The foreign exchange market is the most liquid financial market in the world. Traders include governments and central banks, commercial banks, other institutional investors and financial institutions, currency speculators, other commercial corporations, and individuals. According to the 2010 Triennial Central Bank Survey, coordinated by the Bank for International Settlements, average daily turnover was $3.98 trillion in April 2010 (compared to $1.7 trillion in 1998).[57] Of this $3.98 trillion, $1.5 trillion was spot transactions and $2.5 trillion was traded in outright forwards, swaps, and other derivatives.
Futures, foreign currency and options trading contains substantial risk and is not for every investor. An investor could potentially lose all or more than the initial investment. Risk capital is money that can be lost without jeopardizing ones financial security or lifestyle. Only risk capital should be used for trading and only those with sufficient risk capital should consider trading. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. View Full Risk Disclosure.
We gathered a list of 65 forex trading brokers and narrowed it down to the best five by analyzing research features, customizability options, and trading platforms. While introductory incentives (special offers, free demos, referral programs) can make brokerages attractive for the short term, we looked for standard practices that keep you happily trading for the long term. Responsive client support, for example, earned a company more points than first-time perks.
There are three primary forex markets — spot, forwards, and futures markets. The spot market is by far the most popular, and consists of the real asset that both the futures and forwards markets are based on. Forex market participants range from international banks to enterprises that deal in various countries who are looking to hedge risk on the exchange rates they use for dealing in multiple currencies.

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.


Foreign exchange trading increased by 20% between April 2007 and April 2010 and has more than doubled since 2004.[61] 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).


Leveraged trading in foreign currency contracts or other off-exchange products on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. We advise you to carefully consider whether trading is appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. You may lose more than you invest (except for OANDA Europe Ltd customers who have negative balance protection). Information on this website is general in nature. We recommend that you seek independent financial advice and ensure you fully understand the risks involved before trading. Trading through an online platform carries additional risks. Refer to our legal section here.
National central banks play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They try to control the money supply, inflation, and/or interest rates and often have official or unofficial target rates for their currencies. They can use their often substantial foreign exchange reserves to stabilize the market. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of central bank "stabilizing speculation" is doubtful because central banks do not go bankrupt if they make large losses as other traders would. There is also no convincing evidence that they actually make a profit from trading.
Forex trading beginners in particular, may be interested in the tutorials offered by a brand. These can be in the form of e-books, pdf documents, live webinars, expert advisors (ea), courses or a full academy program – whatever the source, it is worth judging the quality before opening an account. Bear in mind forex companies want you to trade, so will encourage trading frequently.
Unlike stocks, forex trades have low, if any, commissions and fees. Even so, new forex traders are always advised to take a conservative approach and use orders, like stop-loss, to minimize losses. High leverage, which should be prudently applied, gives traders the opportunity to achieve dramatic results with far less capital than necessary for other markets. Forex trading requires training and strategy, but can be a profitable field for individuals looking for a lower risk endeavor. Learning currency trading gives traders a range of exciting new opportunities to invest in.
Turnover of exchange-traded foreign exchange futures and options has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $166 billion in April 2010 (double the turnover recorded in April 2007). As of April 2016, exchange-traded currency derivatives represent 2% of OTC foreign exchange turnover. Foreign exchange futures contracts were introduced in 1972 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and are traded more than to most other futures contracts.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, the preliminary global results from the 2016 Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and OTC Derivatives Markets Activity show that trading in foreign exchange markets averaged $5.09 trillion per day in April 2016. This is down from $5.4 trillion in April 2013 but up from $4.0 trillion in April 2010. Measured by value, foreign exchange swaps were traded more than any other instrument in April 2016, at $2.4 trillion per day, followed by spot trading at $1.7 trillion.[3]
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.

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.
There is no minimum deposit or minimum balance required to open an OANDA account for forex trading. You only need make sure to have enough equity to open positions of sizes you are comfortable with including margin requirements. You can calculate the margin required when you open a position in a currency pair using the OANDA Forex Margin Calculator .
Most developed countries permit the trading of derivative products (such as futures and options on futures) on their exchanges. All these developed countries already have fully convertible capital accounts. Some governments of emerging markets do not allow foreign exchange derivative products on their exchanges because they have capital controls. The use of derivatives is growing in many emerging economies.[60] Countries such as South Korea, South Africa, and India have established currency futures exchanges, despite having some capital controls.
Either way you don’t have to provide the full currency value to open your position. Instead you put down a margin deposit, which is a fraction of the full value. And you don’t actually buy or sell any currency: you are opening a speculative position on the change in value of the forex pair. Your profit or loss is realised when you close your position by selling or buying.

The foreign exchange market is the "place" where currencies are traded. Currencies are important to most people around the world, whether they realize it or not, because currencies need to be exchanged in order to conduct foreign trade and business. If you are living in the U.S. and want to buy cheese from France, either you or the company that you buy the cheese from has to pay the French for the cheese in euros (EUR). This means that the U.S. importer would have to exchange the equivalent value of U.S. dollars (USD) into euros. The same goes for traveling. A French tourist in Egypt can't pay in euros to see the pyramids because it's not the locally accepted currency. As such, the tourist has to exchange the euros for the local currency, in this case the Egyptian pound, at the current exchange rate.
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