Thursday, July 24, 2008

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The foreign exchange market (the forex) can be a treacherous market to trade especially if you are not properly equipped for the job. You will need to give attention to the following: the equipment and type of internet connection you have; the overall amount of capital you can put at risk on this enterprise, as well as the amount of capital you are prepared to risk on any one trade;your broker and the reliability of the trading platform; charts and technical analysis; good entry and exit signals; being aware of news releases affecting this market; the need to use a stop loss on each trade to protect your position; the cutting of losses if a trade goes against you; and the compounding of profits.

You will ideally need a Pentium 4 desktop computer running Windows XP with a processor speed of 2.5GHZ and 512MB of RAM. The monitor needs to be at least 17", but 19" or bigger is better. You could get away with a 56K dial-up connection but broadband is usually far better in terms of stability.Some people have been known to trade this market successfully from a laptop which gives them mobility.

YOu will need a minimum of $20,000 risk capital to trade this market. "Risk capital" means that it doesn't include money you require for living from month to month, and therefore you can employ it in the market for speculative purposes. The reason for the entry figure being so high is that it is inadvisable to risk more than 3% of your total risk capital on any one trade. On this basis, the most you should be putting at risk on any one trade is $600 ( that is $20,000 X 3%) using full lots. You could start with a lesser amount of risk capital by using mini lots and still maintain the maximum 3% loss any one trade.

You will need to choose a broker wisely for two reasons: his financial stability; and the stability of the platform he provides. It is best to chose a broker with a proven record in the forex market operating from a well-regulated country such as the USA, UK or Switzerland.This market was only opened up to speculators in 1997, so forex brokers haven't got as long a history as stockbrokers.It is therefore best to chose on the basis of size -you are looking a broker with at least 10,000 clients operating from one of the aforementioned countries. The functionality of the platform the broker provides is important for the execution and tracking of live trades. What you don't want is a platform that always keeps going down at crucial moments in your trading day. In my experience, the platforms belonging the the major brokers are now very reliable although there might be a problem with the continuity of data displayed from time to time.

People who trade the forex market off fundamental analysis have been known to stay in the positions taken for multiple days, weeks, months or even years. If you are daytrading this market, however, you haven't got much choice but to use technical analysis as the basis of your decisions. Therefore charts become vitally important in the decision making process. candlestick charts are the easiest to follow on the screen as it simple to distinguish a bull candle from a bear one just by viewing the different colors. With charts,especially at the start of your trading day, it is best to use the top-down approach.Even though your entry and exits may be made off the 15 minute chart, you should start the day by looking at the daily chart to get the big picture. Then the 4 hour chart, the hour chart and 30 minute can each in turn be consulted prior to your regular chart (the 15 minute) in order to get the top-down perspective on the market.

Breakouts from support or resistance offer good entry points for trades. A support line can be drawn by joining the bottoms of two candles that stand lower than their immediate neighbors remembering that the support line must be tilted upwards therefore the nearest candle the line is connected to must be higher than the further away one. If this line is then extended into the future and is confirmed by a third candle touching the line you have a solid support line. When a candle breaks this support line and a 15 minute candle closes below it and subsequent candles go 5 pips (or points) beyond the bottom of the candle which broke the support line, you have a valid entry point for a short trade (thatis selling the currency pair being traded). Resistance lines are done on the same basis except that the initial line drawn must have a downward slope which when broken, and the the other criteria for entry is met, gives you a valid long entry (that is buying the currency pair being traded).

Before you start your trading day, it is imperative that the daytrader knows when economic news affecting the currency pairs being traded is scheduled to be released.There are various websites that do this but the best one that I have found is http//www.dailyfx.com. If you go to their Home Page, and click on the Calendar tab at the top, a page will open with the words "Weekly Economic Calender for ....." on the top left hand side on which you click to take you to the page where all the scheduled news for the world's major currency pairs are listed on a daily basis. The times of the news releases are given in both GMT and EST so you may have to compensate depending on which time zone you happen to be in the world.Knowing when the news is going to be released is crucial, because depending on its strength is may be sensible if you are in a trade that is making a profit. to take profits before the news hits the wire, or at least tighten up your stop.

It is also sensible never to trade without a stop. For daytrading a stop in the region of 20 - 30 pips is sensible. This is the loss you are prepared to take on the trade if it goes against you. It is also sensible to set your profit objective higher than your loss by 25% -50% dependent upon the quality of the signal generated. Only risk 3% of your risk capital on any one trade. If you start off with $20,000 risk capital and after 4 months or so you have found that it has grown to $40,000, now use 2 lots per trade and thereby employ compounding.When you capital grows to $60,000, you would employ 3 lots and so forth. If your selection criteria is good your capital can build at a surprising rate using this technique.
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