But before we come to that, here's what we all know. Forex is the biggest financial market in the world, with its daily volume of transactions dwarfing the US stock markets by 10 to 1. Its sheer size also makes it the best market to trade in terms of (1) high liquidity - Forex trades are almost always instantly executed, thus minimizing slippage; and (2) open and fair - it is impossible for one to control or manipulate the market for any length of time, rendering "insider trading" impossible to carry out.
What moves Forex? Conventional thinking would imply economic fundamentals or factors such as the strength of a country's economy, which contributes to currency flows. Therefore, one would assume that everyone else would buy the US dollar against the British pound. Why not? The US economy is the largest in the world while that of Great Britain has fallen to fifth, behind the US, Japan, Germany and China.
The theory of "the bigger the economy is, the more attractive its currency will be" may be true but in reality, the sterling has advanced more against the dollar. Why is this so?
Let's dissect the market by taking a look at the players in the currency market. They are the financial institutions, commercial banks, insurance firms, pension funds, hedge funds, small funds, international businesses, private investors, retail traders and not forgetting, individuals. Each plays a part in determining the movement of a currency. We can divide them into two categories - "commercial" and "non-commercial".
The "commercials" engage in business activities requiring the use of currencies, whereas the "non-commercials" are into the Forex market for speculative purpose. Therefore the philosophies of the "commercials" and "non-commercials" are very much different - when the "commercials" buy, the "non-commercials" sell; and when the "commercials" sell, the "non-commercials" buy. It is this different point-of-view from two different types of traders, market makers or investors that moves the Forex market.
We have gone through the easy part of identifying the movers of the market. The question now is how to use this piece of information to trade Forex successfully and how to use the above information to develop a "Holy Grail" (almost) trading system.
Earlier, we have determined who the movers of the currency market are. The "commercials" are involved in a nature of business that requires Forex transactions. Examples would be commercial banks, insurance firms and international companies. On the other hand, the "non-commercials" are in the market solely for speculative purpose. Examples would be hedge funds, small funds, private investors, retail traders and individuals.
Best times to trade
Even though the Forex market opens 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, there are specific times in a day where the volume of transactions are high. These are the London session (3AM EST to noon EST), New York session (8AM EST to 5PM EST) and Tokyo session (7PM EST to 4AM EST), in the order of market volume size. Therefore the most profitable trades, in terms of price movement, are usually found in these times. It is advisable for traders to trade during these times.
Best currencies to trade
Every nation in the world has its own currency - the US dollar, Canadian dollar, Russian ruble, South African rand, Mexican peso, Thai baht, Indian rupee, and so on. However the most traded currencies, with the highest volume and liquidity, are the euro, Japanese yen, British pound and the Swiss franc, with euro (EUR/USD) being the most traded currency pair.
Tools of the trade
When it comes to trading Forex, there's only two methods that are utilized. The first is fundamental analysis and the other is technical analysis. Many traders argue that either one is better than the other. I prefer to use both. I will determine my entry and exit points based on technical analysis with the support of economic data or fundamental analysis. This will minimize the risk involved in my trades because the market doesn't lie. Technical analysis will show you why price is behaving in a certain manner and fundamental analysis will prove that you are right.
Best market to trade
Because the strength of a country's economy, which contributes to currency flows, doesn't just change on any external events, currencies tend to trend well. It takes some time for a material change in an economy's strength and therefore the direction of its currency. Due to this reason alone, Forex is a very trader-friendly market, compared to equities, futures, options, etc.
How to best trade the Forex market?
This is the million-dollar question. Remember our "commercial" and "non-commercial" friends? These guys will battle to see who will win ultimately. Here's how it works:
"Commercials" consisting of commercial banks, insurance firms and large companies are loaded with deep pockets and nearly unlimited funds when put together. When the price of a currency declines, the "commercials" will load their positions - they will buy because price is "cheap". When demand exceeds supply, price advances and the "commercials" will unload their positions - they will sell at a higher price for a profit.
Who will they sell to? It's the "non-commercials"! But before we come to a conclusion who the obvious losers in this game are, let me tell you that not all "commercials" will profit from the above example and not all "non-commercials" will lose. It all depends on when the entry or exit is made. Confused?
Let me explain.
When price declines and the "commercials" buy, they are practically buying into a falling price (this is possible because of the large funds at their disposal) in the hope that price will eventually advance and they will profit by selling at a higher price. However, there's no guarantee that 100,000 lots bought will each be sold at a higher price. It all depends on market forces - nobody can dictate or control the movement of a currency.
As for the "non-commercials", when price advances, they are practically buying into a rising price in the hope that price will advance even more for them to profit from it. As is the case above, market forces will determine whether this will hold true for the "non-commercials".
What does it all mean?
If you analyze the above, you will notice one common theme. In order to profit from the market, timing is essential - "buy low and sell high". Easier said than done! Every trader knows this. So how can one time his or her entry or exit?
Tricks of the trade
Here's how you should trade the currency market. You should develop your "Holy Grail" (almost) trading system based on the following. It worked for me, which is why it should work for you too.
- The market players usually based their trades on certain predefined price levels. They don't just enter or exit whenever they like. These price levels are the Support and Resistance that many of us come to know of. Currencies tend to move well between these Support and Resistance levels. The most common methods to determine the Support and Resistance levels are Fibonacci, Pivot Points, Trendlines and the Exponential Moving Averages.
- When the support and resistance levels are determined, the next step is to look at price action at these levels - whether price will break through or reverse. The most common method to analyze price action is through the use of Candlestick and Chart Patterns.
- Once you have determined the entry point from the above two steps, boost your confidence to trigger the trade with the use of indicators such as Stochastics, RSI and MACD. Even though these indicators are lagging in nature, the appearance of divergence in Stochastics, RSI and/or MACD is not!
- Always keep a wary eye on the latest economic data which affects the currency - beware of newsbreak which includes release of important economic data. Newsbreak of this kind will influence price movement significantly and render the technical analysis above meaningless.
- Remember to implement an appropriate "stop-loss" in case price goes against you - never risk more than 3% of your account per trade.
Here you have it. I have provided the five (5) essential steps for you to develop an almost "Holy Grail" trading system for yourself. All you need to do now is to try each specific method outlined above and see which works best for you. Paper trade using historical data - practice until you get it right, keeping in mind the five (5) steps above.
K Ronald is a Forex trader and mentor at MBC Solutions Ltd. He is the co-developer of the Millennium Trading System which is widely used around the world. This article is courtesy of http://www.mbc-solutions.com