When buying, the spread always reflects the price for buying the first currency of the forex pair with the second. So an offer price of 1.3000 for EUR/USD means that it will cost you $1.30 to buy €1. You would buy if you think that the price of the euro against the dollar is going to rise, that is, if you think you will later be able to sell your €1 for more than $1.30.
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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).
A system of free-floating currencies eventually materialized and is the modern international system of currencies that has allowed the forex market to flourish into the behemoth that it has become. With no stable price mechanism (i.e., gold), national currencies consistently fluctuate in value relative to each other, creating ideal opportunities for major market participants to profit and hedge risk on the spread between currencies.
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.
From Monday morning in Asia to Friday afternoon in New York, the forex market is a 24-hour market, meaning it does not close overnight. This differs from markets such as equities, bonds, and commodities, which all close for a period of time, generally in the New York late afternoon. However, as with most things there are exceptions. Some emerging market currencies closing for a period of time during the trading day.
Trading in South Africa might be safest with an FSA regulated (or registered) brand. The regions classed as ‘unregulated’ by European brokers see way less ‘default’ protection. So a local regulator can give additional confidence. This is similar in Singapore, the Philippines or Hong Kong. The choice of ‘best forex broker’ will therefore differ region by region.
We gathered a list of 65 forex trading brokers and narrowed it down to the best five by analyzing research features, customizability options, and trading platforms. While introductory incentives (special offers, free demos, referral programs) can make brokerages attractive for the short term, we looked for standard practices that keep you happily trading for the long term. Responsive client support, for example, earned a company more points than first-time perks.
There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: the spot market, the forwards market and the futures market. The forex trading in the spot market always has been the largest market because it is the "underlying" real asset that the forwards and futures markets are based on. In the past, the futures market was the most popular venue for traders because it was available to individual investors for a longer period of time. However, with the advent of electronic trading and numerous forex brokers, the spot market has witnessed a huge surge in activity and now surpasses the futures market as the preferred trading market for individual investors and speculators. When people refer to the forex market, they usually are referring to the spot market. The forwards and futures markets tend to be more popular with companies that need to hedge their foreign exchange risks out to a specific date in the future.