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.
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Currencies are always traded in pairs, so the "value" of one of the currencies in that pair is relative to the value of the other. This determines how much of country A's currency country B can buy, and vice versa. Establishing this relationship (price) for the global markets is the main function of the foreign exchange market. This also greatly enhances liquidity in all other financial markets, which is key to overall stability.
Currency speculation is considered a highly suspect activity in many countries.[where?] While investment in traditional financial instruments like bonds or stocks often is considered to contribute positively to economic growth by providing capital, currency speculation does not; according to this view, it is simply gambling that often interferes with economic policy. For example, in 1992, currency speculation forced Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank, to raise interest rates for a few days to 500% per annum, and later to devalue the krona. Mahathir Mohamad, one of the former Prime Ministers of Malaysia, is one well-known proponent of this view. He blamed the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit in 1997 on George Soros and other speculators.
Foreign exchange market (forex, or FX, market), institution for the exchange of one country’s currency with that of another country. Foreign exchange markets are actually made up of many different markets, because the trade between individual currencies—say, the euro and the U.S. dollar—each constitutes a market. The foreign exchange markets are the original and oldest financial markets and remain the basis upon which the rest of the financial structure exists and is traded: foreign exchange markets provide international liquidity, preferably with relative stability.
There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: the spot market, the forwards market and the futures market. The forex trading in the spot market always has been the largest market because it is the "underlying" real asset that the forwards and futures markets are based on. In the past, the futures market was the most popular venue for traders because it was available to individual investors for a longer period of time. However, with the advent of electronic trading and numerous forex brokers, the spot market has witnessed a huge surge in activity and now surpasses the futures market as the preferred trading market for individual investors and speculators. When people refer to the forex market, they usually are referring to the spot market. The forwards and futures markets tend to be more popular with companies that need to hedge their foreign exchange risks out to a specific date in the future.