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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Margin Is Key To The Popularity Of Foreign Exchange Trading

By John Eather

One of the key factors leading to the popularity of foreign exchange trading is "margin". Without this factor, most forex trading would be well outside the realms of average investors. But what precisely is margin?

Margin is a factor which allows foreign exchange traders to control large sums of currency while making relatively small deposits. This works by establishing a "margin Account". This has to be conducted through a forex broker and it will enable the new trader to control what they call currency lots. A currency lot is generally worth in the region of $100 000.

The leverage the trader gains from the margin account is expressed as a ratio. For instance a leverage ratio of 100:1 means the trader is able to have access to control over 100 x their deposit amount of forex assets. So essentially in a $100 000 standard forex lot with a 1% margin will require a deposit of $1000.

It has to be borne in mind however that trading on margin can increase losses as well as profits. The potential is there, and is very real for any trader, to lose as much as if not more than their original deposit. It is possible to put safeguards in place to prevent this from happening. In order to limit any losses a broker generally terminates a transaction which goes beyond the deposit in the margin. However losses do occur when even a small change in a currency occurs, as do profits.

Cash is traded in far larger units than foreign exchange. A good example of this is the USD, this currency trades down to 4 decimal places. In other words, what might be $1.35 in normal currency; in forex would be $1.3576. The smallest currency exchange unit is the pip. In a $100 000 lot the pip equals $10. and while $10 might have some meaning to a tourist from the US going on holiday, it has little meaning to an investor. So if the currency of exchange increases say to $1.457, it would either mean a loss or profit of $10. - 23212

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