Leverage

The FX Market: The Facts

The forex or FX market is the currency trading market where foreign currencies are exchanged. It is not located in just one place. By its very nature it is a global market and trading happens all over the world.

In a sense there is a separate market for each currency pair. Every possible combination of currencies has its own price. Although these are related in some ways there is not necessarily a direct connection between them. Obviously if a country is doing very badly in economic terms, then its currency is likely to fall in comparison with most other countries. But another country might be doing even worse and then the opposite would show on that particular currency pair market. For example the dollar could be falling against the euro while at the same time it is rising against the yen.

The biggest participants in the FX market are banks and other large financial institutions who have a lot of money to invest. They employ professional currency traders who do this for their job. But the markets are so huge and access is so easy that anybody can get involved these days.

All you need is a computer with a high speed internet connection. Do not try trading over a dial up connection! You will find it very frustrating. Prices will change too fast for you to act and you will probably lose money.

You will also need access to a broker who will cover your trades by offering you leverage. This means that with say $100 of your funds you can control $10,000. The broker handles this amount, but you can get started with just a few hundred dollars in a mini FX trading account.

The forex market is highly liquid and very volatile. Liquidity is a measure of how easy it is to turn an investment to cash. Currency is already cash so it has high liquidity. What this means for you is that you can buy and sell at any time. You do not have to wait to find a buyer as you often do with stocks.

The high volatility of the forex market means that prices are constantly changing. This makes it a very risky investment but also potentially very profitable. The possibility of gaining or losing a lot of money in a short time is very attractive for people who are prepared to take the risks. Forex trading is exciting and can be very lucrative for the skilful trader.

Traders use charts and graphs to indicate trends in the movement of the prices. The aim of course is to predict whether the price will continue to move in its current direction or when there will be a reversal. These charts and graphs are normally provided by your broker.

At the same time it is important to stay alert to world events that might affect the financial markets. Many brokers also provide a live feed of forex news. This can be very useful if only to remind you to leave the FX market by closing your trades before major financial announcements are expected.

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Sunday, June 28th, 2009 Introduction No Comments

Forex Mini Account Trading

Forex mini accounts are ideal for just about anybody who is starting out in forex trading. You would have to be very rich or very confident to start right out with a standard account if you are a retail trader (i.e. somebody trading on their own account from home). A mini account lets you get started without risking so much money and this makes it a very attractive option for most people.

Mini forex trading accounts generally allow you to trade with just one tenth of the normal lot size. This usually means 10,000 units of currency instead of 100,000.

Of course you do not have to have this much in your account. Currency trading works with leverage. If you are using 100 times leverage then you need $100 to control $10,000 in your mini account or $1,000 to control $100,000 for a standard account.

$100 or 100 units of other currency per trade is enough for most people to commit to a trade when they are starting out and that is why the mini trading account is so attractive.

The pip size is also usually smaller in a mini account. Pips are units in which you will measure your profits, losses and costs (the spread). Their dollar value can vary depending on the currency pair that you are trading, the lot size and other conventions of your broker, but a common standard pip size is $10 and mini pip size is $1.

Some brokers are now quoting prices to 5 decimal places which technically would make one pip 0.00001 of the quoted price, but we will continue to use the standard 4 decimal place pip for this example.

So if you have a standard forex account you can expect to put up $1,000 on each trade, be involved in trading lots of $100,000 and measure your profits in $10 units.

If you have a forex mini account you can expect to commit $100 on each trade, be involved in trading lots of $10,000 and measure your profits in $1 units.

Of course you can set stop losses so that you do not have to risk all of the money that is committed to the trade. But your losses will be measured in terms of pips so these too will be 10 times greater in the standard account.

If you are successful and your fund grows, you may want to move up to trading greater sums. You can still do this in your mini account by trading more than one lot at a time. So if you want to trade a standard lot size you would just trade 10 mini lots. This has the advantage of still giving you the ability for fine control of your stops because your pip size is still just $1.

The standard account used to be all that was available before so many people had powerful home computers and high speed internet connections that made it possible for the ordinary person to trade from home. The forex mini account is a development that has opened up the market to people who have the technology but not the money for standard currency trading investment.

If you want to risk even less of your money, you could look at forex micro accounts which allow you to make even smaller trades. Be aware though that the spread is often a little high and you might find it difficult to profit with a micro account. It may be better to use a demo account until your confidence builds and then open a forex mini account for real trading.

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Sunday, June 21st, 2009 Strategy No Comments

Foreign Exchange Brokers: What To Look For

Foreign exchange brokers that cater to the retail investor are springing up all of the time all over the world. What should you look for in selecting a forex broker and how can you be sure you are getting the best?

Everybody starts out currency trading with hopes of having big returns and some of the publicity that you will see will make this sound almost inevitable. In fact of course currency trading is full of risk and many people get their fingers burnt. You could easily lose your startup funds, especially if you start trading for real too soon.

Be sure that you are signing up with a broker who states the risks clearly. When you are starting out you should probably look for a company that will protect you from margin calls by automatically closing your trades if your funds become exhausted. Of course this is a bad situation that you will hope to avoid but it is better than finding you are committed to paying more than you had in the account.

Forex traders often work with 100, 200 or even 400 times leverage. This means that the funds in your account can control 100-400 times their own value. With $100 of the funds in your account you can trade lots of $10,000. So if something goes wrong and the price moves unexpectedly against you, you could be down by more than $100. You can put your own stop losses into place but it is useful to have a broker who will do this in case you forget one time.

Of course you also want to make sure that the brokerage company is honest and will not disappear with your money. If they have been around for a while or form part of a large, reputable company that is a good sign. Another valuable point to consider is whether they are members of any regulatory bodies. This may give you protection if the company goes out of business.

Foreign exchange brokers will offer you various services including charts and technical analysis through their software platform. It is important to know what charts you are likely to need not only for your current system but for other ways that you may want to trade in the future. Compare the charts provided by the different brokers. Think about how you would want to use and combine them and make sure that your chosen broker offers what you need.

You will also want to be sure about the reliability of the software. If it goes offline you could lose the chance to control a trade. Try to find feedback on forex forums or the company’s own forum if there is one, to check how satisfied users are with the reliability of the software platform and also the support provided. Forex is a 24 hour market during the business week and you should be able to get support 24 hours too.

Spread is something that most traders look at when selecting a brokerage account. This is the difference between the bid and ask prices and it is how forex brokers make their money. You may be tempted to go with a company because they offer a low spread but remember that it may not be permanent and probably does not apply to all currency pairs. Spread should not be your only or even your main consideration when considering foreign exchange brokers.

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Brokers No Comments