Reading FOREX Quote and understanding the Jargon

2. Reading FOREX Quote and understanding the Jargon

One of the biggest sources of confusion for those new to the currency market is the standard for quoting currencies. In this section, we’ll go over currency quotations and how they work in currency pair trades.

Reading a Quote

When a currency is quoted, it is done in relation to another currency, so that the value of one is reflected through the value of another. Therefore, if you are trying to determine the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar (USD) and the Japanese yen (JPY), the forex quote would look like this:

USD/JPY = 119.50

This is referred to as a currency pair. The currency to the left of the slash is the base currency, while the currency on the right is called the quote or counter currency. The base currency (in this case, the U.S. dollar) is always equal to one unit (in this case, US$1), and the quoted currency (in this case, the Japanese yen) is what that one base unit is equivalent to in the other currency. The quote means that US$1 = 119.50 Japanese yen. In other words, US$1 can buy 119.50 Japanese yen. The forex quote includes the currency abbreviations for the currencies in question.

Direct Currency Quote vs. Indirect Currency Quote

There are two ways to quote a currency pair, either directly or indirectly. A direct currencyquote is simply a currency pair in which the domestic currency is the base currency; while an indirect quote, is a currency pair where the domestic currency is the quoted currency. So if you were looking at the Canadian dollar as the domestic currency and U.S. dollar as the foreign currency, a direct quote would be CAD/USD, while an indirect quote would be USD/CAD. The direct quote varies the foreign currency, and the quoted, or domestic currency, remains fixed at one unit. In the indirect quote, on the other hand, the domestic currency is variable and the foreign currency is fixed at one unit.

For example, if Canada is the domestic currency, a direct quote would be 0.85 CAD/USD, which means with C$1, you can purchase US$0.85. The indirect quote for this would be the inverse (1/0.85), which is 1.18 USD/CAD and means that USD$1 will purchase C$1.18.

In the forex spot market, most currencies are traded against the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. dollar is frequently the base currency in the currency pair. In these cases, it is called a direct quote. This would apply to the above USD/JPY currency pair, which indicates that US$1 is equal to 119.50 Japanese yen.

However, not all currencies have the U.S. dollar as the base. The Queen’s currencies - those currencies that historically have had a tie with Britain, such as the British pound, Australian Dollar and New Zealand dollar - are all quoted as the base currency against the U.S. dollar. The euro, which is relatively new, is quoted the same way as well. In these cases, the U.S. dollar is the counter currency, and the exchange rate is referred to as an indirect quote. This is why the EUR/USD quote is given as 1.25, for example, because it means that one euro is the equivalent of 1.25 U.S. dollars.

Most currency exchange rates are quoted out to four digits after the decimal place, with the exception of the Japanese yen (JPY), which is quoted out to two decimal places.

Cross Currency

When a currency quote is given without the U.S. dollar as one of its components, this is called a cross currency. The most common cross currency pairs are the EUR/GBP, EUR/CHF and EUR/JPY. These currency pairs expand the trading possibilities in the forex market, but it is important to note that they do not have as much of a following (for example, not as actively traded) as pairs that include the U.S. dollar, which also are called the majors. (For more on cross currency, see Make The Currency Cross Your Boss.)

Spread

The spread is the difference between the BID and the ASK price in the market quotes. The ASK price is applicable to a BUY order and the BID price is applicable to a SELL order. We operates using variable spreads, which are spreads that don’t have the same constant value. A variable spread will condense and widen as market conditions and liquidity change.

Leverage

Leverage is the ability to control a large amount of money in the forex markets. For example: Mocaz Financial Markets Ltd offers a maximum leverage of 300:1 which means for every $1 that you have in your trading account; you can trade $300 on the forex market. The same principal applies to all base currencies and leverage amounts.

Leverage gives the trader the ability to make meaningful profits on the normally miniscule daily currency movements, and, at the same time, risk only minimal capital on a given position.Leverage can exponentially increase your profits as well as your losses so it is crucial that traders take care when using leverage. The larger your position size, the larger your pip value will be and therefore, the greater the impact on your profit/loss (P/L).


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