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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Forex Trading Basics

The global foreign exchange market is the biggest market in the world. The 3.2 trillion USD daily turnover dwarfs the combined turnover of all the world's stock and bond markets.

There are many reasons for the popularity of foreign exchange trading, but among the most important are the leverage available, the high liquidity 24 hours a day and the very low dealing costs associated with trading.

Of course many commercial organisations participate purely due to the currency exposures created by their import and export activities, but the main part of the turnover is accounted for by financial institutions. Investing in foreign exchange remains predominantly the domain of the big professional players in the market - funds, banks and brokers. Nevertheless, any investor with the necessary knowledge of the market's functions can benefit from the advantages stated above.

In the following article, we would like to introduce you to some of the basic concepts of foreign exchange trading. If you would like any further information, we suggest that you sign up for a FREE Membership on this website, where you will be able to exchange views with other Forex traders and get answers to any questions you might have.

Margin Trading

Foreign exchange is normally traded on margin. A relatively small deposit can control much larger positions in the market. For trading the main currencies, Saxo Bank requires a 1% margin deposit. This means that in order to trade one million dollars, you need to place just USD 10,000 by way of security.

In other words, you will have obtained a gearing of up to 100 times. This means that a change of, say 2%, in the underlying value of your trade will result in a 200% profit or loss on your deposit. See below for specific examples. As you can see, this calls for a very disciplined approach to trading as both profit opportunities and potential risks are very large indeed. Please refer to our page Forex Rates & Conditions for current Spreads, Margins and Conditions.

Base Currency and Variable Currency

When you trade, you will always trade a combination of two currencies. For example, you will buy US dollars and sell euro. Or buy euro and sell Japanese yen, or any other combination of dozens of widely traded currencies. But there is always a long (bought) and a short (sold) side to a trade, which means that you are speculating on the prospect of one of the currencies strengthening in relation to the other.

The trade currency is normally, but not always, the currency with the highest value. When trading US dollars against Singapore dollars, the normal way to trade is buying or selling a fixed amount of US dollars, i.e. USD 1,000,000. When closing the position, the opposite trade is done, again USD 1,000,000. The profit or loss will be apparent in the change of the amount of SGD credited and debited for the two transactions. In other words, your profit or loss will be denominated in SGD, which is known as the price currency. As part of our service, Saxo Bank will automatically exchange your profits and losses into your base currency if you require this.