On the forex market, a currency from one country is exchanged for the currency of another so people can do business on an international level. Situations that require the exchange of one currency for another are varied and commonly include things like paying for the import and export of goods and services between different countries.
Forex is also referred to as the cash market or spot interbank market, where spot market refers to trades that are carried out on the spot at the price of the moment. Before 1994, investors and traders didn’t have access to the Forex market, and with the average minimum transaction size being $1,000,000 they would have been excluded even if they did have access. However, in the late 1990s, things changed as market maker brokers were given permission to give traders the chance to participate in the forex market by breaking up these large interbank trading units.
Unlike other financial markets, forex has no physical location and is completely decentralized. All trades are placed online or by phone. On the forex market, individual traders attempt to profit by speculating on the price changes between currencies, like with any other financial market. However, traders can only access the market through a dedicated Forex broker.Read More
Forex trading is based on how one currency fluctuates against another, which is the main difference between trading currencies and trading stocks or other financial instruments. With stocks, you are only dealing with one instrument, whereas with currencies, you always deal with a pair.
When trading currencies, you trade a pair, meaning that you buy or sell one currency in exchange for the other. It is just like commodity trading, except that instead of buying gold, for example, in exchange for the US dollar, you might be buying the British pound and paying with dollars.
The goal is to exchange one currency for another to make a profit based on the direction you believe the price will go. So, if you expect that the dollar will strengthen against the pound, then you will buy dollars for pounds at the current lower price and sell them when the price rises to make a profit. This is called speculative currency trading.
Two types of traders, namely speculative traders and consumer traders carry out Forex trading. Speculative traders are interested in making a profit quickly based on daily price movements and will usually be in and out of the market within 24 hours. Consumer traders, on the other hand, are more interested in owning a currency for the long-term and can stay in the market for years.
Traders make money if the market moves in the direction they predicted. So, for example, you might see a quote similar to the following:
This means that you will pay US$ 1.0953 for every EUR you purchase. Your analysis indicates that the quote will rise, so you decide to buy 1,000 EUR, paying $1,095.3. You watch the market and see that the market has, indeed, gone your way, and the quote is now:
You close your trade by selling off the EUR you purchased and received $1,099.6 in return, meaning that you made a $4.3 profit. Now, that might not sound like much money, but there are many more factors to consider, such as the fact that the market can move that much in a few minutes. Making a few dollars profits in a few minutes is not that bad. Then there’s leverage to consider, which can increase your profit significantly.
The trade we exemplified would be referred to as a long trade; however, you can also make money if the reverse happens by opening a short trade, which means that instead of buying EUR, you sell them and then buy them back when the price has dropped.Read More
A pip, which is short for price interest point, is usually the smallest amount by which the value of a currency pair can change and is the fourth decimal point in a quote. So, if the EUR/USD is quoted at 1.0996 and five minutes later the quote is 1.0997, we would say the EUR/USD went up by 1 pip.
It is a good idea to get used to seeing your profit and loss in terms of pips rather than absolute dollars. This is because the value of a pip changes depending on the lot size and the size of your account. A pip can be worth anything from $0.01 (or even less depending on the broker) to $1,000 or more, and this value will change depending on the size of the lot (and the number of lots) you are trading with. So, using a standard measure, like a pip, will help you gain a more realistic view of your success or lack thereof.
When you execute a trade on the Forex market, you will be buying or selling currencies in units known as lots, which is a specific quantity of money. There are three types of lots: a regular (standard) lot that has a size of $100,000, a mini-lot with a size of $10,000 and a micro-lot with a size of $1,000.
Once upon a time, the regular lot was the smallest amount a trader could buy or sell of a USD-based pair, but now brokers allow traders to buy and sell fractions of mini-lots too, so you can pretty much trade any amount you want. In fact, some brokers will allow you to open trades with as little as 0.01 of a lot or even less.
Most traders use leverage when trading, which means that they are borrowing money from the broker to trade so they can open larger positions and make more money. The amount you can borrow from the broker depends on the amount of money you deposit, which acts as security, ensuring the broker never loses their money and is also known as margin.
So, with leverage, you can control a much larger amount than your deposit, which will allow you to make a greater profit but can also lead to higher losses. Leverage refers to the actual ratio between the amount you deposit and the amount you borrow. Brokers offer leverage up to 1:100, meaning that with a $100 deposit, you can trade with $10,000.
Note: Traders in the United States are not permitted to use a higher leverage than 1:50 for major currency pairs and 1:20 for minor currency pairs.
Now, leverage can help you make much more money than you usually could with your deposit alone, but it can also make you incur much higher losses.
For example, if you deposited $1000 and were using a leverage of 1:1, in other words, only using the money you deposited, you would be able to purchase a maximum of 1 micro-lot. For a micro-lot, the value of a pip in a USD-based pair is $1. So, if you bought 1 micro-lot, then 1 pip is equivalent to $0.01. Thus, if the market goes against you and you lose 10 pips (100 points) (which should never happen because you are a smart trader and always have a stop-loss in place), you will only be losing $1. Of course, if the market moved in your favor, you’d only be making a profit of $1 for those 10 pips (100 points).
On the other hand, if you were using a leverage of 1:100 for the same trade, you would have the potential to make $100 but also lose $100. Moreover, your losses will never be able to exceed your margin because once they hit that level, the broker will initiate what’s called a margin call and close your trade so that your account balance is never in the negative.
So, while leverage is extremely important to allow you to make a decent profit even with a relatively small deposit, you need to employ effective money management techniques, so you do not risk losing your account. In fact, many traders claim that their success is in large part owed to good risk and money management.Read More
Many brokers assure traders that Forex trades carry no commission and, while this is true in many cases, there are still costs involved. The cost in question is known as the spread, which is the price you will have to pay to gain access to the Forex market.
The spread represents the difference between the buy and sell prices of a certain currency. So, your Forex broker will buy the currency for you at a certain price and then sell it to you at a higher price, which is how they make their money.
The size of the spread depends on a wide range of factors but is usually determined by supply and demand. Currency pairs involving currencies such as the dollar and pound have tighter spreads because there is always demand for the US dollar. This means that the broker will never have a problem selling off those dollars to a trader, so they do not need to charge a higher spread.
Conversely, if you want to buy an exotic currency like the South Korean Won, the spread will be higher because there is much less demand for the Won, meaning that the risk to the broker is greater. As a result, the broker charges more to offset the risk. This higher spread is generally why it is a good idea for traders, especially novices, to avoid exotic currency pairs because the spread can reduce your chance of making a profit significantly.Read More
The bid price is the price at which your broker is willing to buy a currency pair from you, meaning that it is the price you can sell the currency pair at.
The ask price is the price at which your broker is willing to sell a currency pair to you, namely the price at which you can buy the currency pair in at.
Responsibly managing your account is essential to being successful as a Forex trader and the first step to effective account management is understanding the different types of orders you can place.
The effective mechanics of opening a trade are dictated by the software platform you are using and the broker. However, the one commonality among them is the different types of orders you can place.
The market order is when you tell your broker to buy or sell a currency pair at the current market price. Buying a currency pair is referred to as going long or opening a long position while selling a currency pair is referred to as going short or opening a short position. When a market order is placed, the broker is committed to ensuring it is executed as quickly as possible, which means instantly.
A limit order is one where you tell your broker to open a position only when the currency pair reaches a certain price that is more favorable than the current market price. So, for example, if the EUR/USD is trading at 1.0965, a limit order would be one where you instruct your broker to enter the market at a price below 1.0965 if you wish to open a long position, or buy the currency pair, and above 1.0965 if you wish to open a short position, or to sell the currency pair.
The problem with this type of order is that the market might never quite hit that price point and the trade will not be executed. The advantage, on the other hand, is that you need to plan better, and it lowers the likelihood of you acting solely on emotion rather than based on a well-designed strategy.
There are two types of limit orders based on the direction you wish to enter the market. Thus, there are buy limit orders and sell limit orders.
One factor that you must be aware of and keep in mind when placing a limit order is that buy limit orders will be fulfilled at the ask price and sell limit orders at the bid price. This might not be a critical issue with a pair like the EUR/USD, where the spread is often only 1 pip, but it can be vital with other pairs that have a wider spread, which is why you must always be careful that you are working off the right price.Read More
The given EUR/USD chart shows the difference between the Ask and the Bid. By default, the MT5 trading platform only shows the Bid price, which it treats as the current market price. Now, as previously stated, for a pair like the EUR/USD, the 1.3 pip spread the broker uses might not make much of a difference if you enter a long position at what you think is the actual price only for it to open at the Ask price. However, there are pairs where the spread can be 10 pips or more and if you set a buy limit order based on the Bid price, which you see as the current market price, only for your trade to open much sooner than you anticipated – and 10 pips above market price – you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Note: You will notice in the given chart that the quote has 5 decimal places instead of 4.
A buy limit order is one where you instruct the broker to buy a specific currency pair when it reaches a price more favorable than the current market price, namely at a price below the current market price.
For example, you are following the EUR/USD, and it has been trending upwards for the past week. You check your charts, and you see the market is currently revising slightly.
Your analysis indicates the price is likely to drop to 1.0543 from the current 1.0647, but it is only a temporary retracement and the market will rebound, with the bullish trend likely to continue. Thus, you believe you have the potential to make a minimum of 104 pips as the market retraces back to its earlier level and continues moving upward, testing and breaking through resistance.
You initiate a buy limit order for the EUR/USD, telling your broker to wait until the pair reaches 1.0543, at which point you want to purchase x amount of the currency pair.
If the EUR/USD hits the price you predicted, the broker will execute your order, opening a long position. However, if the price never reaches 1.0543, your order will not be fulfilled, even if the difference is only 1 pip. In other words, the broker will still not execute your order, even if the price drops to 1.0544, which is where the disadvantage of the limit order comes because, if your analysis was on point, you lost the opportunity to make a decent profit.Read More
A sell limit order is identical to a buy limit order except in reverse. In other words, you are instructing your broker to sell the pair when it reaches a specific price that is more favorable than the current market price.
For example, the GBP/USD is currently trading at 1.2933, but you clearly see the trend is bearish. Your analysis indicates there will be a small pullback to at least 1.2961 and, subsequently, the price will continue to decline.
You place a sell limit order, instructing your broker to sell x amount of GBP/USD once it reaches 1.2951, giving yourself a little space just in case the pair does not reach the exact price you predicted, ensuring you will still make something of a profit.
Once again, if the pair does not pull back to 1.2951, falling short by as little as 1 pip, the order will not be executed.Read More
In principle, stop orders are the same thing as limit orders as they are both pending orders, i.e., you are instructing your broker to wait to execute your orders until certain price conditions are met. Unlike limit orders, , with stop orders, you are instructing your broker to open a position when the price reaches a point worse than the current market price.
For example, let’s say you’ve been watching the USD/CHF, which is currently trading at 1.0077. It is currently bullish but seems to have hit a resistance level – a ceiling. However, you predict that it will break through that ceiling and continue to advance significantly. You decide to initiate a stop order, instructing your broker to purchase USD/CHF at 1.0167 because if the pair reaches that price, it means it is going to break through the resistance level and will continue to climb.
Like with limit orders, stop orders are grouped into buy stop orders and sell stop orders, depending on the direction you wish to enter the market.Read More
A buy stop order is one where you instruct your broker to buy a currency pair at a price that is worse than the current market price, i.e., at a price above the current ask price.
For example, you see the EUR/USD trading at 1.0869, and it has been pretty bearish lately. Your analysis indicates that if it rebounds to 1.0910, there is a good chance that the pair will start a bullish trend.
Thus, you instruct your broker to purchase x amount of EUR/USD when it reaches 1.0910, which is higher than the current market price, making it worse for a long position, when common sense would dictate that you buy at the lowest possible price. As we’ve shown, there are definitely good reasons to buy at a worse price.
As with a buy limit order, if the pair never reaches the price you specified, your order will not be fulfilled, even if it is half a pip away from the target price.Read More
A sell stop order is one where you instruct your broker to sell a currency pair at a price that is worse than the current market price, i.e., below the current bid price.
For example, you see the USD/CHF is trading at 1.0076 and has been trending down all week, but it can’t seem to break through the support line.
However, your analysis tells you that if it does manage to dip below 1.0073, it would have successfully broken through support and there’s a good chance there will be a significant downward run. So, you initiate a sell stop order, telling your broker to sell the USD/CHF at 1.0072 – just to make sure it really has broken through support and isn’t just testing the line only to rebound.
Once again, if the USD/CHF never drops to 1.0072, your order will not be executed.Read More
A take profit order is an order designed to close a trade when you are a certain number of pips in profit or when a currency pair hits a certain price. Some platforms allow you to enter a number of pips while others require you to enter the price at which you wish to close the trade.
Take profit orders are useful in protecting your profits from the volatility of the market. Since they execute automatically, they are also a great way for traders to close out their positions in profit without the need to constantly monitor their trades.
It should be noted that we do recommend monitoring your trades because if the price never reaches your take profit order, you might still be able to make a profit by closing your trade manually. If you rely solely on the take profit order and do not close the trade manually, you’ll either walk away with the profit you set or with a loss when the price hits your stop-loss order.
So, let's assume you opened a short position for USD/CHF at 1.0072. According to your trading strategy, you’ve determined that you do not want to stay in the market too long and your goal is to make 5 pips per trade. Thus, you set a take profit order at 5 pips from the bid price, or at 1.0067. Once the price hits that level, the broker will close your trade, and you will be 5 pips richer.Read More
A trailing stop order is designed to protect any profits an open position makes. It is sort of a stop-loss order combined with a take profit order, but without a hard limit on the latter.
Thus, you set the trailing stop order a certain number of pips away from the bid or ask price, depending on the direction you entered the market, and it will maintain that distance as long as the market is moving in your favor but freeze in place if the market reverses, closing out your trade if the price moves far enough in the “wrong” direction. This will ensure that you keep at least some of the profits your trade generated.
For example, you open a long position of EUR/USD at 1.0855 and enter a trailing stop of 15 pips, as you see in the given image.
Now, price starts to move up, and our stop moves “trails” it, maintaining the 15 pips distance between bid price and the exit point.
In the above chart, the price has reached 1.0862, so our trailing stop has moved to 1.0847. Now, if the market turns around and the price starts dropping, the trailing stop will freeze in place, even if the gap starts to narrow.
As you can see in the above chart, the bid price has dropped back down to 1.0858, but our trailing stop hasn’t moved, frozen in the same place despite the fact that there is only an 11 pips distance now between the bid price and the exit point.
If the price would continue to drop, hitting the trailing stop, then the trade would close out, and we’d incur a loss of 8 pips.
However, if the price were to rebound and start climbing, the trailing stop would stay frozen until the 15 pips gap was once again achieved and then follow the price again until it reverses.Read More
So, if the price were to hit 1.0888, as in the below chart, our trailing stop would move to 1.0873.
Now, if the price were to reverse and drop, the trailing stop would stay in place, and if the price dropped back down to 1.0873,
our trade would close out, but we’d still walk away with 18 pips in profit.
Trailing stops are great because the forex market is very volatile and can sometimes move hundreds of pips in minutes, if not seconds. If you’re one millisecond too slow, any profits can be wiped away, and you can find yourself dozens of pips in the red, even on a trade that was proving to be profitable. A trailing stop will make sure you do not need lightning quick reflexes to avoid any unpleasant surprises.Read More
A stop-loss order is an essential tool for traders because it prevents trades from running away from you and incurring massive losses. When entering a stop-loss order, you are telling the broker to close the trade if the market moves against you by a certain number of pips or if it reaches a certain price that is in the opposite direction of where you want it to go.
For example, if you buy a mini-lot of USD/CHF at 0.9945 because you are expecting the rise of USD/CHF, you can enter a stop-loss order at 10 pips or at 0.9935 (depending on the broker’s platform – some offer either option).
Thus, if the market moves against you and you incur a loss of 10 pips, with the pair reaching a price of 0.9935, your trade will automatically close, preventing you from losing any more money.
Stop-loss orders are powerful because the forex market is very volatile, and you can find yourself on the losing side of a trade by hundreds of pips in moments. So, it is always best to play it safe and have a stop-loss in place, especially if you will not be watching your trade.Read More
The logic of trading Forex is pretty simple: you buy or sell a currency and then sell or buy that currency when the market has moved in the direction of your trade, and you’re making a profit. Now, to determine when to open a trade and, more importantly, when to exit a trade, you will need to analyze the market.
You will be conducting three different types of analysis, namely technical analysis, fundamental analysis, and sentiment analysis. As you’ll see, it is not an either/or situation as you’ll need all three to be able to make the most accurate judgements possible.
Technical analysis is designed to help determine the probability of a currency pair’s price moving in one direction or another in the future by studying historical price action to identify patterns using a variety of tools, including indicators and technical studies. In other words, you study how price has moved in the past in an attempt to predict how it will move in the future.
Considering that the price of a currency pair reflects all the market information that is available, then, in theory, analyzing price is all that is really necessary to be able to trade. And considering that history has a tendency of repeating itself, it makes even more sense that this form of analysis is essential for trading.
When you conduct technical analysis, what you will be doing is studying charts that display historical price data visually and looking for patterns and trends that happened in the past, based off which you will determine which way the price will be going in the future, as price is likely to act in a similar way it did in the past.Read More
Part of technical analysis is also self-fulfilling, because as an increasing number of traders look for certain trends and patterns, the more likely they are for these patterns to actually occur once again in the market.
For example, in the above chart, you can see that price rises for a bit (the sequential green bars), after which it drops a little. At that sinking point, some traders might decide that price will likely go up because of the previous rise, so they buy GBP/USD. If enough traders start buying GBP/USD, the price will go up because of the demand increase; therefore, the trend becomes self-fulfilling.Read More
A very important fact you need to remember is that technical analysis is very subjective. Two traders can look at a chart and see different things.
Looking at the above chart once again, a trader might potentially see an uptrend. We have two low points, with the second one being higher than the previous one. Therefore, the trader looking at this chart might assume that the price will rise.Read More
On the other hand, another trader might decide not to go as far back and could actually see a downtrend, as the red lines on the same chart below illustrate.
If we look closer, we will see that both these charts are 5-minute charts, with each bar representing the movement of price over a 5-minute period. In one case, one trader could see an uptrend, while another could see a downtrend.Read More
However, if we take a look at the 1-hour chart of the same currency, where each bar represents price action within an hour, we see a different situation. Clearly, the price has actually been dropping.
So, the conclusions traders come to based on technical analysis can differ significantly from one timeframe to another, as well as based on what they are seeing.
To get to the point where you can draw some conclusions, you must learn about indicators and technical studies.Read More
Fundamental analysis revolves around studying and interpreting economic indicators and statistical reports, and how they will impact the market price. In other words, you are basically analyzing the strength of a country’s economy, and its outlook for the future to determine how well that country’s currency will perform. The stronger the economy and the better its outlook, the more valuable the country’s currency will be. So, things like interest rate changes, employment figures, inflation and more are all part of fundamental analysis.
Economic indicators can have a significant impact on the value of a currency and around the time they are released, the market can become quite volatile depending on whether or not the figures are aligned with market expectations.
For example, say that the US employment figures are to be released. The market is expecting the figures to be positive, i.e., unemployment has shrunk significantly. Now, if the figures are on par with expectations, the US dollar will rise because lower unemployment means more people are working and have more money to spend, which means the US dollar is more valuable. If the figures are much better than expected, there is a chance the rise will occur quickly. If the figures are not as good as expected but still positive, the rise will be slower.
On the other hand, if the figures show that unemployment has actually increased, then the US dollar will drop and can do so quickly, depending exactly on how bad the figures are.
In either case, if the price begins to move quickly, brokers will often widen the spread, and sometimes by a fair amount. For this reason, it’s usually wise to avoid opening trades during an economic release, especially since the market does not always act as it should, i.e., it can go down when you’re expecting it to go up and vice versa.Read More
In a perfect world, price would move based on clear, mathematical variables. For example, if the US economy is getting stronger and the Swiss is weakening, the clear conclusion should be that the USD should get stronger, and the CHF (Swiss Franc) should weaken. After all, price should reflect all the information available on a currency pair because of how buyers and sellers behave based on data. Unfortunately, things are not that simple. If they were, everyone would be making boatloads of money trading Forex, and that does not happen.
That is because there is another factor involved in all this, namely human nature. The market does not just reflect the state of the economy, but also how traders feel about the market and those feelings don’t always align with the facts and figures. If enough traders feel a certain way about the market, they can move it.
For example, if the US releases positive employment figures, the US dollar should rise. However, if a large number of traders believe the improved employment figures are not actually indicative that the economy will strengthen but are nothing more than a smokescreen, they might decide to go short on the US dollar. If enough of them go short, the US dollar will start to fall, and even more, traders will go short, pushing the dollar even further down. In other words, negative sentiment can push the US dollar in the opposite direction to what you would expect to happen based on the facts and figures alone.
This is why sentiment analysis is important. You need to get an inkling of what the market is feeling, namely whether they are feeling positive or negative, and then you need to decide how to incorporate that knowledge into your trading strategy.
Ignoring market sentiment like an ostrich sticking their head in the sand will do you no favors.Read More
Some traders might lean more towards technical analysis and tell you that you don’t need to look at the fundamentals – or that they’re not that important – and vice versa. It is best to avoid the advice of these people simply because it is just good sense to use all the tools in your arsenal.
Fundamental, technical and sentiment analysis are different ways you can look at the market. One is not better than the other, and you can lean towards the one you prefer most, but if you forget the others, you are handicapping yourself and here is how.
Let’s say that you are eager about technical analysis and never pay attention to the fundamentals, you do not even bother to turn on the news. You look at your charts and see a great EUR/USD trading opportunity. You sell a whole bunch of EUR/USD and are watching delightedly as the market moves in your direction. Suddenly, the market stops and reverses, moving 150 pips in the opposite direction in a matter of seconds. You stare at the chart, frozen. You don’t understand what happened.
Then you turn on the news and discover another massive bank just declared bankruptcy. This, of course, turned sentiment against the US economy, and the dollar is crashing. Had you been on top of your fundamentals, you would have known about the bankruptcy and would have been able to get out in time. In fact, you would probably already have been aware that something was off and would not have opened the trade in the first place.Read More
A chart is a graphical representation of price action, and there are three main types used in Forex trading,
namely line charts, bar charts and candlestick charts.
A line chart will give you a general idea of how price is moving for a currency pair over a certain period of time. It consists of a simple line that connects the closing prices of a currency for the unit of time being displayed.
So, if you are looking at a 5-minute chart, the line is plotting the closing prices registered at every 5-minute mark, as you can see below.Read More
A bar chart offers a little more information. Instead of simply connecting the closing prices, this type of chart also shows the opening prices as well as the highest and lowest prices the currency traded at for that period of time.
Each bar on the chart represents a unit of time. So, if the chart is a 15-minute chart, then one bar represents the price action over a 15-minute period.
If we look at an individual bar, the hash to the left indicates the opening price for that timeframe, the right hash indicates the closing price, while the top shows us the highest price and the bottom shows the lowest price. In the example below, we can see that the EUR/USD closed at a lower price than it opened.
Candlestick charts show the same information as bar charts but are a little more graphic, making them easier to read for most people, which is why they are so popular.
With these types of charts, every unit of time is represented by a candle. Traditionally, a black candle indicates that price closed lower than it opened, while a white candle shows us that price closed higher than it opened.Read More
Most platforms allow users to change colors as they please. For example, in the following chart, red candles are bearish, i.e., the price closed lower than the open, and the green candles are bullish, i.e., price closed higher than the open.
As you can see, each candle has a wick on the top and the bottom, which shows us the high and the low prices for that unit of time, respectively. If the body of the candle is red, that means the top of the body tells us the open price, while the bottom shows the closing price and vice versa for a green candle. Red bars are the ones where price closed below the open, and green bars are where price closed above the open.
From now on, we will be working with candlestick charts with red and green bars, where red bars are the ones where price closed below the open, and green bars are where price closed above the open.
It should be noted that bar charts and candlestick charts show the same information, but we prefer the latter because candlesticks make things easier to see.
To trade forex, you must use the services of a broker. Choosing a broker can be complicated if you do not know what you are doing. There are plenty of less-than-reputable brokers out there and signing up with one of them can result in serious issues.
There are two main categories of brokers, namely Dealing Desks or DD and No Dealing Desks or NDD. Dealing Desk brokers are often referred to as Market Makers, while No Dealing Desk brokers can be further categorized into Straight Through Processing or STP brokers and Electronic Communication Network + Straight Through Processing or ECN+STP brokers.
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