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What is the forex market?

Foreign exchange (also known as forex or FX) refers to the global, over-the-counter market (OTC) where traders, investors, institutions and banks, exchange speculate on, buy and sell world currencies.

Trading is conducted over the ‘interbank market’, an online channel through which currencies are traded 24 hours a day, five days a week. Forex is one of the largest trading markets, with a global daily turnover estimated to exceed US$5 trillion.

 

Understanding Currency Pairs

All transactions made on the forex market involve the simultaneous purchasing and selling of two currencies.
These are called ‘currency pairs’, and include a base currency and a quote currency. The display below shows the forex pair EUR/USD (Euro/US Dollar), one of the most common currency pairs used on the forex market.

Bid Price

Sell 1 Euro for 1.0916 US Dollars

1.0916

Ask Price

Buy 1 Euro for 1.0918 US Dollars

1.0918

Spread

Ask Price – Bid Price

1.0918 – 1.0916 = 0.0002 (2 pips)

pips

Ask Price – Bid Price

1.0918 – 1.0916 = 0.0002 (2 pips)

 

BASE CURRENCY

The base currency is the first currency that appears in a forex pair. This currency is bought or sold in exchange for the quote currency.
So, based on the example above, it will cost a trader 1.0916 USD to buy 1 EUR.
Alternatively, a trader could sell 1 EUR for 1.0916 USD.

Note: Forex prices are often quoted to four decimal places because their spread differences are typically very small. However, there is no definitive rule when it comes to the number of decimal places used for forex quotes.

On the forex market, trades in currencies are often worth millions, so small bid-ask price differences (i.e. several pips) can soon add up to a significant profit. Of course, such large trading volumes mean a small spread can also equate to significant losses.
Always trade carefully and consider the risks involved.

VISUALISING

CURRENCY TRADES

Trades & Key Terminology

A ‘position’ is the term used to describe a trade in progress. A long position means a trader has bought currency expecting the value to increase. Once the trader sells that currency back to the market (ideally for a higher price than he paid), his long position is said to be ‘closed’ and the trade is complete.
short position refers to a trader who sells a currency expecting it to decrease, and plans to buy it back at a lower value. A short position is ‘closed’ once the trader buys back the asset (ideally for less than he sold it for).

For example, if the currency pair EUR/USD was trading at 1.0916/1.0918, then an investor looking to open a long position on the euro would purchase 1 EUR for 1.0918 USD. The trader will then hold the euro in the hopes that it will appreciate, selling it back to the market at a profit once the price has increased.

An investor going short on EUR would sell 1 EUR for 1.0916 USD. This trader expects the euro to depreciate, and plans to buy it back at a lower rate if it does.

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