Forex is short for Foreign Exchange, where money from one country is exchanged for that of another or the simultaneous buying of one currency and selling of another.
When one deals in forex trading the profit or loss, he incurs is the increased or decreased value of an investment caused solely by currency movements. For example, if an investor thought that the US dollar was weak, he might purchase German Mark. The investor’s, the real profit or loss could then be in how the Mark moves against the US$ .
Being the largest financial market in the world, the Forex market has a volume of more than $ 1.5 trillion daily. Also the Forex market, unlike other financial markets, has no permanent location, no central exchange and just happens ‘Over the Counter.’ It operates through an electronic network of large banks, central banks, currency speculators, multinational corporations, governments and other financial markets and institutions. Retail traders are individuals who are a small part of this market. They participate indirectly through brokers or banks.
The foreign exchange market is unique because of its trading volume, the extreme liquidity, the large number and variety of traders in the market, its geographical dispersion, its long trading hours i.e. 24 hours a day and a host of factors that affect exchange rates etc.
Currencies are traded against one another. Each pair of currencies are traditionally noted as XXX/YYY, where YYY is the ISO 4217 international three-letter code of the currency into which the price of one unit of XXX currency is expressed. For example, EUR/USD is the price of the euro expressed in US dollars, as in 1 euro = 1.2045 dollar.
73 % of the forex trading is done by 10 top international banks. These large banks continually provide the market with both ‘bid or buy’ and ‘ask or sell’ prices. The difference between the price at which a bank or broker will sell and the price at which a broker will buy from a wholesale customer is called the ‘spread’. This spread is very less for actively traded pairs of currencies, usually only 1-3 pips. One pip is the smallest unit of price move used in forex trading. For example, if the currency pair EUR/USD is currently trading at 1.4000 and then the exchange rate changes to 1.4010, the pair did a 10 pips move. The pip is the smallest unit regardless of the fractional representation of the currency exchange rate. Thus, 1.3000 to 1.3010 is the same move in pips terms as 110.00 to 110.10 For example, the bid/ask quote of EUR/USD might be 1.2200/1.2203. Minimum trading size for most deals is usually $ 1,000,000.
Whew! What a market!