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.
The quality of the trading tools a Forex broker offers can make a big difference to your trading experience. In most cases, the available tools will depend on the trading platform (or platforms) being used. For instance, Admiral Markets offers trading through the state of the art MetaTrader 4 & 5 Supreme Edition plugin, which include a range of custom tools and add-ons to improve your trading experience.
^ 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.
For example, if you invested 5,000 EUR and lost 1,000 EUR, you will have lost 20% of your balance, leaving you with a final balance of 4,000 EUR. To bring your balance back to 5,000 EUR, you will need to make a profit of 1,000 EUR. However, with a starting balance of 4,000 EUR (after the previous loss), there is now a 25% gain, rather than a 20% one.
Finally, consider whether the Forex broker offers education and support. Ongoing education is essential to a Forex trader's development and achieving the best results. This is why Admiral Markets offers a range of free articles and tutorials, webinars and online courses, including Forex 101 and Zero to Hero. In addition to educational content and materials, it's also important to consider the availability of support, so you can get your questions answered, and any potential issues dealt with.
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.
Unlike a stock market, the foreign exchange market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the interbank foreign exchange market, which is made up of the largest commercial banks and securities dealers. Within the interbank market, spreads, which are the difference between the bid and ask prices, are razor sharp and not known to players outside the inner circle. The difference between the bid and ask prices widens (for example from 0 to 1 pip to 1–2 pips for currencies such as the EUR) as you go down the levels of access. This is due to volume. If a trader can guarantee large numbers of transactions for large amounts, they can demand a smaller difference between the bid and ask price, which is referred to as a better spread. The levels of access that make up the foreign exchange market are determined by the size of the "line" (the amount of money with which they are trading). The top-tier interbank market accounts for 51% of all transactions. From there, smaller banks, followed by large multi-national corporations (which need to hedge risk and pay employees in different countries), large hedge funds, and even some of the retail market makers. According to Galati and Melvin, “Pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other institutional investors have played an increasingly important role in financial markets in general, and in FX markets in particular, since the early 2000s.” (2004) In addition, he notes, “Hedge funds have grown markedly over the 2001–2004 period in terms of both number and overall size”. Central banks also participate in the foreign exchange market to align currencies to their economic needs.