Forex trading for beginners can be especially tough. This is mostly due to unrealistic expectations that are common among newcomers. What you need to know is that currency trading is by no means a get-rich-quick scheme. On this page, you will receive an introduction to the Forex market, how it works, and key terminology, along with the benefits of trading different currencies.
We will cover how you can start trading (including choosing the best broker and trading software), the fundamentals of risk management, the different ways you can analyse the Forex market, and an overview of the most popular trading strategies By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge you need to start testing your trading skills with a free Demo account, before you move onto a live account.
Forex, or the foreign exchange market (also called FX for short) is the marketplace where currencies are traded. At its simplest, a foreign exchange transaction might be, for example, when you transfer your local currency to a new one for an upcoming holiday. Across the market as a whole, an estimated 5.3 billion USD is traded every day between governments, banks, corporations, and speculators.
Knowing how the industry is mapped out is important, because the collective combination of all participants creates the market you trade in. The relative weight of the trading party to the market is measured by how much money that party manages – from billion dollar hedge funds and investment banks, to private traders with a few thousand dollars in action.
Major currency pairs are made up of the most frequently traded currencies, which are:
- USD – The US Dollar
- EUR – The Euro
- JPY – The Japanese Yen
- GBP – The British Pound
- CHF – The Swiss Franc
- CAD – The Canadian Dollar
- AUD – The Australian Dollar
- NZD – The New Zealand Dollar
A major currency pair is one that contains any one of these currencies paired against the US dollar, such as the EUR/USD, USDJPY or the GBPUSD. Forex minors pairs made up of these major currencies that don’t include the US dollar. These pairs include EURGBP, EURCHF, AUDNZD and so on.
The spread, in Forex, is the difference between the bid and ask price of a currency pair. For example, if the Bid price of the EUR/USD is 1.16668, and the sell price is 1.16669, the spread will be 0.0001, or 1 pip. In any Forex trade, the value of a currency pair will need to cross the spread before it becomes profitable. To continue with the previous example, if a trader entered a long EUR/USD trade at 1.16668, the trade wouldn’t become profitable until the value of the pair was higher than 1.16669.
In a currency pair with a wider spread, such as the EURCZK, the currency will need to make a larger movement in order for the trade to become profitable. At the time of writing, the bid price for this pair is 25.4373, while the ask price is 25.4124, so the spread is 0.0200, or 20 pips. It’s also not uncommon for this currency pair to have movements of less than 20 pips a day, meaning traders will likely need to perform a multi-day trade to make a profit.
This means that low spread trading is often a priority for Forex traders, as their trades can become profitable quicker, meaning that they can make a high volume of smaller trades, rather than relying on larger trades to make money.
Along with being able to access a wide range of financial market another benefit of trading CFDs is that a trader can access a much larger portion of those markets, and increase their potential profits as a result. CFD contracts provide leveraged access to the market, meaning a trader can access a much larger portion of the market than what they would be able to purchase outright.
To use Gold CFD as an example, at the time of writing, to purchase an ounce of Gold you would need to spend 1,200 USD. However, with a leverage rate of up to 1:20 (which means a trader could trade up to 20 times the value of what they deposit), a trader could trade on the full value of an ounce of gold (equivalent to 1,200 USD), for a deposit of just 60 USD.
Similarly, if you wanted to purchase 3,000 USD with Euros, that would cost 2,570 EUR. With a leverage rate of 1:30, however, you could access 3,000 USD worth of the EUR/USD currency pair as a CFD with just 100 USD. The best part, however, is that the size of the potential profit a trader could make is the same as if they had invested in the asset outright. The risk here is that potential losses are magnified to the same extent as potential profits.
Forex is the world’s largest financial market, with over 5.09 trillion USD traded every single day (April 2016). To put it in other words, in a single day, more money will be traded in the Forex markets than Japan’s entire GDP! (Gross Domestic Product). Of these transactions, 254 billion USD is traded through CFDs and other derivative instruments.
Being the largest, most active financial market on the globe, it is also the world’s most liquid market, meaning it is easy for traders to enter into, as well as exit trades, and for the most liquid pairs, they can do so at a very low cost (even less than a single pip!). This also means that the Forex market is very volatile, creating many opportunities for traders to make a profit on both the positive and negative movements of currency pairs.