Forex trading involves trading of currencies and is the largest and the most liquid market in the world. Forex operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, and it has no single, centralized market. On an average day, the forex market trades around $3 trillion dollars.
When you make a forex trade, you are buying and selling currency and, in essence, betting on the fluctuations in their exchange rates. For example, if you were to buy Euros when the conversion rate is 1.25 U.S. dollars for 1 Euro then sell when the conversion rate is 1.28 U.S. dollars to 1 Euro, that difference of .03 represents your profit. Typically, you won t buy a small amount. Usually currently is traded in lots of varying sizes. A standard lot is 100,000 units of a currency, a Mini lot is 10,000 units, a Micro lot is 1,000 units. A few brokers may offer Nano lots, which are only 100 units.
The change in a currency pair s value is measured in pips, which is the smallest amount that the value can change. Usually a currency pairs are quoted out to the fourth decimal, and a pip is the change in the last number. For example, if EUR/USD is trading at 1.3300 and it moves to 1.3302, that is a movement of two pips. When pips are magnified by the size of lot, that is where the opportunity to profit emerges.
Because the changes in currencies are usually very small, it would seem that forex trading is ideal only for institutions or investors that can afford to buy large lots. This is where leverage comes in. Typically, a brokerage will offer you a margin account which can magnify the amount you have available. The ratio of the amount you borrow on margin and the amount you deposit is the leverage. U.S. brokers cannot offer more than 50:1 leverage.