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.
The Forex (FOReign EXchange) market appeared at the end of the 1970s after many countries decided to unpeg their currency value from that of the US dollar or gold. This led to the formation of an international market on which currency could be exchanged and traded freely. Today, Forex is the largest financial market in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live or even where you are right now; as long as you have access to the Internet, a trading terminal (a special program for trading Forex), and an account with a Forex broker, all the instruments and opportunities of Forex are available to you.
Both types of contracts are binding and are typically settled for cash for the exchange in question upon expiry, although contracts can also be bought and sold before they expire. The forwards and futures markets can offer protection against risk when trading currencies. Usually, big international corporations use these markets in order to hedge against future exchange rate fluctuations, but speculators take part in these markets as well.
Currencies are traded against one another in pairs. Each currency pair thus constitutes an individual trading product and is traditionally noted XXXYYY or XXX/YYY, where XXX and YYY are the ISO 4217 international three-letter code of the currencies involved. The first currency (XXX) is the base currency that is quoted relative to the second currency (YYY), called the counter currency (or quote currency). For instance, the quotation EURUSD (EUR/USD) 1.5465 is the price of the Euro expressed in US dollars, meaning 1 euro = 1.5465 dollars. The market convention is to quote most exchange rates against the USD with the US dollar as the base currency (e.g. USDJPY, USDCAD, USDCHF). The exceptions are the British pound (GBP), Australian dollar (AUD), the New Zealand dollar (NZD) and the euro (EUR) where the USD is the counter currency (e.g. GBPUSD, AUDUSD, NZDUSD, EURUSD).
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The foreign exchange market is an over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace that determines the exchange rate for global currencies. Participants are able to buy, sell, exchange and speculate on currencies. Foreign exchange markets are made up of banks, forex dealers, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, retail forex dealers and investors.
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An exchange rate can suffer rapid changes, sometimes several times a second, so there’s a lot of action going on 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. In general, the currency exchange rate reflects the health of an economy in comparison to others. If the economies of the Eurozone are doing better than the US economy, the euro will go up compared to the dollar (EUR/USD ↑) and vice-versa.
At FXCM, we strive to give you the best trading experience. We offer access to the global forex trading market, with intuitive platform options, including our award-winning Trading Station. We also provide forex education, so whether you're just getting started in the exciting world of forex trading, or you just want to sharpen the trading tools you've developed over the years, we're here to help. Our customer service team, one of the best in the industry, is available 24/5, wherever you are in the world.
Governments / Central banks – A country’s central bank can play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They can cause an increase or decrease in the value of their nation’s currency by trying to control money supply, inflation, and (or) interest rates. They can use their substantial foreign exchange reserves to try and stabilize the market.
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.
During the week the most active Forex trading days are: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Sundays (opening) and Mondays are days when traders are mostly watching and analyzing the market and predict further price moves. Fridays are traded approximately till noon, after that all actions slow down and almost freeze before the actual market closing at 5 pm EST.
High Risk Investment Notice: Trading Forex/CFDs on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors as you could sustain losses in excess of deposits. The products are intended for retail, professional and eligible counterparty clients. For clients who maintain account(s) with Forex Capital Markets Limited ("FXCM LTD"), retail clients could sustain a total loss of deposited funds but are not subject to subsequent payment obligations beyond the deposited funds and professional clients could sustain losses in excess of deposits. Prior to trading any products offered by FXCM LTD, inclusive of all EU branches, FXCM Australia Pty. Limited, FXCM South Africa (PTY) Ltd, any affiliates of aforementioned firms, or other firms within the FXCM group of companies [collectively the "FXCM Group"], carefully consider your financial situation and experience level. If you decide to trade products offered by FXCM Australia Pty. Limited ("FXCM AU") (AFSL 309763), you must read and understand the Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement, and Terms of Business. The FXCM Group may provide general commentary which is not intended as investment advice and must not be construed as such. Seek advice from a separate financial advisor. The FXCM Group assumes no liability for errors, inaccuracies or omissions; does not warrant the accuracy, completeness of information, text, graphics, links or other items contained within these materials. Read and understand the Terms and Conditions on the FXCM Group's websites prior to taking further action.