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). Of this $3.98 trillion, $1.5 trillion was spot transactions and $2.5 trillion was traded in outright forwards, swaps, and other derivatives.
Leveraged trading in foreign currency or off-exchange products on margin carries significant risk and may not be suitable for all investors. We advise you to carefully consider whether trading is appropriate for you based on your personal circumstances. Forex trading involves risk. Losses can exceed deposits. We recommend that you seek independent advice and ensure you fully understand the risks involved before trading.
For example, if Company A is based in the U.S. and wishes to use the EUR/USD trading pair to buy Euros to pay employees located in Europe, they would tap the forex market. However, if the price quote rapidly changes between several hours and Company A is set to exchange a large sum of USD for EUR, then a small adverse price fluctuation could have a significant impact on their bottom line.
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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.
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.
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.