The bare bones of foreign currency exchange trading are simple. You make money off exchanging one country’s money for another. However, exploiting those fluctuations or price movements requires both strategy and savvy. Signing up for online tutorials or in-person conferences will help you lay a base layer of knowledge on the forex market, but traders agree that true expertise is built on the job. Jump in to a demo or a real (small sum) account and start hitting buttons, pulling from vast online resources whenever you hit a snag or just a big, fat question mark.
The foreign exchange market – also called forex, FX, or currency market – was one of the original financial markets formed to bring structure to the burgeoning global economy. In terms of trading volume it is, by far, the largest financial market in the world. Aside from providing a venue for the buying, selling, exchanging and speculation of currencies, the forex market also enables currency conversion for international trade settlements and investments. According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is owned by central banks, trading in foreign exchange markets averaged $5.1 trillion per day in April 2016.
There is no unified or centrally cleared market for the majority of trades, and there is very little cross-border regulation. Due to the over-the-counter (OTC) nature of currency markets, there are rather a number of interconnected marketplaces, where different currencies instruments are traded. This implies that there is not a single exchange rate but rather a number of different rates (prices), depending on what bank or market maker is trading, and where it is. In practice, the rates are quite close due to arbitrage. Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. Major trading exchanges include Electronic Broking Services (EBS) and Thomson Reuters Dealing, while major banks also offer trading systems. A joint venture of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Reuters, called Fxmarketspace opened in 2007 and aspired but failed to the role of a central market clearing mechanism.
The most profitable forex strategy will require an effective money management system. One technique that many suggest is never trading more than 1-2% of your account on a single trade. So, if you have $10,000 in your account, you wouldn’t risk more than $100 to $200 on an individual trade. As a result, a temporary string of bad results won’t blow all your capital.
The most favorable trading time is the 8 AM to noon overlap, when both New York and London exchanges are open. These two trading centers account for more than 50% of all forex trades. On the flipside, from 5 PM to 6 PM EST, the only operation open for business is the Singapore exchange, which accounts for less than 10% of annual forex trading volume. But there an be exceptions. Political or military crises that develop during this hour, could potentially spike volatility and trading volume, making this window a favorable time to trade.
For instance, if we take a less active period between 5 pm – 7 pm EST, after New York closes and before Tokyo opens, Sydney will be open for trading but with more modest activity than the three major sessions (London, US, Tokyo). Consequently, less activity means less financial opportunity. If you want to trade currency pairs like EUR/USD, GBP/USD or USD/CHF you will find more activity between 8 am – 12 am when both Europe and the United States are active.
Both types of contracts are binding and are typically settled for cash for the exchange in question upon expiry, although contracts can also be bought and sold before they expire. The forwards and futures markets can offer protection against risk when trading currencies. Usually, big international corporations use these markets in order to hedge against future exchange rate fluctuations, but speculators take part in these markets as well.