Well, you already know that the word “currency” refers to the monetary unit used in countries to buy goods and services (or pay taxes like in the USA). And we are also aware of the fact that “trading” refers to the purchasing and selling of these currencies. To say that there are nearly as many currencies in the world as there are countries is a fairly safe assumption. But when it comes to discussing currency futures versus the Forex market, the most targeted currencies for investment purposes are:
* United States dollar
* British Pound (sterling)
* The Euro
* Japanese Yen
Since the currency markets have become extremely popular with investors, and since they are predominantly a day-trade oriented market, they exhibit an extremely high volume of trading (contracts) and equally high amount of liquidity. The factors of high volume and liquidity entice the participation of all types of traders such as:
* Financial and non-financial companies
* Individual day traders
There are a number of ways in which to trade currencies but even non-traders are familiar with the most obvious one, namely trading your currency for that of the country that you are vacationing in. Usually, travelers will use a currency broker, in this case one of the country’s banks, to exchange their currency. When the transaction is done, it is considered to be part of the currency exchange market. Where the serious investor or professional trader is concerned, this form of currency exchange is not acceptable.
Forex (FOReign EXchange)
The Forex Exchange is one of the most popular and highly trafficked venues of trading the actual exchange rates of two currencies in the industry, and the Euro to United States dollar gets a lot of attention in the Forex market. The exchange is usually listed as EUR/USD, which means trading the value of one Euro in US dollars. The five other most popular currency trades are:
* AUD/USD – The Australian Dollar to US Dollar
* CAD/USD – The Canadian Dollar to US Dollar
* EUR/CHF – The Euro to Swiss Franc
* EUR/GBP – The Euro to British Pound
* GBP/USD – The British Pound (Sterling) to US Dollar
In the Forex market, currencies are traded directly rather than in contracts. “Lot” is the terminology that is used to describe the minimum amount that can be traded, which is characteristically $25,000 USD.
The currency futures market is based on the currency exchange market. Trades use futures contracts that are a reflection of the exchange rates of two different currencies. The Euro futures market is currently the most popular market of the bunch and is based upon the EUR/USD exchange rate. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, or CME, provides the most popular currency futures.
An exchange provides the currency futures since it is a futures market, meaning that it employs centralized pricing, as well as clearing, and therefore ensures that market prices remain constant regardless of which brokerage is being used. Contract specifications include the value of the contract, the “tick size” (minimum price change), and the “tick value” (price change value).