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.
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.
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National central banks play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They try to control the money supply, inflation, and/or interest rates and often have official or unofficial target rates for their currencies. They can use their often substantial foreign exchange reserves to stabilize the market. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of central bank "stabilizing speculation" is doubtful because central banks do not go bankrupt if they make large losses as other traders would. There is also no convincing evidence that they actually make a profit from trading.
"Buy the rumor, sell the fact": This market truism can apply to many currency situations. It is the tendency for the price of a currency to reflect the impact of a particular action before it occurs and, when the anticipated event comes to pass, react in exactly the opposite direction. This may also be referred to as a market being "oversold" or "overbought". To buy the rumor or sell the fact can also be an example of the cognitive bias known as anchoring, when investors focus too much on the relevance of outside events to currency prices.
Volatility is what keeps your trading activity moving. However, if you're not careful it can also completely destroy it. When volatile, the market moves sideways, which makes spreads grow and your orders slip. As a beginner Forex trader, you need to accept that once you are in the market, anything can potentially happen, and it can completely negate your strategy.
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.
Forex brokers provide clients with resources to understand market activity and make fast, informed choices. These resources should include third-party research, research reports, and market commentary, alongside venues for sharing knowledge (community forums) and receiving advice and confirmation (live chat, email, and phone support). Exceptional brokers also include access to historical data, so traders can back-test strategies before allocating real money. (Experimenting with virtual trading is also a good way of getting your feet wet.) Alongside research options, we wanted to see education: opportunities to learn more about forex trading and platform navigation via articles, videos, and webinars.
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.
Once a pattern emerges, this is known as a Forex indicator because it indicates that there is the potential to make a profitable trade. While there are a range of resources available online for learning about the best Forex indicators, your trading software should ideally have a range of built-in indicators that you can use for your trading, as is the case with MetaTrader 5's indicators. You can learn more about technical analysis in our Introduction to Technical Analysis article.
A swap trade involves both. Dealers buy a currency at today's price on the spot market and sell the same amount in the forward market. This way, they have just limited their risk in the future. No matter how much the currency falls, they will not lose more than the forward price. Meanwhile, they can invest the currency they bought on the spot market.
As mentioned earlier, in a long trade (also known as a buy trade), a trader will open a trade at the bid price, and will aim to close the trade at a higher price, making a profit on the difference between the opening and closing value of the currency pair. So if the EUR/USD bid price is 1.16667, and the trade closes at the price of 1.17568, the difference is 0.00901, or 90.1 pips. (When trading a single lot, that would make a 901 USD profit).
The EUR/USD pair is closing a second consecutive week with gains at around 1.1070, retreating from a high at 1.1109. A scarce macroeconomic calendar kept the pair in a dull range during the first half of the week, also the wait and see stance ahead of the ECB monetary policy decision on Thursday. One done, one to go, as the US Federal Reserve will be announcing its decision on monetary policy next Wednesday, September 18.
Scalping is a higher frequency form of trading, wherein traders focus on lower time frames, trying to profit from the market's volatility. Very often, traders make 15-30 scalps per day, whereas the profit is usually between 5-15 pips. The risk with scalping is usually 2-5% per trade, but bear in mind that if you cross 5% of your risk threshold, your account will be in a danger zone.
The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized or over-the-counter (OTC) market for the trading of currencies. This market determines foreign exchange rates for every currency. It includes all aspects of buying, selling and exchanging currencies at current or determined prices. In terms of trading volume, it is by far the largest market in the world, followed by the Credit market.
All exchange rates are susceptible to political instability and anticipations about the new ruling party. Political upheaval and instability can have a negative impact on a nation's economy. For example, destabilization of coalition governments in Pakistan and Thailand can negatively affect the value of their currencies. Similarly, in a country experiencing financial difficulties, the rise of a political faction that is perceived to be fiscally responsible can have the opposite effect. Also, events in one country in a region may spur positive/negative interest in a neighboring country and, in the process, affect its currency.
In 1944, the Bretton Woods Accord was signed, allowing currencies to fluctuate within a range of ±1% from the currency's par exchange rate. In Japan, the Foreign Exchange Bank Law was introduced in 1954. As a result, the Bank of Tokyo became the center of foreign exchange by September 1954. Between 1954 and 1959, Japanese law was changed to allow foreign exchange dealings in many more Western currencies.
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.
International parity conditions: Relative purchasing power parity, interest rate parity, Domestic Fisher effect, International Fisher effect. Though to some extent the above theories provide logical explanation for the fluctuations in exchange rates, yet these theories falter as they are based on challengeable assumptions [e.g., free flow of goods, services and capital] which seldom hold true in the real world.
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.
In this view, countries may develop unsustainable economic bubbles or otherwise mishandle their national economies, and foreign exchange speculators made the inevitable collapse happen sooner. A relatively quick collapse might even be preferable to continued economic mishandling, followed by an eventual, larger, collapse. Mahathir Mohamad and other critics of speculation are viewed as trying to deflect the blame from themselves for having caused the unsustainable economic conditions.
A single pound on Monday could get you 1.19 euros. On Tuesday, 1.20 euros. This tiny change may not seem like a big deal. But think of it on a bigger scale. A large international company may need to pay overseas employees. Imagine what that could do to the bottom line if, like in the example above, simply exchanging one currency for another costs you more depending on when you do it? These few pennies add up quickly. In both cases, you—as a traveler or a business owner—may want to hold your money until the forex exchange rate is more favorable.