Cross Currency Pairs signifies secondary currencies traded against each other and not against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the Japanese Yen (EUR/JPY) or the British Pound vs. Swiss Franc (GBP/CHF). Most reputable brokers offer this category of trades, and it’s especially important for a forex trading account denominated in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, or for more advanced traders capitalizing on discrepancies between other economies.
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.
In all cases, to make a meaningful description of trading hours worldwide, the opening and closing times at each location worldwide need to be presented with a common base reference time. In this article, for instance, the data is referenced to GMT. In other articles with a United States orientation, however, the common base reference time often used is Eastern Standard Time. It isn't wrong, but it's a little confusing for readers who don't distinguish between GMT and EST --something few persons other than forex traders and airline personnel need to deal with on a regular basis.
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.
In the futures market, futures contracts are bought and sold based upon a standard size and settlement date on public commodities markets, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In the U.S., the National Futures Association regulates the futures market. Futures contracts have specific details, including the number of units being traded, delivery and settlement dates, and minimum price increments that cannot be customized. The exchange acts as a counterpart to the trader, providing clearance and settlement.
The foreign exchange market may be left unregulated by governments, with EXCHANGE RATES between currencies being determined by the free interplay of the forces of demand and supply (see FLOATING EXCHANGE RATE SYSTEM), or they may be subjected to support-buying and selling by countries’ CENTRAL BANKS in order to fix them at particular rates. See FIXED EXCHANGE RATE SYSTEM, TOBIN TAX.
In the context of the foreign exchange market, traders liquidate their positions in various currencies to take up positions in safe-haven currencies, such as the US dollar. Sometimes, the choice of a safe haven currency is more of a choice based on prevailing sentiments rather than one of economic statistics. An example would be the financial crisis of 2008. The value of equities across the world fell while the US dollar strengthened (see Fig.1). This happened despite the strong focus of the crisis in the US.
There are a number of main-players in the Forex market, including central banks, commercial banks, and investment banks. This is known as the interbank market, as they constantly deal with each other on behalf of themselves or their customers. There are a number of other participants in the foreign exchange market, however, which also includes large multinational corporations, global money managers, registered dealers, international money brokers, futures and options traders and individual investors.
One unique aspect of this international market is that there is no central marketplace for foreign exchange. Rather, currency trading is conducted electronically over-the-counter (OTC), which means that all transactions occur via computer networks between traders around the world, rather than on one centralized exchange. The market is open 24 hours a day, five and a half days a week, and currencies are traded worldwide in the major financial centers of London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and Sydney - across almost every time zone. This means that when the trading day in the U.S. ends, the forex market begins anew in Tokyo and Hong Kong. As such, the forex market can be extremely active any time of the day, with price quotes changing constantly.