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FOREX Basics
By Cixx Admin Date Posted.. 2010-07-14 18:03:16
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 By: Gary Martin

Forex trading is nothing more than direct access trading of different types of foreign currencies. In the past, foreign exchange trading was mostly limited to large banks and institutional traders. However, recent technological advancements have made it so that small traders can also take advantage of the many benefits of forex trading just by using the various online trading platforms to trade.

The currencies of the world are on a floating exchange rate, and they are always traded in pairs Euro/Dollar, Dollar/Yen, etc. About 85 percent of all daily transactions involve trading of the major currencies.

Four major currency pairs are usually used for investment purposes. They are: Euro against US dollar, US dollar against Japanese yen, British pound against US dollar, and US dollar against Swiss franc. Here is how they will look in the trading market: EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD, and USD/CHF. As a note you should know that no dividends are paid on currencies.

If you think one currency will appreciate against another, you may exchange that second currency for the first one and be able to profit from that trend . If everything goes as you plan it, eventually you may be able to make the opposite deal in that you may exchange this first currency back for that other and then collect profits from it.

Transactions on the FOREX market are performed by dealers at major banks or FOREX brokerage companies. FOREX is a necessary part of the world wide market, so when you are sleeping in the comfort of your bed, the dealers in Europe are trading currencies with their Japanese counterparts.

   The FOREX market is active 24 hours a day and dealers at major institutions are working 24/7 in three different shifts. Clients may place take-profit and stop-loss orders with brokers for overnight execution.

Price movements on the FOREX market are very smooth and without the gaps that you face almost every morning on the stock market. The daily turnover on the FOREX market is somewhere around $1.2 trillion, so a new investor can enter and exit positions without any problems.

The fact is that the FOREX market never stops, even on September 11, 2001 you could still get your hands on two-side quotes on currencies. The currency market is the largest and oldest financial market in the world. It is also called the foreign exchange market, FX market for short. It is the biggest and most liquid market in the world, and it is traded mostly through the 24 hour-a-day inter-bank currency market.

When you compare them, you will see that the currency futures market is only one per cent as big. Unlike the futures and stock markets, trading currencies is not centered on an exchange. Trading moves from major banking centers of the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand, to the Far East, to Europe and finally back to the U.S. it is truly a full circle trading game.

In the past, the forex inter-bank market was not available to small speculators because of the large minimum transaction sizes and strict financial requirements.

Banks, major currency dealers and sometimes even very large speculator were the principal dealers. Only they were able to take advantage of the currency market's fantastic liquidity and strong trending nature of many of the world's primary currency exchange rates.

Today, foreign exchange market brokers are able to break down the larger sized inter-bank units, and offer small traders like you and me the opportunity to buy or sell any number of these smaller units. These brokers give any size trader, including individual speculators or smaller companies, the option to trade at the same rates and price movements as the big players who once dominated the market.

So why should you trade Forex? The cash/spot FOREX markets possess certain unique attributes that offer an unmatched potential for profitable trading in any market condition or any stage of the business cycle. It leaves one to wonder why bother? The answer to that is very simple. It boasts:

A 24-hour market: A trader has the chance to take advantage of all of the profitable market conditions at any time which means that there is no waiting for the 'opening bell' like the exchange.

Highest liquidity: The FOREX market is the most liquid market in the world. That means that a trader can enter or exit the market whenever they want during almost any market condition minimal execution barriers or risk and no daily trading limit.

High leverage: A leverage ratio of up to 400 is normal when compared to a leverage ratio of 2 (50% margin requirement) in the equity markets. Of course, this makes trading in the cash/spot forex market awkward a swell because it makes the risk of the down side loss much higher in the same way that it makes the profit potential on the upside much prettier.

Low transaction cost: The retail transaction cost (the bid/ask spread) is actually less than 0.1% (10 pips) under the normal market conditions. At larger dealers, the spread could be less than 5 pips, and may expand a great deal in fast moving markets.

Always a bull market: A trade in the FOREX market means selling or buying one currency against another. In essence, a bull market or a bear market for a currency is defined in terms of the outlook for value against other currencies. If the outlook is positive, you get a bull market where a trader profits by buying the currency against other currencies. However, if the outlook is negative, we have a bull market for other currencies and a trader profits being forced to selling the currency against other currencies.

In either case, there is always a bull market trading opportunity for a trader.

Inter-bank market: The foundation of the FOREX market consists of a global network of dealers that communicate and trade with their clients through electronic networks and telephones. There are no organized exchanges like in futures that are there to serve as a central location to facilitate transactions the way the New York Stock Exchange serves the equity markets.

The FOREX market actually works a lot like the way the NASDAQ market in the United States operates, and because of this, it is also referred to as an over the counter or OTC market.

No one can corner the market: The FOREX market is so large and has so many participants that no single trader, even a central bank, can control the market price for an extended period of time. Even when interventions are conducted by mighty central banks are getting to be increasingly ineffectual and short-lived. This means that central banks are becoming less and less inclined to intervene to manipulate market prices.

It is Unregulated: The FOREX market is seen as an unregulated market although the operations of major dealers like commercial banks in money centers are regulated under the banking laws.

The daily operations of retail FOREX brokerages are not regulated under any laws or regulations that are specific to the FOREX market, and in fact, many of these types of establishments in the United States do not even report to the Internal Revenue Service.

The currency futures and options that are actually traded on exchanges like Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) are under the regulation in the same manner that other exchange-traded derivatives are regulated.

There are many different advantages to trading forex instead of futures or stocks, such as:

1. Lower Margin
Just like futures and stock speculation, a forex trader has the ability to control a large amount of the currency basically by putting up a small amount of margin. However, the margin requirements that are needed for trading futures are usually around 5% of the full value of the holding, or 50% of the total value of the stocks, the margin requirements for forex is about 1%. For example, margin required to trade foreign exchange is $1000 for every $100,000.

What this means is that trading forex, a currency trader's money can play with 5-times as much value of product as a futures trader's, or 50 times more than a stock trader's.

When you are trading on margin, this can be a very profitable way to create an investment strategy, but it's important that you take the time to understand the risks that are involved as well.

You should make sure that you fully understand how your margin account is going to work. You will want to be sure that you read the margin agreement between you and your clearing firm. You will also want to talk to your account representative if you have any questions.

The positions that you have in your account could be partially or completely liquidated on the chance that the available margin in your account falls below a predetermined amount.

You may not actually get a margin call before your positions are liquidated. Because of this, you should monitor your margin balance on a regular basis and utilize stop-loss orders on every open position to limit downside risk.

2. No Commission and No Exchange Fees
When you trade in futures, you have to pay exchange and brokerage fees. Trading forex has the advantage of being commission free. This is far better for you. Currency trading is a worldwide inter-bank market that lets buyers to be matched with sellers in an instant.

Even though you do not have to pay a commission charge to a broker to match the buyer up with the seller, the spread is usually larger than it is when you are trading futures.

For example, if you are trading a Japanese Yen/US Dollar pair, forex trade would have about a 3 point spread (worth $30). Trading a JY futures trade would most likely have a spread of 1 point (worth $10) but you would also be charged the broker's commission on top of that. This price could be as low as $10 in-and-out for self-directed online trading, or as high as $50 for full-service trading. It is however, all inclusive pricing though.

You are going to have to compare both online forex and your specific futures commission charge to see which commission is the greater one.

3. Limited Risk and Guaranteed Stops
When you are trading futures, your risk can be unlimited. For example, if you thought that the prices for Live Cattle were going to continue their upward trend in December 2003, just before the discovery of Mad Cow Disease found in US cattle.

The price for it after that fell dramatically, which moved the limit down several days in a row. You would not have been able to leave your position and this could have wiped out the entire equity in your account as a result. As the price just kept on falling, you would have been obligated to find even more money to make up the deficit in your account.

4. Rollover of Positions
When futures contracts expire, you have to plan ahead if you are going to rollover your trades. Forex positions expire every two days and you need to rollover each trade just so that you can stay in your position.

5. 24-Hour Marketplace
With futures, you are generally limited to trading only during the few hours that each market is open in any one day. If a major news story breaks out when the markets are closed, you will not have a way of getting out of it until the market reopens, which could be many hours away.

Forex, on the other hand, is a 24/5 market. The day begins in New York, and follows the sun around the globe through Europe, Asia, Australia and back to the US again. You can trade any time you like Monday-Friday.

6. Free market place
Foreign exchange is perhaps the largest market in the world with an average daily volume of US$1.4 trillion. That is 46 times as large as all the futures markets put together! With the huge number of people trading forex around the globe, it is very hard for even governments to control the price of their own currency.


CopyRight 2005 Gary Martin

www.forex-trading-elite.com

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