What is Foreign Exchange?
Foreign exchange, more commonly known as Forex or FX, relates to buying and selling currencies with the goal of making a profit off the changes in their value. As the biggest market in the world by far, larger than the stock market or any other, there is high liquidity in the forex market. This market attracts many traders, both beginners and more experienced.
Open a Forex Trading Account with AvaTrade and enjoy the benefits of trading with a regulated broker!
- What is Foreign Exchange
- The Forex Market
- Currency Pairs
- Basic Forex Terms
- What affects the Forex Market?
The Forex Market
With approximately $6 trillion traded in the market every day, the forex market has the highest liquidity in the world. This means that one can buy almost any currency he wishes in high volumes any time the market is open. The forex market is open 24 hours, five days a week – Monday to Friday. Trading begins with the opening of the market in Australia, followed by Asia, and then Europe, followed by the US market until the markets close on the weekend. The only market open on the weekend is the cryptocurrency market.
The forex market start time during the summer is on Sunday at 9:00pm GMT, and ends at 9:00pm GMT on Friday. In the winter it’s 10:00pm-10:00pm accordingly. That results with currencies being traded at all times, day or night. Unlike in other markets, in the forex market you can always find buyers and sellers.
There are hundreds of currencies in the world, and each one has its own three-letter symbol. For instance, the American Dollar is represented by USD, Euros are EUR, Swiss Francs are CHF, and British Pounds are GBP.
Currencies are divided into two main categories – Major currencies and Minors. The major currencies are derived from the most powerful economies around the globe – the US, Japan, the UK, the Eurozone, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand. When you pit them against a counterpart. they become a currency pair. For instance, the GBP against the USD becomes GBP/USD where one’s value is relative to the other. If the GBP goes up against the USD, then the USD goes down.
When going to a store to buy groceries, we need to exchange one valuable asset for another – money for milk, for example. The same goes for trading forex – we buy or sell one currency for the other. The currencies in the pairs are referred to as “one against another”.
There are three types of forex pairs; Major pairs, Minor pairs and Exotic pairs. The major pairs always involve the USD, and are the most traded ones. The seven major pairs are EURUSD, USDJPY, GBPUSD, USDCAD, USDCHF, AUDUSD and NZDUSD. In the minor pairs the major currencies are traded between each other, excluding the USD. These can be EURGBP, GBPJPY and others. The exotic pairs have one major currency and one minor, such as EURTRY, USDNOK and many more.
Forex Trading Basic Terms
The most popular pair traded is the Euro vs. the American Dollar, or EURUSD. The currency on the left is called the base currency, and is the one we wish to buy or sell; the one on the right is the secondary currency, and is the one we use to make the transaction. Each pair has two prices – the price for selling the base currency (ask) and a price for buying it (bid). The difference between them is called a spread, and represents the amount brokers charge to open the position. The more a currency is traded, i.e. the higher liquidity it has, its spreads will be narrower. The rarer the pair is, the wider the spreads will be, since lower liquidity usually entails increased volatility. The increased risk – consequently – entails a wider spread.
Usually a quote will be presented with four numbers after the dot, for instance 1.2356. In the case of EURUSD, for every Euro the trader wishes to buy he will have to invest 1.2356 US dollars. Any change in the currency value will usually be seen on the fourth figure after the dot, mainly known as a pip. The spreads, gains and losses will usually be presented in pips.
Some other important terms to know in online forex trading include ‘Going long’ and Going short, , which stand respectively for ‘buying’ and ‘selling’. A trader who believes that the market will rise is called a ‘Bullish Trader’ – Imagine a bull charging ahead aggressively.. While on the other side stands the ‘Bearish Trader’, who is more on the defensive side – imagine a bear hiding in the woods behind a tree. Accordingly, the terms ‘Bull Market’ and ‘Bear Market’ are used to describe the direction the market goes.
A bull market is on the rise, and a bear market is usually decreasing. Experienced traders will decide their strategy depending on the market trends, and will make sure to follow all relevant events so that they can speculate on the market’s movement correctly and hopefully and gain some profit. However, losses are the other side of the coin, which is why traders must never invest more than they can afford to lose.
Traditionally, a trader would call his broker up and instruct him on the actions he would like to be taken. Today, however the trades are conducted directly by the client on the software, called the trading platform. Many of the platforms are available for computer desktop, over internet browser and through mobile or tablet. As a trader, you should develop your own trading strategy, and hopefully find the platform that will enable you to perform it in the best way possible, i.e. that you will feel most comfortable using.
Leverage is a facility given by the broker to enable traders to hold trading positions that are larger than what their own capital would otherwise allow. It is important to remember that the profits and losses are determined by the position size, and as leveraged trading can magnify profits also losses can be enhanced. Thus, proper risk management techniques have to be used.
What affects the Forex Market?
The forex market has high liquidity, due to an elevated supply and demand rate. Traders apply transactions based on financial events, as well as general events. Naturally, when a currency will be on a high demand, its value will raise comparing to the other currencies, and vice versa.
Financial events are statements or data releases made by countries, central banks or other financial institutions, on topics such as the unemployment rate, manufacturing numbers, consumer spending and many more. Prior to these figures being releases, investors release their anticipated figures. If the release exceeds expectation, this can push up the price of the relevant assets. However, if the release falls below expectation than this can push down the price of the asset lined to the data. For instance a decrease in a country’s unemployment rate can indicate that the economy is strong, and this can lead to an increase of the local currency.
If it’s a major one it will affect other currencies as well. Before the event takes place traders speculate on its content, and based on these speculations open positions. All the events can be seen and followed on the economic calendar.
Going back to the popular trading pair – the EURUSD. Once logged into the platform the trader will check the ask and bid prices; for the purpose of the example they will be 1.2356 (ask), and 1.2359 (bid). The difference, as noted, is 3 pips and this will go to the broker.
If the trader believes that the Euro will go up, he will enter a ‘BUY’ command. Then he will be required to select an amount – say 10,000 units. The price for that is $12,356, and using leverage it comes to $30.89. If the market responds the way the trader predicted and the Euro rose from 1.2356 to 1.2360 – 4 pips, the trader would have made a profit from this trade.
Why Trade Forex with AvaTrade?
When trading forex, as well as any other instrument, you must be able to trade with confidence. Profits can never be guaranteed, and any type of trading has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as the risk of losing funds. At AvaTrade we are committed to a set of values which define our relationship with our customers. As such, we provide the best trading experience possible, offering level multilingual customer service and the most advanced and user-friendly trading platforms, as well as the unique risk-limiting tool AvaProtect.
You can also use our teaching materials in the education tab on out site. You will find there a wide collection of articles, video tutorials and many more tools that will assist you every step of the way. We know trading might be a bit overwhelming and even scary at times, but we do all we can to make sure you are fully prepared to begin trading in the real world.
These tools and many others allow you to trade comfortably and know that AvaTrade has your back. Everything we provide is to the highest possible level, and we go to great measures to constantly innovate and improve them for you.
What is Forex Infographic
Click on image for full Infographic
- How does forex work?
Forex is a peer-to-peer exchange in the over-the-counter market. This means there is no centralized forex exchange like there is in the equity markets. Instead the forex market is run by the global network of banks and other institutions. With no central location forex markets trade continually around the world, and trades can be conducted 24 hours a day from all corners of the globe. Because most traders will never take physical delivery of the currency, they are trading derivatives are used to trade price changes in the markets. This allows a trader to speculate on price movements without taking ownership of the asset.
- What are the three different types of forex market?
There are three ways you can trade in the forex markets. The first of these is the spot forex market. This is where there is a physical exchange of the currency pair that occurs when the trade is settled. It is mostly banks and large institutions that take part in the spot market, but brokers like AvaTrade offer derivatives based on the spot forex markets. Next is the forward forex market, which is where there are private agreements to buy or sell a certain amount of currency at a certain time or times. And then there is the futures forex market, which is similar to the forward forex market, except in the futures market the contracts can be traded on futures exchanges.
- Is forex a good idea?
There are millions of forex traders all around the world, and all of them believe that trading the forex markets is a good idea. They have come to the online forex markets to explore the potential for opportunity and profits. Many of them believe that the forex markets are the best markets to trade, and yet each has their own reasons for trading these markets. The forex markets have a lot to offer all kinds of traders, and there are many reasons why forex is a good plan. These reasons include the accessibility of the market, the regulations that provide safety, the possibilities extended by trading forex, and much more.
Join AvaTrade today and enjoy the best FX trading experience you can get!