High Risk Warning: Forex, Futures, and Options trading has large potential rewards, but also large potential risks. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. You must be aware of the risks of investing in forex, futures, and options and be willing to accept them in order to trade in these markets. Forex trading involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for all investors. Please do not trade with borrowed money or money you cannot afford to lose. Any opinions, news, research, analysis, prices, or other information contained on this website is provided as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. We will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to, any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of or reliance on such information. Please remember that the past performance of any trading system or methodology is not necessarily indicative of future results.


Forex, or the foreign exchange market (also called FX for short) is the marketplace where currencies are traded. At its simplest, a foreign exchange transaction might be, for example, when you transfer your local currency to a new one for an upcoming holiday. Across the market as a whole, an estimated 5.3 billion USD is traded every day between governments, banks, corporations, and speculators.
The term CFD stands for 'Contract For Difference', and it is a contract used to represent the movement in the prices of financial instruments. In terms of Forex, this means that rather than purchasing and selling large amounts of currency, you can profit on price movements without owning the asset itself. Along with Forex, CFDs are also available on shares, indices, bonds, commodities and cryptocurrencies. In every case, they allow you to trade on the price movements of these instruments without having to purchase them.

A foreign exchange option (commonly shortened to just FX option) is a derivative where the owner has the right but not the obligation to exchange money denominated in one currency into another currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate on a specified date. The FX options market is the deepest, largest and most liquid market for options of any kind in the world.
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.
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.

At the end of 1913, nearly half of the world's foreign exchange was conducted using the pound sterling.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]
Investors – Investment firms who manage large portfolios for their clients use the Fx market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager controlling an international equity portfolio needs to use the Forex market to purchase and sell several currency pairs in order to pay for foreign securities they want to purchase.
The foreign exchange market assists international trade and investments by enabling currency conversion. For example, it permits a business in the United States to import goods from European Union member states, especially Eurozone members, and pay Euros, even though its income is in United States dollars. It also supports direct speculation and evaluation relative to the value of currencies and the carry trade speculation, based on the differential interest rate between two currencies.[2]

Risk/reward signifies how much capital is being risked to attain a certain profit. If a trader loses 10 pips on losing trades but makes 15 on winning trades, she is making more on the winners than she's losing on losers. This means that even if the trader only wins 50% of her trades, she will be profitable. Therefore, making more on winning trades is also a strategic component for which many forex day traders strive.
Along with being able to access a wide range of financial markets, another benefit of trading CFDs is that a trader can access a much larger portion of those markets, and increase their potential profits as a result. CFD contracts provide leveraged access to the market, meaning a trader can access a much larger portion of the market than what they would be able to purchase outright.
Currency trading was very difficult for individual investors prior to the internet. Most currency traders were large multinational corporations, hedge funds or high-net-worth individuals because forex trading required a lot of capital. With help from the internet, a retail market aimed at individual traders has emerged, providing easy access to the foreign exchange markets, either through the banks themselves or brokers making a secondary market. Most online brokers or dealers offer very high leverage to individual traders who can control a large trade with a small account balance.
^ 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.
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.
For example – the rate you find for GBP/USD represents the number of US dollars one British pound will buy you. So, if you have reason to believe the pound will increase in value versus the US dollar, you’d look to purchase pounds with US dollars. However, if the exchange rate climbs, you’d sell your pounds back and make a profit. Likewise with Euros, Yen etc
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Forex day trading is usually used in order to eliminate the need to pay fees for keeping a position overnight. These fees are referred to as 'Swaps'. In some cases, the swaps could be positive, and a trading strategy based on acquiring assets with positive swaps is referred to as a 'Carry Trade', however this strategy is beyond the scope of this article. Day traders hold a lot of importance for the Forex 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.
OANDA doesn’t provide any products to American investors besides forex. In some ways, the clarity and concentration of a forex focus is ideal for all types of forex investors. The inexperienced can set their sights on mastering one corner of the market. The seasoned can take advantage of a trading platform that’s designed to manage nothing but forex. That said, if being able to diversify your interests while staying within the same brokerage is important to you, check out thinkorswim or Ally Invest.
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.
The value of a country's currency depends on whether it is a "free float" or "fixed float". Free floating currencies are those whose relative value is determined by free market forces, such as supply / demand relationships. A fixed float is where a country's governing body sets its currency's relative value to other currencies, often by pegging it to some standard. Free floating currencies include the U.S. Dollar, Japanese Yen and British Pound, while examples of fixed floating currencies include the Chinese Yuan and the Indian Rupee.
Decide how you will finance your trading in advance: Only one kind of money is good for investing, and that's the kind that you are willing to lose, and preferably without damaging your physical and/or mental wellbeing in the process. Every profitable trader is profitable in their own way, while every loser experiences losses exactly the same way. Remember, use every available opportunity to learn. It's a never-ending process!
The term CFD stands for 'Contract For Difference', and it is a contract used to represent the movement in the prices of financial instruments. In terms of Forex, this means that rather than purchasing and selling large amounts of currency, you can profit on price movements without owning the asset itself. Along with Forex, CFDs are also available on shares, indices, bonds, commodities and cryptocurrencies. In every case, they allow you to trade on the price movements of these instruments without having to purchase them.
During the 1920s, the Kleinwort family were known as the leaders of the foreign exchange market, while Japheth, Montagu & Co. and Seligman still warrant recognition as significant FX traders.[27] The trade in London began to resemble its modern manifestation. By 1928, Forex trade was integral to the financial functioning of the city. Continental exchange controls, plus other factors in Europe and Latin America, hampered any attempt at wholesale prosperity from trade[clarification needed] for those of 1930s London.[28]
The Forex martingale strategy: The martingale strategy is a trading strategy whereby, for every losing trade, you double the investment made in future trades in order to recover your losses, as soon as you make a successful trade. For instance, if you invest 1 EUR on your first trade and lose, on the next trade you would invest 2 EUR, then 4 EUR , then 8 EUR and so on. Please note that this strategy is extremely risky by nature and not suitable for beginners!
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.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.


The practice of taking on excessive risk does not equal excessive returns. Almost all traders who risk large amounts of capital on single trades will eventually lose in the long run. A common rule is that a trader should risk (in terms of the difference between entry and stop price) no more than 1% of capital on any single trade. Professional traders will often risk far less than 1% of capital.

In every part of life, discipline is important, but neglecting discipline in day trading may potentially result in huge losses. Success without discipline is practically impossible. You need to be able to monitor prices for extended periods of time without making any rash trading decisions. This is hard and requires lots of discipline. Sometimes seeing profitable market moves that you have predicted but did not execute is painful, yet it is better to waste an opportunity, than to guarantee a loss.

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.
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.

The main participants in this market are the larger international banks. Financial centers around the world function as anchors of trading between a wide range of multiple types of buyers and sellers around the clock, with the exception of weekends. Since currencies are always traded in pairs, the foreign exchange market does not set a currency's absolute value but rather determines its relative value by setting the market price of one currency if paid for with another. Ex: US$1 is worth X CAD, or CHF, or JPY, etc.
Knowing how the industry is mapped out is important, because the collective combination of all participants creates the market you trade in. The relative weight of the trading party to the market is measured by how much money that party manages – from billion dollar hedge funds and investment banks, to private traders with a few thousand dollars in action.
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.
These cover the bulk of countries outside Europe. Forex brokers catering for India, Hong Kong, Qatar etc are likely to have regulation in one of the above, rather than every country they support. Some brands are regulated across the globe (one is even regulated in 5 continents). Some bodies issue licenses, and others have a register of legal firms.
Set your limits in advance: Before embarking on any Forex trade, you should have defined the price at which you'll open the trade, the price at which you will close it and take your profits, and the price at which you will close it, should the market turn unexpectedly, thereby cutting your losses. Then, once you have set those limits, it's important to stick with them!
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OANDA doesn’t provide any products to American investors besides forex. In some ways, the clarity and concentration of a forex focus is ideal for all types of forex investors. The inexperienced can set their sights on mastering one corner of the market. The seasoned can take advantage of a trading platform that’s designed to manage nothing but forex. That said, if being able to diversify your interests while staying within the same brokerage is important to you, check out thinkorswim or Ally Invest.
Currencies are traded as pairs, and the movement of currency pairs measure the value of one currency against another. For instance, the EURUSD currency pair measures the value of the Euro against the US dollar. When the value of the pair increases, this means the value of the Euro has increased against the value of the US dollar. When the value of the pair decreases, this means the value of the US dollar has increased (or the value of the Euro has fallen).

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.
The foreign exchange market is an over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace that determines the exchange rate for global currencies. Participants are able to buy, sell, exchange and speculate on currencies. Foreign exchange markets are made up of banks, forex dealers, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, retail forex dealers and investors.
The term CFD stands for 'Contract For Difference', and it is a contract used to represent the movement in the prices of financial instruments. In terms of Forex, this means that rather than purchasing and selling large amounts of currency, you can profit on price movements without owning the asset itself. Along with Forex, CFDs are also available on shares, indices, bonds, commodities and cryptocurrencies. In every case, they allow you to trade on the price movements of these instruments without having to purchase them.

To use an extreme example, imagine holding an account balance of 2,000 EUR and putting all of that on a single trade. If the trade goes badly, you will have lost your entire investment, and because the Forex market can move very quickly, losses can also happen very quickly. This is where risk management is essential - to help you minimise losses and protect any profits you do make. The key areas to consider when managing your Forex trading risk are trading psychology, and money management.


Just like stocks, you can trade currency based on what you think its value is (or where it's headed). But the big difference with forex is that you can trade up or down just as easily. If you think a currency will increase in value, you can buy it. If you think it will decrease, you can sell it. With a market this large, finding a buyer when you're selling and a seller when you're buying is much easier than in in other markets. Maybe you hear on the news that China is devaluing its currency to draw more foreign business into its country. If you think that trend will continue, you could make a forex trade by selling the Chinese currency against another currency, say, the US dollar. The more the Chinese currency devalues against the US dollar, the higher your profits. If the Chinese currency increases in value while you have your sell position open, then your losses increase and you want to get out of the trade.
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