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Some commonly traded forex pairs (known as ‘major’ pairs) are EUR/USD, USD/JPY and EUR/GBP, but it is also possible to trade many minor currencies (also known as ‘exotics’) such as the Mexican peso (MXN), the Polish zloty (PLN) or the Norwegian krone (NOK). As these currencies are not so frequently traded the market is less liquid and so the trading spread may be wider.
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.
Finally, it cannot be stressed enough that trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for everyone. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. Remember, you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment, which means that you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. If you have any doubts, we recommend that you seek advice from an independent financial advisor.
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.
Inflation levels and trends: Typically a currency will lose value if there is a high level of inflation in the country or if inflation levels are perceived to be rising. This is because inflation erodes purchasing power, thus demand, for that particular currency. However, a currency may sometimes strengthen when inflation rises because of expectations that the central bank will raise short-term interest rates to combat rising inflation.
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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.
The GBPUSD moved higher in trading today and in the process broke above a trend line connecting highs from March 27, April 4 and even today (at 1.3098 currently). The price also moved above a swing area defined by swing lows and highs at 1.31221 (see green numbered circles). That break did lead to more buying to the session high at 1,3132, but the price has since moved back below that key level.
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.
Consider this: large volumes of forex are traded in the markets due to the necessity of currency exchange required in international trade. Large institutions may need to settle accounts in a cross-border manner quite frequently. As an example, an American company, looking to pay its German division, will need to pay them in euros. This means a forex transaction will be completed, and will likely influence the EUR/USD pair, even if only slightly.
During the 15th century, the Medici family were required to open banks at foreign locations in order to exchange currencies to act on behalf of textile merchants. To facilitate trade, the bank created the nostro (from Italian, this translates to "ours") account book which contained two columned entries showing amounts of foreign and local currencies; information pertaining to the keeping of an account with a foreign bank. During the 17th (or 18th) century, Amsterdam maintained an active Forex market. In 1704, foreign exchange took place between agents acting in the interests of the Kingdom of England and the County of Holland.
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.
For the past 300 years, there has been some form of a foreign exchange market. For most of U.S. history, the only currency traders were multinational corporations that did business in many countries. They used forex markets to hedge their exposure to overseas currencies. They could do so because the U.S. dollar was fixed to the price of gold. According to the gold price history, gold was the only metal the United States used to back up the value of the nation’s paper currency.
With spread betting you stake a certain amount (in your account currency) per pip movement in the price of the forex pair. So for instance you might buy (or sell) £10 per pip on USD/JPY, to make £10 for every pip the US dollar rises (or falls) against the Japanese yen. Forex traders have been using spread betting to capitalise on short-term movements for many years now. Find out more about spread betting.
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.
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As traders, we can take advantage of the high leverage and volatility of the Forex market by learning and mastering and effective Forex trading strategy, building an effective trading plan around that strategy, and following it with ice-cold discipline. Money management is key here; leverage is a double-edged sword and can make you a lot of money fast or lose you a lot of money fast. The key to money management in Forex trading is to always know the exact dollar amount you have at risk before entering a trade and be TOTALLY OK with losing that amount of money, because any one trade could be a loser. More on money management later in the course.
Financial spread betting is only available to OANDA Europe Ltd customers who reside in the UK or Republic of Ireland. CFDs, MT4 hedging capabilities and leverage ratios exceeding 50:1 are not available to US residents. The information on this site is not directed at residents of countries where its distribution, or use by any person, would be contrary to local law or regulation.
Demo Account: Although demo accounts attempt to replicate real markets, they operate in a simulated market environment. As such, there are key differences that distinguish them from real accounts; including but not limited to, the lack of dependence on real-time market liquidity, a delay in pricing, and the availability of some products which may not be tradable on live accounts. The operational capabilities when executing orders in a demo environment may result in atypically, expedited transactions; lack of rejected orders; and/or the absence of slippage. There may be instances where margin requirements differ from those of live accounts as updates to demo accounts may not always coincide with those of real accounts.