WHAT IS FOREX?
Forex is short for FOREIGN EXCHANGE. Foreign exchange is the process of changing one currency into another currency for a variety of reasons, usually for commerce, trading, tourism, and for profit. According to a recent triennial report (occurs every 3 years) from the Bank for International Settlements (a global bank for national central banks), the average was more than $5.1 trillion in daily forex trading volume.
- The foreign exchange (also known as FX or forex) market is a global marketplace for exchanging national currencies against one another.
- Because of the worldwide reach of trade, commerce, and finance, forex markets tend to be the largest and most liquid asset markets in the world.
- Currencies trade against each other as exchange rate pairs. For example, EUR/USD.
- Forex markets exist as spot (cash) markets as well as derivatives markets offering forwards, futures, options, and currency swaps.
- Market participants use forex to hedge against international currency and interest rate risk, to speculate on geopolitical events, and to diversify portfolios, among several other reasons.
With approximately $5 trillion USD traded in the market every day, the forex market has the highest liquidity in the world. Basically, this means that one can buy almost any currency he wishes in high volumes while the market is open.
The forex market is open 24 hours, 5 days a week – Monday to Friday. Trading begins with the opening of the market in Australia, Asia, Europe to follow and then the USA until the markets close.
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 some other instruments, where a downfall of the market would leave traders with untradeable assets, the forex market can always find a buyer or a seller.
There are hundreds of currencies in the world, and each has a three letter symbol. American Dollars are USD, Euros are EUR, Swiss Francs are CHF, British Pounds are GBP and onwards to all the currencies.
Currencies are divided into two main sorts – Major currencies and minor ones. The major currencies are derived from the most powerful economies around the globe – the US, Japan, the UK, the Euro Zone, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand. Together with the other currencies they create forex pairs.
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. high liquidity, 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.
Trading the financial markets carries high risk and may not be suitable for all investors. Trading on margin and utilizing leverage can carry an even higher level of risk that can lead to a complete loss of investment funds. Before deciding to trade the financial markets, you should carefully and diligently consider your personal investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. Because a possibility exists that you could potentially sustain significant loss, you should NOT invest or trade any capital that you cannot afford to lose. It is your responsibility to be aware of and understand all risks associated with trading the financial markets, and to seek professional advice from an independent certified financial advisor if you have any doubts.