When It Comes To Smart Investing, All World News Is Forex News.
Forex traders know one of the advantages of their field is that the forex market is open 24 hours a day, five and a half days a week. But a 24-hour marketplace means there’s forex news coming in constantly, too. With so much information coming from so many markets literally at all hours of the day, it can be hard to keep up with all the news available to you.
But at the same time, an informed trader is a successful trader. To make informed decisions on when to buy and sell currencies, you’ll have to keep an eye on all the news you can get your hands on. Many Web sites make it relatively easy for you by corralling the forex news into one place, often dividing it into subcategories for easy navigating. Any forex trader, whether new or experienced, should find a news source he likes and check it often.
Many of these forex news sites also offer commentary and analysis, beyond just a simple ticking off of the latest rates. Here you’ll find experts talking about the issues involved and perhaps offering insights beyond what you would have come up with on your own. Some news sites charge a registration fee for access to all their materials, but it can be worth it in the long run.
Aside from running 24 hours a day, another reason there is constantly a stream of forex news is that so many factors can influence a currency’s strength. Natural disasters, government actions and other things -- both foreseeable and not foreseeable -- can cause a nation’s currency to go up or down in relative value. An experienced trader will look at all this news and know how to predict what effect it will have.
Often, forex news isn’t labeled as such. Any economic news at all can affect the forex market; a sharp-eyed trader is on the lookout constantly for news that might impact his trading. In other words, a good trader will have to be an expert on world affairs, monitoring political, social and other developments in other countries. All of this, combined with the more specific forex news dealing with the details of exchange rates and so forth, gives you the information you need to be successful at currency trading.
What A Forex Rate Is And How To Read It
When we talk about the forex rate, we’re talking about the relative value between two currencies -- how many of one the other is worth, in other words. For forex traders, the forex rate is the basic information they use to do their job. The rate is to a forex trader what nails are to a carpenter.
If you plan to get involved in forex trading, reading and understanding the forex rates is absolutely vital to your success, like learning the basics of addition before becoming a mathematician.
A forex rate is always expressed in pairs, followed by a number. The number is how many of the second currency you’d get for one of the first one. For example, you might see USD/EUR: 0.7928. That means that one U.S. dollar is currently worth .7928 euros. If you were to exchange $100, you’d get 79.28 euros for it. Since the number in this rate (0.7928) is less than 1, that means the second currency is currently stronger than the first one -- that is, the euro is stronger than the U.S. dollar.
Forex traders look at rates constantly throughout the day. They carefully examine trends in various currencies’ performance, noting which are going up and which are going down. If a rate suggests, say, that the British pound is starting to increase in value compared to the euro, a trader might swap his euros for pounds. Then, when new rates show the pound has become very strong, he can swap back again, turning a profit because the pound is now worth more than he “paid” for it.
Forex rates are available everywhere on the Internet. Casual observers to the forex trading industry might glance at them for reference on hundreds of different Web sites. Regular traders, though, usually own software that keeps them up to date on rates throughout the day, without having to visit a particular site to get them.
This is important, because rates change constantly, and can be influenced by a wide variety of economic and political factors. The overall change over the course of a day usually isn’t more than a few percentage points either way, but there are minor changes regularly, and those minor changes add up in the long run. Experienced traders watch the rates for those tiny fluctuations, carefully observing whether there is a general upward or downward trend that requires their attention.
The Basics Of Reading A Forex Quote
The foreign exchange market can be a baffling place for newcomers, and one of the sources of confusion is the forex quote. A forex quote is a small bit of information, yet it’s packed with numbers that may not make sense to someone unfamiliar with the forex system. Here’s a basic explanation of how it works.
A forex quote consists of a currency pair -- forex deals always involve simultaneously selling one currency and buying another -- a bid price and an ask price. For example, one quote might be this:
The first currency is the base currency, and the other one is the quote currency. The value of the base currency is always 1 -- in this case, 1 U.S. dollar. The number tells you how many of the quote currency (the Japanese yen, in this case) you can buy with $1.
But what kind of number is 118.71/75? It’s actually forex shorthand for two numbers: 118.71 and 118.75. The lower number is the bid price, the other is the ask price. The bid price is the price that dealers will buy the base currency for. The ask price is what dealers will sell it for.
So if the above were the current quote, it would mean right now, you could SELL U.S. dollars in exchange for 118.71 yen per dollar. Or, if you preferred, you could BUY U.S. dollars at a rate of 118.75 yen per dollar.
The difference between the bid price and the ask price in a forex quote is called the “spread,” and those tiny units are called “pips.” In our example, the spread for USD/JPY was four pips. The spread is usually that small for the most commonly traded currencies, which means anything involving the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, Great British pound, the euro, Swiss franc or Australian dollar. In fact, thanks to the great competition in the forex trading market, some quotes will have spread of as little as one pip.
Of course, for less commonly traded currencies, the spread can be much greater. And even when the quote delivers a small spread, it adds up when you’re trading hundreds of thousands of units. If you were dealing with 100 U.S. dollars, the difference between selling them for 11,871 yen and buying them for 11,875 yen wouldn’t be much at all -- just four yen. But if it were 100,000 U.S. dollars, suddenly that four-pip spread means a 4,000-yen difference. So the spread in a quote is more important than its smallness would suggest.
Hedging Your Bets Against The Future: The Forex Option
All speculation-based markets are full of uncertainty, and none more so than the forex market. A currency might be strong and vibrant today, weak and sickly a month from now. One way to guard against major fluctuations like that is through forex option trading.
A forex option is when you buy the right -- but not the obligation -- to buy or sell a particular currency at a particular rate any time between now and the expiration date of the option.
Let’s say you’re worried that the Japanese yen is going to drop in value sometime in the next six months. You might buy an option that basically locks in the current exchange rate for whatever period of time the option seller allows, usually anywhere from 30 days to six months. You set a number of yen, too. Say you choose 10,000 yen at a rate of 116 yen per U.S. dollar for three months. The option basically says, “I may want to sell 10,000 yen sometime in the next three months, but I’m worried the yen is going to devalue in that time. So I’ve locked in this rate of USD/JPY 116.”
Then three months pass. If your prediction was correct and the yen has weakened in that time -- say it’s now USD/JPY 122 -- then you exercise your right to sell 10,000 yen at the rate you bought three months earlier. Everyone else selling yen today (everyone who didn’t have a forex option, that is) is selling it at 122 per U.S. dollar, and you get to sell it at 116.
If, on the other hand, the yen has stayed the same or gotten stronger, you are under no obligation to actually sell that 10,000 yen your option talked about. You can simply do nothing, and all you’ve lost is the premium you originally paid for the option.
Ah yes, there is a premium. Brokers who sell forex options charge a fee for the privilege. Think of it as insurance; calling it a “premium” certainly fits. The price of a forex option for 10,000 yen for three months might be $200, which you must pay up front. If the yen drops enough in value, you’ll hopefully turn enough of a profit to make up for the $200 you had to pay. If it increases in value, and you wind up not exercising the option, all you’ve lost is the $200 premium.
Forex option trading used to be done only by major banks and corporations, but now many brokers who cater to individual traders offer the service, too. If you’re a heavy-duty trader, a forex option is definitely something to consider to guard against future setbacks in the currency you hold.
Getting Started In Trading With A Forex Seminar
The world of forex trading can be baffling, especially for someone who’s new to it. While it has similarities to the stock market, there are many differences, too. And what’s even more confusing, some terminology means one thing in the forex world and something else in the stock market. So even veteran stock traders have to learn new vocabulary when they move into the foreign exchange!
Luckily, many companies offer forex seminars to help newcomers understand the complex but lucrative world they’re jumping into. Some seminars are held free of charge (in the hopes you’ll sign on with that broker) and last an hour. Others are more intensive, last longer, and require a registration fee, though obviously the training goes a bit more in depth at those particular seminars.
At a forex seminar you can expect to learn:
- The basics of forex trading -- what it is, how it works, etc.
- The differences between forex and the stock market.
- How to know when to buy and sell currencies.
To find a seminar, search the Internet for forex brokers and browse their pages until you find one offering live seminars. Most major cities host forex seminars fairly regularly, though you may be out of luck if you don’t live near a major city. In some cases, the firms offering seminars aren’t brokerage companies at all, but are simply financial training firms that teach you how to do trading and then leave it to you to find a broker to actually do it.
At a forex seminar you’ll find a variety of people. Some will have had experience in the stock market or took business classes in college. Others will be complete novices interested in diversifying their investments. Still others might not have a lot of income but are looking for a way to use the money they do have more wisely.
One of the latest innovations in forex seminars is to hold them exclusively online. This is much cheaper for the company offering the seminar, obviously, as they don’t need to rent a hotel conference room. It also allows people from all over the world to participate. Hosting online makes the seminar more useful to more people, and since anyone can ask a question, you don’t have to worry about being lost in the crowd.
Whether in person or online, a forex seminar can be an invaluable tool as you start your forex market experience.
Online Forex Forums Connect Traders Around The World
Most forex trading is done online, with investors looking at forex charts, considering trends, and making decisions. There’s very little interaction, even via the Internet, with other human beings. That’s one of the reasons that many traders also spend time in forex forums, chatting with other investors and sharing tips.
There are dozens of forex-related forums and message boards on the Internet. Some are tied to brokerage firms, while others are just freestanding forums on forex-related sites. Since the market is active 24 hours a day, you can usually count on the forums being busy at all hours too.
As mentioned, one of the reasons for visiting forex forums is simply psychological: Humans like to interact with other humans, especially when their day jobs require them to be alone with a computer for hours at a stretch.
Furthermore, there are a lot of emotions involved in trading. It’s real money, after all, and often large amounts of it. Online forums give traders a place to discuss the psychological effects of long-term trading, how it can become addictive and nerve-racking, and what impact it has on everyday life. You could think of message boards as being a sort of support group for traders, or the equivalent of the office water cooler.
Forex forums have more practical uses, too, of course. Traders find the tips and strategies offered by their fellow traders to be invaluable. Forums are often rife with people more seasoned and experienced than the average person, which benefits the newcomers. And many experienced traders enjoy visiting the forums because it gives them a chance to share their wisdom with others.
Forex forums are also useful for gauging the general mood of the marketplace. The charts and rates give you the cold, hard facts. But many times making a decision to buy or sell comes from the gut, based not just on the numbers but on how the market FEELS. The forums are a place to see what other traders are thinking right now. Do they feel optimistic? Pessimistic? Are things looking up? Are they discouraged? All of this information can be taken into account when considering a trade.
ForexFactory.com and ForexForum.net are two very popular, widely visited message boards. There are dozens of others out there, too. All forex forums give traders a chance to connect with their colleagues and to learn from one another.
How To Read A Forex Chart
The forex chart is among the most basic tools in a forex trader’s arsenal. Simply put, it is a graph of a particular currency pair’s performance over a given period of time. Reading forex charts is essential to a trader’s business, so it’s important to know how to read them and understand what they mean.
Every forex chart will be labeled with a currency pair: EUR/USD, USD/GBP, etc. Remember, all forex trading deals with different countries’ currency in relation to each other. The EUR/USD chart, for example, tells you how the euro and the U.S. dollar compare.
Along the bottom of the chart is the timeline -- 15 minutes, an hour, a day, a week, or some other period. Going up the right-hand side are incremental amounts. For the EUR/USD chart, the amounts might be 1.2531 at the bottom, going up to 1.2561 at the top. And of course the middle of the chart shows what position the EUR/USD pair held at what time.
The forex chart is useful because it shows in graphic terms how a currency pair is doing. You can see at a glance whether a currency is getting stronger or weaker, and you can act accordingly. Choosing the time frame helps you see very minor trends (in a 15-minute period, say) or more long-term ones (over the course of several days, perhaps).
You can find forex charts all over the Internet, on Web sites for forex brokers, tutors, and on other forex-related sites. Those are fine for glancing at trends now and then. But to be a serious trader, you need to have access to charts much more readily, without having to go to a Web site. That’s why trading software gives you forex charts, too (you need to have broadband Internet so you can be “always connected”). Obviously, if you’re going to be trading, you need to have convenient access to the very latest charts.
With dozens of world currencies, there are far too many possible currency pairs for anyone to keep track of mentally. Forex charts show at a glance what any currency pair is up to, and good software allows you to save multiple charts as “favorites.” Naturally you’ll want to keep an eye on the charts representing investments you’ve already made, and it’s smart to have a few additional ones saved, too, so you can watch for trends in currencies you haven’t traded yet. You never know when a lucrative new opportunity is going to be revealed.
Finding A Forex Broker In A Crowded Marketplace
So you want to get involved in the foreign exchange market, or forex. You’re itching to trade one currency for another and make some profit. But you can’t just barge into Citigroup of Merrill Lynch and start throwing euros and yen around. To participate, you need a forex broker.
The preeminent forex broker for day traders (i.e., average Joes) is Advanced Currency Markets, or ACM. To many people, the Swiss company, founded in 2002, is synonymous with “forex broker,” trading about $70 billion a month.
There are dozens of other brokers, though, who service day traders. It’s done almost exclusively online, and in fact ordinary citizens rarely got involved with forex trading at all until the computer boom of the 1980s, and then exponentially more with the advent of the Internet in the 1990s. Since then, forex brokers have proliferated.
As you might expect, levels of reliability and competence vary from one broker to another. The Internet is rife with unsavory types seeking to take advantage of suckers, so you would do well to investigate thoroughly any broker you’re planning to use. Does their Web site look professional and reassuring, or is it riddled with dead links and spelling errors? Google the broker to see if they’ve been mentioned in news articles. Ask about their track record. And above all, avoid anyone who promises things that sound too good to be true, or who downplay the financial risk involved in forex trading.
Look for a broker that seems to genuinely want your business. Does the firm have customer service representatives available? Is there a phone number you can call to speak to a live person? The Web site should explain things clearly. If the site is full of language that seems designed to go over your head, look for a different broker.
If you set up an account with an online forex broker, it will work like this. First, you must apply for an account, which most brokers allow you to do online. This is to verify your identity and the validity of your bank accounts and financial records. Some brokers also require you to download their forex trading software, while others let you use whatever software you prefer. You will also have to transfer a minimum deposit to your account with your new broker. The minimum can be anywhere from $100 to $2,500.
Ideally, the broker you choose should offer service and support when you need it but should mostly simply stay out of the way and let you conduct your business. If you can find a forex broker who is professional and helpful, your experience in the forex market should be full of smooth sailing.
Covering The Basics Of The Forex Market
The foreign exchange, or forex, market is relatively young, having begun in the early 1970s after the United States dropped the gold standard and national currencies started to fluctuate widely. For about 30 years prior to that, most nations had agreed to keep their currency values stable in relation to the U.S. dollar, making a forex market unnecessary. With that no longer the case, banks quickly realized that a profit could be made in “buying” currency when it was devalued and “selling” it after it strengthened, just like any other commodity.
Today, the forex market handles about $1.9 trillion in transactions every day, and it runs 24 hours a day, five days a week. (With nations around the world involved, it’s always daytime somewhere.) The most traded currencies are the U.S. dollar, the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Swiss franc and Australian dollar.
The forex market is overwhelmingly dominated by international banks, government banks, investment banks, corporations, and hedge funds. In fact, individual traders account for only about 2 percent of the market. Nonetheless, a lot of people do try their hand at it, with varying degrees of success.
In the forex market, transactions are always handled in pairs: You buy one currency and sell another one. The idea is to make a trade when you believe the currency you’re buying is going to go up in value compared to the one you’re selling. Then, if it turns out your prediction was correct, you do another trade in the reverse direction -- selling the currency you originally bought and buying the one you sold -- in order to reap the profits.
For example, let’s say the market reports this: GBP/EUR 1.2200. That means the cost of buying one British pound is 1.22 euros. If you believed that course was going to change, and the euro was going to become more valuable than the pound, you might sell 100,000 pounds, buy 100,000 euros, and wait. Then let’s say a few weeks later, the exchange rate fluctuates to this: EUR/GBP 1.3100. Sure enough, the euro is now worth 1.31 pounds, a profit of 0.11 per unit.
The forex market is vast and daunting and mostly inhabited by giant organizations. But it can be navigated by individuals who have studied the finer points and who want to take a risk on something potential profitable. And since the whole world uses money, the trading of that money is always going to be a major force in the financial world.
A Forex Demo Shows You How It Works Before You Jump Into It For Real
Before airplane pilots actually fly on their own, they usually practice in simulators that re-create what flying will be like without any actual risk. Since currency trading is as dangerous financially as flying is physically, it makes sense that there would be a forex demo available, too.
A forex demo is a smart way for a new investor to start. Reading books and taking online courses can teach you the basics, but the best way to learn anything is to get some hands-on experience. However, with forex, hands-on experience could mean losing your shirt. So a demo gives you real-world training with no actual money being involved.
Usually, the demonstration comes courtesy of a brokerage or other financial Web site that has an interest in currying your favor. The plan is that once you’ve tested your skills in the demo, you’ll get into the real thing and take advantage of the paid services the demo provider has to offer -- forex signals, managed accounts, automated trading, etc. The demo is like a free sample, offered in the hopes that you’ll enjoy it so much that you buy something, too.
For that reason, be should be highly suspicious of any Web site that wants to charge for a demo. Considering there are literally dozens of sites that offer free demonstrations, there is absolutely no reason that you should pay for it.
When you sign up for a forex demo, you’re given a username and password and shown how to use the demo system. Sometimes it involves downloading a piece of software unique to the company; other times it’s simply done over the Internet. (Some demos require Macromedia Flash, which most browsers have installed, but which you’ll need the latest version of.) You determine how much imaginary money you want to start with, and off you go!
Once you’re signed in to the forex demo, you do all the things you would do if it were a real-world situation: reading the charts, following the trends, visiting online forums to get other traders’ opinions, and making trades. The trades are recorded in the forex demo only and don’t go anywhere into the actual market since there’s no real money involved. When the market changes, the program determines how much you’d have gained or lost based on the decisions you made. You’re able to say, “Whew! Good thing this was only for practice!” or “Too bad this wasn’t real!” And once you’ve gained some expertise using the forex demo, you can move on to the real thing and start making some money for real.
Forex alerts are a handy way of staying on top of the market
Because currency exchange covers the entire world and all 24 time zones, forex is a 24-hour-a-day market. This is good in that it results in billions upon billions of dollars of transactions per day. But it also means that forex traders have a constant influx of information to keep track of, unlike the stock market, where once trading closes at 5 p.m., that’s it. So how do forex traders stay on top of things? Most of them use forex alerts of some kind.
Forex alerts are available from many online forex brokers and other companies. A forex alert is simply a message sent to the user informing him of the latest developments in the forex market, often recommending action of some kind. These alerts can be sent via e-mail or cell phone text message.
The idea behind them is that no one can follow all the markets all the time. Even if you limit yourself to just the “majors” -- U.S., Eurozone, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and Switzerland -- that’s still 15 currency pairs to keep an eye on. What’s more, sometimes things are steady for long periods of time, while other periods are marked by great activity.
The sites that offer forex alerts go about it in one of two ways. Some simply send out alerts every 24 hours, offering the latest info on the forex market. Others send alerts only when something crucial happens. These systems use formulas of their own to determine what constitutes “something crucial,” and they may charge a lot more for their more specific alerts. And of course it’s still up to the individual trader to act on or disregard the information send to him in the alerts.
Some brokers include forex alerts as part of their service, while others charge for them. Some are part of a wider alert program that also handles your stocks and bonds. You can tailor the type of alerts you get based on whether you’re a conservative or aggressive trader, and how actively you plan to trade.
Serious traders who use forex alerts swear by them. No system is perfect, of course, and a smart trader will always do a little browsing on his own to make sure his latest alert didn’t miss anything. But alerts are an invaluable way for busy investors to go about their daily lives without having to constantly watch the forex rates.
What to watch for when reading a forex book
When it comes to forex trading, there are many, many resources out there to help you learn the ropes. There are online courses, seminars and even one-on-one training available. But sometimes the best way to learn is the old-fashioned way: by reading a book.
The marketplace abounds with forex books, and many new traders find them the best way to learn because it allows them to re-read passages as many times as necessary to fully grasp the concepts. Imagine asking the speaker at a large public seminar to repeat himself and you can see why a book has its advantages!
The question is, which forex book should you read? Like any other field, the forex trading world has its share of hucksters and liars. Be wary of any book that makes outrageous claims in its title or on the cover -- “Be a forex pro in an hour!” or “Make millions while you sleep!” for example. If a forex book promises something that’s too good to be true, it probably is. And if the book downplays or neglects the inherent risk in forex trading, you should skip it.
What you want in a forex book instead is calm, reasonable, practical advice. Showy, glitzy language suggests the writer is trying to pull a fast one. (And you have to wonder: If it’s SO EASY to make millions in forex trading, why is this guy writing books about it instead of doing it?) Restrained, logical language suggests the writer knows the market and is simply explaining what he’s learned.
Take note also of the book’s presentation. Is it an e-book sold by some guy off his Web site? Is it riddled with grammar and spelling errors? Or does it appear to have been written and edited by professionals, and presented in an appealing, straightforward manner? You want a book that fits the latter description. It’s more likely to be reliable and up-front about the pros and cons of forex trading.
Finally, when considering a forex book, it’s worth taking a few minutes to Google the author’s name and see what comes up. Are there reviews of the book written by actual readers (not testimonials provided on the author’s Web site)? Has the author been mentioned in any news stories? What is his or her background? Does he or she have any real-world trading experience, or do they just write forex books? Remember, those who can do, do. Those who can’t do, teach.
Trying to forecast forex rates is an acquired skill
It’s not easy to forecast the forex markets, but it’s what thousands of forex traders and brokers do every day, with varying degrees of success. Like forecasting the weather, predicting the forex market is sometimes a crapshoot, sometimes a guessing game, and always an adventure.
There are two basic philosophies on how to forecast the forex markets. One is technical analysis; the other is fundamental analysis. We’ll look at them both.
The technical approach examines past market action and uses that data to predict the future. Previous trends in most areas of life are almost always good indicators of the future; forex is no different. People have not changed much in the decades since the forex market was created. People still buy and sell and react to stimuli in much the same way as they did 50 years ago.
Since forex rates change constantly throughout the day, every day, looking at all the years of past data can be daunting. Smart analysts learned to look at the big picture, to skip the minor details and examine trends over a longer period of time.
Using fundamental analysis to forecast forex markets is a bit more in-depth, but it can also be highly accurate. Basically, fundamental analysis means forecasting the market based on external factors -- political moves, government involvement, social movements, even the weather. Someone good at fundamental analysis might forecast forex drop-offs because he knows a country’s government is unstable at the moment, or increases because the country has just elected a popular new leader. Anything that can affect a nation’s economy can affect the exchange rates, and that’s what a fundamental analyst uses to guess at the forex market’s future
Naturally, this means having to know a particular country in-depth, which is hard to do for more than a few countries at a time. (It becomes even more complicated when trying to forecast the euro, since several different countries use that currency.) But having that kind of intricate knowledge makes it much, much easier to forecast forex trends.
Most good traders use a mixture of both processes, technical and fundamental. For example, a trader might see that a country is currently facing a particularly strong hurricane season (fundamental) and know that in the past, strong hurricane seasons have meant a weaker economy for that nation (technical). Thus, he can predict down-turns for that nation with some degree of confidence.
Let Your Money Work for You with Automated FOREX Trading
In our modern world of luxury and ease, some financial speculators are finding it advantageous to do FOREX trading the easy way: through automated FOREX trading systems.
Automated FOREX trading is exactly what it sounds like. A highly sophisticated and complicated computer program uses mathematical algorithms to determine when to buy and sell currency, and it makes the trades for you. You put an initial investment into the account, and then let the system do all the work for you.
It may sound risky to let a computer program choose when to buy and sell currency, but automated trading can often be safer than doing it yourself. Humans are subject to error, to misreading charts, and to overlooking data. Humans can also let their emotions get in the way of making smart decisions, like the gambler who loses everything because he just can’t tear himself away from the blackjack table.
An automated trading program has none of those flaws. With the software doing it for you, it’s as if you were always watching every market, noticing every trend, instantly analyzing all available data, and making the smartest decisions.
There is a cost for this, of course. Most brokers that offer it require a minimum investment of several thousand dollars or more, and they may charge a fee on top of that.
But the benefits of automated FOREX trading can be great. Whereas manual trading requires an investor to study the market intensely before jumping in to it, automated trading requires no training at all. Learn the very basics of how the market works so you can tell what your automated system is doing for you, and that’s it. Sit back and let it make your money work for you.
Automated trading is also useful for companies and other institutions that want to diversify their assets but don’t have the time or resources to devote to FOREX trading. If a computer program can do it for you, there’s no need to have one of your employees handle it, right?
It goes without saying that automated trading systems rely on technical analysis rather than fundamental analysis. That is, the algorithms examine past market performance and general trends and base their trading decisions on that, not on external factors such as politics and environmental concerns, which may affect a nation’s currency. Nonetheless, automated trading has proven to be highly effective and accurate for many investors, freeing up their schedules to focus on other things.
The forex market uses margins to increase your profits
Forex is a nickname for the foreign exchange, a vast market of trading in which the commodity is money itself. In the forex market, traders are buying and selling foreign currencies -- trading dollars for euros, pounds for yen, and so forth.
Forex is profitable because national currencies fluctuate from day to day based on predictions of the nation’s gross domestic product and other factors. As with the stock market, the idea with the forex is to buy low and sell high: Buy a lot of a particular currency when it’s weak, then sell it when it becomes stronger.
For example, bad financial news in Great Britain means that forex traders will be selling off their British pounds as fast as possible, as the pound is about to become devalued. Once the pound recovers, those traders will sell it for something else, thus turning a profit.
Though we talk of “buying” and “selling” pounds, euros, yen and francs, the transactions performed in the forex are not literal. That is, if you want to buy 100,000 euros, you don’t have to withdraw the equivalent U.S. dollars from your bank account and swap them out for a big stack of euros. Everything is done on paper only, though the resulting profits and losses are real.
Because the transactions are not done physically, there is room in the forex for what are called “margins” or “leverage.” Put simply, this means you don’t have to actually put up the full amount of the position you’re taking. Usually the margin is 1%, meaning that when you put $1,000 into it, you’re actually getting $100,000. Of course, margins multiply your losses as well as your profits, so you have to be careful.
One of the reasons for allowing a 100:1 margin like this is that the major world currencies in the forex market usually fluctuate less than 1% a day. (In the stock market, a typical stock might fluctuate as much as 10% in one day.) With changes that small, your daily loss or gain on an initial investment of $1,000 would be almost imperceptible, usually less than $10 either way. By multiplying it by 100, the gains and losses in the forex market are more pronounced.
With leverage implemented that way, the basic “lot” for buying and selling currencies is usually 100,000 (which of course only costs 1,000). Most firms that handle day-trading on the forex market don’t go any lower than that.
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