Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Accounts In Forex

Although the movement today is towards all transaction eventually finishing in a profit and loss in US Dollars it is important to realize that your profit or loss may not actually be in US Dollars.

From my observation the trend is more pronounced in the US as you would expect.

Most US based traders assume they will see their balance at the end of each day in US Dollars. I have even spoken with some traders who are oblivious to the fact the their profit might have actually been in Japanese Yen.

Let me explain a little more. You sell (go short) USD/JPY and as such are short USD and Long (bought) JPY. You enter the trade at 116.10 and exit 116.90. You in fact made 80,000 Japanese Yen (1 lot traded) not US Dollars.

If you traded all four major currencies against the US Dollar you would in fact have made or lose in EUR, GPY, JPY and CHF. This might give you a ledger balance at the end of the day or month with four different currencies.

This is common in London. They will stay in that currency until you instruct the broker to exchange the currencies into your own base currency.

This actually happened to me. After dealing with mainly US based brokers it had never occurred to me that my statement would be in anything other than US Dollars.

This can work for you or against you depending on the rate of exchange when you change back into your home currency. Once I knew the convention I simply instructed the broker to change my profit or loss into US Dollars when I closed my position. It is worth checking how your broker approaches this and simply ask them how they handle it. A small point, but worth noting.

Nowadays most countries have regulated forex, but it is still worth checking that the broker who you are dealing with is regulated in the country that it operates, insured or bonded and has some kind of track recorded.

I cannot advise you on which broker you should use as there are just to many variables to each person, but as a rule of thumb, nearly all countries have some kind of regulatory authority who will be able to advise you. Most of the regulatory authorities will have a list of brokers that fall within their jurisdiction and will give you that list. They probably wont tell whom to use but at least if the list came from them you can have some confidence in those companies.

Once you have a list, give a few of them a call, see who you feel comfortable with, ask for them to send you their polices and procedures.

If you live near where your broker is based, go spend the day with him. I have been to many brokerages just to check them out. It will give you a chance to see their operation and meet their team.

This brings up another interesting point. When you open an account with a broker you will have to fill in some forms basically stating your acceptance of their polices. This can range from a 1 page document to something resembling a book.

Take the time to read through these documents and make a list of things you don't understand or want explained.

Most reputable companies will be happy to spend some time with you on this. Your involvement with your broker is largely up to you. As a forex trader you will probably spend long hours staring at the screen without talking to anyone. You may be the sort of person who likes this or you may be the sort of person who likes to chat with the dealer in the trading room. You will normally get a call once a week or once a month from someone in the brokerage asking if everything is OK.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Forex Trading Education - The London Open Checklist

A thorough Forex trading education must include an understanding of the effect market timings can have on trading and liquidity.

One of the most active periods of the day is from the time the London market opens. Often around that time good trading opportunities will appear.

As part of your Forex trading education, learn to analyze market conditions around London open and begin to recognize good setups.

The following questionnaire and checklist will help.

London Open Preparation

About 15 to 30 minutes before London open check the answers to these questions:

- Are the MACD indicators on the 4 hour and 1 hour charts in agreement? If they are not going in the same direction be very careful!

- Is there MACD divergence on the 4 hour, 1 hour, or 15 minute chart? Look for other clues to confirm that price may go in the direction of MACD divergence.

- On the 4 hour chart what is the overall trend?

- Do a Fibonacci calculation on the last swing high and low and see if price is pulling back to an optimum retracement level or whether it is reaching a key extension level.

- Note price in relation to the 200 EMA (Exponential Moving Average) on the 4 hour, 1 hour and 15 minute charts. Is price bucking the trend? In other words, is price above the 200 EMA on the 4 hour and 1 hour chart but below it on the 15 minute? Then be prepared for price to go long at some stage. (Draw the opposite conclusion if price is below the 200 EMA on the 4 hour and 1 hour chart but above it on the 15 minute chart.)

- Are any Economic Reports imminent?

- As the candle closes on the 15 minute chart at London open, do you see any distinctive candle patterns such as tweezers, or doji's or hammers indicating price exhaustion?

- If I entered a trade right now in a particular direction, what would be the risk and where would I place my stop?

Within a few minutes of London open, if you see a number of factors converging from the analysis above, make a decision one way or the other:

- trade

- wait for clearer signals or a better entry point

Carrying out an analysis in this way each day at London open will do much to increase your Forex trading education.

It will make you aware of what is happening on the charts and in the marketplace and help you to arrive at conclusions.

There is no magic formula involved with Forex trading education. Put simply, successful Forex trading is the result of years of hard work, study, practice, and experience often gained through painful trading scenarios.

Eventually the newer trader learns mental discipline, and how to control the emotions - probably the biggest part of a Forex trading education.

Practice a procedure like the one above day after day and begin to see some progress as you get nearer the time you make profits consistently from currency trading.

Forex Glossary

Here are some of the most common terms used in FOREX trading.

Ask Price ¨C Sometimes called the Offer Price, this is the market price for traders to buy currencies. Ask Prices are shown on the right side of a quote ¨C e.g. EUR/USD 1.1965 / 68 ¨C means that one euro can be bought for 1.1968 UD dollars.

Bar Chart ¨C A type of chart used in Technical Analysis. Each time division on the chart is displayed as a vertical bar which show the following information ¨C the top of the bar is the high price, the bottom of the bar is the low price, the horizontal line on the left of the bar shows the opening price and the horizontal line on the right of bar shows the closing price.

Base Currency ¨C is the first currency in a currency pair. A quote shows how much the base currency is worth in the quote (second) currency. For example, in the quote - USD/JPY 112.13 ¨C US dollars are the base currency, with 1 US dollar being worth 112.13 Japanese yen.

Bid Price ¨C is the price a trader can sell currencies. The Bid Price is shown on the left side of a quote - e.g. EUR/USD 1.1965 / 68 ¨C means that one euro can be sold for 1.1965 UD dollars.

Bid/Ask Spread ¨C is the difference between the bid price and the ask price in any currency quotation. The spread represents the broker's fee, and varies from broker to broker.

Broker ¨C the intermediary between buyer and seller. Most FOREX brokers are associated with large financial institutions and earn money by setting a spread between bid and ask prices.

Candlestick Chart - A type of chart used in Technical Analysis. Each time division on the chart is displayed as a candlestick ¨C a red or green vertical bar with extensions above and below the candlestick body. The top of the extension shows the highest price for the chart division and the bottom of the extension shows the lowest price. Red candlesticks indicate a lower closing price than opening price, and green candlesticks indicate the price is rising.

Cross Currency ¨C A currency pair that does not include US dollars ¨C e.g. EUR/GBP.

Currency Pair ¨C Two currencies involved in a FOREX transaction ¨C e.g. EUR/USD.

Economic Indicator ¨C A statistical report issued by governments or academic institutions indicating economic conditions within a country.

First In First Out (FIFO) ¨C refers to the order open orders are liquidated. The first orders to be liquidated are the first that were opened.

Foreign Exchange (FOREX, FX) ¨C Simultaneously buying one currency and selling another.

Fundamental Analysis ¨C Analysis of political and economic conditions that can affect currency prices.

Leverage or Margin ¨C The ratio of the value of a transaction to the required deposit. A common margin for FOREX trading is 100:1 ¨C you can trade currency worth 100 times the amount of your deposit.

Limit Order ¨C An order to buy or sell when the price reaches a specified level.

Lot ¨C The size of a FOREX transaction. Standard lots are worth about 100,000 US dollars.

Major Currency ¨C The euro, German mark, Swiss franc, British pound, and the Japanese yen are the major currencies.

Minor Currency ¨C The Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar, and the New Zealand dollar are the minor currencies.

One Cancels the Other (OCO) ¨C Two orders placed simultaneously with instructions to cancel the second order on execution of the first.

Open Position ¨C An active trade that has not been closed.

Pips or Points ¨C The smallest unit a currency can be traded in.

Quote Currency ¨C The second currency in a currency pair. In the currency pair USD/EUR the euro is the quote currency.

Rollover ¨C Extending the settlement time of spot deals to the current delivery date. The cost of rollover is calculated using swap points based on interest rate differentials.

Technical Analysis ¨C Analysis of historical market data to predict future movements in the market.

Tick ¨C The minimum change in price.

Transaction Cost ¨C The cost of a FOREX transaction ¨C typically the spread between bid and ask prices.

Volatility ¨C A statistical measure indicating the tendency of sharp price movements within a period of time.

Charts for the technical analysis

Kinds of prices and time units. Charts for the technical analysis are being constructed in coordinates price (the vertical axis) time (the horizontal axis). The following kinds of currency prices represented on charts are being distinguished on Forex:
* open - a price at the beginning of a trade period (year, month, day, week, hour, minute or a certain amount of one from these units);
* close - a price at the end of a trade period;
* high - the highest from prices observed during a trade period;
* low - the lowest from prices observed during a trade period.

Providing the technical analysis one uses charts for different time units  from 1 year or more till 1 minute. The bigger is a time unit applied for the chart plotting the bigger is a time span to analyze price movements and to determine the major trend by means of the chart. For the short trading charts for less time units are more suitable.

Line chart. The line chart is plotted connecting single prices for a selected time period. The most popular line chart is the daily chart. Although any point in the day can be plotted, most traders focus on the closing price, which they perceive as the most important. But an immediate problem with the daily line chart is the fact that it is impossible to see the price activity for the balance of the period as well as gaps  breakups in prices at joints of trade periods. Nevertheless, line charts are easier to visualize. Also, technical analysis goes well beyond chart formation; in order to execute certain models and techniques, line charts are better suited than any of the other charts.

Bar chart. The bar chart consists from separate histograms. To plot a histogram in coordinates price  time the points responding to high, low, open and close prices for a time period analyzed should be marked on the one vertical bar. The opening price usually is marked with a little horizontal line to the left of the bar; and the closing price is marked with a little horizontal line to the right of the bar. Bar charts have the obvious advantage of displaying the currency range for the period selected. An advantage of this chart is that, unlike line charts, the bar chart is able to plot price gaps. Hence, it is impossible to see on a bar chart absolutely all price movements during the period.

Candlestick chart. The candlestick chart is closely related to the bar chart. It also consists of four major prices: high, low, open, and close. In addition to the common readings, the candlestick chart has a set of particular interpretations. The latter is possible thanks to the convenient visual observation of that chart.

The opening and closing prices form the body (jittai) of the candlestick. To indicate that the opening was lower than the closing, the body of the bar is left blank. Current standard electronic displays allow you to keep it blank or select a color of your choice. If the currency closes below its opening, the body is filled. In its original form, the body was colored black, but the electronic displays allow you to keep it filled or to select a color of your choice. The intraday (or weekly) direction on a candlestick chart can be traced by means of two "shadows": the upper shadow (uwakage) and the lower shadow (shitakage). Just as with a bar chart, the candlestick chart is unable to trace every price movement during a period's activity.

Risks by the foreign exchange on Forex

The Forex is essentially risk-bearing. By the evaluation of the grade of a possible risk accounted should be the following kinds of it: exchange rate risk, interest rate risk, and credit risk, country risk.

Exchange rate risk. Exchange rate risk is the effect of the continuous shift in the worldwide market supply and demand balance on an outstanding foreign exchange position. For the period it is outstanding, the position will be subject to all the price changes. The most popular measures to cut losses short and ride profitable positions that losses should be kept within manageable limits are the position limit and the loss limit. By the position limitation a maximum amount of a certain currency a trader is allowed to carry at any single time during the regular trading hours is to be established. The loss limit is a measure designed to avoid unsustainable losses made by traders by means of stop-loss levels setting.

Interest rate risk. Interest rate risk refers to the profit and loss generated by fluctuations in the forward spreads, along with forward amount mismatches and maturity gaps among transactions in the foreign exchange book. This risk is pertinent to currency swaps, forward outright, futures, and options (See below). To minimize interest rate risk, one sets limits on the total size of mismatches. A common approach is to separate the mismatches, based on their maturity dates, into up to six months and past six months. All the transactions are entered in computerized systems in order to calculate the positions for all the dates of the delivery, gains and losses. Continuous analysis of the interest rate environment is necessary to forecast any changes that may impact on the outstanding gaps.

Credit risk. Credit risk refers to the possibility that an outstanding currency position may not be repaid as agreed, due to a voluntary or involuntary action by a counter party. In these cases, trading occurs on regulated exchanges, such as the clearinghouse of Chicago. The following forms of credit risk are known:

1. Replacement risk occurs when counterparties of the failed bank find their books are subjected to the danger not to get refunds from the bank, where appropriate accounts became unbalanced.

2. Settlement risk occurs because of the time zones on different continents. Consequently, currencies may be traded at the different price at different times during the trading day. Australian and New Zealand dollars are credited first, then Japanese yen, followed by the European currencies and ending with the U.S. dollar. Therefore, payment may be made to a party that will declare insolvency (or be declared insolvent) immediately after, but prior to executing its own payments.

Therefore in assessing the credit risk, end users must consider not only the market value of their currency portfolios, but also the potential exposure of these portfolios. The potential exposure may be determined through probability analysis over the time to maturity of the outstanding position. The computerized systems currently available are very useful in implementing credit risk policies. Credit lines are easily monitored. In addition, the matching systems introduced in foreign exchange since April 1993 are used by traders for credit policy implementation as well. Traders input the total line of credit for a specific counterparty. During the trading session, the line of credit is automatically adjusted. If the line is fully used, the system will prevent the trader from further dealing with that counterparty. After maturity, the credit line reverts to its original level.

Dictatorship risk. Dictatorship (sovereign) risk refers to the government's interference in the Forex activity. Although theoretically present in all foreign exchange instruments, currency futures are, for all practical purposes, excepted from country risk, because the major currency futures markets are located in the USA. Hence, traders have to realize that kind of the risk and be in state to account possible administrative restrictions.

Short data about the origin and development of the currency exchange market

Currency trading has a long history and can be traced back to the ancient Middle East and Middle Ages when foreign exchange started to take shape after the international merchant bankers devised bills of exchange, which were transferable third-party payments that allowed flexibility and growth in foreign exchange dealings.

The modern foreign exchange market characterized by periods of high volatility (that is a frequency and an amplitude of a price alteration) and relative stability formed itself in the twentieth century. By the mid-1930s the British capital London became to be the leading center for foreign exchange and the British pound served as the currency to trade and to keep as a reserve currency. Because in the old times foreign exchange was traded on the telex machines, or cable, the pound has generally the nickname “cable”.

After the World War II, where the British economy was destroyed and the United States was the only country unscarred by war, U.S. dollar, in accordance with the Breton Woods Accord between the USA, Great Britain and France (1944) became the reserve currency for all the capitalist countries and all currencies were pegged to the American dollar (through the constitution of currencies ranges maintained by central banks of relevant countries by means of the interventions or currency purchases). In turn, the U.S. dollar was pegged to gold at $35 per ounce. Thus, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency. In accordance with the same agreement was organized the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rendering now a significant financial support to the developing and former socialist countries effecting economical transformation.

To execute these goals the IMF uses such instruments as Reserve trenches, which allows a member to draw on its own reserve asset quota at the time of payment, Credit trenches drawings and stand-by arrangements. The letters are the standard form of IMF loans unlike of those as the compensatory financing facility extends financial help to countries with temporary problems generated by reductions in export revenues, the buffer stock financing facility which is geared toward assisting the stocking up on primary commodities in order to ensure price stability in a specific commodity and the extended facility designed to assist members with financial problems in amounts or for periods exceeding the scope of the other facilities.

At the end of the 70-s the free-floating of currencies was officially mandated that became the most important landmark in the history of financial markets in the XX century lead to the formation of Forex in the contemporary understanding. That is the currency may be traded by anybody and its value is a function of the current supply and demand forces in the market, and there are no specific intervention points that have to be observed. Foreign exchange has experienced spectacular growth in volume ever since currencies were allowed to float freely against each other. While the daily turnover in 1977 was U.S. $5 billion, it increased to U.S. $600 billion in 1987, reached the U.S. $1 trillion mark in September 1992, and stabilized at around $1.5 trillion by the year 2000.

Main factors influences on this spectacular growth in volume are mentioned below. A significant role belonged to the increased volatility of currencies rates, growing mutual influence of different economies on bank-rates established by central banks, which affect essentially currencies exchange rates, more intense competition on goods markets and, at the same time, amalgamation of the corporations of different countries, technological revolution in the sphere of the currencies trading. The latter exposed in the development of automated dealing systems and the transition to the currency trading by means of the Internet. In addition to the dealing systems, matching systems simultaneously connect all traders around the world, electronically duplicating the brokers' market.

Advances in technology, computer software, and telecommunications and increased experience have increased the level of traders' sophistication, their ability to both generate profits and properly handle the exchange risks. Therefore, trading sophistication led toward volume increase.

Forex - What is it?

The international currency market Forex is a special kind of the world financial market. Trader’s purpose on the Forex to get profit as the result of foreign currencies purchase and sale. The exchange rates of all currencies being in the market turnover are permanently changing under the action of the demand and supply alteration. The latter is a strong subject to the influence of any important for the human society event in the sphere of economy, politics and nature. Consequently current prices of foreign currencies evaluated for instance in the US dollars fluctuate towards its higher and lower meanings. Using these fluctuations in accordance with a known principle “buy cheaper – sell higher” traders obtain gains. Forex is different in compare to all other sectors of the world financial system thanks to his heightened sensibility to a large and continuously changing number of factors, accessibility to all individual and corporative traders, exclusively high trade turnover which creates an ensured liquidity of traded currencies and the round - the clock business hours which enable traders to deal after normal hours or during national holidays in their country finding markets abroad open.

Just as on any other market the trading on Forex, along with an exclusively high potential profitability, is essentially risk - bearing one. It is possible to gain a success on it only after a certain training including a familiarization with the structure and kinds of Forex, the principles of currencies price formation, the factors affecting prices alterations and trading risks levels, sources of the information necessary to account all those factors, techniques of the analysis and prediction of the market movements as well as with the trading tools and rules. An important role in the process of the preparation for the trading on Forex belongs to the demotrading (that is to trade using a demo-account with some virtual money), which allows to testify all the theoretical knowledge and to obtain a required minimum of the trade experience not being subjected to a material damage.