1) Introduction to Forex - Major Currencies
a) The U.S. Dollar.
The United States dollar is the world's main currency – an universal measure to evaluate any other currency traded on Forex. All currencies are generally quoted in U.S. dollar terms. Under conditions of international economic and political unrest, the U.S. dollar is the main safe-haven currency, which was proven particularly well during the Southeast Asian crisis of 1997-1998.
As it was indicated, the U.S. dollar became the leading currency toward the end of the Second World War along the Breton Woods Accord, as the other currencies were virtually pegged against it. The introduction of the euro in 1999 reduced the dollar's importance only marginally.
The other major currencies traded against the U.S. dollar are the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, and Swiss franc.
b) The Euro.
The euro was designed to become the premier currency in trading by simply being quoted in American terms. Like the U.S. dollar, the euro has a strong international presence stemming from members of the European Monetary Union. The currency remains lagued by unequal growth, high unemployment, and government resistance to structural changes. The pair was also weighed in 1999 and 2000 by outflows from foreign investors, particularly Japanese, who were forced to liquidate their losing investments in euro-denominated assets. Moreover, European money managers rebalanced their portfolios and reduced their euro exposure as their needs for hedging currency risk in Europe declined.
c) The Japanese Yen.
The Japanese yen is the third most traded currency in the world; it has a much smaller international presence than the U.S. dollar or the euro. The yen is very liquid around the world, practically around the clock. The natural demand to trade the yen concentrated mostly among the Japanese keiretsu, the economic and financial conglomerates. The yen is much more sensitive to the fortunes of the Nikkei index, the Japanese stock market, and the real estate market.
d) The British Pound.
Until the end of World War II, the pound was the currency of reference. The currency is heavily traded against the euro and the U.S. dollar, but has a spotty presence against other currencies. Prior to the introduction of the euro, both the pound benefited from any doubts about the currency convergence. After the introduction of the euro, Bank of England is attempting to bring the high U.K. rates closer to the lower rates in the euro zone. The pound could join the euro in the early 2000s, provided that the U.K. referendum is positive.
e) The Swiss Franc.
The Swiss franc is the only currency of a major European country that belongs neither to the European Monetary Union nor to the G-7 countries. Although the Swiss economy is relatively small, the Swiss franc is one of the four major currencies, closely resembling the strength and quality of the Swiss economy and finance. Switzerland has a very close economic relationship with Germany, and thus to the euro zone. Therefore, in terms of political uncertainty in the East, the Swiss franc is favored generally over the euro. Typically, it is believed that the Swiss franc is a stable currency. Actually, from a foreign exchange point of view, the Swiss franc closely resembles the patterns of the euro, but lacks its liquidity. As the demand for it exceeds supply, the Swiss franc can be more volatile than the euro.
2) Introduction to Forex - Concepts and Terminologies
Here are some important concepts/terminologies of Forex.
a) Spot rate
A spot transaction is a straightforward (or outright) exchange of one currency forex for another. The spot rate is the current market price or 'cash' rate. Spot transactions do not require immediate settlement, or payment 'on the spot'. By convention, the settlement date, or value date, is the second business day after the deal date on which the transaction is made by the two parties.
b) Bid & ask
In the foreign exchange market (and essentially in all markets) there is a buying and selling price. It is important to perceive these prices as a reflection of market condition.
A market maker is expected to quote simultaneously for his customers both a price at which he is willing to buy (the bid) and a price at which he is willing to sell (the ask) standard amounts of any currency for which he is making a market.
Generally speaking the difference between the bid and ask rates reflect the level of liquidity in a certain instrument. On a normal trading day, the major currency pairs EURUSD, USDJPY, USDCHF and GBPUSD are traded by a multitude of market participant every few seconds. High liquidity means that there is always a seller for your buy and a buyer for your sell at actual prices.
c) Base currency and counter currency
Every foreign exchange transaction involves two currencies. It is important to keep straight which is the base currency and which is the counter currency. The counter currency is the numerator and the base currency is the denominator. When the counter currency increases, the base currency strengthens and becomes more expensive. When the counter currency decreases, the base currency weakens and becomes cheaper. In telephone trading communications, the base currency is always stated first. For example, a quotation for USDJPY means the US dollar is the base and the yen is the counter currency. In the case of GBPUSD (usually called 'cable') the British pound is the base and the US dollar is the counter currency.
d) Quotes in terms of base currency
Traders always think in terms of how much it costs to buy or sell the base currency. When a quote of 1.1750 / 53 is given that means that a trader can buy EUR against USD at 1.1753. If he is buying EURUSD for 1'000'000 at that rate he would have USD 1,175,300 in exchange for his million Euro. Of course traders are not actually interested in exchanging large amounts of different currency, their main focus is to buy at a low rate and sell at higher one.
e) Basis points or 'pips'
For most currencies, bid and offer quotes are carried down to the fourth decimal place. That represents one-hundredth of one percent, or 1/10,000th of the counter currency unit, usually called a 'pip'. However, for a few currency units that are relatively small in absolute value, such as the Japanese yen, quotes may be carried down to two decimal places and a 'pip' is 1/100th of the terms currency unit. In foreign exchange, a 'pip' is the smallest amount by which a price may fluctuate in that market.
f) Euro cross & cross rates
Euro cross rates are currency pairs that involve the Euro currency versus another currency. Examples of Euro crosses are EURJPY, EURCHF and GBPEUR. Currency pairs that involve neither the Euro nor the US dollar are called cross rates. Examples of cross rates are GBPJPY and CHFJPY. Of course hundreds of cross rates exist involving exotic currency pairs but they are often plagued by low liquidity. Ever since the Euro the number of liquid cross rates have decreased and have been replaced (to a certain extent) by Euro crosses.
3) Introduction to Forex - Profit and Loss
Profit and Loss (P&L) for every position is calculated in real-time on most trading platforms. This enables traders to track their P&L tick by tick as the market fluctuates.
Approximate USD values for a one (1) "pip" move per contract in our traded currency pairs are as follows, per 100,000 units of the base currency:
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot) = EUR 100'000 x .0001 = USD 10.00
1 pip = 0.01
1 pip move per 100k (lot) = USD 100'000 x .01 = JPY 1'000 /spot = approx USD 9.7
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = USD 100'000 x .0001 = CHF 10.00 /spot = approx USD 8.5
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = GBP 100'000 x .0001 = USD 10.00
1 pip = 0.01
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = EUR 100'000 x .01 = JPY 1'000 /spot = approx USD 9.7
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = EUR 100'000 x .0001 = CHF 10.00 /spot = approx USD 8.5
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = EUR 100'000 x .0001 = GBP 10.00 /spot = approx USD 19.00
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = USD 100'000 x .0001= CAD 10.00 /spot = approx USD 8.00
1 pip = 0.0001
1 pip move per 100k (lot ) = AUD 100'000 x .0001 = USD 10.00
On a typical day, liquid currency pairs like EUR/USD and USD/JPY can fluctuate a full point (.0100, 100 pips). On a EUR 1'000'000 position a full point on EUR/USD equates to 10'000 USD.
4) Introduction to Forex - Understanding Margins
Trading on a margined basis in foreign exchange is not a complicated concept as some may make it out to be. The easiest way to view margin trading is like this:
Essentially when a trader trades on margin he is using a free short-term credit allowance from the institution that is offering the margin. This short-term credit allowance is used to purchase an amount of currency that greatly exceeds the account value of the trader. Let's take the following example:
Example: Trader x has an account with EUR 50'00. He trades ticket sizes of 100'000 EUR/USD. This equates to a margin ratio of 2% (2’000 is 2% of 100'000). How can trader x trade 50 times the amount of money he has at his disposal? The answer is that the OFB temporarily gives the necessary credit to make the transaction s/he is interested in making. Without margin, trader x would only be able to buy or sell tickets of 2’000 at a time. On standard accounts OFB applies a minimum 2% margin.
Margin serves as collateral to cover any losses that you might incur. Since nothing is actually being purchased or sold for delivery, the only requirement, and indeed the only real purpose for having funds in your account, is for sufficient margin.
A Foreign exchange quote , e.g. EUR/USD "1.2700 /03" represents the bid / offer spread in this case for EUR / USD. The rate of 1.2703 is the rate at which you can Buy EUR against the US Dollar. The rate of 1.2700 is the rate at which you can Sell EUR against the US Dollar.
1.2700 Bid / 03 Offer
Margin Required (2%)
100,000 x 1.2703 x 2% = $2,540.6
The Euro appreciates against the US Dollar and the client wishes to close the position. OFB is now quoting 1.2750 / 1.2753.
1.2750 Bid / 1.2753 offer
50 x $10 = $500.00 profit
$ 500 – (Commission $ 20) = $480
5) Introduction to Forex - Order Types
a) Market Order
An order to buy or sell which is to be done at the price immediately available: the 'spot' rate, the current ratres at which the market is dealing.
b) Limit Order
An instruction to deal if a market moves to a more favorable level (i.e. an instruction to buy if a market goes down to a specified level or to sell if a market goes up to a specified level) is called a Limit Order. A Limit Order is often used to take profit on an existing position but can also be used to establish a new one.
c) Stop Order
An instruction nto deal if a market moves to a less favorable level (i.e. an instruction nto buy if a market goes up to a specified level, or to sell if a market goes down to a specified level) is called a Stop Order. A Stop Order is often placed to put a cap on the potential loss on an existing position; which is why Stop Orders are sometimes called Stop-loss Orders. But can be used to entere into a new position if the market breaks a certain level.
d) Once Cancels the Other (OCO)
An 'OCO' (One Cancels the Other) Order is a special type of Order where a Stop Order and a Limit Order in the same market are linked together. With an OCO Order, the execution of one of the two linked Orders results in the automatic cancellation of the other Order.
e) IF DONE Order
An IF DONE Order is a two-legged order in which the execution of the second leg can occur only after the conditions of the first leg have been satisfied. The first leg, either a Stop or a Limit, is created in an active state and the second, which can be a Stop, a Limit, or an OCO, is created in a dormant state. When the desired price is reached for the first leg, it is executed and the second leg is then activated.