Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Main forex markets

Foreign exchange is traded essentially in two distinctive ways. Over an organized exchange and 'over the counter'. Exchange traded foreign exchange represents a very small portion of the total foreign exchange market the great majority of foreign exchange deals being traded between banks and other market participants 'over the counter'.

1. Exchange traded currencies

In the case of an organized exchange like the Chicago Mercantile exchange (CME) in the US, standardized currency contract sizes that represent a certain monetary value are traded in the International money market (IMM). A central clearing house organizes matching of transactions between counter-parties. There are various disadvantages to trading currency futures as outlined in the chapter Advantages of trading FX.

2. Forex market

In comparison the over the counter market is traded around the world by a multitude of participants and price quality, reputation and trading conditions determine who a participant wishes to trade with. It is probably the most competitive market in the world and brokers like ACM must insure they live up to the highest standards of service and be compliant with market standards and practices if they want to acquire new customers and retain their existing ones. In 1998 a survey under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), global turnover of reporting dealers was estimated at about USD 1.49 trillion per day. In comparison, currency futures turnover was estimated at USD 12 billion.

Among the various financial centers around the world, the largest amount of foreign exchange trading takes place in the United Kingdom, even though that nation's currency, the British pound is less widely traded in the market than several others. As shown in the graph underneath, the United Kingdom accounts for about 32 percent of the global total; the United States ranks a distant second with about 18 percent, and Japan is third with 8 percent.

Market participants

In the last years, the foreign exchange market has expanded from one where banks would execute transactions between themselves to one in which many other kinds of financial institutions like brokers and market-makers participate including non-financial corporations, investment firms, pension funds and hedge funds.

Its' focus has broadened from servicing importers and exporters to handling the vast amounts of overseas investment and other capital flows that currently take place. Lately foreign exchange day trading has become increasingly popular and various firms offer trading facilities to the small investor.

Foreign exchange is an 'over the counter' (OTC) market, that means that there is no central exchange and clearing house where orders are matched. Geographic trading 'centers' exist around the world however and are: (in order of importance) London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Frankfurt, Geneva & Zurich, Paris and Hong Kong. Essentially foreign exchange deals are made between participants on the basis of trust and reputation to deliver on an agreement. In the case of banks trading with one another, they do so solely on that basis. In the retail market, customers demand a written legally accepted contract between themselves and their broker in exchange of a deposit of funds on which basis the customer may trade.

Some market participants may be involved in the 'goods' market, conducting international transactions for the purchase or sale of merchandise. Some may be engaged in 'direct investment' in plant and equipment, or may be in the 'money market,' trading short-term debt instruments internationally. The various investors, hedgers, and speculators may be focused on any time period, from a few minutes to several years. But, whether official or private, and whether their motive be investing, hedging, speculating, arbitraging, paying for imports, or seeking to influence the rate, they are all part of the aggregate demand for and supply of the currencies involved, and they all play a role in determining the exchange rate at that moment.

Advantages of trading forex

Although the forex market is by far the largest and most liquid in the world, day traders have up to now focused on seeking profits in mainly stock and futures markets. This is mainly due to the restrictive nature of bank-offered forex trading services.
Advanced Currency Markets (ACM) offers both online and traditional phone forex trading services to the small investor with minimum account opening values starting at 5000 USD.
There are many advantages to trading spot foreign exchange as opposed to trading stocks and futures. Below are listed those main advantages.

1. Bid/Ask Spread rates

Spread rates have tightened dramatically in the last years. Most online forex brokers offer a spread of 5 pips on EURUSD which is the most widely traded and liquid currency pair. ACM offers a 3 pip spread on EURUSD. In stock trading, only liquid stocks offer tight spreads. Those spreads often represent on average between 0.04% and 0.06% of the value of the stock. In comparison ACM offers a 3 pip spread on all major currencies, this equates to approximately between 0.02% and 0.03% on the underlying dollar value.

Exact percentages at current rates (May 2002)

EURUSD 3 pips 0.03%
GBPUSD 3 pips 0.03%
USDJPY 3 pips 0.023%
USDCHF 3 pips 0.018%

In the futures market spreads can vary anywhere between 5 and 9 pips and can become even larger under illiquid market conditions (which tends to happen substantially more often in futures currencies).

2. Commissions

ACM offers foreign exchange trading commission free. This is in sharp contrast to (once again) what stock and futures brokers offer. A stock trade can cost anywhere between USD 5 and 30 per trade with online brokers and typically up to USD 150 with full service brokers. Futures brokers can charge commissions anywhere between USD 10 and 30 on a round turn basis.

3. Margins requirements

ACM offers a foreign exchange trading with a 1% margin. In layman's terms that means a trader can control a position of a value of USD 1'000'000 with a mere USD 10'000 in his account. By comparison, futures margins are not only constantly changing but are also often quite sizeable. Stocks are generally traded on a non-margined basis and when they are, it can be as restrictive as 50% or so.

4. 24 hour market

Foreign exchange market trading occurs over a 24 hour period picking up in Asia around 24:00 CET Sunday evening and coming to an end in the United States on Friday around 23:00 CET. Although ECNs (electronic communications networks) exist for stock markets and futures markets (like Globex) that supply after hours trading, liquidity is often low and prices offered can often be uncompetitive.

5. No Limit up / limit down

Futures markets contain certain constraints that limit the number and type of transactions a trader can make under certain price conditions. When the price of a certain currency rises or falls beyond a certain pre-determined daily level traders are restricted from initiating new positions and are limited only to liquidating existing positions if they so desire. This mechanism is meant to control daily price volatility but in effect since the futures currency market follows the spot market anyway, the following day the futures market may undergo what is called a 'gap' or in other words the futures price will re-adjust to the spot price the next day. In the OTC market no such trading constraints exist permitting the trader to truly implement his trading strategy to the fullest extent. Since a trader can protect his position from large unexpected price movements with stop-loss orders the high volatility in the spot market can be fully controlled.

6. Sell before you buy

Equity brokers offer very restrictive short-selling margin requirements to customers. This means that a customer does not possess the liquidity to be able to sell stock before he buys it. Margin wise, a trader has exactly the same capacity when initiating a selling or buying position in the spot market. In spot trading when you're selling one currency, you're necessarily buying another.

About Forex

To buy foreign goods or services, or to invest in other countries, companies and individuals may need to first buy the currency of the country with which they are doing business. Generally, exporters prefer to be paid in their country's currency or in U.S. dollars, which are accepted all over the world.

The foreign exchange market, or the "FX" market, is where the buying and selling of different currencies takes place. The price of one currency in terms of another is called an exchange rate.

The market itself is actually a worldwide network of traders, connected by telephone lines and computer screens there is no central headquarters. There are three main centers of trading, which handle the majority of all FX transactions United Kingdom, United States, and Japan .

what is forex

FOREX (FOReign EXchange market) is an international foreign exchange market, where money is sold and bought freely. In its present condition FOREX was launched in the 1970s, when free exchange rates were introduced, and only the participants of the market determine the price of one currency against the other proceeding from supply and demand.As far as the freedom from any external control and free competition are concerned, FOREX is a perfect market. It is also the biggest liquid financial market. According to various assessments, money masses in the market constitute from 1 to 1.5 trillion US dollars a day. (It is impossible to determine an absolutely exact number because trading is not centralized on an exchange.) Transactions are conducted all over the world via telecommunications 24 hours a day from 00:00 GMT on Monday to 10:00 pm GMT on Friday. Practically in every time zone (that is, in Frankfurt-on-Main, London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.) there are dealers who will quote currencies.FOREX is a more objective market, because if some of its participants would like to change prices, for some manipulative purpose, they would have to operate with tens of billions dollars. That is why any influence by a single participants in the market is practically out of the question. The superior liquidity allows the traders to open and/or close positions within a few seconds. The time of keeping a position is arbitrary and has no limits: from several seconds to many years. It depends only on your trading strategies. Although the daily fluctuations of currencies are rather insignificant, you may use the credit lines, that are accessible even to currency speculators with small capitals ($ 1,000 - 5,000), where the profit may be impressive. (You can learn more about it in the section: The main principles of trading.)The idea of marginal trading stems from the fact that in FOREX speculative interests can be satisfied without a real money supply. This decreases overhead expenses for transferring money and gives an opportunity to open positions with a small account in US dollars, buying and selling a lot of other currencies. That is, on can conduct transactions very quickly, getting a big profit, when the exchange rates go up or down. Many speculative transactions in the international financial markets are made on the principles of marginal trading.Margin trading is trading with a borrowed capital. Marginal trading in an exchange market uses lots. 1 lot equals approximately $100,000, but to open it it is necessary to have only from 0.5% to 4% of the sum.For example, you have analyzed the situation in the market and come to the conclusion that the pound will go up against the dollar. You open 1 lot for buying the pound (GBP) with the margin 1% (1:1000 leverage) at the price of 1.49889 and wait for the exchange rate to go up. Some time later your expectations become true. You close the position at 1.5050 and earn 61 pips (about $ 405). For the calculation of 1 pip click here.Everyday fluctuations of currencies constitute about 100 to 150 pips, giving FX traders an opportunity to make money on these changes.In FOREX, it's not obligatory to buy some currency first in order to sell it later. It's possible to open positions for buying and selling any currency without actually having it. Usually Internet-brokers establish the minimum deposit such as $ 2000, for working in the FOREX market, and grant a leverage of 1:100. That is, opening the position at $100,000, a trader invests $1,000 and receives $99.000 as a credit. The major currencies traded in FOREX, are Euro (EUR), Japanese yen (JPY), British Pound (GBP), and Swiss Franc (CHF). All of them are traded against the US dollar (USD).In order to assess the situation in the market a trader has to be able to use fundamental and/or technical analysis, as well as to make decisions in the constantly changing current of information about political and economic character. Most small and medium players in financial markets use technical analysis. Technical analysis presupposes that all the information about the market and its further fluctuations is contained in the price chain. Any factor, that has some influence on the price, be it economic, political or psychological, has already been considered by the market and included in the price. The initial data for a technical analysis are prices: the highest and the lowest prices, the price of opening and closing within a certain period of time, and the volume of transactions.A technical analysis is founded on three suppositions:Movement of the market considers everything;Movement of prices is purposeful;History repeats itself. That is, technical analysis is a statistical and mathematical analysis of previous quotes and a prognosis of coming prices.A number of technical indicators have been installed into the PRO-CHARTS trading system. Analyzing the indicators one can come to the conclusion about further movements of the quoted currencies. For a more detailed description of the indicators, analyzing price charts and volumes of trading, click here.Fundamental analysis is an analysis of current situations in the country of the currency, such as its economy, political events, and rumors. The country's economy depends on the rate of inflation and unemployment, on the interest rate of its Central Bank, and on tax policy. Political stability also influences the exchange rate. Policy of the Central Bank has a special role, as concentrated interventions or refusal from them greatly influence the exchange rate.At the same time one should not consider fundamental analysis just as an analysis of the economic situation in the country itself. A far bigger role in the FOREX market belongs to the expectations of the market participants and their assessment of these expectations. Various prognoses and bulletins, issued by the participants, have a strong influence on the expectations. Very often an effect of the so-called self-filfilling prophecy occurs when market players raise or lower the exchange rates according to the prognosis. But a deep and thorough fundamental analysis is available only for big banks with a staff of professional analysts and constant access to a wide field of information.In spite of these different approaches, both forms of analyses complement one another. Traders who act on the basis of a fundamental analysis, have to consider some technical characteristics of the market (the main rates of support, such as resistance and resale), and supporters of the technical approach to the market must track the main news (interest rates, important political events).