The forex market is a global marketplace where currencies are traded and where exchange rates for every currency are determined. Forex (FX) is a short form of Foreign exchange. While it is called “foreign” exchange, this is just a relative term.
It is a decentralized or over-the-counter (OTC) market that involves all aspects of buying, selling, and exchanging currencies.
In terms of trading volume, the forex market is the largest market in the world, with an average daily trading volume of $6.6 trillion.
Currency trading was very difficult for individuals prior to broadband internet. Most currency traders were large multinational corporations, hedge funds, or high-net-worth individuals (“HNW”) because trading currencies required a lot of capital.
Once high-speed internet became more affordable to more people, a retail market aimed at individual traders emerged, providing easy access to the foreign exchange markets.
What do you need to know about the forex market?
- With over $5 trillion traded in the market every day, the forex market is the largest in the world.
- The forex market is open 24 hours, 5.5 days a week from late Sunday to Friday.
- It opens Sunday at 5:00 pm ET and closes Friday at 5:00 pm ET.
- Trading begins with the opening of the market in New Zealand. And continues as more financial centers open: Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo. Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and finally, New York City. As the trading day in the U.S. ends, the forex market starts again in Auckland, New Zealand. Unlike other markets (like the stock market), this means that currencies are being traded at all times, day or night. What makes this “round-the-clock” trading possible is because there is no central marketplace for foreign exchange.
- Since institutional currency trading takes place directly between two parties (bilateral transactions) in an over-the-counter (OTC) market, this means that there are no centralized exchanges. Instead, the forex market run by a global network of banks and other organizations. This means that all transactions occur via computer networks between traders around the world (instead of on one centralized exchange).
- Most traders speculating on forex prices do not take delivery of the currency itself. They do not want a truckload full of euros delivered to their front door. Instead, traders will make exchange rate predictions to take advantage of the price movements in the market. The most popular way of doing this is by trading derivatives, such as a rolling spot forex contract. Trading derivatives allow you to speculate on an asset’s price movements without taking ownership of that asset.
For Instance, when trading forex, you can predict the direction in which you think a currency pair’s price will move. The extent to which your prediction is correct determines your profit or loss.
Three Types of Forex Markets
There are three different ways to trade on the forex market: spot, forward, and future.
- Spot forex market: the physical exchange of a currency pair, which takes place at the exact point the trade is settled – ie ‘on the spot’ – or within a short period of time. Derivatives based on the spot forex market are offered over-the-counter.
- Forward forex market: a contract traded OTC that is agreeing to buy or sell a set amount of a currency at a specified price, and to be settled at a set date in the future or within a range of future dates.
- Futures forex market: a contract traded on an exchange to buy or sell a set amount of a given currency at a set price and date in the future.
How to read a currency quote
If EUR/USD is trading at 1.1080, then one euro is worth 1.1080 U.S. dollars
If the euro rises against the dollar, then a single euro will be worth more dollars and the pair’s price will increase. If it drops, the pair’s price will decrease.
If you think it will weaken, you can sell the pair (“go short”).
What is leverage in forex trading?
When trading forex, you have the ability to open a position on leverage.
But when you close a leveraged position, your profit (or loss) is based on the full size of the trade.
This means that leverage can magnify your profits, but it also magnifies your losses.
Your losses can even exceed your initial deposit!
When trading with leverage, it is crucial that you learn how to manage your risk.
What is margin in forex trading?
Margin is a key part of leveraged trading.
Margin is the term that used for the initial deposit you put up to open and maintain a position.
Margin is usually expressed as a percentage of the full position.
For example, to open one min lot position (10,000 units) on EUR/USD, you might only require a deposit of 2% of the total value of the position for it to be opened.
This means that while you are still risking $10,000, you’d only need to deposit $200 to get the full exposure.
What is a pip in forex trading?
Pips are the units used to measure movement in a forex pair.
For example, if EUR/USD moves from $1.10500 to $1.10510, then it has moved a single pip.
In this case, a movement in the second decimal place constitutes a single pip.
For example, if USD/JPY moves from ¥110.00 to ¥110.01, it has moved a single pip.
What is the spread in forex trading?
All forex quotes are quoted with two prices: the bid and ask.
If you want to buy, you use the ask price.
If you want to sell, you use the bid price.
So “ask = buy” and “sell = bid”.
In forex trading, the spread is the difference between the buy and sell prices quoted for a forex pair.
If you want to open a long position, you trade at the buy price, which is slightly above the market price.
If you want to open a short position, you trade at the sell price, which slightly below the market price.
What is a lot in forex trading?
Currencies are traded in lots, which are batches of currency used to standardize the quantity for forex trades.
|LOT||NUMBER OF UNITS|
If these lots are too tiny for you, you can also trade a “yard” which is a billion units (1,000,000,000).
Learn more about lots, read our lesson, “What is a lot in Forex?“.
How is the forex market regulated?
How do you regulate a market that is trading 24 hours a day, all over the world?
Despite the enormous size of the forex market, there is no global regulation since there is no governing body to police it 24/7.
There is no centralized body governing the forex market.
Instead, there are governmental and independent bodies around the world who supervise domestic forex trading, as well as other markets, to ensure that all forex providers adhere to certain standards.
The regulatory bodies regulate forex by setting standards that all forex brokers under their jurisdiction must comply with.
These standards include being registered and licensed with the regulatory body, undergoing regular audits, communicating certain changes of service to their clients, and more.
This helps ensure that forex trading is ethical and fair for all involved.
Here is a full list of regulatory agencies from around the world.
Why trade forex?
The forex market is unique due to its
- Huge trading volume, representing the largest asset class in the world leading to high liquidity
- Geographical dispersion
- Continuous operation: 24 hours a day except for weekends
- Variety of factors that affect currency exchange rates
- Use of high leverage to enhance profit and losses relative to account size
Vincent Nyagaka is a Professional Trader, Analyst &. He has been actively engaged in market analysis for the past 7 years. He has a monthly readership of 100,000+ traders and has taught over 1,000 students since 2014. Vincent is also an experienced instructor and public speaker. Checkout Vincent’s Professional Trading Course here.