Forex Trading: a Beginner’s Guide

The forex market is the world’s largest international currency trading market operating non-stop during the working week. Most forex trading is done by professionals such as bankers. Generally forex trading is done through a forex broker – but there is nothing to stop anyone trading currencies. Forex currency trading allows buyers and sellers to buy the currency they need for their business and sellers who have earned currency to exchange what they have for a more convenient currency. The world’s largest banks dominate forex and according to a survey in The Wall Street Journal Europe, the ten most active traders who are engaged in forex trading account for almost 73% of trading volume.

However, a sizeable proportion of the remainder of forex trading is speculative with traders building up an investment which they wish to liquidate at some stage for profit. While a currency may increase or decrease in value relative to a wide range of currencies, all forex trading transactions are based upon currency pairs. So, although the Euro may be ‘strong’ against a basket of currencies, traders will be trading in just one currency pair and may simply concern themselves with the Euro/US Dollar ( EUR/USD) ratio. Changes in relative values of currencies may be gradual or triggered by specific events such as are unfolding at the time of writing this – the toxic debt crisis.

Because the markets for currencies are global, the volumes traded every day are vast. For the large corporate investors, the great benefits of trading on Forex are:

  • Enormous liquidity – over $4 trillion per day, that’s $4,000,000,000. This means that there’s always someone ready to trade with you
  • Every one of the world’s free currencies are traded – this means that you may trade the currency you want at any time
  • Twenty four – hour trading during the 5-day working week
  • Operations are global which mean that you can trade with any part of the world at any time

From the point of view of the smaller trader there’s lots of benefits too, such as:

  • A rapidly-changing market – that’s one which is always changing and offering the chance to make money
  • Very well developed mechanisms for controlling risk
  • Ability to go long or short – this means that you can make money either in rising or falling markets
  • Leverage trading – meaning that you can benefit from large-volume trading while having a relatively-low capital base
  • Lots of options for zero-commission trading

How the forex Market Works

As forex is all about foreign exchange, Fx trading course all transactions are made up from a currency pair – say, for instance, the Euro and the US Dollar. The basic tool for trading forex is the exchange rate which is expressed as a ratio between the values of the two currencies such as EUR/USD = 1.4086. This value, which is referred to as the ‘forex rate’ means that, at that particular time, one Euro would be worth 1.4086 US Dollars. This ratio is always expressed to 4 decimal places which means that you could see a forex rate of EUR/USD = 1.4086 or EUR/USD = 1.4087 but never EUR/USD = 1.40865. The rightmost digit of this ratio is referred to as a ‘pip’. So, a change from EUR/USD = 1.4086 to EUR/USD = 1.4088 would be referred to as a change of 2 pips. One pip, therefore is the smallest unit of trade.

With the forex rate at EUR/USD = 1.4086, an investor purchasing 1000 Euros using dollars would pay $1,408.60. If the forex rate then changed to EUR/USD = 1.5020, the investor could sell their 1000 Euros for $1,502.00 and bank the $93.40 as profit. If this doesn’t seem to be large amount to you, you have to put the sum into context. With a rising or falling market, the forex rate does not simply change in a uniform way but oscillates and profits can be taken many times per day as a rate oscillates around a trend.

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