The Forex market, also known as the foreign exchange market or FX, is the market in which currencies are traded. This financial market is the largest and most liquid in the world. Trading is open 24 hours a day, five days a week. To demonstrate the enormity of its volume, the New York Stock Exchange handles approximately $169 billion worth of transactions a day, while the Forex market sees over $5 trillion worth of transactions a day!
Foreign exchange trading increased by 20% between April 2007 and April 2010 and has more than doubled since 2004. The increase in turnover is due to a number of factors: the growing importance of foreign exchange as an asset class, the increased trading activity of high-frequency traders, and the emergence of retail investors as an important market segment. The growth of electronic execution and the diverse selection of execution venues has lowered transaction costs, increased market liquidity, and attracted greater participation from many customer types. In particular, electronic trading via online portals has made it easier for retail traders to trade in the foreign exchange market. By 2010, retail trading was estimated to account for up to 10% of spot turnover, or $150 billion per day (see below: Retail foreign exchange traders).
The sheer size of the forex, or foreign exchange, market dominates all others — even the stock market. Every payment that crosses currencies contributes to its fluctuations and momentum. And without a centralized marketplace, forex activity buzzes practically without cease, with traders waking up and doing business everywhere, in every time zone. To get a piece of the action, you need a forex brokerage with best-in-class technology and stellar support.
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.
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The spread for EUR/GBP rises to 0.8532-0.8533 and you decide to sell your euros back into pounds at the bid price of 0.8532. The €10,000 you previously bought is now therefore sold for £8532. Your profit on this transaction is £8532 minus the original cost of buying the euros (£8415) which is £117. Note that your profit is always determined in the second currency of the forex pair.
The forex market is the largest market in the world with an average trading value over $5 trillion per day. It has no centralized marketplace where transactions are conducted. Forex trading is carried out electronically over-the-counter (OTC), meaning that all trading transactions are performed via computer by traders and other market participants over the world.
Meanwhile, daily interbank settlements are also a mover of these markets as forex or broker-dealers, such as banks, are amongst the biggest participants in the forex market. Since these dealers interact with each other, this market is referred to as the interbank market. Large corporations, including exporters and importers, will also use the FX market to hedge currency exposure in order to prevent losses due to the fluctuating value of currencies.
This really depends on how you intend to trade, whether you use leverage and to what level and how much capital you decide to risk. You could start by investing $50, or $50,000 – the sky is the limit. However, you should remember that increasing the amount of leverage also increases the level of risk you’re exposed to. Ultimately, trading boils down to a trader’s psychological tolerance and management of risk. Skilled traders are able to minimise risk and maximise profit through careful market analysis, developing an effective trading strategy and money management rules.
The need to exchange currencies is the primary reason why the forex market is the largest, most liquid financial market in the world. It dwarfs other markets in size, even the stock market, with an average traded value of around U.S. $2,000 billion per day. (The total volume changes all the time, but as of August 2012, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) reported that the forex market traded in excess of U.S. $4.9 trillion per day.)