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.
Foreign exchange trading increased by 20% between April 2007 and April 2010 and has more than doubled since 2004. The increase in turnover is due to a number of factors: the growing importance of foreign exchange as an asset class, the increased trading activity of high-frequency traders, and the emergence of retail investors as an important market segment. The growth of electronic execution and the diverse selection of execution venues has lowered transaction costs, increased market liquidity, and attracted greater participation from many customer types. In particular, electronic trading via online portals has made it easier for retail traders to trade in the foreign exchange market. By 2010, retail trading was estimated to account for up to 10% of spot turnover, or $150 billion per day (see below: Retail foreign exchange traders).
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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.
There is no unified or centrally cleared market for the majority of trades, and there is very little cross-border regulation. Due to the over-the-counter (OTC) nature of currency markets, there are rather a number of interconnected marketplaces, where different currencies instruments are traded. This implies that there is not a single exchange rate but rather a number of different rates (prices), depending on what bank or market maker is trading, and where it is. In practice, the rates are quite close due to arbitrage. Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. Major trading exchanges include Electronic Broking Services (EBS) and Thomson Reuters Dealing, while major banks also offer trading systems. A joint venture of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Reuters, called Fxmarketspace opened in 2007 and aspired but failed to the role of a central market clearing mechanism.
The Foreign Exchange market, also called FOREX or FX, is the global market for currency trading. With a daily volume of more than $5.3 trillion, it is the biggest and most exciting financial market in the world. Whether you sell EUR 100 to buy US dollars at the airport or a bank exchanges 100 million US dollars for Japanese yen with another bank, both are FOREX deals. The players on the FOREX market range from huge financial organizations, managing billions, to individuals trading a few hundred dollars.
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.
The second tier is the over-the-counter market. That's where companies and individuals trade. The OTC has become very popular since there are now many companies that offer online trading platforms. New traders, starting with limited capital, need to know more about forex trading. It’s risky because the forex industry is not highly regulated and provides substantial leverage.
A swap trade involves both. Dealers buy a currency at today's price on the spot market and sell the same amount in the forward market. This way, they have just limited their risk in the future. No matter how much the currency falls, they will not lose more than the forward price. Meanwhile, they can invest the currency they bought on the spot market.
An interesting observation is that the Forex Market Hours of the Tokyo and London sessions overlap for approximately 1 hour (varies for other European countries). You can (and probably should!) use this fact to your advantage. This means that all the crosses of European currencies and the JPY will have the highest volatility at the start of the European session. So if you are trading the GBPJPY you can simply carry out a few powerful trades between 8am-9am GMT, and then you are free for the day!
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For insight into what’s driving FX rates, index trends and commodity pricing, click on any of the markets displayed. You’ll find a host of in-depth data, including live price charts, breaking news, and expert insights. You can also view client sentiment data on live currency rates. This shows what percentage of IG’s clients are long and short on each.
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A foreign exchange market is a 24-hour over-the-counter (OTC) and dealers’ market, meaning that transactions are completed between two participants via telecommunications technology. The currency markets are also further divided into spot markets—which are for two-day settlements—and the forward, swap, interbank futures, and options markets. London, New York, and Tokyo dominate foreign exchange trading. The currency markets are the largest and most liquid of all the financial markets; the triennial figures from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) put daily global turnover in the foreign exchange markets in trillions of dollars. It is sobering to consider that in the early 21st century an annual world trade’s foreign exchange is traded in just less than every five days on the currency markets, although the widespread use of hedging and exchanges into and out of vehicle currencies—as a more liquid medium of exchange—means that such measures of financial activity can be exaggerated.