Forex is the one financial market that never sleeps, meaning you can trade at all hours of the day (or night). Unlike the world's stock exchanges, which are located in physical trading rooms like the New York Stock Exchange or the London Stock Exchange, the Forex market is known as an 'Over-the-counter market' (or OTC). This means that the trades take place directly between the parties holding the currencies, rather than being managed via an exchange.
Forex, also known as foreign exchange, FX or currency trading, is a decentralized global market where all the world's currencies trade. The forex market is the largest, most liquid market in the world with an average daily trading volume exceeding $5 trillion. All the world's combined stock markets don't even come close to this. But what does that mean to you? Take a closer look at forex trading and you may find some exciting trading opportunities unavailable with other investments.
We will cover how you can start trading (including choosing the best broker and trading software), the fundamentals of risk management, the different ways you can analyse the Forex market, and an overview of the most popular trading strategies. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge you need to start testing your trading skills with a free Demo account, before you move onto a live account.
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Major Currency — currencies from the world’s most developed economies including Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia — represent the most heavily traded and liquid currency markets for any forex trader. A major currency pair is created when one of these currencies is traded against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the U.S. Dollar (EUR/USD) and the U.S. Dollar vs. the Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD). Their availability on a forex brokerage is essential.
This form of analysis involves look keeping track of real-world events that might influence the values of the financial instruments you want to trade. For instance, the value of the Australian Dollar might fluctuate following a Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate announcement, which will then affect the movements of all currency pairs including the AUD.
One has to adopt one or many strategies in order to minimise losses and maximise profits. As market conditions vary from day to day, so should a day trader's strategy. A successful day trader has to come up with a new strategy almost every other day, or at least adjust their existing strategy to the new market conditions. In order to day trade Forex successfully, a creative mind is needed.
Security: Will your funds and personal information be protected? A reputable Forex broker, and a good Forex trading platform will have measures in place to ensure the security of your information, along with the ability to backup all key account information. They will also segregate your funds from their own funds. If a broker cannot demonstrate the measures they will take to protect you and your account balance, it would be best to find another broker.
Currency and exchange were important elements of trade in the ancient world, enabling people to buy and sell items like food, pottery, and raw materials. If a Greek coin held more gold than an Egyptian coin due to its size or content, then a merchant could barter fewer Greek gold coins for more Egyptian ones, or for more material goods. This is why, at some point in their history, most world currencies in circulation today had a value fixed to a specific quantity of a recognized standard like silver and gold.
Forex brokers provide leverage up to 50:1 (more in some countries). For this example, assume the trader is using 30:1 leverage, as usually that is more than enough leverage for forex day traders. Since the trader has $5,000, and leverage is 30:1, the trader is able to take positions worth up to $150,000. Risk is still based on the original $5,000; this keeps the risk limited to a small portion of the deposited capital.
Governments / Central banks – A country’s central bank can play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They can cause an increase or decrease in the value of their nation’s currency by trying to control money supply, inflation, and (or) interest rates. They can use their substantial foreign exchange reserves to try and stabilize the market.
In a currency pair with a wider spread, such as the EURCZK, the currency will need to make a larger movement in order for the trade to become profitable. At the time of writing, the bid price for this pair is 25.4373, while the ask price is 25.4124, so the spread is 0.0200, or 20 pips. It's also not uncommon for this currency pair to have movements of less than 20 pips a day, meaning traders will likely need to perform a multi-day trade to make a profit.
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.
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.
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.
Forex banks, ECNs, and prime brokers offer NDF contracts, which are derivatives that have no real deliver-ability. NDFs are popular for currencies with restrictions such as the Argentinian peso. In fact, a forex hedger can only hedge such risks with NDFs, as currencies such as the Argentinian peso cannot be traded on open markets like major currencies.
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.
At the end of 1913, nearly half of the world's foreign exchange was conducted using the pound sterling. The number of foreign banks operating within the boundaries of London increased from 3 in 1860, to 71 in 1913. In 1902, there were just two London foreign exchange brokers. At the start of the 20th century, trades in currencies was most active in Paris, New York City and Berlin; Britain remained largely uninvolved until 1914. Between 1919 and 1922, the number of foreign exchange brokers in London increased to 17; and in 1924, there were 40 firms operating for the purposes of exchange.
To use Gold CFD as an example, at the time of writing, to purchase an ounce of Gold you would need to spend 1,200 USD. However, with a leverage rate of up to 1:20 (which means a trader could trade up to 20 times the value of what they deposit), a trader could trade on the full value of an ounce of gold (equivalent to 1,200 USD), for a deposit of just 60 USD.
Breakout trading refers to heavy and volatile price movement through support and resistance levels. Breakout trading is also a form of scalping, when trades are typically closed randomly or around the next pivot point. The previous day's high and low are two very important pivot points, for this is the definitive point wherein buyers or sellers come in the day before. Watch the market to either test and reverse off these points, or push through and show signs of continuation.
For traders—especially those with limited funds—day trading or swing trading in small amounts is easier in the forex market than other markets. For those with longer-term horizons and larger funds, long-term fundamentals-based trading or a carry trade can be profitable. A focus on understanding the macroeconomic fundamentals driving currency values and experience with technical analysis will help new forex traders to become more profitable.