For traders—especially those with limited funds—day trading or swing trading in small amounts is easier in the forex market than other markets. For those with longer-term horizons and larger funds, long-term fundamentals-based trading or a carry trade can be profitable. A focus on understanding the macroeconomic fundamentals driving currency values and experience with technical analysis may help new forex traders to become more profitable.
Before we move on, it's important to note that the best way of avoiding unnecessary risk when trading is to use a risk-free demo trading account. With a demo account you can trade on the live markets without putting your capital at risk, meaning that you can practice and get on top of your emotions, so that when you are ready to transition to the live markets, you have already conquered the biggest obstacles! To open your FREE demo trading account, click the banner below!
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Risk warning: Trading Forex (foreign exchange) or CFDs (contracts for difference) on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. There is a possibility that you may sustain a loss equal to or greater than your entire investment. Therefore, you should not invest or risk money that you cannot afford to lose. Before using Admiral Markets UK Ltd, Admiral Markets Cyprus Ltd or Admiral Markets PTY Ltd services, please acknowledge all of the risks associated with trading.
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You have probably heard that most people who attempt Forex trading end up losing money. There’s a good reason for this, and the reason is primarily that most people think about trading in the wrong light. Most people come into the markets with unrealistic expectations, such as thinking they are going to quit their jobs after a month of trading or thinking they are going to turn $1,000 into $100,000 in a few months. These unrealistic expectations work to foster an account-destroying trading mindset in most traders because they feel too much pressure or “need” to make money in the markets. When you begin trading with this “need” or pressure to make money, you enviably end up trading emotionally, which is the fastest way to lose your money.
There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: the spot market, the forwards market, and the futures market. Forex trading in the spot market has always been the largest market because it is the "underlying" real asset that the forwards and futures markets are based on. In the past, the futures market was the most popular venue for traders because it was available to individual investors for a longer period of time. However, with the advent of electronic trading and numerous forex brokers, the spot market has witnessed a huge surge in activity and now surpasses the futures market as the preferred trading market for individual investors and speculators. When people refer to the forex market, they usually are referring to the spot market. The forwards and futures markets tend to be more popular with companies that need to hedge their foreign exchange risks out to a specific date in the future.
An investor can profit from the difference between two interest rates in two different economies by buying the currency with the higher interest rate and shorting the currency with the lower interest rate. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, it was very common to short the Japanese yen (JPY) and buy British pounds (GBP) because the interest rate differential was very large. This strategy is sometimes referred to as a "carry trade."
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More specifically, the spot market is where currencies are bought and sold according to the current price. That price, determined by supply and demand, is a reflection of many things, including current interest rates, economic performance, sentiment towards ongoing political situations (both locally and internationally), as well as the perception of the future performance of one currency against another. When a deal is finalized, this is known as a "spot deal." It is a bilateral transaction by which one party delivers an agreed-upon currency amount to the counter party and receives a specified amount of another currency at the agreed-upon exchange rate value. After a position is closed, the settlement is in cash. Although the spot market is commonly known as one that deals with transactions in the present (rather than the future), these trades actually take two days for settlement.