The Forex market is by far the largest and most liquid of the financial markets, allowing traders to access the market non-stop 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, with prices being quoted to one thousandth of a cent!
Currency Trade, Forex Trade, FX Trade – these are all terms used to describe the exchanging of one currency for another; for example, the exchanging of U.S. Dollars to British Pounds. In the foreign exchange market, this is viewed as buying pounds while simultaneously selling dollars. Because two currencies are always involved, currencies are traded in the form of currency pairs, with the pricing based on the exchange rate offered by dealers in forex trading market.
Some form of currency trading has been conducted for the past three hundred years or more. But with the growth of a vibrant over-the-counter (OTC) market, forex trading has become available to a much wider audience and is no longer reserved for wealthy individuals and large corporations. The growing number of active forex traders – combined with the inherent advantages of forex trading as discussed in this chapter – have helped propel the currency market to a multi-trillion-dollar-a-day operation serving the needs of a wide range of participants.
There is no unified or centrally cleared market for the majority of trades, and there is very little cross-border regulation. Due to the over-the-counter (OTC) nature of currency markets, there are rather a number of interconnected marketplaces, where different currencies instruments are traded. This implies that there is not a single exchange rate but rather a number of different rates (prices), depending on what bank or market maker is trading, and where it is. In practice the rates are quite close due to arbitrage. Due to London’s dominance in the market, a particular currency’s quoted price is usually the London market price. Major trading exchanges include Electronic Broking Services (EBS) and Thomson Reuters Dealing, while major banks also offer trading systems. A joint venture of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Reuters, called Fxmarketspace opened in 2007 and aspired but failed to the role of a central market clearing mechanism
The main trading centers are New York and London, though Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore are all important centers as well. Banks throughout the world participate. Currency trading happens continuously throughout the day; as the Asian trading session ends, the European session begins, followed by the North American session and then back to the Asian session, excluding weekends.
Fluctuations in exchange rates are usually caused by actual monetary flows as well as by expectations of changes in monetary flows caused by changes in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, inflation (purchasing power parity theory), interest rates (interest rate parity, Domestic Fisher effect, International Fisher effect), budget and trade deficits or surpluses, large cross-border M&A deals and other macroeconomic conditions. Major news is released publicly, often on scheduled dates, so many people have access to the same news at the same time. However, the large banks have an important advantage; they can see their customers’ order flow.
Trading in the euro has grown considerably since the currency’s creation in January 1999, and how long the foreign exchange market will remain dollar-centered is open to debate. Until recently, trading the euro versus a non-European currency ZZZ would have usually involved two trades: EURUSD and USDZZZ. The exception to this is EURJPY, which is an established traded currency pair in the interbank spot market. As the dollar’s value has eroded during 2008, interest in using the euro as reference currency for prices in commodities (such as oil), as well as a larger component of foreign reserves by banks, has increased dramatically. Transactions in the currencies of commodity-producing countries, such as AUD, NZD, CAD, have also increased.