Foreign exchange, also commonly known as ‘Forex’ or ‘FX’, is the exchange of one currency for another. Forex is the world’s most traded market, with an average turnover in excess of US$5.3 trillion per day.
The New York Stock Exchange only has a daily turnover of around $50 Billion a day so you can see why the forex market is the day traders market of choice and is certainly the biggest financial market out there.
Unlike most financial markets, the OTC (over-the-counter) forex market has no physical location or central exchange and trades 24-hours a day through a global network of businesses, banks and individuals. This means that currency prices are constantly fluctuating in value against each other, offering multiple trading opportunities.
24-Hour Forex Trading
One of the key elements behind forex’s popularity is the fact that forex markets are open 24-hours a day from Sunday evening through to Friday night. Trading follows the clock, opening on Monday morning in Wellington, New Zealand, progressing to Asian trade spearheaded out of Tokyo and Singapore, before moving to London and closing on Friday evening in New
The fact that prices are available to trade 24 hours a day helps to ensure that price gapping (when a price jumps from one level to the next without trading in between) is less and ensures that traders can take a position whenever they want, regardless of time, though in truth there are certain ‘lull’ times when volumes are below their daily average which can widen market spreads.
You might enjoy trading the major currency pairs, or have knowledge about the strength of an exotic currency, or a feel for commodities; some opportunities present themselves to people who keep up with news and events, while others require patient analysis. Traders bring their own strengths and preferences to their trading and, over time, create their own trading style. Each market participant has their goals; some are companies who are hedging currency exposure to protect their business; some are fundamental traders who focus on factors that affect the strength of whole economies; others are technical traders who look for price patterns to trigger their trades. In addition, there are central banks, hedge funds and financial institutions who all bring different goals and interpretations to their trading.
Foreign exchange is a leveraged (or margined) product, which means that you are only required to deposit a small percentage of the full value of your position to place a forex trade. This means that the potential for profit, or loss, from an initial capital outlay is significantly higher than in traditional trading.