You can call it by any of these names—Foreign exchange, forex or just FX. They all describe the mode of trading of the world’s major currencies. Today, the forex market is considered the largest market in the world with the volume of trading that amounts to around USD 1.5 trillion every day. Add the volume of activities of all the domestic trading exchanges and even then the forex transaction on an average day is more than this combined value. The forex trading value is also one hundred times greater than the daily trading on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). The activities in this market are mostly speculative, with a small portion representing governments’ and banks’ fundamental currency conversion needs.
The forex market is fundamentally different in nature having an operation on the “interbank” market, instead of operating through a central exchange like those of the domestic stock markets. In nature forex market resembles an OTC or over the counter market, where trading takes place directly between the two parties whether over the telephone or on electronic networks all over the world. The main centers for trading are Sydney, Tokyo, London, Frankfurt and New York. Because of this worldwide network of trading centres, the forex market remains operative 24-hour all through the week.
In the earlier days, the forex trading was the monopoly of financial giants and a few selective big time traders. But the globalization and internet has thrown open the market to common traders with a sharp intuition for speculative trading. In addition to a sharp intuition and predicting abilities, a first time trader needs some basi training in the major terms of forex trading.
The basic forex terms:
The forex market is described as the spot market as the trades are settled instantly, “on the spot”. In real life it amounts to two banking days.
You sell currencies in this market through a ‘bid’, and you buy them through ‘ask’. The spread is the difference between the price at which you sold the currency and the price you have bought them. Under normal market condition you will find a spread on majors amounting to 3 pips.
As said earlier you will often come across such scenario as a 3-pip spread on trading the majors. It is the basic unit for measuring a cross price quote changes. Consider this instance, where EURUSD is quoted at a bid price of 0.9875 and an ask price of 0.9878. The difference is USD 0.0003, which is equal to 3 “pips”.
Foreign exchange is normally traded on margin which is considerably higher than any other stock exchanges. In forex market you will enjoy a margin up to 100 times.
Base Currency and Variable Currency
In forex market you are always trading on a combination of two currencies. For example, you will buy US dollars and sell Euro. It means you have to speculate on the assumption of comparative strength and weaknesses of the any two currencies.
Forex market is a perfect for those who do not dare to take risks. But you will be in a position of taking risks when you adequately educated in this field and your basic minimum education in this field should start with a clear perception about the above described forex trading terms.