Which Type of Analysis is Best?

Ahhhh, the million dollar question....
Throughout your journey as an aspiring forex trader you will find strong advocates for each type of analysis. Do not be fooled by these one-sided extremists! One is not better than the other...they are all just different ways to look at the market.
At the end of the day, you should trade based on the type of analysis you are most comfortable and profitable with.
To recap, technical analysis is the study of price movement on the charts while fundamental analysis takes a look at how the country's economy is doing.
Market sentiment analysis determines whether the market is bullish or bearish on the current or future fundamental outlook.
Fundamental factors shape sentiment, while technical analysis helps us visualize that sentiment and apply a framework for our trades.
Those three work hand-in-hand-in-hand to help you come up with good trade ideas. All the historical price action and economic figures are there - all you have to do is put on your thinking cap and put those analytical skills to the test!
Let me pull out that three-legged stool again just to emphasize the importance of all three types of analysis.
Take out one or two legs of the stool and it's going to be shaky!
Three-legged stool

In order to become a true forex master you will need to know how to effectively use these three types of analysis.
Don't believe us?
Let us give you an example of how focusing on only one type of analysis can turn into a disaster.
  • Let's say that you're looking at your charts and you find a good trading opportunity.
    You get all excited thinking about the money that's going to be raining down from the sky.
    You say to yourself, "Man, I've never seen a more perfect trading opportunity in GBP/USD. I love my charts. Mwah. Now show me the money!"
  • You then proceed to buy GBP/USD with a big fat smile on your face (the kind where all your teeth are showing).
  • But wait! All of a sudden the trade makes a 100 pip move in the OTHER DIRECTION! Little did you know, one of the major banks in London filed for bankruptcy! Suddenly, everyone's sentiment towards Britain's market turns sour and everyone trades in the opposite direction!
  • Your big fat smile turns into mush and you start getting angry at your charts. You throw your computer on the ground and begin to pulverize it. You just lost a bunch of money, and now your computer is broken into a billion pieces. And it's all because you completely ignored fundamental analysis and sentimental analysis.
(Note: This was not based on a real story. This did not happen to us. We were never this naive. We were always smart traders.... From the overused sarcasm, we think you get the picture.)
Ok, ok, so the story was a little over-dramatized, but you get the point.
Remember how your mother used to tell you as a kid that too much of anything is never good?
Well you might've thought that was just hogwash back then but in forex, the same applies when deciding which type of analysis to use.
Don't rely on just one.
Instead, you must learn to balance the use of all of them. It is only then that you can really get the most out of your trading.

Where do we go from here?

Now that you're done with Kindergarten and learned a little bit about each type of analysis, it's time to delve much deeper! Here's what's in store for the next few years of your life...

We're kidding, we're kidding! We're talking about the next few school years in the School of Pipsology.
Grade school will be all about basic technical analysis tools.
You'll learn all about the dynamics behind price action, such as support and resistance levels, candlestick formations, and common chart patterns. You'll experiment with leading and lagging indicators and discover how to use them in coming up with trade ideas. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it?
The remaining years of middle school and high school are devoted to studying more technical analysis tools.
We'll take a look at the more advanced tools also such as pivot points, divergences, Elliott Wave Theory, and Gartley patterns. Sounds fancy? It's because they are! Bet you can't wait to get started on those!
College will be a bit more complicated since you'll be tackling both fundamental and market sentiment analysis at the same time. Talk about hitting two stones with one bird! You're the bird and the stones are... well, you get the point.
A couple of reasons why we're putting fundamental and market sentiment analysis together:
  • By the time you reach college, you'll be so hooked on learning more about forex that one lesson simply won't be enough.
  • It is hard to draw the line between fundamental analysis and market sentiment analysis.
As we mentioned earlier, fundamental factors are mostly responsible for shaping market sentiment. Those two types of analysis would take up both freshman and sophomore year of college.

Sentimental Analysis

Bull and Bear on a see-sawEarlier, we said that price should theoretically accurately reflect all available market information. Unfortunately for us traders, it isn't that simple. The markets do not simply reflect all the information out there because traders will all just act the same way. Of course, that isn't how things work.
Each trader has his own opinion or explanation of why the market is acting the way they do. The market is just like Facebook - it's a complex network made up of individuals who want to spam our news feeds.
Kidding aside, the market basically represents what all traders - you, Pipcrawler, Celine from the donut shop - feel about the market. Each trader's thoughts and opinions, which are expressed through whatever position they take, helps form the overall sentiment of the market.
The problem is that as traders, no matter how strongly you feel about a certain trade, you can't move the markets in your favor (unless you're one of the GSs - George Soros or Goldman Sachs!). Even if you truly believe that the dollar is going to go up, but everyone else is bearish on it, there's nothing much you can do about it.
As a trader, you have to take all this into consideration. It's up to you to gauge how the market is feeling, whether it is bullish or bearish. Ultimately, it's also up to you to find out how you want to incorporate market sentiment into your trading strategy. If you choose to simply ignore market sentiment, that's your choice. But hey, we're telling you now, it's your loss!
Being able to gauge market sentiment can be an important tool in your toolbox. Later on in school, we'll teach you how to analyze market sentiment and use it to your advantage like Jedi mind tricks.

Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental analysis is a way of looking at the market by analyzing economic, social, and political forces that affects the supply and demand of an asset. If you think about it, this makes a whole lot of sense! Just like in your Economics 101 class, it is supply and demand that determines price.
Using supply and demand as an indicator of where price could be headed is easy. The hard part is analyzing all the factors that affect supply and demand.
In other words, you have to look at different factors to determine whose economy is rockin' like a Taylor Swift song, and whose economy sucks. You have to understand the reasons of why and how certain events like an increase in unemployment affect a country's economy, and ultimately, the level of demand for its currency.
The idea behind this type of analysis is that if a country's current or future economic outlook is good, their currency should strengthen. The better shape a country's economy is, the more foreign businesses and investors will invest in that country. This results in the need to purchase that country's currency to obtain those assets.
In a nutshell, this is what fundamental analysis is:
Good economy means higher currency value while bad economy means lower currency value
For example, let's say that the U.S. dollar has been gaining strength because the U.S. economy is improving. As the economy gets better, raising interest rates may be needed to control growth and inflation.
Higher interest rates make dollar-denominated financial assets more attractive. In order to get their hands on these lovely assets, traders and investors have to buy some greenbacks first. As a result, the value of the dollar will increase.
Later on in the course, you will learn which economic data drives currency prices, and why they do so. You will know who the Fed Chairman is and how retail sales data reflects the economy. You'll be spitting out interest rates like baseball statistics.
But that's for another lesson for another time. For now, just know that the fundamental analysis is a way of analyzing a currency through the strength or weakness of that country's economy. It's going to be awesome, we promise!

Technical Analysis

Technical analysis is the framework in which traders study price movement.
The theory is that a person can look at historical price movements and determine the current trading conditions and potential price movement.
The main evidence for using technical analysis is that, theoretically, all current market information is reflected in price. If price reflects all the information that is out there, then price action is all one would really need to make a trade.
Now, have you ever heard the old adage, "History tends to repeat itself"?
Well, that's basically what technical analysis is all about! If a price level held as a key support or resistance in the past, traders will keep an eye out for it and base their trades around that historical price level.
Technical analysts look for similar patterns that have formed in the past, and will form trade ideas believing that price will act the same way that it did before.

Price unable to break support and resistance levels
In the world of trading, when someone says technical analysis, the first thing that comes to mind is a chart. Technical analysts use charts because they are the easiest way to visualize historical data!
You can look at past data to help you spot trends and patterns which could help you find some great trading opportunities.
What's more is that with all the traders who rely on technical analysis out there, these price patterns and indicator signals tend to become self-fulfilling.
As more and more traders look for certain price levels and chart patterns, the more likely that these patterns will manifest themselves in the markets.
You should know though that technical analysis is VERY subjective.
Just because Ralph and Joseph are looking at the exact same chart setup or indicators doesn't mean that they will come up with the same idea of where price may be headed.
The important thing is that you understand the concepts under technical analysis so you won't get nosebleeds whenever somebody starts talking about Fibonacci, Bollinger bands, or pivot points.
Now we know you're thinking to yourself, "Geez, these guys are smart. They use crazy words like 'Fibonacci' and 'Bollinger'. I can never learn this stuff!"
Don't worry yourself too much. After you're done with the School of Pipsology, you too will be just as... uhmmm... "smart" as us.
By the way, do you feel that green pill kicking in yet? Bark like a dog!

The Big Three

Congratulations! You've gotten through the Pre-School and, with a few boo-boos here and there, you are ready to begin your first day of class!
You did go through the Pre-School, right????
By now you've learned some history about the forex, how it works, what affects the prices, blah blah blah.
We know what you're thinking...
Red Pill
Well say no more friends because here is where your journey as a forex trader begins...
This is your last chance to turn back...
Take the red pill, forget everything, and we'll take you back to where you were before.
You can go back to living your average life in your 9-5 job and work for someone else for the rest of your life...
You can take the green pill, which is fully loaded with the dollar extract, and learn how you can make money for yourself in the most active market in the world, simply by using a little brain power.
Green Pill
Just remember, your education will never stop. Even after you graduate from the School of Pipsology, you must constantly pursue as much knowledge as you can, so that you can become a true FOREX MASTER! The learning never ends!
Are you ready to make that commitment?
Now pop that green pill in, wash it down with some delicious chocolate milk, and grab your lunchbox... the School of Pipsology is now in session!
Note: the green pill was made with a brainwashing serum. You will now obey everything that we tell you to do! Mwuahahaha! <--- evil laugh

Three Types of Market Analysis

To begin, let's look at three ways on how you would analyze and develop ideas to trade the market. There are three basic types of market analysis:
  1. Technical Analysis
  2. Fundamental Analysis
  3. Sentiment Analysis
There has always been a constant debate as to which analysis is better, but to tell you the truth, you need to know all three.
Three-legged stool

It's kind of like standing on a three-legged stool - if one of the legs is weak, the stool will break under your weight and you'll fall flat on your face. The same holds true in trading. If your analysis on any of the three types of trading is weak and you ignore it, there's a good chance that it will cause you to lose out on your trade!

Demo Your Way to Success

You can open a demo accounts for FREE with most forex brokers. These "pretend" accounts have the full capabilities of a "real" account.
But why is it free?
It's because the broker wants you to learn the ins and outs of their trading platform, and have a good time trading without risk, so you'll fall in love with them and deposit real money. The demo account allows you to learn about the forex market and test your trading skills with ZERO risk.
Yes, that's right, ZERO!



"Don't Lose Your Money" Declaration

Forex trader taking an oath to demo trade firstNow, place your hand on your heart and say...
"I will demo trade until I develop a solid, profitable system before I trade with real money."
Now touch your head with your index finger and say...
"I am a smart and patient forex trader!"
Do NOT open a live trading account until you are CONSISTENTLY trading PROFITABLY on a demo account.
If you can't wait until you're profitable on a demo account, at least demo trade for two months. Hey, at least you were able to hold off losing all your money for two months right? If you can't hold out for two months, just donate that money to your favorite charity or cut your hands off.

Concentrate on ONE major currency pair.

It gets far too complicated to keep tabs on more than one currency pair when you first start trading. Stick with one of the majors because they are the most liquid which makes their spreads cheap.
You can be a winner at currency trading but, as in all other aspects of life, it will take hard work, dedication, a little luck, a lot of common sense, and a whole lot of good judgment.

Types of Orders

Waiter taking a forex order
The term "order" refers to how you will enter or exit a trade. Here we discuss the different types of orders that can be placed into the foreign exchange market.
Be sure that you know which types of orders your broker accepts. Different brokers accept different types of orders.
There are some basic order types that all brokers provide and some others that sound weird.

Order Types

Market order

A market order is an order to buy or sell at the best available price.
For example, the bid price for EUR/USD is currently at 1.2140 and the ask price is at 1.2142. If you wanted to buy EUR/USD at market, then it would be sold to you at the ask price of 1.2142. You would click buy and your trading platform would instantly execute a buy order at that exact price.
If you ever shop on Amazon.com, it's kinda like using their 1-Click ordering. You like the current price, you click once and it's yours! The only difference is you are buying or selling one currency against another currency instead of buying a Justin Bieber CD.

Limit Entry Order

A limit entry is an order placed to either buy below the market or sell above the market at a certain price.
For example, EUR/USD is currently trading at 1.2050. You want to go short if the price reaches 1.2070. You can either sit in front of your monitor and wait for it to hit 1.2070 (at which point you would click a sell market order), or you can set a sell limit order at 1.2070 (then you could walk away from your computer to attend your ballroom dancing class).
If the price goes up to 1.2070, your trading platform will automatically execute a sell order at the best available price.
You use this type of entry order when you believe price will reverse upon hitting the price you specified!

Stop-Entry Order

A stop-entry order is an order placed to buy above the market or sell below the market at a certain price.
For example, GBP/USD is currently trading at 1.5050 and is heading upward. You believe that price will continue in this direction if it hits 1.5060. You can do one of the following to play this belief: sit in front of your computer and buy at market when it hits 1.5060 OR set a stop-entry order at 1.5060. You use stop-entry orders when you feel that price will move in one direction!

Stop-Loss Order

A stop-loss order is a type of order linked to a trade for the purpose of preventing additional losses if price goes against you. REMEMBER THIS TYPE OF ORDER. A stop-loss order remains in effect until the position is liquidated or you cancel the stop-loss order.
For example, you went long (buy) EUR/USD at 1.2230. To limit your maximum loss, you set a stop-loss order at 1.2200. This means if you were dead wrong and EUR/USD drops to 1.2200 instead of moving up, your trading platform would automatically execute a sell order at 1.2200 the best available price and close out your position for a 30-pip loss (eww!).
Stop-losses are extremely useful if you don't want to sit in front of your monitor all day worried that you will lose all your money. You can simply set a stop-loss order on any open positions so you won't miss your basket weaving class or elephant polo game.

Trailing Stop

A trailing stop is a type of stop-loss order attached to a trade that moves as price fluctuates.
Let's say that you've decided to short USD/JPY at 90.80, with a trailing stop of 20 pips. This means that originally, your stop loss is at 91.00. If price goes down and hits 90.50, your trailing stop would move down to 90.70.
Just remember though, that your stop will STAY at this price. It will not widen if price goes against you. Going back to the example, with a trailing stop of 20 pips, if USD/JPY hits 90.50, then your stop would move to 90.70. However, if price were to suddenly move up to 90.60, your stop would remain at 90.70.
Your trade will remain open as long as price does not move against you by 20 pips. Once price hits your trailing stop, a stop-loss order will be triggered and your position will be closed.

Weird Orders

"Can I order a grande extra hot soy with extra foam, extra hot split quad shot with a half squirt of sugar-free white chocolate and a half squirt of sugar-free cinnamon, a half packet of Splenda and put that in a venti cup and fill up the "room" with extra whipped cream with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top?"
Ooops, wrong weird order.

Good 'Till Cancelled (GTC)

A GTC order remains active in the market until you decide to cancel it. Your broker will not cancel the order at any time. Therefore it's your responsibility to remember that you have the order scheduled.

Good for the Day (GFD)

A GFD order remains active in the market until the end of the trading day. Because foreign exchange is a 24-hour market, this usually means 5:00 pm EST since that's the time U.S. markets close, but we'd recommend you double check with your broker.

One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO)

An OCO order is a mixture of two entry and/or stop-loss orders. Two orders with price and duration variables are placed above and below the current price. When one of the orders is executed the other order is canceled.
Let's say the price of EUR/USD is 1.2040. You want to either buy at 1.2095 over the resistance level in anticipation of a breakout or initiate a selling position if the price falls below 1.1985. The understanding is that if 1.2095 is reached, your buy order will be triggered and the 1.1985 sell order will be automatically canceled.


An OTO is the opposite of the OCO, as it only puts on orders when the parent order is triggered. You set an OTO order when you want to set profit taking and stop loss levels ahead of time, even before you get in a trade.
For example, USD/CHF is currently trading at 1.2000. You believe that once it hits 1.2100, it will reverse and head downwards but only up to 1.1900. The problem is that you will be gone for an entire week because you have to join a basket weaving competition at the top of Mt. Fiji where there is no internet.
In order to catch the move while you are away, you set a sell limit at 1.2000 and at the same time, place a related buy limit at 1.1900, and just in case, place a stop-loss at 1.2100. As an OTO, both the buy limit and the stop-loss orders will only be placed if your initial sell order at 1.2000 gets triggered.

In conclusion...

The basic order types (market, limit entry, stop-entry, stop loss, and trailing stop) are usually all that most traders ever need.
Unless you are a veteran trader (don't worry, with practice and time you will be), don't get fancy and design a system of trading requiring a large number of orders sandwiched in the market at all times.
Stick with the basic stuff first.
Make sure you fully understand and are comfortable with your broker's order entry system before executing a trade.
Also, always check with your broker for specific order information and to see if any rollover fees will be applied if a position is held longer than one day. Keeping your ordering rules simple is the best strategy.
DO NOT trade with real money until you have an extremely high comfort level with the trading platform you are using and its order entry system. Erroneous trades are more common than you think!

Lots, Leverage, and Profit and Loss

In the past, spot forex was traded in specific amounts called lots. The standard size for a lot is 100,000 units. There is also a mini, micro, and nano lot sizes that are 10,000, 1,000, and 100 units respectively.
Lot Number of Units
Standard 100,000
Mini 10,000
Micro 1,000
Nano 100
As you already know, currencies are measured in pips, which is the smallest increment of that currency. To take advantage of these tiny increments, you need to trade large amounts of a particular currency in order to see any significant profit or loss.
Let's assume we will be using a 100,000 unit (standard) lot size. We will now recalculate some examples to see how it affects the pip value.
  1. USD/JPY at an exchange rate of 119.80 (.01 / 119.80) x 100,000 = $8.34 per pip
  2. USD/CHF at an exchange rate of 1.4555 (.0001 / 1.4555) x 100,000 = $6.87 per pip
In cases where the U.S. dollar is not quoted first, the formula is slightly different.
  1. EUR/USD at an exchange rate of 1.1930 (.0001 / 1.1930) X 100,000 = 8.38 x 1.1930 = $9.99734 rounded up will be $10 per pip
  2. GBP/USD at an exchange rate or 1.8040 (.0001 / 1.8040) x 100,000 = 5.54 x 1.8040 = 9.99416 rounded up will be $10 per pip.
Your broker may have a different convention for calculating pip value relative to lot size but whichever way they do it, they'll be able to tell you what the pip value is for the currency you are trading is at the particular time. As the market moves, so will the pip value depending on what currency you are currently trading.

What the heck is leverage?

You are probably wondering how a small investor like yourself can trade such large amounts of money. Think of your broker as a bank who basically fronts you $100,000 to buy currencies. All the bank asks from you is that you give it $1,000 as a good faith deposit, which he will hold for you but not necessarily keep. Sounds too good to be true? This is how forex trading using leverage works.
Man using leverage in forex
The amount of leverage you use will depend on your broker and what you feel comfortable with.
Typically the broker will require a trade deposit, also known as "account margin" or "initial margin." Once you have deposited your money you will then be able to trade. The broker will also specify how much they require per position (lot) traded.
For example, if the allowed leverage is 100:1 (or 1% of position required), and you wanted to trade a position worth $100,000, but you only have $5,000 in your account. No problem as your broker would set aside $1,000 as down payment, or the "margin," and let you "borrow" the rest. Of course, any losses or gains will be deducted or added to the remaining cash balance in your account.
The minimum security (margin) for each lot will vary from broker to broker. In the example above, the broker required a one percent margin. This means that for every $100,000 traded, the broker wants $1,000 as a deposit on the position.

How the heck do I calculate profit and loss?

So now that you know how to calculate pip value and leverage, let's look at how you calculate your profit or loss.
Let's buy U.S. dollars and Sell Swiss francs.
  1. The rate you are quoted is 1.4525 / 1.4530. Because you are buying U.S. dollars you will be working on the "ask" price of 1.4530, or the rate at which traders are prepared to sell.
  2. So you buy 1 standard lot (100,000 units) at 1.4530.
  3. A few hours later, the price moves to 1.4550 and you decide to close your trade.
  4. The new quote for USD/CHF is 1.4550 / 1.4555. Since you're closing your trade and you initially bought to enter the trade, you now sell in order to close the trade so you must take the "bid" price of 1.4550. The price traders are prepared to buy at.
  5. The difference between 1.4530 and 1.4550 is .0020 or 20 pips.
  6. Using our formula from before, we now have (.0001/1.4550) x 100,000 = $6.87 per pip x 20 pips = $137.40
Remember, when you enter or exit a trade, you are subject to the spread in the bid/offer quote. When you buy a currency, you will use the offer or ask price and when you sell, you will use the bid price.

Pips and Pipettes

Here is where we're going to do a little math. You've probably heard of the terms "pips", "pipettes", and "lots" thrown around, and here we're going to explain what they are and show you how they are calculated.
Take your time with this information, as it is required knowledge for all forex traders. Don't even think about trading until you are comfortable with pip values and calculating profit and loss.

What the heck is a Pip? What about a Pipette?

The unit of measurement to express the change in value between two currencies is called a "Pip". If EUR/USD moves from 1.2250 to 1.2251, that is ONE PIP. A pip is the last decimal place of a quotation, given that four decimal places are used for pairs without the Japanese yen. If a pair does include the Japanese yen, then the currency quote goes out two decimal places.
Very Important: There are brokers that quote currency pairs beyond the standard "4 and 2" decimal places to "5 and 3" decimal places. They are quoting FRACTIONAL PIPS, also called pipettes. For instance, if GBP/USD moves from 1.51542 to 1.51543, it moved ONE PIPETTE.
As each currency has its own value, it is necessary to calculate the value of a pip for that particular currency. In the following examples, we will use quotes with 4 decimal places.

In currencies where the U.S. dollar is quoted first, the calculation would be as follows:
  1. USD/CHF at 1.5250

    .0001 divided by exchange rate = pip value
    .0001 / 1.5250 = 0.0000655
  2. USD/CAD at 1.4890

    .0001 divided by exchange rate = pip value
    .0001 / 1.4890 = 0.00006715
  3. USD/JPY at 119.80

    Notice this currency pair only goes to two decimal places (most of the other currencies have four decimal places). In this case, 1 pip would be .01.
    .01 divided by exchange rate = pip value
    .01 / 119.80 = 0.0000834
In the case where the U.S. dollar is not quoted first and we want to get the U.S. dollar value, we have to add one more step.
  1. EUR/USD at 1.2200

    .0001 divided by exchange rate = pip value
    So .0001 / 1.2200 = EUR 0.00008196
    BUT we need to get back to U.S. dollars so we add another calculation which is
    EUR x Exchange rate
    So 0.00008196 x 1.2200 = 0.00009999
    When rounded up it would be 0.0001
  2. GBP/USD at 1.7975

    .0001 divided by exchange rate = pip value
    So .0001 / 1.7975 = GBP 0.0000556
    BUT we need to get back to U.S. dollars so we add another calculation which is
    GBP x Exchange rate
    So 0.0000556 x 1.7975 = 0.0000998
    When rounded up it would be 0.0001
You're probably rolling your eyes back and thinking "Do I really need to work all this out?" Well, the answer is a big fat NO. Nearly all forex brokers will work all this out for you automatically, but it's always good for you to know how they work it out.
If your broker doesn't happen to do this, don't worry - you can use our Pip Value Calculator! Aren't we awesome?
In the next section, we will discuss how these seemingly insignificant amounts can add up.

How You Make Money in Forex

Money mountainIn the forex market, you buy or sell currencies.
Placing a trade in the foreign exchange market is simple: the mechanics of a trade are very similar to those found in other markets (like the stock market), so if you have any experience in trading, you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly.
The object of forex trading is to exchange one currency for another in the expectation that the price will change, so that the currency you bought will increase in value compared to the one you sold.
Trader's Action EUR USD
You purchase 10,000 euros at the EUR/USD exchange rate of 1.1800 +10,000 -11,800
Two weeks later, you exchange your 10,000 euros back into U.S. dollar at the exchange rate of 1.2500 -10,000 +12,500**
You earn a profit of $700 0 +700
*EUR 10,000 x 1.18 = US $11,800
** EUR 10,000 x 1.25 = US $12,500

An exchange rate is simply the ratio of one currency valued against another currency. For example, the USD/CHF exchange rate indicates how many U.S. dollars can purchase one Swiss franc, or how many Swiss francs you need to buy one U.S. dollar.

How to Read a Forex Quote

Currencies are always quoted in pairs, such as GBP/USD or USD/JPY. The reason they are quoted in pairs is because in every foreign exchange transaction, you are simultaneously buying one currency and selling another. Here is an example of a foreign exchange rate for the British pound versus the U.S. dollar:

GBP/USD quote

The first listed currency to the left of the slash ("/") is known as the base currency (in this example, the British pound), while the second one on the right is called the counter or quote currency (in this example, the U.S. dollar).
When buying, the exchange rate tells you how much you have to pay in units of the quote currency to buy one unit of the base currency. In the example above, you have to pay 1.51258 U.S. dollars to buy 1 British pound.
When selling, the exchange rate tells you how many units of the quote currency you get for selling one unit of the base currency. In the example above, you will receive 1.51258 U.S. dollars when you sell 1 British pound.
The base currency is the "basis" for the buy or the sell. If you buy EUR/USD this simply means that you are buying the base currency and simultaneously selling the quote currency. In caveman talk, "buy EUR, sell USD."
You would buy the pair if you believe the base currency will appreciate (gain value) relative to the quote currency. You would sell the pair if you think the base currency will depreciate (lose value) relative to the quote currency.


First, you should determine whether you want to buy or sell.
If you want to buy (which actually means buy the base currency and sell the quote currency), you want the base currency to rise in value and then you would sell it back at a higher price. In trader's talk, this is called "going long" or taking a "long position." Just remember: long = buy.
If you want to sell (which actually means sell the base currency and buy the quote currency), you want the base currency to fall in value and then you would buy it back at a lower price. This is called "going short" or taking a "short position". Just remember: short = sell.
Long dog, short dog

"I'm long AND short."


EUR/USD quote
"How come I keep getting quoted with two prices?"

All forex quotes are quoted with two prices: the bid and ask. For the most part, the bid is lower than the ask price.
The bid is the price at which your broker is willing to buy the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. This means the bid is the best available price at which you (the trader) will sell to the market.
The ask is the price at which your broker will sell the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. This means the ask price is the best available price at which you will buy from the market. Another word for ask is the offer price.

The difference between the bid and the ask price is popularly known as the spread.
On the EUR/USD quote above, the bid price is 1.34568 and the ask price is 1.34588. Look at how this broker makes it so easy for you to trade away your money.
If you want to sell EUR, you click "Sell" and you will sell euros at 1.34568. If you want to buy EUR, you click "Buy" and you will buy euros at 1.34588.
Now let's take a look at some samples.

Best Days of the Week to Trade

So now we know that the London session is the busiest out of all the other sessions, but there are also certain days in the week where all the markets tend to show more movement.
Below is a chart of average pip range for the major pairs for each day of the week:
Pair Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
EUR/USD 69 109 142 136 145 144
GBP/USD 73 149 172 152 169 179
USD/JPY 41 65 82 91 124 98
AUD/USD 58 84 114 99 115 111
NZD/USD 28 81 98 87 100 96
USD/CAD 43 93 112 106 120 125
USD/CHF 55 84 119 107 104 116
EUR/JPY 19 133 178 159 223 192
GBP/JPY 100 169 213 179 270 232
EUR/GBP 35 74 81 79 75 91
EUR/CHF 35 55 55 64 87 76
As you can see from the chart above, it would probably be best to trade during the middle of the week, since this is when the most action happens.
Fridays are usually busy until 12:00 pm EST and then the market pretty much drops dead until it closes at 5:00 pm EST. This means we only work half-days on Fridays.
The weekend always starts early! Yippee!
So based on all these, we've learned when the busiest times of the market are. The busiest times are the best times to trade because they give you a higher chance of success.

Managing Yo Time Wisely

Unless you're Edward Cullen, who does not sleep, there is no way you can trade all sessions. Even if you could, why would you? While the forex market is open 24 hours daily, it doesn't mean that action happens all the time!
Besides, sleep is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle!
You need sleep to recharge and have energy so that you can do even the most mundane tasks like mowing the lawn, talking to your spouse, taking the dog for a walk, or organizing your stamp collection. You'll definitely need your rest if you plan on becoming a hotshot trader.
Each trader should learn when to trade.
Actually, scratch that.
Each trader should know when to trade and when NOT to trade.
Knowing the optimal times you should trade and the times when you should sit out and just play some Plants vs. Zombies can help save you a pound of moolah (pun intended).
Here's a quick cheat sheet of the best and worst times to trade:

Best Times to Trade:

  • When two sessions are overlapping of course! These are also the times where major news events come out to potentially spark some volatility and directional movements. Make sure you bookmark the Market Hours cheat sheet to take note of the Opening and Closing times.
  • The European session tends to be the busiest out of the three.
  • The middle of the week typically shows the most movement, as the pip range widens for most of the major currency pairs.

Worst Times to Trade:

  • Sundays - everyone is sleeping or enjoying their weekend!
  • Fridays - liquidity dies down during the latter part of the U.S. session.
  • Holidays - everybody is taking a break.
  • Major news events - you don't want to get whipsawed!
  • During American Idol, the NBA Finals, or the Superbowl.
Can't seem to trade during the optimal sessions? Don't fret. You can always be a swing or position trader. We'll get back to that later. Meanwhile, let's move on to how you actually make money in Forex. Excited? You should be!

Session Overlaps

Forex Session Overlaps
Quick pop quiz! What time of the day are TV ratings highest? If you said during prime time, then you would be correct!
What does this have to do with trading sessions? Well, just like TV, "ratings" (a.k.a. liquidity) are at their highest when there are more people participating in the markets.
Logically, you would think that this happens during the overlap between two sessions. If you thought that way, you'd only be half right. Let's discuss some of the characteristics of the two overlap sessions to see why.

Tokyo - London Overlap

Liquidity during this session is pretty thin for a few reasons. Typically, there isn't as much movement during the Asian session so, once the afternoon hits, it's pretty much a snooze fest. With European traders just starting to get into their offices, trading can be boring as liquidity dries up.
This would be an ideal time to take a chill pill, play some putt-putt or look for potential trades to take for the London and New York sessions.

London - New York Overlap

This is when the real shebang begins! You can literally hear traders crack their knuckles during this time, because they know they have their work cut out for them. This is the busiest time of day, as traders from the two largest financial centers (London and New York) begin duking it out.
It is during this period where we can see some big moves, especially when news reports from the U.S. and Canada are released. The markets can also be hit by "late" news coming out of Europe.
If any trends were established during the European session, we could see the trend continue, as U.S. traders decide to jump in and establish their positions after reading up what happened earlier in the day. You should watch out though, at the end of this session, as some European traders may be closing their positions, which could lead to some choppy moves right before lunch time in the U.S.