Forex Foreign Exchange

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While the value of a country's currency remains stable within its own borders, in the same time its value can widely fluctuate compared to that of other countries.

Beginners in Foreign exchange trading circles may find this helpful introductory fact sheet all about Forex a useful starting point - (by Alpari)

Exchanging rates keep on changing constantly and supply and demand for any given currency, and thus its value, are influenced by economic factors, political conditions and market psychology.

Betting on the spreads between countries' currencies by placing "buy" or "sell" orders is what Forex trading is all about.

Although, the value of the daily turnover in the forex markets substantially exceeds those of other markets, this is not the domain of the big players only. Small investors can also participate!

The market for foreign exchange is the world's largest financial market.

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Trading is conducted through an "over-the-counter" network of traders from major commercial and investment banks linked by computer terminals.

Participants include importers and exporters, as well as traders, portfolio managers and foreign exchange brokers.

Major trading centers include London, New York and Tokyo, with total trading volume in excess of $2 trillion dollars of foreign currency per day.

More than half of all trading directly involves the exchange of U.S. dollars and other currencies are traded against U.S. dollars since currency dealers quote other currencies against the dollar when trading among themselves.

Currency Markets

Foreign exchange transactions that are settled immediately are said to occur in the spot market, while transactions to be settled at a future date occur in either the forward or the futures market.

These markets are summarized below:

1. Spot Market:

This is the market for currencies for immediate delivery. The price of foreign exchange in the spot market is referred to as the spot exchange rate or simply the spot rate.

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The spot FX market is unique to any other market in the world, as trading is available 24 hours a day.

Somewhere around the world, a financial center is open for business, where banks and other institutions exchange currencies, every hour of the day and night with generally only minor gaps on the weekend.

Essentially foreign exchange markets follow the sun around the world, giving traders the flexibility of determining their very own trading time.

2. Forward Market:

This market is for the exchange of foreign currencies at a future date. A forward contract usually represents a contract between a large money center bank and a well-known (to the bank) customer having a well-defined need to hedge exposure to fluctuations in exchange rates.

Although forward contracts usually call for the exchange to occur in either 30, 90 or 180 days, the contract can be customized to call for the exchange of any desired quantity of currency at any future date acceptable to both parties to the contract.

The price of foreign currency for future delivery is typically referred to as a forward exchange rate or simply a forward rate.

3. Futures Market:

Although the futures market trading is similar to forward market trading in that all transactions are to be settled at a future date, futures markets are actual physical locations where anonymous participants trade standard quantities of foreign currency (e.g., 200,000 EURO per contract) for delivery at standard future dates (e.g., March, June, September, and December).

Up until recently, only banks, hedge funds, and other large institutions have had access to currency trading in the spot market.

With an approximate volume of $2 trillion traded on a daily basis internationally, the individual trader looks for an opportunity to take advantage of the most liquid market in the world.

Day-traders are no longer confined to trading stocks and commodities, and now have the ability to trade all of the major currencies, including US Dollar, Yen, Euro, British Pound, Australian and Canadian Dollars, Swiss Frank and etc, 24 hours a day.

There is considerable exposure to risk in any Forex (FX) transaction.

Before deciding to participate in FX trading, you should carefully consider your objectives, level of experience and risk appetite ...

But most importantly, don't invest money you can't afford to lose!

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