Saturday, September 22, 2007

Forex Market Heats Up For The Individual Trader

There has been a plethora of new financial instruments coming on stream for individuals in recent years. A few provide more leverage than just buying and selling stocks. Among the most rewarding markets opening up to traders is the FOREX (Foreign Exchange Market).

Why? Money or currency is the ultimate commodity. Every time a company or government buys or sells products and services in a foreign country, they are subject to a foreign currency trade, the exchanging of one currency for another. May individuals and organizations also trade currencies for speculative purposes. In contrast to the worlds stock markets, foreign exchange (Forex) is traded without the constraints of a central physical exchange.

Transactions are instead conducted via telephone or online networks. With this transaction structure in place, the Foreign Exchange market has become by far the largest marketplace in the world. With all these currency transactions going on daily, it is no wonder that the foreign currency exchange market (known as Forex or FX market) is the largest financial market in the world. It is much bigger than all the US Stock markets combined with a daily trading volume larger than that of all the worlds stock markets put together!

In addition, it is the least regulated market providing the greatest liquidity to investors. Trillions of dollars of foreign exchange activity takes place very day. From 1997 to 2000, daily Forex trading volume surged from US$5 billion to US$20Trlllion. The Forex market continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. This high volume is advantageous from trading standpoint because transactions can be executed quickly (with minimal slippage) and with low transaction costs. (Small bid/ask spread).

Before the Internet, only corporations and wealthy individuals could trade currencies in the Forex market through the use of proprietary trading systems of banks, often through private banking.

These systems required about $1Million to open an account. Thanks to the proliferation of the internet, today self directed investors with only a few thousand dollars and smaller financial firms can have access to the forex market 24 hours a day with the same liquidity as larger market participants.

For traders, Forex trading provides an alternative to the stock market trading. Whilst there are thousands of stocks to choose from, there are only a few major currencies to trade (Dollar, Yen, British Pound, Swiss franc and the Euro are the most popular). Forex trading also provides a lot more leverage than stock trading and the minimum investment to get started is a low lower. In addition, you have the ability to choose flexible trading hours (Forex trading goes on 24 hours a day!) and lower margin requirements.

As a result, foreign exchange trading has long been recognized as a staple and superior investment vehicle by central banks, major banks, multinational corporations (MNC), individual investors and speculators, institutional funds and hedge funds.

Trading or speculation makes up 95% of the daily volume. The other 5% of daily volume consists of governments and commercial companies converting one currency into another from buying and selling goods and services. The other 5% of daily volume consists of governments and commercial companies converting one currency into another from buying and selling goods and services.

More individual traders are jumping on this Forex Market bandwagon as it opens up opportunities to trade a global market on a flexible schedule and low barrier of entry.

Alvin has been an active investor in the equity , derivative and forex market. Get more articles and resources he has compiled at