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Foreign exchange, also known as forex or FX, is the exchange of different currencies on a decentralised global market. It's one of the largest and most liquid financial markets in the world. Forex trading involves the simultaneous buying and selling of the world's currencies on this market.
Forex is one of the most widely traded markets in the world, with a total daily average turnover reported to exceed $5 trillion a day. The forex market is not based in a central location or exchange, and is open 24 hours a day from Sunday night through to Friday night. A wide range of currencies are constantly being exchanged as individuals, companies and organisations conduct global business and attempt to take advantage of rate fluctuations.
Forex is always traded in pairs – for example GBP/USD. You speculate on whether the price of one country's currency will rise or fall against the currency of another country, and take a position accordingly.
CMC Markets was one of the first companies to provide online forex trading in the UK. You can trade CFDs in forex. We offer all of the major crosses (or cross pairs), as well as a large selection of minor, exotic and emerging market currency pairs.
Using the GBP/USD currency pair as our example, the first currency, GBP, is called the 'base currency' and the second currency, USD, is known as the 'counter currency'.
When trading forex, you always speculate on whether the price of the base currency will rise or fall against the counter currency. So in GBP/USD if you think GBP will rise against USD, you go long (buy) the currency pair. Alternatively, if you think GBP will fall against USD (or that USD will rise against GBP), you go short (sell) the currency pair.
If you were right (that is if you went long GBP/USD and GBP went up in value against USD), you would make a profit. If the trade went against you, however, you would make a loss.
You can trade forex using leverage, which allows you to increase your potential profit, but it also increases your potential loss.
Since forex is traded on margin, you only have to deposit a percentage of the full amount you wish to trade. Our margins start from 0.20%, which could be referred to as 500:1 leverage, as the value of the full position would be 500 times the value of the deposit required to open the trade. When trading on margin it's important to remember that your profits or losses are based on the full value of the position, not just the percentage you deposited, so you can lose more than your initial deposit.