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The market is open 24 hours a day, five and a half days a week, and currencies are traded worldwide in the major financial centers of London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and Sydney - across almost every time zone.
This means that when the trading day in the U. As such, the forex market can be extremely active any time of the day, with price quotes changing constantly. Spot Market and the Forwards and Futures Markets There are actually three ways that institutions, corporations and individuals trade forex: The forex trading in the spot market always has 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. What is the spot market? 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. What are the forwards and futures markets? Unlike the spot market, the forwards and futures markets do not trade actual currencies.
Instead they deal in contracts that represent claims to a certain currency type, a specific price per unit and a future date for settlement. In the forwards market, contracts are bought and sold OTC between two parties, who determine the terms of the agreement between themselves. In the futures market, futures contracts are bought and sold based upon a standard size and settlement date on public commodities markets, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. From a historic standpoint, foreign exchange was once a concept for governments, large companies and hedge funds.
But in today's world, trading currencies is as easy as a click of a mouse — accessibility is not an issue, which means anyone can do it. In fact, many investment firms offer the chance for individuals to open accounts and to trade currencies however and whenever they choose. But there's no physical exchange of money from one party to another.
That's what happens at a foreign exchange kiosk — think of a tourist visiting Times Square in New York City from Japan. He may be converting his physical yen to actual U. But in the world of electronic markets, traders are usually taking a position in a specific currency, with the hope that there will be some upward movement and strength in the currency they're buying or weakness if they're selling so they can make a profit.
A spot deal is for immediate delivery, which is defined as two business days for most currency pairs. The major exception is the purchase or sale of U. Canadian dollars, which is settled in one business day. The business day calculation excludes Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays in either currency of the traded pair. During the Christmas and Easter season, some spot trades can take as long as six days to settle. Funds are exchanged on the settlement date , not the transaction date.
The euro is the most actively traded counter currency , followed by the Japanese yen, British pound and Swiss franc. Market moves are driven by a combination of speculation , especially in the short term ; economic strength and growth; and interest rate differentials.
Any forex transaction that settles for a date later than spot is considered a "forward. The amount of the adjustment is called "forward points. They are not a forecast of how the spot market will trade at a date in the future. A forward is a tailor-made contract: Transactions with maturities longer than a year are relatively unusual, but are possible.
As in a spot transaction, funds are exchanged on the settlement date. A "future" is similar to a forward in that it's for a date longer than spot, and the price has the same basis. Unlike a forward, it's traded on an exchange, and can only be executed for specified amounts and dates. With a futures contract , the buyer pays a portion of the value of the contract up front. That value is marked-to-market daily, and the buyer either pays or receives money based on the change in value.
Futures are most commonly used by speculators , and the contracts are usually closed out before maturity. A forex hedge is a foreign currency trade that's sole purpose A forward exchange contract is a special type of foreign currency
Futures contracts have specific details, including the number of units being traded, delivery and settlement dates, and minimum price increments that cannot be customized. The euro is the most actively traded counter currency , followed by the Japanese yen, British pound and Swiss franc.
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