Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Foreign Exchange Market

FX, or currency market is a global, worldwide-decentralized financial market for trading currencies. Financial centers around the world function as anchors of trading between a wide range of different types of buyers and sellers around the clock, with the exception of weekends. The foreign exchange market determines the relative values of different currencies.
The foreign exchange market assists international trade and investment, by enabling currency conversion. For example, it permits a business in the United States to import goods from the United Kingdom and pay pound sterling, even though its income is in United States dollars. It also supports direct speculation in the value of currencies, and the carry trade, speculation on the change in interest rates in two currencies.
In a typical foreign exchange transaction, a party purchases a quantity of one currency by paying a quantity of another currency. The modern foreign exchange market began forming during the 1970s after three decades of government restrictions on foreign exchange transactions (the Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world's major industrial states after World War II), when countries gradually switched to floating exchange rates from the previous exchange rate regime, which remained fixed as per the Bretton Woods system.
The foreign exchange market is unique because of
  • its huge trading volume representing the largest asset class in the world leading to high liquidity;
  • its geographical dispersion;
  • its continuous operation: 24 hours a day except weekends, i.e. trading from 20:15 GMT on Sunday until 22:00 GMT Friday;
  • the variety of factors that affect exchange rates;
  • the low margins of relative profit compared with other markets of fixed income; and
  • the use of leverage to enhance profit and loss margins and with respect to account size.
As such, it has been referred to as the market closest to the ideal of perfect competition, notwithstanding currency intervention by central banks. According to the Bank for International Settlements, as of April 2010, average daily turnover in global foreign exchange markets is estimated at $3.98 trillion, a growth of approximately 20% over the $3.21 trillion daily volume as of April 2007. Some firms specializing on foreign exchange market had put the average daily turnover in excess of US$4 trillion.

 The $3.98 trillion break-down is as follows:
  • $1.490 trillion in spot transactions
  • $475 billion in outright forwards
  • $1.765 trillion in foreign exchange swaps
  • $43 billion currency swaps
  • $207 billion in options and other products. 

    Market size and liquidity

    The foreign exchange market is the most liquid financial market in the world. Traders include large banks, central banks, institutional investors, currency speculators, corporations, governments, other financial institutions, and retail investors. The average daily turnover in the global foreign exchange and related markets is continuously growing. According to the 2010 Triennial Central Bank Survey, coordinated by the Bank for International Settlements, average daily turnover was US$3.98 trillion in April 2010 (vs $1.7 trillion in 1998).Of this $3.98 trillion, $1.5 trillion was spot transactions and $2.5 trillion was traded in outright forwards, swaps and other derivatives.
    Trading in the United Kingdom accounted for 36.7% of the total, making it by far the most important center for foreign exchange trading. Trading in the United States accounted for 17.9%, and Japan accounted for 6.2%.
    Turnover of exchange-traded foreign exchange futures and options have grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $166 billion in April 2010 (double the turnover recorded in April 2007). Exchange-traded currency derivatives represent 4% of OTC foreign exchange turnover. Foreign exchange futures contracts were introduced in 1972 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and are actively traded relative to most other futures contracts.
    Most developed countries permit the trading of derivative products (like futures and options on futures) on their exchanges. All these developed countries already have fully convertible capital accounts. Some governments of emerging economies do not allow foreign exchange derivative products on their exchanges because they have capital controls. The use of derivatives is growing in many emerging economies. Countries such as Korea, South Africa, and India have established currency futures exchanges, despite having some capital controls.
    Top 10 currency traders
    % of overall volume, May 2011
    Rank Name Market share
    1 Germany Deutsche Bank 15.64%
    2 United Kingdom Barclays Capital 10.75%
    3 Switzerland UBS AG 10.59%
    4 United States Citi 8.88%
    5 United States JPMorgan 6.43%
    6 United Kingdom HSBC 6.26%
    7 United Kingdom Royal Bank of Scotland 6.20%
    8 Switzerland Credit Suisse 4.80%
    9 United States Goldman Sachs 4.13%
    10 United States Morgan Stanley 3.64%
    Foreign exchange trading increased by 20% between April 2007 and April 2010 and has more than doubled since 2004. The increase in turnover is due to a number of factors: the growing importance of foreign exchange as an asset class, the increased trading activity of high-frequency traders, and the emergence of retail investors as an important market segment. The growth of electronic execution and the diverse selection of execution venues has lowered transaction costs, increased market liquidity, and attracted greater participation from many customer types. In particular, electronic trading via online portals has made it easier for retail traders to trade in the foreign exchange market. By 2010, retail trading is estimated to account for up to 10% of spot turnover, or $150 billion per day (see retail foreign exchange platform).
    Foreign exchange is an over-the-counter market where brokers/dealers negotiate directly with one another, so there is no central exchange or clearing house. The biggest geographic trading center is the United Kingdom, primarily London, which according to TheCityUK estimates has increased its share of global turnover in traditional transactions from 34.6% in April 2007 to 36.7% in April 2010. Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. For instance, when the International Monetary Fund calculates the value of its Special Drawing Rights every day, they use the London market prices at noon that day.

    Market participants

    Unlike a stock market, the foreign exchange market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the interbank market, which is made up of the largest commercial banks and securities dealers. Within the interbank market, spreads, which are the difference between the bid and ask prices, are razor sharp and not known to players outside the inner circle. The difference between the bid and ask prices widens (for example from 0-1 pip to 1-2 pips for a currencies such as the EUR) as you go down the levels of access. This is due to volume. If a trader can guarantee large numbers of transactions for large amounts, they can demand a smaller difference between the bid and ask price, which is referred to as a better spread. The levels of access that make up the foreign exchange market are determined by the size of the "line" (the amount of money with which they are trading). The top-tier interbank market accounts for 53% of all transactions. From there, smaller banks, followed by large multi-national corporations (which need to hedge risk and pay employees in different countries), large hedge funds, and even some of the retail market makers. According to Galati and Melvin, “Pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other institutional investors have played an increasingly important role in financial markets in general, and in FX markets in particular, since the early 2000s.” (2004) In addition, he notes, “Hedge funds have grown markedly over the 2001–2004 period in terms of both number and overall size”
    Central banks also participate in the foreign exchange market to align currencies to their economic needs.


    The interbank market caters for both the majority of commercial turnover and large amounts of speculative trading every day. Many large banks may trade billions of dollars, daily. Some of this trading is undertaken on behalf of customers, but much is conducted by proprietary desks, which are trading desks for the bank's own account. Until recently, foreign exchange brokers did large amounts of business, facilitating interbank trading and matching anonymous counterparts for large fees. Today, however, much of this business has moved on to more efficient electronic systems. The broker squawk box lets traders listen in on ongoing interbank trading and is heard in most trading rooms, but turnover is noticeably smaller than just a few years ago.

    Commercial companies

    An important part of this market comes from the financial activities of companies seeking foreign exchange to pay for goods or services. Commercial companies often trade fairly small amounts compared to those of banks or speculators, and their trades often have little short term impact on market rates. Nevertheless, trade flows are an important factor in the long-term direction of a currency's exchange rate. Some multinational companies can have an unpredictable impact when very large positions are covered due to exposures that are not widely known by other market participants.

    Central banks

    National central banks play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They try to control the money supply, inflation, and/or interest rates and often have official or unofficial target rates for their currencies. They can use their often substantial foreign exchange reserves to stabilize the market. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of central bank "stabilizing speculation" is doubtful because central banks do not go bankrupt if they make large losses, like other traders would, and there is no convincing evidence that they do make a profit trading.

    Foreign exchange fixing

    Foreign exchange fixing is the daily monetary exchange rate fixed by the national bank of each country. The idea is that central banks use the fixing time and exchange rate to evaluate behavior of their currency. Fixing exchange rates reflects the real value of equilibrium in the market. Banks, dealers and traders use fixing rates as a trend indicator.
    The mere expectation or rumor of a central bank foreign exchange intervention might be enough to stabilize a currency, but aggressive intervention might be used several times each year in countries with a dirty float currency regime. Central banks do not always achieve their objectives. The combined resources of the market can easily overwhelm any central bank.Several scenarios of this nature were seen in the 1992–93 European Exchange Rate Mechanism collapse, and in more recent times in Southeast Asia.

    Hedge funds as speculators

    About 70% to 90% of the foreign exchange transactions are speculative. In other words, the person or institution that bought or sold the currency has no plan to actually take delivery of the currency in the end; rather, they were solely speculating on the movement of that particular currency. Hedge funds have gained a reputation for aggressive currency speculation since 1996. They control billions of dollars of equity and may borrow billions more, and thus may overwhelm intervention by central banks to support almost any currency, if the economic fundamentals are in the hedge funds' favor.

    Investment management firms

    Investment management firms (who typically manage large accounts on behalf of customers such as pension funds and endowments) use the foreign exchange market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager bearing an international equity portfolio needs to purchase and sell several pairs of foreign currencies to pay for foreign securities purchases.
    Some investment management firms also have more speculative specialist currency overlay operations, which manage clients' currency exposures with the aim of generating profits as well as limiting risk. Whilst the number of this type of specialist firms is quite small, many have a large value of assets under management), and hence can generate large trades.

    Retail foreign exchange traders

    Individual Retail speculative traders constitute a growing segment of this market with the advent of retail foreign exchange platforms, both in size and importance. Currently, they participate indirectly through brokers or banks. Retail brokers, while largely controlled and regulated in the USA by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and National Futures Association have in the past been subjected to periodic Foreign exchange fraud.To deal with the issue, the NFA and CFTC began (as of 2009) imposing stricter requirements, particularly in relation to the amount of Net Capitalization required of its members. As a result many of the smaller and perhaps questionable brokers are now gone or have moved to countries outside the US. A number of the foreign exchange brokers operate from the UK under Financial Services Authority regulations where foreign exchange trading using margin is part of the wider over-the-counter derivatives trading industry that includes Contract for differences and financial spread betting.
    There are two main types of retail FX brokers offering the opportunity for speculative currency trading: brokers and dealers or market makers. Brokers serve as an agent of the customer in the broader FX market, by seeking the best price in the market for a retail order and dealing on behalf of the retail customer. They charge a commission or mark-up in addition to the price obtained in the market. Dealers or market makers, by contrast, typically act as principal in the transaction versus the retail customer, and quote a price they are willing to deal at.

    Non-bank foreign exchange companies

    Non-bank foreign exchange companies offer currency exchange and international payments to private individuals and companies. These are also known as foreign exchange brokers but are distinct in that they do not offer speculative trading but rather currency exchange with payments (i.e., there is usually a physical delivery of currency to a bank account).
    It is estimated that in the UK, 14% of currency transfers/payments are made via Foreign Exchange Companies.These companies' selling point is usually that they will offer better exchange rates or cheaper payments than the customer's bank. These companies differ from Money Transfer/Remittance Companies in that they generally offer higher-value services.

    Money transfer/remittance companies and bureaux de change

    Money transfer companies/remittance companies perform high-volume low-value transfers generally by economic migrants back to their home country. In 2007, the Aite Group estimated that there were $369 billion of remittances (an increase of 8% on the previous year). The four largest markets (India, China, Mexico and the Philippines) receive $95 billion. The largest and best known provider is Western Union with 345,000 agents globally followed by UAE Exchange
    Bureaux de change or currency transfer companies provide low value foreign exchange services for travelers. These are typically located at airports and stations or at tourist locations and allow physical notes to be exchanged from one currency to another. They access the foreign exchange markets via banks or non bank foreign exchange companies.

    Trading characteristics

    Most traded currencies by value
    Currency distribution of global foreign exchange market turnover
    Rank Currency code
     % daily share
    (April 2010)
    United StatesUnited States dollar
    USD ($)
    European UnionEuro
    EUR (€)
    JapanJapanese yen
    JPY (¥)
    United KingdomPound sterling
    GBP (£)
    AustraliaAustralian dollar
    AUD ($)
    SwitzerlandSwiss franc
    CHF (Fr)
    CanadaCanadian dollar
    CAD ($)
    Hong KongHong Kong dollar
    HKD ($)
    SwedenSwedish krona
    SEK (kr)
    New ZealandNew Zealand dollar
    NZD ($)
    South KoreaSouth Korean won
    KRW (₩)
    SingaporeSingapore dollar
    SGD ($)
    NorwayNorwegian krone
    NOK (kr)
    MexicoMexican peso
    MXN ($)
    IndiaIndian rupee
    INR (INR)
    Other 12.2%
    Total 200%
    There is no unified or centrally cleared market for the majority of trades, and there is very little cross-border regulation. Due to the over-the-counter (OTC) nature of currency markets, there are rather a number of interconnected marketplaces, where different currencies instruments are traded. This implies that there is not a single exchange rate but rather a number of different rates (prices), depending on what bank or market maker is trading, and where it is. In practice the rates are often very close, otherwise they could be exploited by arbitrageurs instantaneously. Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. Major trading exchanges include EBS and Reuters, while major banks also offer trading systems. A joint venture of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Reuters, called Fxmarketspace opened in 2007 and aspired but failed to the role of a central market clearing mechanism.
    The main trading center is London, but New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore are all important centers as well. Banks throughout the world participate. Currency trading happens continuously throughout the day; as the Asian trading session ends, the European session begins, followed by the North American session and then back to the Asian session, excluding weekends.
    Fluctuations in exchange rates are usually caused by actual monetary flows as well as by expectations of changes in monetary flows caused by changes in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, inflation (purchasing power parity theory), interest rates (interest rate parity, Domestic Fisher effect, International Fisher effect), budget and trade deficits or surpluses, large cross-border M&A deals and other macroeconomic conditions. Major news is released publicly, often on scheduled dates, so many people have access to the same news at the same time. However, the large banks have an important advantage; they can see their customers' order flow.
    Currencies are traded against one another. Each currency pair thus constitutes an individual trading product and is traditionally noted XXXYYY or XXX/YYY, where XXX and YYY are the ISO 4217 international three-letter code of the currencies involved. The first currency (XXX) is the base currency that is quoted relative to the second currency (YYY), called the counter currency (or quote currency). For instance, the quotation EURUSD (EUR/USD) 1.5465 is the price of the euro expressed in US dollars, meaning 1 euro = 1.5465 dollars. The market convention is to quote most exchange rates against the USD with the US dollar as the base currency (e.g. USDJPY, USDCAD, USDCHF). The exceptions are the British pound (GBP), Australian dollar (AUD), the New Zealand dollar (NZD) and the euro (EUR) where the USD is the counter currency (e.g. GBPUSD, AUDUSD, NZDUSD, EURUSD).
    The factors affecting XXX will affect both XXXYYY and XXXZZZ. This causes positive currency correlation between XXXYYY and XXXZZZ.
    On the spot market, according to the 2010 Triennial Survey, the most heavily traded bilateral currency pairs were:
  • EURUSD: 28%
  • USDJPY: 14%
  • GBPUSD (also called cable): 9%
and the US currency was involved in 84.9% of transactions, followed by the euro (39.1%), the yen (19.0%), and sterling (12.9%) (see table). Volume percentages for all individual currencies should add up to 200%, as each transaction involves two currencies.
Trading in the euro has grown considerably since the currency's creation in January 1999, and how long the foreign exchange market will remain dollar-centered is open to debate. Until recently, trading the euro versus a non-European currency ZZZ would have usually involved two trades: EURUSD and USDZZZ. The exception to this is EURJPY, which is an established traded currency pair in the interbank spot market. As the dollar's value has eroded during 2008, interest in using the euro as reference currency for prices in commodities (such as oil), as well as a larger component of foreign reserves by banks, has increased dramatically. Transactions in the currencies of commodity-producing countries, such as AUD, NZD, CAD, have also increased.

Determinants of exchange rates

The following theories explain the fluctuations in exchange rates in a floating exchange rate regime (In a fixed exchange rate regime, rates are decided by its government):
  1. International parity conditions: Relative Purchasing Power Parity, interest rate parity, Domestic Fisher effect, International Fisher effect. Though to some extent the above theories provide logical explanation for the fluctuations in exchange rates, yet these theories falter as they are based on challengeable assumptions [e.g., free flow of goods, services and capital] which seldom hold true in the real world.
  2. Balance of payments model (see exchange rate): This model, however, focuses largely on tradable goods and services, ignoring the increasing role of global capital flows. It failed to provide any explanation for continuous appreciation of dollar during 1980s and most part of 1990s in face of soaring US current account deficit.
  3. Asset market model (see exchange rate): views currencies as an important asset class for constructing investment portfolios. Assets prices are influenced mostly by people's willingness to hold the existing quantities of assets, which in turn depends on their expectations on the future worth of these assets. The asset market model of exchange rate determination states that “the exchange rate between two currencies represents the price that just balances the relative supplies of, and demand for, assets denominated in those currencies.”
None of the models developed so far succeed to explain exchange rates and volatility in the longer time frames. For shorter time frames (less than a few days) algorithms can be devised to predict prices. It is understood from the above models that many macroeconomic factors affect the exchange rates and in the end currency prices are a result of dual forces of demand and supply. The world's currency markets can be viewed as a huge melting pot: in a large and ever-changing mix of current events, supply and demand factors are constantly shifting, and the price of one currency in relation to another shifts accordingly. No other market encompasses (and distills) as much of what is going on in the world at any given time as foreign exchange.
Supply and demand for any given currency, and thus its value, are not influenced by any single element, but rather by several. These elements generally fall into three categories: economic factors, political conditions and market psychology.

Economic factors

These include: (a) economic policy, disseminated by government agencies and central banks, (b) economic conditions, generally revealed through economic reports, and other economic indicators.
  • Economic policy comprises government fiscal policy (budget/spending practices) and monetary policy (the means by which a government's central bank influences the supply and "cost" of money, which is reflected by the level of interest rates).
  • Government budget deficits or surpluses: The market usually reacts negatively to widening government budget deficits, and positively to narrowing budget deficits. The impact is reflected in the value of a country's currency.
  • Balance of trade levels and trends: The trade flow between countries illustrates the demand for goods and services, which in turn indicates demand for a country's currency to conduct trade. Surpluses and deficits in trade of goods and services reflect the competitiveness of a nation's economy. For example, trade deficits may have a negative impact on a nation's currency.
  • Inflation levels and trends: Typically a currency will lose value if there is a high level of inflation in the country or if inflation levels are perceived to be rising. This is because inflation erodes purchasing power, thus demand, for that particular currency. However, a currency may sometimes strengthen when inflation rises because of expectations that the central bank will raise short-term interest rates to combat rising inflation.
  • Economic growth and health: Reports such as GDP, employment levels, retail sales, capacity utilization and others, detail the levels of a country's economic growth and health. Generally, the more healthy and robust a country's economy, the better its currency will perform, and the more demand for it there will be.
  • Productivity of an economy: Increasing productivity in an economy should positively influence the value of its currency. Its effects are more prominent if the increase is in the traded sector 

Political conditions

Internal, regional, and international political conditions and events can have a profound effect on currency markets.
All exchange rates are susceptible to political instability and anticipations about the new ruling party. Political upheaval and instability can have a negative impact on a nation's economy. For example, destabilization of coalition governments in Pakistan and Thailand can negatively affect the value of their currencies. Similarly, in a country experiencing financial difficulties, the rise of a political faction that is perceived to be fiscally responsible can have the opposite effect. Also, events in one country in a region may spur positive/negative interest in a neighboring country and, in the process, affect its currency.

Market psychology

Market psychology and trader perceptions influence the foreign exchange market in a variety of ways:
  • Flights to quality: Unsettling international events can lead to a "flight to quality", a type of capital flight whereby investors move their assets to a perceived "safe haven". There will be a greater demand, thus a higher price, for currencies perceived as stronger over their relatively weaker counterparts. The U.S. dollar, Swiss franc and gold have been traditional safe havens during times of political or economic uncertainty.
  • Long-term trends: Currency markets often move in visible long-term trends. Although currencies do not have an annual growing season like physical commodities, business cycles do make themselves felt. Cycle analysis looks at longer-term price trends that may rise from economic or political trends.
  • "Buy the rumor, sell the fact": This market truism can apply to many currency situations. It is the tendency for the price of a currency to reflect the impact of a particular action before it occurs and, when the anticipated event comes to pass, react in exactly the opposite direction. This may also be referred to as a market being "oversold" or "overbought". To buy the rumor or sell the fact can also be an example of the cognitive bias known as anchoring, when investors focus too much on the relevance of outside events to currency prices.
  • Economic numbers: While economic numbers can certainly reflect economic policy, some reports and numbers take on a talisman-like effect: the number itself becomes important to market psychology and may have an immediate impact on short-term market moves. "What to watch" can change over time. In recent years, for example, money supply, employment, trade balance figures and inflation numbers have all taken turns in the spotlight.
  • Technical trading considerations: As in other markets, the accumulated price movements in a currency pair such as EUR/USD can form apparent patterns that traders may attempt to use. Many traders study price charts in order to identify such patterns.

Financial instruments


A spot transaction is a two-day delivery transaction (except in the case of trades between the US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Turkish Lira, EURO and Russian Ruble, which settle the next business day), as opposed to the futures contracts, which are usually three months. This trade represents a “direct exchange” between two currencies, has the shortest time frame, involves cash rather than a contract; and interest is not included in the agreed-upon transaction.


One way to deal with the foreign exchange risk is to engage in a forward transaction. In this transaction, money does not actually change hands until some agreed upon future date. A buyer and seller agree on an exchange rate for any date in the future, and the transaction occurs on that date, regardless of what the market rates are then. The duration of the trade can be one day, a few days, months or years. Usually the date is decided by both parties. Then the forward contract is negotiated and agreed upon by both parties.


The most common type of forward transaction is the swap. In a swap, two parties exchange currencies for a certain length of time and agree to reverse the transaction at a later date. These are not standardized contracts and are not traded through an exchange. A deposit is often required in order to hold the position open until the transaction is completed.


Futures are standardized forward contracts and are usually traded on an exchange created for this purpose. The average contract length is roughly 3 months. Futures contracts are usually inclusive of any interest amounts.


A foreign exchange option (commonly shortened to just FX option) is a derivative where the owner has the right but not the obligation to exchange money denominated in one currency into another currency at a pre-agreed exchange rate on a specified date. The options market is the deepest, largest and most liquid market for options of any kind in the world.


Controversy about currency speculators and their effect on currency devaluations and national economies recurs regularly. Nevertheless, economists including Milton Friedman have argued that speculators ultimately are a stabilizing influence on the market and perform the important function of providing a market for hedgers and transferring risk from those people who don't wish to bear it, to those who do. Other economists such as Joseph Stiglitz consider this argument to be based more on politics and a free market philosophy than on economics.
Large hedge funds and other well capitalized "position traders" are the main professional speculators. According to some economists, individual traders could act as "noise traders" and have a more destabilizing role than larger and better informed actors.
Currency speculation is considered a highly suspect activity in many countries.While investment in traditional financial instruments like bonds or stocks often is considered to contribute positively to economic growth by providing capital, currency speculation does not; according to this view, it is simply gambling that often interferes with economic policy. For example, in 1992, currency speculation forced the Central Bank of Sweden to raise interest rates for a few days to 500% per annum, and later to devalue the krona.Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is one well known proponent of this view. He blamed the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit in 1997 on George Soros and other speculators.
Gregory J. Millman reports on an opposing view, comparing speculators to "vigilantes" who simply help "enforce" international agreements and anticipate the effects of basic economic "laws" in order to profit.
In this view, countries may develop unsustainable financial bubbles or otherwise mishandle their national economies, and foreign exchange speculators made the inevitable collapse happen sooner. A relatively quick collapse might even be preferable to continued economic mishandling, followed by an eventual, larger, collapse. Mahathir Mohamad and other critics of speculation are viewed as trying to deflect the blame from themselves for having caused the unsustainable economic conditions.

Risk aversion

Risk aversion is a kind of trading behavior exhibited by the foreign exchange market when a potentially adverse event happens which may affect market conditions. This behavior is caused when risk averse traders liquidate their positions in risky assets and shift the funds to less risky assets due to uncertainty.
In the context of the foreign exchange market, traders liquidate their positions in various currencies to take up positions in safe-haven currencies, such as the US Dollar. Sometimes, the choice of a safe haven currency is more of a choice based on prevailing sentiments rather than one of economic statistics. An example would be the Financial Crisis of 2008. The value of equities across the world fell while the US Dollar strengthened it happened despite the strong focus of the crisis in the USA.

Price Trading Volume and Open Interest

The price is not the only weighty factor to be considered while analyzing Forex market. Besides the currency exchange rate, its trading volume plays an important role, too. There is the postulate of Dow theory that tells the trend must be confirmed by the trading volume. Unfortunately, Forex does not let us evaluate the cash-equivalent of its trading volume at a specific timeframe. As the currency exchange has no definite place where the trades are carried out, the currency is exchanged throughout the world by the bank-network. That means nobody can count the total cash flows in those international trades. For an approximate calculation one could, perhaps, use the data of currency futures trading volumes, because the futures market in regard to such contracts has a strong correlation with Forex market. But to get even an approximate idea of Forex cash volume, it would be necessary to consider a whole batch of futures markets existing in the world. And that seems impossible, too. That’s why one uses other approach to evaluate the trading volume on the currency exchange.
Indeed, one should not consider the Forex trading volume at the moment when you have to meet a decision, whether to open or to close a position, because it is not quite correctly. In this case several big banks, comprising billions of funds, could create an appearance of the interest in any currency. It’s helpful thus to analyze not the cash volumes, but the amount of trades made during the trading period under examination. For the approximate evaluation of that indicator there is on the Forex the trading volume of a market-maker. As usual, only changed quotes are set under consideration apart of all the amount of quotes remaining untouched. The faster a price varies, the more seems obvious the market interest in supporting current trend.
Thus, instead of trading volume, we take the rate of quotations change of the market-maker as an appropriate tool in technical analysis on a certain timeframe. The trading volume is the second most significant indicator (after the price), that trader analyzes accurately. Analyzing the trading volume one plots a specific chart - trading volume histogram, where the values are represented in bars of various heights. Each of the bars corresponds to its timeframe, according the chosen scale (1 min, 5 min, 15 min and so on). The height of a bar is determined by the value the trading volume, the higher bar, the faster is a rate of market-maker quotations change. Histograms, as usual, are inserted at the bottom of the price charts. In this case every bar of the histogram complies with one of the chart’s shape (bar or candle) and sets the volume of trades made in a certain time space, represented by that shape. Trading volume histograms do not comprise the information about activity of “bulls” and “bears”, i.e. the diagram doesn’t let us understand what kind of operation having been prevailed during the trading time-period: sell or buy. But such information is excessive, because the market favor could be easily discerned by a price chart. It is to notice, that the trading volume, as a rule, is ahead of the price movements, as the quotes are more inert comparing to the volumes indicator. If the price growth happens at the increasing trade volumes, and then if the volume sheds, the price still climbs for a while, and only after it drops down. Thus, any changes in trading volumes could be a good sign for the ease or turn of the market trend, and we should never disregard this while testing the currency market. Always make the histograms of trading volumes underneath the price charts while you analyze Forex! The day and week volumes are the most important ones for the analysis.
The third important figure in technical analysis of currency market (after price and volume) is an open interest, otherwise, an unclosed contracts volume at the end of a trading period. It is not an absolute value of this figure that has any significance, but its fluctuation: up or down motion.
The growth of the trading interest could serve as a good indicator for the long-term preferences. If a position keeps being unclosed It means, that the trader supports an existing trend for the long future. But superfluous extension of the trading interest can be a sign of the market turnaround, as traders are going to close their positions fixing the profit. The open interest diagram is placed, as usual, between the trading volume histogram and price chart. But this diagram is not in use on Forex. As the trading on Forex has no any specific place for trade, it is impossible to fix the open interest volume.
In the summary of this chapter we shall again pay attention onto the postulate of Dow theory: the volumes must prove the trend. By the growing or descending trend the price movement often occurs along the direction of the main trend at the growing trade volumes, and the price cross-movement occurs by decreasing volumes. You should always draw a trading volume histogram next to the price chart bottom when you analyze or make prospects for your future speculations on Forex.

8 Largest Forex Trading Centers in the World

Forex Trading Global Turnover
Forex market trading is truly a global phenomenon as well as the largest financial market in the world with over $4 trillion changing hands on a daily basis. Looking at the most recent Bank of International Settlements foreign-exchange report, published every three years, we get a clear view of where most of the daily forex trading volume takes place. Many of the usual suspects like the UK and USA are found at the top of the list for the largest fx trading centers while others such as Singapore may be more surprising to many.

1. United Kingdom
 The UK and its financial center of London participate in the largest percentage of overall global forex daily trading volume of any geographical location. UK daily trading volume increased from 35 percent in 2007 to a total of 37 percent of the world’s overall trading volume in 2010, according to the BIS data. Total daily trading volume rose by just about 25 percent since 2007 when dollar volume equaled $1,483 billion to 2010 when volume stood at $1,854 billion per day. A more recent report has shown daily volume just passed the 2,000 billion mark in April 2011.
Financial Capital: London
Average Daily Trading Volume: $1,854 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 37 %
Bank of England
2. United States 
The United States comes in second in daily trading volume and is the largest country on the list with over 300 million people. The US amounted to a total of 18 percent of the daily global forex volume in 2010 following a 17 percent share of the volume in 2007. The total dollar amount traded increased by approximately 20 percent to $904 billion a day in 2010 from a total of $745 billion in 2007.
Financial Capital: New York City
Average Daily Trading Volume: $904 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 18 %
Wall Street
3. Japan 
Japan is the third-largest forex trading center with a total of 6 percent of global foreign exchange turnover taking place in this country of 128 million people. Japan also amounted to 6 percent of the global turnover in 2007 following an 8 percent share in 2004. Total dollar amount of trading surged by over 20 percent from 250 billion in 2007 to a total of 312 billion in 2010.
Financial Capital: Tokyo
Average Daily Trading Volume: $312 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 6 %
4. Singapore 
Singapore is up next with a total of 5 percent of the world’s daily forex trading volume. This small country of roughly 5 million people averaged $266 billion of total daily volume in 2010. This was an increase from a total of $242 billion in 2007 which accounted for 6 percent of the overall global forex trade.
Financial Capital: Singapore
Average Daily Trading Volume: $266 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 5 %
5. Switzerland
Switzerland was the fifth-largest forex trading center in 2010 with 5 percent of the total global volume which was small a decrease from 2007 when it accounted for 6 percent of daily volume. This European country of roughly 8 million people is famous for its banking sector and is one of the richest countries in the world on a GDP per capita basis. Total daily volume increased to $263 billion in 2010 from a total of $254 billion in 2007.
Financial Capital: Zurich, Geneva
Average Daily Trading Volume: $263 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 5 %
6. Hong Kong
 Hong Kong follows Switzerland as the sixth largest trading center in 2010 with approximately 5 percent of forex daily trade volume. This is an increase from 4 percent in 2007 for this city-state on the southern coast of China which has an estimated population of 7 million people. Hong Kong’s total daily volume averaged $238 billion in 2010 which was over a 30 percent increase from 2007.
Financial Capital: Hong Kong
Average Daily Trading Volume: $238 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 5 %
Hong Kong
7. Australia
Australia is next on the list with a 4 percent share of total forex daily volume which matches its 2007 volume share. Overall trading volume grew right around 9 percent from a total of $176 billion in 2007 to a total of $192 billion in 2010.
Financial Capital: Sydney
Average Daily Trading Volume: $192 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 4 %
8. France
Number eight on our list with right around a 3 percent share of the daily forex trading volume is France with its financial center of Paris. France also amounted to 3 percent of the daily global forex trade in 2007 and saw its daily total volume rise by roughly 20 percent from a total of $127 billion in 2007 to a total of $152 billion in 2010.
Financial Capital: Paris
Average Daily Trading Volume: $152 billion
Percentage of Daily Global Forex Volume: 3 %