold discipline. Money management is key here; leverage is a double-edged sword and can make you a lot of money fast or lose you a lot of money fast. The key to money management in Forex trading is to always know the exact dollar amount you have at risk before entering a trade and be TOTALLY OK with losing that amount of money, because any one trade could be a loser. More on money management later in the course.
Use a stop loss: A stop loss is tool that traders use to limit their potential losses. Simply put, it is the price level at which you will close a trade that isn't moving in your favour, thereby preventing any further losses as the market continues to move in that direction. You can also use a stop loss to conserve any profits you might have already made - the tool to achieve this is known as a 'trailing' stop loss, which follows the direction of the market.

It's important to consider whether a Forex broker and their trading platform will suit your trading style. For example, you might be interested in following a Forex scalping strategy, which involves making a high volume of small profits on small currency movements. In this case, you would need to ensure that any potential broker has minimum distance between the market price and your stop-loss and take-profit.


By contrast, the Australian Dollar, the New Zealand Dollar and the Japanese Yen tend to be more active between 00:00 and 08:00 GMT. As a trader, this means you can trade whenever it suits you - if you work during the day, there will be currencies available to trade before or after work. If you have children but are at home during the day, you can simply choose a different currency. In the Forex market, you can trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Diversify your portfolio: We all know the saying, 'don't put all your eggs in one basket', yet many new FX traders do this when it comes to their trading. Just as it isn't wise to put all of your funds into a single trade, relying on a single currency pair increases your level of risk, because if the pair moves in a different direction to what you expect, you could lose everything. Instead, consider opening a number of small trades across different Forex pairs.


Secondly, a larger return is needed on your remaining capital to retrieve any lost capital from the initial losing trade. If a trader loses 50% of their capital, it will take a 100% return to bring them back to the original capital level. Losing large chunks of money on single trades or on single days of trading can cripple capital growth for long periods of time.
For instance, if you opened a long trade on the GBP/USD currency pair, and the pair increased in value, the price limit at which the trade should close (the stop loss) would climb alongside the price of the currency pair. If the value of the GBP/USD then started to fall, the trade would be closed as soon as it hit your stop loss, preserving any profits you had made beforehand.
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Economic numbers: While economic numbers can certainly reflect economic policy, some reports and numbers take on a talisman-like effect: the number itself becomes important to market psychology and may have an immediate impact on short-term market moves. "What to watch" can change over time. In recent years, for example, money supply, employment, trade balance figures and inflation numbers have all taken turns in the spotlight.
By contrast, the AUD/NZD moves by 50-60 pips a day, and the USDHKD currency pair only moves by an average of 32 pips a day (when looking at the value of currency pairs, most will be listed with five decimal points. A 'Pip' is 0.0001. So, if the EUR/USD moved from 1.16667 to 1.16677, that would represent a 1 pip change). The major Forex pairs tend to be the most liquid, and therefore provide the most opportunities for short-term trading.
Currency rates are representative of the Bloomberg Generic Composite rate (BGN), a representation based on indicative rates only contributed by market participants. The data is NOT based on any actual market trades. Currency data is 5 minutes delayed, provided for information purposes only and not intended for trading; Bloomberg does not guarantee the accuracy of the data. See full details and disclaimer.

Economic numbers: While economic numbers can certainly reflect economic policy, some reports and numbers take on a talisman-like effect: the number itself becomes important to market psychology and may have an immediate impact on short-term market moves. "What to watch" can change over time. In recent years, for example, money supply, employment, trade balance figures and inflation numbers have all taken turns in the spotlight.
This will ensure that if you decide to trade stocks, indices, ETFs, commodities, cryptocurrencies and other instruments in the future, you won't need to find a new broker to do so. Admiral Markets, for example, provides traders with access to over 7,500 financial instruments, allowing you to create a diversified trading and investment strategy from a single platform.
The best and the most effective way to learn about Forex trading is to practice it on a daily basis. The first step is of course to pick up the most suitable trading strategy for you. The most common strategies for Forex day trading are scalping and breakout trading. While the first strategy involves a lot of positions opened on 1 minute charts, it mainly concentrates on getting less than 10 pips of gain per trade, while keeping your stop-losses at nearly the same level. If you do not know what a 'pip' is, here is a brief definition:
Flights to quality: Unsettling international events can lead to a "flight-to-quality", a type of capital flight whereby investors move their assets to a perceived "safe haven". There will be a greater demand, thus a higher price, for currencies perceived as stronger over their relatively weaker counterparts. The US dollar, Swiss franc and gold have been traditional safe havens during times of political or economic uncertainty.[73]

Day trading can take place in any market, but is commonly referred to in the context of either the Forex trading market or the stock trading market. In order to be successful as a Forex day trader, you need to have a decent amount of capital, and a good amount of knowledge of the market behind you. However, having this doesn't necessarily guarantee success. This is especially true when 'invisible hands' are at work, and when the prices fluctuate enormously during intraday Forex trading.

Trading in South Africa might be safest with an FSA regulated (or registered) brand. The regions classed as ‘unregulated’ by European brokers see way less ‘default’ protection. So a local regulator can give additional confidence. This is similar in Singapore, the Philippines or Hong Kong. The choice of ‘best forex broker’ will therefore differ region by region.
Whether you are a beginner trader or a pro, it is best to trade with what you see and not what you think. For example, you might think that the US dollar is overvalued and has been overvalued for too long. Naturally, you will want to short and you might be right eventually. But if the price is moving up, it does not matter what you think. In fact, it doesn't matter what anybody thinks – the price is moving up and you should be trading with the trend.
While Forex trading for beginners or professionals will always require software, the level of competition between brokers means that most Forex trading software is available for free. Many Forex trading beginners are also tempted to purchase FX robots, also known as Expert Advisers (EAs). While some EAs can be helpful, it can be hard for them to remain profitable when the market changes.

Swing trading: Swing trading is a medium-term trading approach that focuses on larger price movements than scalping or intraday trading. This means that traders can set up a trade and check in on it within a few hours, or a few days, rather than having to constantly sit in front of their trading platform, making it a good option for people trading alongside a day job.
The main trading centers are London and New York City, though Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore are all important centers as well. Banks throughout the world participate. Currency trading happens continuously throughout the day; as the Asian trading session ends, the European session begins, followed by the North American session and then back to the Asian session.

Spread: The spread is the difference between a currency pair's bid and ask price. For the most popular currency pairs, the spread is often low - sometimes even less than a pip! For pairs that aren't traded as frequently, the spread tends to be much higher. Before a Forex trade becomes profitable, the value of the currency pair must cross the spread.


Day trading also deserves some extra attention in this area and a daily risk maximum should also be implemented. This daily risk maximum can be 1% (or less) of capital, or equivalent to the average daily profit over a 30 day period. For example, a trader with a $50,000 account (leverage not included) could lose a maximum of $500 per day under these risk parameters. Alternatively, this number could be altered so it is more in line with the average daily gain (i.e., if a trader makes $100 on positive days, they keeps their losses close to $100 or less).
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.
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.
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