The foreign exchange ("forex" or "FX") currency market is not traded on a regulated exchange like stocks and commodities. Rather, the market consists of a network of financial institutions and retail trading brokers which each have their own individual hours of operation. Since most participants trade between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. in their local time zone, these times are used as the market open and close times, respectively.
Consider this: large volumes of forex are traded in the markets due to the necessity of currency exchange required in international trade. Large institutions may need to settle accounts in a cross-border manner quite frequently. As an example, an American company, looking to pay its German division, will need to pay them in euros. This means a forex transaction will be completed, and will likely influence the EUR/USD pair, even if only slightly.
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 .
More specifically, the spot market is where currencies are bought and sold according to the current price. That price, determined by supply and demand, is a reflection of many things, including current interest rates, economic performance, sentiment towards ongoing political situations (both locally and internationally), as well as the perception of the future performance of one currency against another. When a deal is finalized, this is known as a "spot deal". It is a bilateral transaction by which one party delivers an agreed-upon currency amount to the counter party and receives a specified amount of another currency at the agreed-upon exchange rate value. After a position is closed, the settlement is in cash. Although the spot market is commonly known as one that deals with transactions in the present (rather than the future), these trades actually take two days for settlement.
Major Currency — currencies from the world’s most developed economies including Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia — represent the most heavily traded and liquid currency markets for any forex trader. A major currency pair is created when one of these currencies is traded against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the U.S. Dollar (EUR/USD) and the U.S. Dollar vs. the Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD). Their availability on a forex brokerage is essential.
Before the Internet revolution only large players such as international banks, hedge funds and extremely wealthy individuals could participate. Now retail traders can buy, sell and speculate on currencies from the comfort of their homes with a mouse click through online brokerage accounts. There are many tradable currency pairs and an average online broker has about 40. One of our most popular chats is the Forex chat where traders talk in real-time about where the market is going.
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.)