Upon completion of this course, you will have a solid understanding of the Forex market and Forex trading, and you will then be ready to progress to learning real-world Forex trading strategies.
• What is Forex?
Basically, the Forex market is where banks, businesses, governments, investors, and traders come to exchange and speculate on currencies. The Forex market is also referred to as the ‘FX market’, ‘Currency market’, ‘Foreign exchange currency market’ or ‘Foreign currency market’, and it is the largest and most liquid market in the world with an average daily turnover of $6.6 trillion dollars in 2016 by market survey.
The FX market is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week with the most important world trading centers being located in London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, and Sydney.
It should be noted that there is no central marketplace for the Forex market; trading is instead said to be conducted ‘over the counter’; it’s not like stocks where there is a central marketplace with all orders processed like the NYSE. Forex is a product quoted by all the major banks, and not all banks will have the exact same price. Now, the broker platforms take all theses feeds from the different banks and the quotes we see from our broker are an approximate average of them. It’s the broker who is effectively transacting the trade and taking the other side of it…they ‘make the market’ for you. When you buy a currency pair…your broker is selling it to you, not ‘another trader.
• A brief history of the Forex market
Ok, I admit, this part is going to be a little bit boring, but it’s important to have some basic background knowledge of the history of the Forex market so that you know a little bit about why it exists and how it got here. So here is the history of the Forex market in a nutshell:
In 1876, something called the gold exchange standard was implemented. Basically, it said that all paper currency had to be backed by solid gold; the idea here was to stabilize world currencies by pegging them to the price of gold. It was a good idea in theory, but in reality, it created boom-bust patterns which ultimately led to the demise of the gold standard.
The gold standard was dropped around the beginning of World War 2 as major European countries did not have enough gold to support all the currency they were printing to pay for large military projects. Although the gold standard was ultimately dropped, the precious metal never lost its spot as the ultimate form of monetary value.
The world then decided to have fixed exchange rates that resulted in the U.S. dollar being the primary reserve currency and that it would be the only currency backed by gold, this is known as the ‘Bretton Woods System’ and it happened in 1944 (I know you super excited to know that). In 1971 the U.S. declared that it would no longer exchange gold for U.S. dollars that were held in foreign reserves, this marked the end of the Bretton Woods System.
It was this breakdown of the Bretton Woods System that ultimately led to the mostly global acceptance of floating foreign exchange rates in 1976. This was effectively the “birth” of the current foreign currency exchange market, although it did not become widely electronically traded until about the mid-1990s.
What is forex as it relates to retail traders (like you and I) is the speculation on the price of one currency against another. For example, if you think the euro is going to rise against the U.S. dollar, you can buy the EURUSD currency pair low and then (hopefully) sell it at a higher price to make a profit. Of course, if you buy the euro against the dollar (EURUSD), and the U.S. dollar strengthens, you will then be in a losing position. So, it’s important to be aware of the risk involved in trading Forex, and not only the reward.
• Why is the Forex market so popular?
Being a Forex trader offers the most amazing potential lifestyle of any profession in the world. It’s not easy to get there, but if you are determined and disciplined, you can make it happen. Here’s a quick list of skills you will need to reach your goals in the Forex market:
- Ability – to take a loss without becoming emotional
- Confidence – to believe in yourself and your trading strategy, and to have no fear
- Dedication – to becoming the best Forex trader you can be
- Discipline – to remain calm and unemotional in a realm of constant temptation
- Flexibility – to trade changing market conditions successfully
- Focus – to stay concentrated on your trading plan and not to stray off course
- Logic – to look at the market from an objective and straight forward perspective
- Organization – to forge and reinforce positive trading habits
- Patience – to wait for only the highest-probability trading strategies according to your plan
- Realism – to not think you are going to get rich quick and understand the reality of the market and trading
- Self-control – to not over-trade and over-leverage your trading account
As traders, we can take advantage of the high leverage and volatility of the Forex market by learning and mastering an effective Forex trading strategy, building an effective trading plan around that strategy, and following it with ice-cold discipline. Money management is key here; leverage is a double-edged sword and can make you a lot of money fast or lose you a lot of money fast. The key to money management in Forex trading is to always know the exact dollar amount you have at risk before entering a trade and be TOTALLY OK with losing that amount of money because any one trade could be a loser. More on money management later in the course.
• Who trades Forex and why?
Banks – The interbank market allows for both the majority of commercial Forex transactions and large amounts of speculative trading each day. Some large banks will trade billions of dollars, daily. Sometimes this trading is done on behalf of customers, however much is done by proprietary traders who are trading for the bank’s own account.
Companies – Companies need to use the foreign exchange market to pay for goods and services from foreign countries and also to sell goods or services in foreign countries. An important part of the daily Forex market activity comes from companies looking to exchange currency in order to transact in other countries.
Governments / Central banks – A country’s central bank can play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They can cause an increase or decrease in the value of their nation’s currency by trying to control the money supply, inflation, and (or) interest rates. They can use their substantial foreign exchange reserves to try and stabilize the market.
Hedge funds – Somewhere around 70 to 90% of all foreign exchange transactions are speculative in nature. This means, the person or institutions that bought or sold the currency has no plan of actually taking delivery of the currency; instead, the transaction was executed with the sole intention of speculating on the price movement of that particular currency. Retail speculators (you and I) are small cheese compared to the big hedge funds that control and speculate with billions of dollars of equity each day in the currency markets.
Individuals – If you have ever traveled to a different country and exchanged your money in a different currency at the airport or bank, you have already participated in the foreign currency exchange market.
Investors – Investment firms who manage large portfolios for their clients use the Fx market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager controlling an international equity portfolio needs to use the Forex market to purchase and sell several currency pairs in order to pay for foreign securities they want to purchase.
Retail Forex traders – Finally, we come to retail Forex traders (you and I). The retail Forex trading industry is growing every day with the advent of Forex trading platforms and their ease of accessibility on the internet. Retail Forex traders access the market indirectly either through a broker or a bank. There are two main types of retail forex brokers that provide us with the ability to speculate on the currency market: brokers and dealers. Brokers work as an agent for the trader by trying to find the best price in the market and executing on behalf of the customer. For this, they charge a commission on top of the price obtained in the market. Dealers are also called market makers because they ‘make the market’ for the trader and act as the counter-party to their transactions, they quote a price they are willing to deal at and are compensated through the spread, which is the difference between the buy and sells price (more on this later).
Advantages of Trading the Forex Market:
• Forex is the largest market in the world, with daily volumes exceeding $6.6 trillion per day. This means dense liquidity which makes it easy to get in and out of positions.
• Trade whenever you want: There is no opening bell in the Forex market. You can enter or exit a trade whenever you want from Sunday around 5 pm EST to Friday around 4 pm EST.
• Ease of access: You can fund your trading account with as little as $250 at many retail brokers and begin trading the same day in some cases. Straight-through order execution allows you to trade at the click of a mouse.
• Fewer currency pairs to focus on, instead of getting lost trying to analyze thousands of stocks
• Freedom to trade anywhere in the world with the only requirements being a laptop and internet connection.
• Commission-free trading with many retail market-makers and overall lower transaction costs than stocks and commodities.
• Volatility allows traders to profit in any market condition and provides for high-probability weekly trading opportunities. Also, there is no structural market bias like the long bias of the stock market, so traders have equal opportunity to profit in rising or falling markets.
While the forex market is clearly a great market to trade, I would note to all beginners that trading carries both the potential for reward and risk. Many people come into the markets thinking only about the reward and ignoring the risks involved, this is the fastest way to lose all of your trading account money. If you want to get started trading the Fx market on the right track, it’s critical that you are aware of and accept the fact that you could lose on any given trade you take.
The Forex market comes with its very own set of terms and jargon. So, before you go any deeper into learning how to trade the FOREX market, it’s important you understand some of the basic Forex terminologies that you will encounter on your trading journey…
• Basic Forex terms:
Cross rate – The currency exchange rate between two currencies or two economies, both of which are not the official currencies of the country in which the exchange rate quote is given in. This phrase is also sometimes used to refer to currency quotes that do not involve the U.S. dollar, regardless of which country the quote is provided in.
For example, if an exchange rate between the British pound and the Japanese yen was quoted in an American newspaper, this would be considered a cross rate in this context, because neither the pound nor the yen is the standard currency of the U.S. However, if the exchange rate between the pound and the U.S. dollar were quoted in that same newspaper, it would not be considered a cross rate because the quote involves the U.S. official currency.
Exchange Rate – The value of one currency expressed in terms of another. For example, if EUR/USD is 1.3200, 1 Euro is worth US$1.3200.
Pip – The smallest increment of price movement a currency can make. Also called point or points. For example, 1 pip for the EUR/USD = 0.0001 and 1 pip for the USD/JPY = 0.01.
Leverage – Leverage is the ability to gear your account into a position greater than your total account margin. For instance, if a trader has $1,000 of margin in his account and he opens a $100,000 position, he leverages his account by 100 times, or 100:1. If he opens a $200,000 position with $1,000 of margin in his account, his leverage is 200 times, or 200:1. Increasing your leverage magnifies both gains and losses.
To calculate the leverage used, divide the total value of your open positions by the total margin balance in your account. For example, if you have $10,000 of margin in your account and you open one standard lot of USD/JPY (100,000 units of the base currency) for $100,000, your leverage ratio is 10:1 ($100,000 / $10,000). If you open one standard lot of EUR/USD for $150,000 (100,000 x EURUSD 1.5000) your leverage ratio is 15:1 ($150,000 / $10,000).
Margin – The deposit required to open or maintain a position. Margin can be either “free” or “used”. Used margin is that amount that is being used to maintain an open position, whereas free margin is the amount available to open new positions. With a $1,000 margin balance in your account and a 1% margin requirement to open a position, you can buy or sell a position worth up to a notional $100,000. This allows a trader to leverage his account by up to 100 times or a leverage ratio of 100:1.
If a trader’s account falls below the minimum amount required to maintain an open position, he will receive a “margin call” requiring him to either add more money into his or her account or to close the open position. Most brokers will automatically close a trade when the margin balance falls below the amount required to keep it open. The amount required to maintain an open position is dependent on the broker and could be 50% of the original margin required to open the trade.
Spread – The difference between the sell quote and the buy quote or the bid and offer price. For example, if EUR/USD quotes read 1.3200/03, the spread is the difference between 1.3200 and 1.3203, or 3 pips. In order to break even on a trade, a position must move in the direction of the trade by an amount equal to the spread.
• The major Forex pairs and their nicknames:
• Understanding Forex currency pair quotes:
You will need to understand how to properly read a currency quote before you start trading them. So, let’s get started with this:
The exchange rate of two currencies is quoted in a pair, such as the EURUSD or the USDJPY. The reason for this is because in any foreign exchange transaction you are simultaneously buying one currency and selling another. If you were to buy the EURUSD and the euro strengthened against the dollar, you would then be in a profitable trade. Here’s an example of a Forex quote for the euro vs. the U.S. dollar:
The first currency in the pair that is located to the left of the slash mark is called the base currency, and the second currency of the pair that’s located to the right of the slash market is called the counter or quote currency.
If you buy the EUR/USD (or any other currency pair), the exchange rate tells you how much you need to pay in terms of the quote currency to buy one unit of the base currency. In other words, in the example above, you have to pay 1.32105 U.S. dollars to buy 1 euro.
If you sell the EUR/USD (or any other currency pair), the exchange rate tells you how much of the quote currency you receive for selling one unit of the base currency. In other words, in the example above, you will receive 1.32105 U.S. dollars if you sell 1 euro.
An easy way to think about it is like this: the BASE currency is the BASIS for the trade. So, if you buy the EURUSD you are buying euros (base currency) and selling dollars (quote currency), if you sell the EURUSD you are selling euros (base currency) and buying dollars (quote currency). So, whether you buy or sell a currency pair, it is always based upon the first currency in the pair; the base currency.
The basic point of Forex trading is to buy a currency pair if you think its base currency will appreciate (increase in value) relative to the quote currency. If you think the base currency will depreciate (lose value) relative to the quote currency you would sell the pair.
• Bid and Ask price
Bid Price – The bid is the price at which the market (or your broker) will buy a specific currency pair from you. Thus, at the bid price, a trader can sell the base currency to their broker.
Ask Price – The asking price is the price at which the market (or your broker) will sell a specific currency pair to you. Thus, at the asking price, you can buy the base currency from your broker.
Bid/Ask Spread – The spread of a currency pair varies between brokers and it is the difference between the bid and ask price.
KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED TO TRADE FOREX:
Fundamental analysis is a way of looking at the market by analyzing economic, social, and political forces that affect the supply and demand of an asset. If you think about it, this makes a whole lot of sense! Just like in your Economics 101 class, it is supply and demand that determine the price. Using supply and demand as an indicator of where price could be headed is easy. The hard part is analyzing all the factors that affect supply and demand. In other words, you have to look at different factors to determine whose economy is rocking’ like a Taylor Swift song, and whose economy sucks. You have to understand the reasons why and how certain events like an increase in unemployment affect a country’s economy, and ultimately, the level of demand for its currency. The idea behind this type of analysis is that if a country’s current or future economic outlook is good, its currency should strengthen. The better shape of a country’s economy is, the more foreign businesses and investors will invest in that country. This results in the need to purchase that country’s currency to obtain those assets. In a nutshell, this is what fundamental analysis is:
Technical analysis is the use of past price behavior and/or other market data, such as volume, to guide trading decisions in asset markets. These decisions are often generated by applying simple rules to historical price data. A technical trading rule, for example, might suggest buying a currency if its price has risen more than 1% from its value five days earlier. Traders in stock, commodity, and foreign exchange markets use such rules widely. Technical methods date back at least to 1700, but the “Dow Theory,” proposed by Wall Street Journal editors Charles Dow and William Peter Hamilton, popularized them in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.1 Technical analyst—who often refer to themselves as “technicians”—argue that their approach allows them to profit from changes in the psychology of the market. The following statement expresses this view: The technical approach to investment is essentially a reflection of the idea that prices move in a set direction.
Forex analysis is how traders assess the next moves a currency pair is about to take, providing insights for taking a position. For this reason, it is an essential tool for traders to make the best decisions in their daily trading routine, based on the fundamental and technical aspects of an asset. Fundamental analysis is based on the countries’ economic situation, future prospects, and primarily what central banks plan to do with interest rates. Technical analysis focuses on previous price action, the repeat of well-known chart patterns, and other factors.
Market sentiment- also known as investor attention is the general prevailing attitude of investors as to anticipated price development in a market. This attitude is the accumulation of a variety of fundamental and technical factors, including price history, economic reports, seasonal factors, and national and world events. Market sentiment is monitored with a variety of technical and statistical methods such as the number of advancing versus declining stocks and new highs versus new lows comparisons. A large share of the overall movement of an individual stock has been attributed to market sentiment