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The Forex market, also known as the foreign exchange market or FX, is the market in which currencies are traded. This financial market is the largest and most liquid in the world. Trading is open 24 hours a day, five days a week. To demonstrate the enormity of its volume, the New York Stock Exchange handles approximately $169 billion worth of transactions a day, while the Forex market sees over $5 trillion worth of transactions a day!
There are many factors that can impact – or potentially impact – currency market prices. Such factors include economic and political events and announcements, interest rates, inflation levels and natural disasters – among others. There’s no sure-fire way to predict price movements, but some handy hints can be gleaned through the analytical techniques implemented and shared by trading analysts.
JPMorgan Chase got financial earnings off to a good start today, easily beating expectations when they announced this morning. Their stock is up $5 or 4.7% at 111.255%. Does their momentum translate for the other financials next week? We will see as a number of Financials including Citi, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Amerian express release next week.
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.
In July 1944, representatives from the Allied nations brought forward the importance of a monetary system which would fill the gap left behind the gold standard. They arranged a meeting at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to set up a system that would be called the Bretton Woods system of international monetary management. The creation of Bretton Woods System led to the formation of fixed exchange rates as the United States defined the value of US dollar in terms of gold equal to $ 35 for one ounce and other countries pegged their currencies to the dollar. The US dollar became the main reserve currency and the only currency that was backed by gold. However, in 1970 the U.S. gold reserves were so depleted that it was impossible for the U.S. treasury to cover all the reserves held by foreign central banks.
The foreign exchange market is extremely active all day long with price quotes constantly changing. It is the only market that truly operates 24 hours a day and five days a week. Currencies are traded on the international interbank market in Zurich, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt, London, Sydney and Paris. This means that across almost every time zone the market is active - when the working day ends in one part of the world, in the other hemisphere, at that very moment, banks have already opened their doors and trading continues.
Investors – Investment firms who manage large portfolios for their clients use the Fx market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager controlling an international equity portfolio needs to use the Forex market to purchase and sell several currency pairs in order to pay for foreign securities they want to purchase.
The explanation isn't complicated, but at first, it may seem a little strange and requires a two-part explanation. First, remember that if it's midnight in New York when the New York forex market is closed, it's also the middle of the trading day somewhere -- in Tokyo, for instance. Also, keep in mind that forex is a worldwide market that is entirely virtual. There's no trading pit anywhere. When you enter a midnight forex trade on your laptop in New York, the trade is executed in Tokyo or in another of the several trading centers worldwide that are open when you initiate the trade.
Trading currencies is the act of making predictions based on minuscule variations in the global economy and buying and selling accordingly. The exchange rate between two currencies is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another. Forex traders use available data to analyze currencies and countries like you would companies, thereby using economic forecasts to gain an idea of the currency's true value.
Historically, different international monetary systems have emphasized different policy mixes. For instance, the Bretton Woods system emphasized the first two at the expense of free capital movement. The collapse of the system destroyed the stability and predictability of the currency markets. The resultant large fluctuations meant a rise in exchange rate risk (as well as in profit opportunities). Governments now face numerous challenges that are often captured under the term globalization or capital mobility: the move to floating exchange rates, the political liberalization of capital controls, and technological and financial innovation.
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 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.
Flights to quality: Unsettling international events can lead to a "flight-to-quality", a type of capital flight whereby investors move their assets to a perceived "safe haven". There will be a greater demand, thus a higher price, for currencies perceived as stronger over their relatively weaker counterparts. The US dollar, Swiss franc and gold have been traditional safe havens during times of political or economic uncertainty.
Meanwhile, daily interbank settlements are also a mover of these markets as forex or broker-dealers, such as banks, are amongst the biggest participants in the forex market. Since these dealers interact with each other, this market is referred to as the interbank market. Large corporations, including exporters and importers, will also use the FX market to hedge currency exposure in order to prevent losses due to the fluctuating value of currencies.
The series of contagious currency crises in the 1990s—in Mexico, Brazil, East Asia, and Argentina—again focused policy makers’ minds on the problems of the international monetary system. Moves, albeit limited, were made toward a new international financial architecture. Most importantly, these crises led to the establishment of the Financial Stability Forum (since 2009 the Financial Stability Board), which investigated the problems of offshore, capital flows, and hedge funds; and the G20, which attempted to broaden the international regime’s membership and thus deepen its legitimacy. In addition, there were calls for a currency transaction tax, named after Nobel Laureate James Tobin’s proposal, from many civil society nongovernmental organizations as well as some governments. The success of international monetary reform is a crucial issue for governments and their autonomy, firms and the stability of their investments, and citizens who ultimately are those who absorb these effects as they are transmitted into everyday life.
For instance, if we take a less active period between 5 pm – 7 pm EST, after New York closes and before Tokyo opens, Sydney will be open for trading but with more modest activity than the three major sessions (London, US, Tokyo). Consequently, less activity means less financial opportunity. If you want to trade currency pairs like EUR/USD, GBP/USD or USD/CHF you will find more activity between 8 am – 12 am when both Europe and the United States are active.
When you trade forex, you're effectively borrowing the first currency in the pair to buy or sell the second currency. With a US$5-trillion-a-day market, the liquidity is so deep that liquidity providers—the big banks, basically—allow you to trade with leverage. To trade with leverage, you simply set aside the required margin for your trade size. If you're trading 200:1 leverage, for example, you can trade £2,000 in the market while only setting aside £10 in margin in your trading account. For 50:1 leverage, the same trade size would still only require about £40 in margin. This gives you much more exposure, while keeping your capital investment down.