What is Forex (FX)?
Forex (FX) is the marketplace where various national currencies are traded. The forex market is the largest, most liquid market in the world, with trillions of dollarschanging hands every day. There is no centralized location, rather the forex market is an electronic network of banks, brokers, institutions, and individual traders (mostly trading through brokers or banks).
Many entities, from financial institutions to individual investors, have currency needs, and may also speculate on the direction of a particular pair of currencies movement. They post their orders to buy and sell currencies on the network so they can interact with other currency orders from other parties.
- The forex market is a network of institutions, allowing for trading 24 hours a day, five days per week, with the exception of when all markets are closed because of a holiday.
- Retail traders can open a forex account and then buy and sell currencies. A profit or loss results from the difference in price the currency pair was bought and sold at.
- Forwards and futures are another way to participate in the forex market. Forwards are customizable with the currencies exchanged after expiry. Futures are not customizable and are more readily used by speculators, but the positions are often closed before expiry (to avoid settlement).
- The forex market is the largest financial market in the world.
- Retail traders typically don’t want to have to deliver the full amount of currency they are trading. Instead, they want to profit on price differences in currencies over time. Because of this, brokers rollover positions each day.
How to Trade in the Forex :
From a historical standpoint, foreign exchange trading was largely limited to governments, large companies, and hedge funds. But in today’s world, trading currencies is as easy as a click of a mouse. Accessibility is not an issue, which means anyone can do it. Many investment firms, banks, and retail forex brokers offer the chance for individuals to open accounts and to trade currencies.
When trading in the forex market, you’re buying or selling the currency of a particular country, relative to another currency. But there’s no physical exchange of money from one party to another. That’s what happens at a foreign exchange kiosk—think of a tourist visiting Times Square in New York City from Japan. He may be converting his physical yen to actual U.S. dollar cash (and may be charged a commission fee to do so) so he can spend his money while he’s traveling. But in the world of electronic markets, traders are usually taking a position in a specific currency, with the hope that there will be some upward movement and strength in the currency they’re buying (or weakness if they’re selling) so they can make a profit.
A currency is always traded relative to another currency. If you sell a currency, you are buying another, and if you buy a currency you are selling another. In the electronic trading world, a profit is made on the difference between your transaction prices.
Forex Forward Transactions:
Any forex transaction that settles for a date later than spot is considered a “forward.” The price is calculated by adjusting the spot rate to account for the difference in interest rates between the two currencies. The amount of adjustment is called “forward points.” The forward points reflect only the interest rate differential between two markets. They are not a forecast of how the spot market will trade at a date in the future.
A forex or currency futures contract is an agreement between two parties to deliver a set amount of currency at a set date, called the expiry, in the future. Futures contracts are traded on an exchange for set values of currency and with set expiry dates. Unlike a forward, the terms of a futures contract are non-negotiable. A profit is made on the difference between the prices the contract was bought and sold at. Most speculators don’t hold futures contracts until expiration, as that would require they deliver/settle the currency the contract represents. Instead, speculators buy and sell the contracts prior to expiration, realizing their profits or losses on their transactions.
Forex Market Differences:-
There are some major differences between the forex and other markets.
This means investors aren’t held to as strict standards or regulations as those in the stock, futures or options markets. There are no clearing houses and no central bodies that oversee the entire forex market. You can short-sell at any time because in forex you aren’t ever actually shorting; if you sell one currency you are buying another.
Fees and Commissions:-
Since the market is unregulated, how brokers charge fees and commissions will vary. Most forex brokers make money by marking up the spread on currency pairs. Others make money by charging a commission, which fluctuates based on the amount of currency traded. Some brokers use both these approaches.
There’s no cut-off as to when you can and cannot trade. Because the market is open 24 hours a day, you can trade at any time of day. The exception is weekends, or when no global financial center is open due to a holiday.
The forex market allows for leverage up to 50:1 in the U.S. and even higher in some parts of the world. That means a trader can open an account for $1,000 and buy or sell as much as $50,000 in currency, for example. Leverage is a double-edged sword; it magnifies both profits and losses.