Sunday, October 14, 2007

Calculating Foreign Exchange FOREX Profits and Losses

FOREX currencies are traded in much smaller divisions than cash. Whereas the smallest division in US cash is the penny ($0.01), US currency can be traded on the FOREX in divisions of $0.0001. This smallest division is called the pip (short for Price Interest Point - sometimes just called 'points'). Since currencies are traded in large lots of (say) $100,000 - small movements in value can generate substantial profits and losses. In a lot of US$100,000 one pip is worth $10 so an increase in 40 pips (4/10 of one cent) can generate a profit or loss of $400.

Currencies are traded in lots of various sizes. The standard lot is 100,000 units of the base currency. A unit is the currency name e.g. one unit of US dollars is the dollar. So a standard lot of US currency is worth $100,000. FOREX trades can have lots of various sizes - a mini lot is 10,000 units, but the most trades are done using standard lots.

Various currencies have different sized pips. The US dollar is expressed in pips of 0.0001 while the Japanese yen is expressed in pips of 0.01. The value of a pip depends on the size of a lot and the currency pair traded. Currency pairs with USD as the quote (second) currency (e.g. CAD/USD) always have a pip value of $10 per standard lot or $1 per mini lot. A pip value calculator can be used to calculate other currencies.

Order Types

A trader has at his disposal different types of orders to make FOREX trades. A clear understanding of each type of order is necessary to be a successful FOREX trader.

Market Order - is an order to buy or sell at the current market price. They can be used to enter or exit a trade. Market orders should be used with care because in fast-moving markets there may be a difference between the price seen at the time a market order is given and the actual price of the transaction. This is due to slippage - the amount the market moves in the few seconds between giving an order and having it executed. Slippage could result in a loss or gain of several pips.

Limit Order - is an order to buy or sell at a certain limit. They can be used to buy currency below the market price or sell currency above the market price. When buying, your order is executed when the market falls to your limit order price. When selling, your order is executed when the market rises to your limit order price. There is no slippage with limit orders.

Stop Order - is an order to buy above the market or to sell below the market. They are most commonly used as stop-loss orders to limit losses if the market moves contrary to what the trader expected. A stop-loss order will sell the currency if the market falls below the point set by the trader.

One Cancels the Other (OCO) - this order is used when placing a limit order and a stop-loss order at the same time. If either order is executed the other is cancelled, allowing the trader to make a transaction without monitoring the market. If the market falls, the stop-loss order will be executed, but if the market rises to the level of the limit order, the currency will be sold at a profit.

Example OCO Transaction:

Buy: 1 standard lot EUR/USD @ 1.3228 = $132,280
Pip Value: 1 pip = $10
Stop-Loss: 1.3203
Limit: 1.3328

This is an order to buy US dollars at 1.3328 and to sell them if they fall to 1.3203 (resulting in a loss of 25 pips or $250) or to sell them if they rise to 1.3328 (resulting in a profit of 100 pips or $1,000).

Here's another example:

The current bid/ask price for US dollars and Canadian dollars is

USD/CDN 1.2152/57

...meaning you can buy $1 US for 1.2152 CDN or sell 1.2157 CDN for $1 US.

If you think that the US dollar (USD) is undervalued against the Canadian dollar (CDN) you would buy USD (simultaneously selling CDN) and wait for the US dollar to rise.

This is the transaction:
Buy USD: 1 standard lot USD/CDN @ 1.2157 = $121,570 CDN
Pip Value: 1 pip = $10
Stop-Loss: 1.2147
Margin: $1,000 (1%)

You are buying US$100,000 and selling CDN$121,570. Your stop loss order will be executed if the dollar falls below 1.2147, in which case you will lose $100.

However, USD/CDN rises to 1.2192/87. You can now sell $1 US for 1.2192 CDN or sell 1.2187 CDN for $1 US.

Because you entered the transaction by buying US dollars (buying long), you must now sell US dollars and buy back CDN dollars to realize your profit.

You sell US$100,000 at the current USD/CDN rate of 1.2192, and receive 121,920 CDN for which you originally paid CDN$121,570. Your profit is $350 Canadian dollars or US$287.19 (350 divided by the current exchange rate of 1.2187).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forex Beginner | 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.

By Norman Fleming (Author)