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).
High Risk Investment Warning: Trading foreign exchange and/or contracts for difference on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss in excess of your deposited funds and therefore, you should not speculate with capital that you cannot afford to lose. Before deciding to trade the products offered by FXCM you should carefully consider your objectives, financial situation, needs and level of experience. You should be aware of all the risks associated with trading on margin. FXCM provides general advice that does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The content of this Website must not be construed as personal advice. FXCM recommends you seek advice from a separate financial advisor.
One way to deal with the foreign exchange risk is to engage in a forward transaction. In this transaction, money does not actually change hands until some agreed upon future date. A buyer and seller agree on an exchange rate for any date in the future, and the transaction occurs on that date, regardless of what the market rates are then. The duration of the trade can be one day, a few days, months or years. Usually the date is decided by both parties. Then the forward contract is negotiated and agreed upon by both parties.
The forex market is the largest market in the world with an average trading value over $5 trillion per day. It has no centralized marketplace where transactions are conducted. Forex trading is carried out electronically over-the-counter (OTC), meaning that all trading transactions are performed via computer by traders and other market participants over the world.

Understanding the above concepts will help you grasp what's happening when you see a forex pair rising or falling on a chart. If you do the math on the difference in pips between two price points, it will also help you see the profit potential available from such moves. For more on starting out in forex trading, see Minimum Capital Required to Start Day Trading Forex and How Much Money Can I Make Forex Day Trading? Both these articles provide more examples of how profit is realized in the forex market, as well as introducing new concepts, such as leverage.


The increasingly asymmetric relationship between the currency markets and national governments represents a classic autonomy problem. The “trilemma” of economic policy options available to governments are laid out by the Mundell-Fleming model. The model shows that governments have to choose two of the following three policy aims: (1) domestic monetary autonomy (the ability to control the money supply and set interest rates and thus control growth); (2) exchange rate stability (the ability to reduce uncertainty through a fixed, pegged, or managed regime); and (3) capital mobility (allowing investment to move in and out of the country).
When the USD is listed second in the pair, as in the EUR/USD or AUD/USD, the value of the pip is fixed. If you hold a 1000 micro lot, each pip movement is worth $0.10. If you hold a 10,000 mini lot then each pip is worth $1. If you hold a 100,000 standard lot then each pip move is worth $10. Pip values can vary by price and pair, so knowing the pip value of the pair you're trading is critical in determining position size and risk.
During the 1920s, the Kleinwort family were known as the leaders of the foreign exchange market, while Japheth, Montagu & Co. and Seligman still warrant recognition as significant FX traders.[27] The trade in London began to resemble its modern manifestation. By 1928, Forex trade was integral to the financial functioning of the city. Continental exchange controls, plus other factors in Europe and Latin America, hampered any attempt at wholesale prosperity from trade[clarification needed] for those of 1930s London.[28]
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 Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.

The forex market is the market in which participants can buy, sell, exchange, and speculate on currencies. The forex market is made up of banks, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, and retail forex brokers and investors. The currency market is considered to be the largest financial market with over $5 trillion in daily transactions, which is more than the futures and equity markets combined.
Currency and exchange were important elements of trade in the ancient world, enabling people to buy and sell items like food, pottery, and raw materials.[9] If a Greek coin held more gold than an Egyptian coin due to its size or content, then a merchant could barter fewer Greek gold coins for more Egyptian ones, or for more material goods. This is why, at some point in their history, most world currencies in circulation today had a value fixed to a specific quantity of a recognized standard like silver and gold.
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.

There is no minimum deposit or minimum balance required to open an OANDA account for forex trading. You only need make sure to have enough equity to open positions of sizes you are comfortable with including margin requirements. You can calculate the margin required when you open a position in a currency pair using the OANDA Forex Margin Calculator .
Gold Standard System was formed in 1875. The main idea behind it was that governments guaranteed that a currency would be backed by gold. All the major economic countries defined an amount of currency to an ounce of gold as the value of their currencies in terms of gold and the ratios for these amounts became the exchange rates for these currencies. This marked the first standardized means of currency exchange in history. However, World War I caused a breakdown of the gold standard system as countries sought to pursue economic policies which would not be constrained by the fixed exchange rate system of the Gold Standard.
The profit you made on the above theoretical trade depends on how much of the currency you purchased. If you bought 1,000 units (called a micro lot) each pip is worth $0.10, so you would calculate your profit as (50 pips * $0.10) = $5 for a 50 pip gain. If you bought a 10,000 unit (mini lot), then each pip is worth $1, so your profit ends up being $50. If you bought a 100,000 unit (standard lot) each pip is worth $10, so your profit is $500. This assumes you have a USD trading account.
To find out how many euros it costs to buy one U.S. dollar, flip the pair to USD/EUR. To find out this rate, divide 1 by 1.3635 (or whatever the current rate is). The result is 0.7334. It costs 0.7334 euros to buy one USD based on the current market price. The price of the currency pair constantly fluctuates, as transactions occur around the globe, 24-hours a day during the week.  
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. 
In the context of a general trading strategy, it is best to trade with trends. If the general trend of the FX market is moving up, you should be cautious and attentive in regards to taking any positions that may rely on the trend moving in the completely opposite direction. A trend can also apply to interest rates, equities, and different yields - and any other market that can be characterised by a movement in volume or price.
A single pound on Monday could get you 1.19 euros. On Tuesday, 1.20 euros. This tiny change may not seem like a big deal. But think of it on a bigger scale. A large international company may need to pay overseas employees. Imagine what that could do to the bottom line if, like in the example above, simply exchanging one currency for another costs you more depending on when you do it? These few pennies add up quickly. In both cases, you—as a traveler or a business owner—may want to hold your money until the forex exchange rate is more favorable.
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