Introduction to Forex trading

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Throughout the investment world, there is one market that truly never sleeps: the Forex, or foreign exchange, market. This is a decentralized currency exchange, which has a volume of trading that exceeds all other world stock markets combined.


Currency exchange

If you’ve ever traveled and had to change currencies from one to another, you’ve made a small forex trade. Maybe it was US dollars to Euros or the Chinese yuan to the Japanese yen, either way, you’ve traded currencies on a very small scale.


The essence of forex trading is capitalizing on the fluctuations in currency exchange rates. For example, if on Monday a single US dollar could buy 0.85 euros, but on Tuesday it could buy 0.86 euros, you’re getting slightly more for your money on Tuesday. On the small scale, this amount can seem negligible. However, when you’re trading in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, that small difference can be huge.


Buying and selling currencies

Forex trading boils down to betting one currency against another. For example, you want to trade US dollars (USD) and euros (EUR). You see online a listing that shows EUR/USD buys at 0.85102 and sells at 0.85098, with a spread of 0.4 pips. If you think the euro is going to go up, you buy EUR/USD. If you think the euro will drop, sell EUR/USD.


If you invest in euros at this point, you work under the assumption that the value of the euro will go up, and are watching the selling point, hoping that it exceeds the value at which you purchased the euros. If it goes up to say, 0.85110, and you sell, you’ve made 0.00008 on every EUR/USD sold. If it drops, then you’ve lost money.


How do I make money with forex?

Obviously, working with small amounts such as $100USD will net meager gains. In the example above, where you made 0.00008 per EUR/USD sold, you would only make $0.008 with your $100 investment, and you really can’t buy much with less than a penny. So the question becomes, how do I make money trading currencies?


The key here is leverage and trading on margin. Given the extremely high volume of trades in the forex market, lenders such as big banks will allow you to trade with leverage. This is essentially borrowing one currency to buy or sell the other currency. If you had $100, and the bank is allowing you to trade with 50:1 leverage, that $100 allows you to trade in the market as if you had $5000 to work with. If they offered, say 200:1 leverage, you can trade as if you had $20,000 to work with. This gives you much more room to trade while minimizing your upfront investment.


Now your $100 investment nets you $0.40 rather than $0.008 in the 50:1 leverage example, or $1.60 in the 200:1 leverage example. Obviously, the more deposited funds that you are leveraging the higher the potential for profit.


Trading on margin is not without peril, however, because it can also greatly increase the potential for loss. If the selling point had dropped from 0.85098 to 0.85094 before you got out, you would lose 0.0004 per EUR/USD sold, meaning a loss of $0.004 without leverage increases to a loss of $0.20 in the 50:1 leverage example or $0.80 in the 200:1 leverage example. If you trade with higher leverage and more capital, you could easily exceed your deposited funds and owe the lender money if the currency drops.

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