If the velocity of your trades necessitates low fees, know that you will be sacrificing some educational resources in favor of a streamlined system designed for the pros. You’ll be jumping in with both feet. On the other hand, a low minimum account typically comes with the educational resources and communication channels required by new forex investors. The identity of different brokerages rest on the type of investors they aim to appeal to. Choose accordingly.
Forex trading scams are a concern for even the savviest investor. Foreign exchange fraud has been on a rise for the best couple decades, leading the Commodities Futures Trading Commision and other agencies to deploy task forces analyzing and curtailing schemes. The ingenuity of fraudulent schemes, whether they’re based on phony software or creating fake accounts, increases, but their telltale signs remain largely the same. Steer clear of forex brokerages promising sure wins, fast results, or secret formulas for success. The market has proved time and again that there are no shortcuts. Scammers bank on the human propensity to believe otherwise.
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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).
Forex pairs trade in 1000, 10,000 and 100,000 units, called micro, mini and standard lots. When starting out in forex day trading it's recommended traders open a micro lot account. Trading micro lots allows for more flexibility so risk remains below 1% of the account on each trade. For example, a micro-lot trader can buy $6,000 worth of currency, or $14,000, or $238,000 but if they open a mini lot account they can only trade in increments of $10,000, so $10,000, $20,000, etc. If trading standard lots, a trader can only take positions of $100,000, $200,000, etc.
Non-bank foreign exchange companies offer currency exchange and international payments to private individuals and companies. These are also known as "foreign exchange brokers" but are distinct in that they do not offer speculative trading but rather currency exchange with payments (i.e., there is usually a physical delivery of currency to a bank account).
Foreign exchange fixing is the daily monetary exchange rate fixed by the national bank of each country. The idea is that central banks use the fixing time and exchange rate to evaluate the behavior of their currency. Fixing exchange rates reflect the real value of equilibrium in the market. Banks, dealers, and traders use fixing rates as a market trend indicator.
The Forex market is the largest financial market on Earth. Its average daily trading volume is more than $3.2 trillion. Compare that with the New York Stock Exchange, which only has an average daily trading volume of $55 billion. In fact, if you were to put ALL of the world's equity and futures markets together, their combined trading volume would only equal a QUARTER of the Forex market. Why is size important? Because there are so many buyers and sellers that transaction prices are kept low. If you're wondering how trading the Forex market is different then trading stocks, here are a few major benefits.
The spot market is where currencies are bought and sold at their current market price. The prices of currencies fluctuate consistently, many times by only a tiny fraction of their current value. A mixture of economic, political, and supply/demand affect the price of currencies, and markets are exceptionally liquid for primary trading pairs around the world.
Just like stocks, you can trade currency based on what you think its value is (or where it's headed). But the big difference with forex is that you can trade up or down just as easily. If you think a currency will increase in value, you can buy it. If you think it will decrease, you can sell it. With a market this large, finding a buyer when you're selling and a seller when you're buying is much easier than in in other markets. Maybe you hear on the news that China is devaluing its currency to draw more foreign business into its country. If you think that trend will continue, you could make a forex trade by selling the Chinese currency against another currency, say, the US dollar. The more the Chinese currency devalues against the US dollar, the higher your profits. If the Chinese currency increases in value while you have your sell position open, then your losses increase and you want to get out of the trade.