Using fundamental and technical analyses, the individual trader attempts to determine trends in the price movements of currencies, and by buying or selling currency pairs, attempts to gain profits. The most often traded currencies, the major currencies, are those of countries with stable governments and respected central banks that target low inflation. Currencies that often trade along with the U.S. Dollar include the European Euro, the Japanese Yen, and the British Pound as they are the most liquid. A trader can trade these currencies in any combination. CMS Forex also offers the Swiss Franc, and the Canadian, Australia and New Zealand Dollars making for 19 total trading instruments when accounting for all the cross pairs. More "Exotic" currencies are not offered as they are often tightly regulated and simply too illiquid.
Buying and Selling Currencies
Traders can generate profits (or losses) whether a currency is rising or falling by buying one currency, which is anticipated to gain value against another currency or selling one currency, which is anticipated to lose value against another currency. Taking a long position is one in which a trader buys a currency at one price and aims to sell it later at a higher price. Alternatively, a short position is one in which the trader sells a currency that he anticipates to depreciate and aims to buy the currency back later at a lower price.
Diagram illustrating how a position is opened and closed generating a profit. Position is closed based on speculated downward market movement. Forex trading involves a substantial risk of loss.
Buying or selling currencies in response to economic or political events which occur are reactive, whereas buying or selling currencies on anticipated events is speculative. The bulk of currency activity is generated by market participants anticipating the direction of currency prices. In general, the value of a currency versus other currencies is a reflection of the condition of that country’s economy with respect to the other major economies.
It is the trader’s option to take either a conservative or a more risk-taking approach. Employing a conservative approach, the trader establishes and liquidates positions quickly and efficiently to capitalize on even the slightest of price fluctuations, using limit and stop orders to manage risk. A limit order is placed to ensure a position is established once a price level in the market has been reached.* A stop order is placed to automatically liquidate a position at a chosen price level in order to limit potential loss on a particular trade. By placing orders in relation to technical support and resistance levels, the trader may profit incrementally from the minor price fluctuations that occur each day.
The Time in the Major Financial Centers Impacts Market Players
Foreign exchange is a continuous global market, providing participants with 24-hour market access. The only breaks in trading occur during a brief period over the weekend. Although foreign exchange is the most liquid of all markets, the fact that it is an international market and trading 24-hours a day, the time of day can have a direct impact on the liquidity available for trading a particular currency.
The major dealer centers and time zones are that of Sydney, Tokyo, London, and New York. Therefore, traders must consider which players are in the market, since in the modern interconnected financial world, events that occur at any hour, in any part of the globe, can affect some or all parts of the investment community.
The market's 24-hour nature is a substantial attraction to traders that prefer to trade at all times of the day, or night.