The foreign exchange market, also known as forex or FX, is a global financial market for trading national currencies. Forex has no single geographical or financial centre. Instead, trades are processed through a number of financial centres globally, including, but not limited to, London, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Forex is one of the busiest markets in the world, with trading volumes and liquidity levels driven by traders around the world. Forex, like many other financial markets, is affected by external stimuli, which include news events, major political events or speeches, economic indicators and the release of unemployment figures.
With the exception of the weekend, forex is the one market that does not sleep. Also you can normally trade the markets from anywhere in the world, provided you have market access, which at its most basic, means a computer, a good internet connection, a financial trading platform and funds that you can afford to lose.
As the forex markets operate globally, you can trade in the morning, afternoon, evening or even during the night. This means that you can try to fit your trading around other activities, such as work or social events. Although if you are just flitting in and out of the markets then you’ll probably be less successful than someone who is more thorough.
You can trade the forex markets using a leveraged trading product such as forex spread betting . Leverage means that a small initial deposit controls a larger sum of money. Leverage can be useful when trading forex pairs that only move by small amounts in a given time period, it also has its downsides however.
Price fluctuations can happen suddenly and without prior warning, but they can also increase or decrease by small percentages over a period of hours or even days. Leverage, in this context, means that you can create larger profits from small price movements. However, it is important to understand that leverage can work both ways, it carries a high degree of risk to your capital, as potential losses are also magnified. Consequently you can lose more than your initial deposit.
Before trading, make sure that you are fully aware of the risk. Ensure that spread betting fits your trading objectives as it might not be appropriate for all types of investor. Always ensure that you only spread bet with money you can afford to lose. Request independent financial advice if appropriate.
In contrast to some financial markets, forex traders can potentially profit not only from rising, but also from falling price movements. ‘Going long’ means that you speculate that prices will increase over a period of time. Your potential profit comes as a result of an increased price, while losses, in this context, are the result of falling prices.
‘Going short’ means that you think prices will fall over time. In this case, your potential profit is the result of an accurate prediction of falling prices, while losses are sustained should prices rise.
The writer is a seasoned financial author offering strategic and tactical trading views on the futures and spread betting markets.