Forex Trading: How It Works and Real-Life Examples


Forex (FX) is the global marketplace for trading international currencies and currency derivatives. It’s the largest, most liquid market in the world, with trillions of dollars traded daily. This article explores what forex is, how to trade it, and provides examples to help you understand the intricacies of this market.

Understanding forex (FX)

Forex, short for foreign exchange, is the global electronic marketplace where international currencies and currency derivatives are traded. It’s important to note that forex has no central physical location; instead, it operates as a decentralized network. Despite its lack of a physical presence, the forex market stands as the largest and most liquid market globally, with trillions of dollars changing hands each day.

Forex pairs and quotes

Currencies in the forex market are traded in pairs, such as USD/CAD, EUR/USD, or USD/JPY. These pairs represent one currency relative to another, like the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar (USD/CAD) or the Euro versus the U.S. dollar (EUR/USD).

Each pair has an associated price, like 1.2569. For instance, if this price is associated with the USD/CAD pair, it means it costs 1.2569 CAD to buy one USD. If the price increases to 1.3336, it would mean it costs 1.3336 CAD to buy one USD. In this scenario, the USD has increased in value, or the CAD has decreased, making it more expensive to purchase one USD.

Forex lots

In the forex market, currencies are traded in different lot sizes, including micro, mini, and standard lots. A micro lot is 1,000 units of a currency, a mini lot is 10,000, and a standard lot is 100,000. Trading occurs in blocks of currency, allowing for various trading volumes, depending on individual trading account balances.

For example, traders can opt to trade seven micro lots (7,000 units), three mini lots (30,000 units), or even 75 standard lots (7,500,000 units).

Pros and cons


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of forex trading.

  • High liquidity and trading volume
  • 24/5 market availability
  • Potential for significant profits
  • High volatility and risk
  • Complex market with a steep learning curve
  • Leverage magnifies both gains and losses

How to trade forex

Forex trading operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, in major financial centers worldwide. It allows individuals, not just governments and large corporations, to buy and sell currencies. When trading forex, you’re essentially buying or selling one currency in relation to another.

A currency trade is always relative, meaning you buy one currency while selling another. Profits are derived from the difference between the transaction prices. Trading can occur at any time, given the market’s 24-hour availability.

Spot transactions

A spot market deal involves immediate delivery, typically within two business days for most currency pairs. Notably, USD/CAD trades settle within one business day. However, during the Christmas and Easter seasons, some spot trades can take up to six days to settle.

Market movements in forex are influenced by speculation, economic conditions, interest rate differentials, and overall economic strength and growth.

Forex rollover

Retail traders often don’t want to take physical delivery of the currencies they trade. Instead, they aim to profit from the interest rate differential between two currencies in a pair. Brokers facilitate this by automatically “rolling over” currency positions at 5 p.m. EST each day.

The rollover results in a credit or debit based on the interest rate difference between the currencies being held. This credit or debit can impact the overall gain or loss of the trade.

Forex forward transactions

Forward transactions are a type of forex trade that settles for a date beyond the spot market, typically calculated by adjusting the spot rate to account for interest rate differentials. These forward points only reflect the difference in interest rates and aren’t indicative of future spot market prices.

Forward contracts are customizable and can settle on specific dates, excluding weekends and holidays. Funds are exchanged on the settlement date.

Forex futures

Forex futures contracts involve an agreement between parties to deliver a set amount of currency on a specific future date, known as the expiry. Unlike forward contracts, futures contracts are non-negotiable, with profits or losses determined by the difference between the buying and selling prices of the contract.

Most speculators don’t hold futures contracts until expiry; they trade them prior to expiration to realize their gains or losses.

How forex differs from other markets

Forex differs from other markets in several key ways:

Fewer rules

Forex trading is subject to fewer regulations and standards compared to stock, futures, and options markets. The absence of clearinghouses and central oversight means investors can short-sell at any time, essentially buying one currency while selling another.

Fees and commissions

Fees and commissions in the forex market vary widely among brokers. Most brokers make money by marking up the spread on currency pairs, while others charge a commission based on the traded amount.

Full access

The forex market remains open 24/5, providing traders the flexibility to trade at any time. The market only closes on weekends and holidays when no global financial center is open.


Leverage is a powerful tool in the forex market, allowing traders to control larger positions than their account balance. However, it’s a double-edged sword, magnifying both profits and losses.

Example of forex transactions

Let’s consider an example of a forex trade. Assume a trader believes that the Euro (EUR) will appreciate against the U.S. Dollar (USD).

The trader buys the EUR/USD at 1.2500 and invests $5,000. Later in the day, the price increases to 1.2550, resulting in a $25 profit (5000 * 0.0050). If the price drops to 1.2430, the trader would incur a $35 loss (5000 * 0.0070).

About the rollover

Currency prices are in constant flux, leading traders to decide whether to hold positions overnight. Rollover occurs at 5 p.m. EST each day, with the broker adjusting positions based on interest rate differentials.

Large disparities in interest rates can lead to significant daily credits or debits, influencing profits or losses.

The bottom line

Forex is a global marketplace for trading currencies and currency derivatives. It ranks as the world’s largest financial market, enabling individuals and entities to buy and sell currency pairs, capitalizing on changing rates.
forex trading offers numerous opportunities, but it’s essential to approach it with caution, especially for newcomers. With the potential for substantial profits and significant risks, educating yourself about the intricacies of forex is crucial. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or just starting, the forex market offers a dynamic and ever-changing landscape to explore.

Frequently asked questions

What is the minimum capital required to start trading forex?

While you can start trading forex with as little as $100, it’s important to note that the amount you invest should be an amount you can afford to lose. The forex market is highly volatile, and you should only trade with capital you can risk.

How can I manage the risk associated with forex trading?

Risk management is crucial in forex trading. You can employ various strategies, including setting stop-loss orders to limit potential losses, diversifying your trades, and not investing more than you can afford to lose. Additionally, educating yourself about the market and using a demo account to practice can help you become a more informed and cautious trader.

Is forex trading suitable for beginners?

Forex trading can be complex and risky, making it potentially challenging for beginners. However, with the right education, practice, and a cautious approach, beginners can gradually build their skills and confidence. It’s advisable to start with a demo account to gain experience without risking real capital.

What are the major factors that influence currency prices in the forex market?

Currency prices in the forex market are influenced by various factors, including economic indicators, interest rates, geopolitical events, and market sentiment. Understanding these factors and staying informed about global events can help you make informed trading decisions.

How do I choose a reliable forex broker?

Choosing a reputable forex broker is essential for a successful trading experience. Look for brokers regulated by financial authorities, check their trading fees, available currency pairs, and the quality of their trading platforms. Reading reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced traders can also help you find a reliable broker.

Key takeaways

  • Forex (FX) is the global marketplace for trading international currencies and currency derivatives.
  • Forex trading offers the potential for significant profits but comes with high risks due to market volatility.
  • Traders can start with as little as $100, but it’s essential to only invest what you can afford to lose.
  • Risk management is crucial in forex trading, including setting stop-loss orders and diversifying trades.
  • Forex is open 24 hours a day, five days a week, allowing flexibility for trading.
View Article Sources
  1. Demystifying Forex Market: How It Works, Types, Tools and – SuperMoney
  2. The Comprehensive Guide to the Foreign Exchange – SuperMoney
  3. How to Make Money in Forex Line Trading – SuperMoney