The forex market is the market in which participants can buy, sell, exchange, and speculate on currencies. The forex market is made up of banks, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, and retail forex brokers and investors. The currency market is considered to be the largest financial market with over $5 trillion in daily transactions, which is more than the futures and equity markets combined.
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
The Forex (FOReign EXchange) market appeared at the end of the 1970s after many countries decided to unpeg their currency value from that of the US dollar or gold. This led to the formation of an international market on which currency could be exchanged and traded freely. Today, Forex is the largest financial market in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live or even where you are right now; as long as you have access to the Internet, a trading terminal (a special program for trading Forex), and an account with a Forex broker, all the instruments and opportunities of Forex are available to you.
The forex market is available for trading 24 hours a day, five and one-half days per week. The Forex Market Time Converter displays "Open" or "Closed" in the Status column to indicate the current state of each global Market Center. However, just because you can trade the market any time of the day or night doesn't necessarily mean that you should. Most successful day traders understand that more trades are successful if conducted when market activity is high and that it is best to avoid times when trading is light.
It should be noted that there is no central marketplace for the Forex market; trading is instead said to be conducted ‘over the counter’; it’s not like stocks where there is a central marketplace with all orders processed like the NYSE. Forex is a product quoted by all the major banks, and not all banks will have the exact same price. Now, the broker platforms take all theses feeds from the different banks and the quotes we see from our broker are an approximate average of them. It’s the broker who is effectively transacting the trade and taking the other side of it…they ‘make the market’ for you. When you buy a currency pair…your broker is selling it to you, not ‘another trader’.
Foreign Exchange trading, also known as Forex or FX trading, has gained enormous popularity in recent years among layman individuals due to the growth of online brokers and the technological development of online trading platforms. With high liquidity, non-stop opening hours 5 days a week, and great opportunities, it is no wonder that the forex market is the world’s most traded market with a daily trading volume of $5 trillion USD.
Forex trading as it relates to retail traders (like you and I) is the speculation on the price of one currency against another. For example, if you think the euro is going to rise against the U.S. dollar, you can buy the EURUSD currency pair low and then (hopefully) sell it at a higher price to make a profit. Of course, if you buy the euro against the dollar (EURUSD), and the U.S. dollar strengthens, you will then be in a losing position. So, it’s important to be aware of the risk involved in trading Forex, and not only the reward.
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.