Risk Warning

Forex Trading on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all traders. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade forex you should carefully consider your trading objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. It is possible that you could lose some or all of your initial capital and therefore you should not trade money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with forex trading, and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts. Having said that, anyone with a sound mind can trade Forex but he must be aware of the risks involved as highlighted above.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Which Forex market to trade?

As my last post was on which Forex currencies to trade, this post will be on which Forex Market to trade. Though you can trade Forex 24 hours a day round the clock, effectively the time you trade will determine which Forex market you are trading since basically the Forex market is active when the banks and financial institutions in that particular market are active.Which are the top Forex markets in terms of turnover? Well based on the latest (2007) report from the Bank for International Settlement (BIS), the international supervisory body for banks around the world, the Top 10 Forex markets are the following with their percentage market share. Their positions in the previous report in 2003 are shown in brackets. You can download the report from this site if you are interested.

1. (1) UK 34.1%
2. (2) USA 16.6%
3. (8) Switzerland 6.1%
4. (3) Japan 6.0%
5. (4) Singapore 5.8%
6. (6) Hong Kong 4.4%
7. (7) Australia 4.3%
8. (9) France 3.0%
9. (5) Germany 2.5%
10. (11) Denmark 2.2%

An interesting development is that Japan used to be the traditional no.3 but is now overtaken by Switzerland while Germany has fallen from no.5 to no.9 since the last report. The top 2 markets, UK (London) and USA (New York), account for more than half the world's market share. (Malaysia is way down with only 0.1% market share.) We can thus break up the Forex world broadly into 3 markets, viz the Asian (centred on Japan), European (London) and US (New York) markets. By adding the individual country's market share, we get these figures. (Australia is counted as Asian for this purpose.)

Asian - 20.4%
European - 47.9%
US - 16.6%

You would expect the market volatility to reflect this market share but generally you’ll find that the Asian market is the least volatile, the US market is the most volatile and the European market is somewhere in between. Maybe this is a reflection of the number of active individual Forex traders as opposed to just the banks and institutional traders.

Since it will be very confusing if every market is shown in their own local time so for easy reference, most trading platforms use the GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, as a common reference. How does the 24 hours Forex trading day move along? Well, the day starts with the Australian (Sydney) market that opens at 9pm GMT (5am MYT, Malaysian time, or 5pm EST – NY time). This is followed by the Tokyo market at 11pm GMT (7am MYT or 7pm EST). Next to come on will be the Singapore and Hong Kong markets at 1am GMT (9am MYT or 9pm EST). The Asian market will then be in full swing. After about 5 hours, the continental European market will start at 6am GMT (2pm MYT or 2am EST). An hour later, the biggest market, the London market will start at 7am GMT (3pm MYT or 3am EST). Finally the New York market starts at 12 noon GMT (8pm MYT or 8am EST) and ends at 9pm GMT. That’s when the Sydney market opens to another day and the cycle repeats all over again.

It will be easier if you plot the above in a chart and you can also see how the markets overlap. I have done one chart using Excel, and if you want a copy, just e-mail me.

Please note that the starting and ending times above are approximate and they refer to the period of Daylight Saving Time, usually from March to October for Europe and USA. Outside this period or during Standard Time, just add one hour to the MYT. An easy way to remember the EST, Eastern Standard Time (or New York time) is that it is exactly 12 hours behind Malaysian time so if it is 8pm in MYT, it is 8am in EST; just change PM to AM and vice versa. (This is during the Daylight Saving Time period.) For more details on this and on time conversion, you can visit this Time and Date site. Malaysian Time is always GMT + 8 hours.

For us in Malaysia, the trading day can be divided roughly into three sessions. They are Morning, the early Asian market, Afternoon, the later part of the Asian and the early part of the European markets and lastly Night, the late European and the early US markets. After midnight it will be the last half of the US market for the night owls. So we can choose when we want to trade depending on our daily routine and we can always fit the Forex trading hours into our lives and not the other way round.

As mentioned earlier, each market has a different character and volatility and after trading for some time, you will notice it. This is generally the case but since there is never certainty in the Forex market, there will be some uncharacteristic movements from time to time especially around the times of major reports or economic announcements.

Since the Lunar New Year is just round the corner and Monday will be the start of the year of the bull so here’s wishing it will be a bullish and prosperous year for all viewers, especially for the Forex traders. Good luck in your trades.

Ronald Kwok

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Which Forex Currency Pairs to Trade

Since there are so many countries in the world, there will be many currencies pairs available but luckily the bulk of the Forex market involves only a handful of currency pairs and you only need to trade in these pairs and not bothered about the rest. This is surely much simpler than picking what stocks to trade.

By definition, the major currency pairs will involve the following major currencies - USD (US Dollar), EUR (Euro), JPY (Japanese Yen), GBP (Great Britain Pound), CHF (Swiss Frank), CAD (Canadian Dollar), AUD (Australian Dollar) and NZD (New Zealand Dollar). Out of the many combinations possible, the major dollar currency pairs are, in order of volume traded, the following. (The figure in brackets is the spread in pips used by Interbank FX, other brokers may vary but this is typical. This is the spread under normal trading conditions but during very volatile periods or just before major financial announcements, the spread will increase quite a bit so keep an eye on this before you execute your trade as it may upset your calculations.)

1. EUR/USD (2)
This is the most actively traded currency pair in the Forex market (27% market share) and thus it is the most liquid pair. This is the best pair for trading by newbies since it is generally well behaved and not very volatile compared with other pairs. It also has the lowest spread and some traders just trade this single pair for a living.

2. USD/JPY (3)
This is the second most actively traded currency pair (13% market share) after the EUR/USD. This pair can move quietly along a narrow range for some time and then move very quickly in either directions. This pair is popular with short-term traders for quick profit because of this trait.

3. GBP/USD (4)
The next most actively traded pair (12% market share). This generally has similar directional movement as the EUR/USD but it is more volatile and moves a bigger range than the EUR/USD.

4. USD/CHF (4)
This has only 4% market share but is the most volatile among the 4 major currency pairs and sometimes it even appears chaotic. Thus it is not recommended for newbies but good for those looking for excitement.

Thus the top 3 major pairs has more than 50% of the market share and just trading these 3 pairs is enough to keep you busy round the clock. If these are not enough you can look at some other pairs below when you are feeling bored.

The minor dollar currency pairs are those where the USD is pitted against the other major currencies, namely,

5. USD/CAD (5)
6. AUD/USD (5)
7. NZD/USD (5)

And finally, the cross currency pairs are those that do not involve the USD and you can have so many combinations but the more popular ones are the following.

8. EUR/JPY (5)
9. EUR/GBP (7)
10. EUR/CHF (7)
11. GBP/JPY (9)
12. GBP/CHF (12)

It is recommended that newbies start with trading the EUR/USD and hone their skills using this pair. You will be able to see similar patterns of price action repeating itself over a period of time and by concentrating on a single pair, you will improve your chances of success. Familiarity breeds profits, not contempt.

Ronald Kwok

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Forex Trading Courses - Updated

The Forex Trading Courses has waken up to the New Year after the year end slumber. Just yesterday, I saw an advertisement by T3B for Dynamite Forex (trainer Clarence Chee) in The Star. And today I saw no less than 3 ads for Forex Trading previews - Lily Thniah (Ringgit Fleet), Sam Se (Forex Investology) and Kishore (Power Up Capital). So if you are interested to find out more, just attend the previews, after all they are all free. The best is to attend all of them if you have the time and then decide which is most suitable for you.

Here are just a few pointers for you to consider while making your choice.

1. The trainer should be a professional Forex trader since he will be in a better position to explain Forex trading and will be talking from real life experience rather than just from text-book theory.

2. There should be adequate after-sales service or follow-up after the course is over where students can seek assistance and be kept up to date on the changing Forex market and improvements and new information be imparted to the students as necessary.

3. The trading platform taught should be easy to use but should also have sufficient charting tools and technical indicators to assist the trader as he become more experienced.

4. In addition to the mechanics and technicals of trading, the course should cover money management and trading psychology, two other important aspects of successful trading.

5. Any other trading aids would be a bonus.

As you know, the Forex Trading course that I attended was Forex Investology (FI), conducted by Sam Se. Why did I make that choice? I attended a few free previews (three, if I remember correctly) before I made the decision. Based on the previews that I attended, my main reasons for selecting FI were:-

a) Their claims of success is more modest and realistic (and not some fantastic figures that sound too good to be true) which to me is more sincere.
b) Sam Se is a professional Forex trader and from the preview, you can see that he knows his stuff. And the clincher -
c) The fees were the cheapest (among those that I know at that time)!

Since then, I have also attended more previews to see what others have to offer since they are free. Would I make the same choice after attending all the additional previews? Definitely, since Forex Investology is still the cheapest in town and offer the best value for money.

The after sales service has also been good since there were "clinics" for those with technical problems, "Trade with Sam" sessions with market outlook and new information and tools in addition to phone-in and hands-on support. There is a Forum that used to be active but is now quiet probably because it used to give Forex hedging signals but is now temporary suspended because of the current financial turmoil. How does this compare with those provided by the others? Don't know since I have not attended any other courses. From feedback I have from friends, some are non-existent (since they are no longer existing) and some are good. Feedback from actual participants here (in the comments section) would be most welcome.

What about the FI course itself compared to the others? Again, don't know as this is the only Forex course that I attended and I cannot make any comparision. Again, it would be good for actual participants to give their comments here. I suppose all would cover the basics in Forex Trading, the technical indicators, the trading platform, etc.

Another fact that I only knew after attending the FI course is that Sam Se is also a programmer and he has written Expert Advisors (EA) and trading software and tools for Metatrader 4 (the Forex trading platform taught and used by FI) that were given to the students. He is adding more tools and trading aids from time to time and thus students are assured of continuous improvement. I don't think any other trainer can provide his own programmes.

Enough said. Don't take my word for it. Attend all the free previews coming to a hotel near you and find out for yourself. Happy preview hopping!

Ronald Kwok

Monday, January 5, 2009

Forex Trading Courses and Workshops

You must have experienced this before. You tend to see a lot of something of passing interest but when you are actually looking for it, you would have difficulty finding it. So this was the case of getting material for this post. i.e. the overview of the Forex Trading Courses locally. I remember seeing plenty of advertisements in the papers for such courses almost daily but when I was actively looking out for them in the last two weeks, I saw very few. (Actually there is a logical explanation to it, it's the end of the year and all the Forex Courses organisers are probably on holiday, doing their year's review or preparing for the challenges in the year ahead and so are many of the potential clients, so no workshop previews and no advertisements.) Thus I have to dig up my old newspapers and also largely rely on my memory.

Forex Trading has become very popular over the last year or so and there are more than 10 different companies running Forex Trading Courses or Workshops at one time or another. Some have come and gone and some are still advertising regularly in the newspapers. Here are a few prominent ones, not in any particular order. (What I post here is purely my own experience and my personal opinion of the previews that I attended. It would be good if readers can share their own experience by giving their comments on the previews or better still, the actual courses or workshops. As most of the previews I went were many, many months ago, my comments may not reflect the latest status, especially on the fees of the courses.)

1. Rapid FX - this is probably the most active currently since they run preview seminars every week. The preview I attended was primarily done by a lawyer (and student of Rapid FX) so it was very convincing that trading Forex is the way to go. Most memorable part was his argument that Forex Trading is absolutely risk-free since you already know the maximum that you can lose (in terms of the stop-loss level) while risk is something that you do not know. Well, leave it to the lawyers! The fees is about RM6000 for 2 (?) days and the broker used is FXCM.

2. Lily Thniah (Ringgit Fleet) - This is quite active and advertisements appears regularly. From the preview, the course appears OK. Selling point seems to be the weekly coaching for 16 weeks (which is one day each week). The fees is about RM5000 for 3 days.

3. Kishore M (PowerUp Capital) - Kishore is a very good speaker and a good salesman. It seems that he can sell you anything as previously he was teaching options. The preview makes Forex Trading appears as a guaranteed winner and thus loses some credibility (as least to me.) The fees is about RM6000 for 3 days.

4. Forex Investology (Trainer Sam Se) - This is one of the few previews where they talk about losses in addition to wins and it gives a more realistic view of Forex Trading. In addition to directional trading, this teaches hedging as the other main Forex trading strategy. Provides a live Trading Calculator to assist newbies to work out their trade. The fees are about RM2400 for 3 days. This is the course that I signed up for after attending the preview. The broker used is Interbank FX.

5. Infinite FX (Trainer Jasmine Khern) - The preview seems sincere enough and a trading system, Tornado, is mentioned but no much detail is given about it. Can also trade with your provided funds. The fees is about RM3400 for 2 (?) days.

6. Clinicaltrader (Trainer Fuad Ahmad) - Ladies will like his previews, since Fuad is tall, fair and handsome and speaks well too. He talks of watching three signals to confirm before you trade and runs a in-house trading office. Sounds like he is also recruiting traders for his trading room. Do not see his advertisement nowadays. The fees are about RM5000 for 2 (?) days.

7. FX1 Academy - The speaker in the preview doesn't seem to be a professional trader since she attributes the sound of the trading platform disconnection to that of a winning trade. This sounds very exciting to those new to trading (like a cash register ringing) but for these familiar with the trading platform, it loses all credibility. They also have an automated trading system that trades only on USDJPY and they offer a 110% money back guarantee but I was told that you have to really read the fine prints on the terms and conditions. The fees are RM7000 for 3 days.

8. Winning Forex Solutions (Mr.M) - This sounds and appears to be the most unprofessional among all the previews I attended (in my opinion). Mr. M will trade with you at Starbucks and the platform used (involving a Virtual Private Network???) appears gimmicky. This apparently has now disappeared from the scene. The fees are about RM3200 for 2 days.

The above are those that I have attended the free previews and below are those that I've seen being advertised but I have not attended the previews so I have no further comments on them.

9. Wealth Academy Forex (Adam Khoo's Group) - Singaporean trainer. The fees about RM5000 for 2 days course plus 3 days follow-up sessions.

10. Dynamite Forex (Run by T3B, Trainer Clarence Chee) A newcomer to the local scene and another course conducted by a Singaporean trader. Do not have information on the fees and structure, should normally be around RM5000 for 2-3 days.

There are other courses not specifically on Forex but for trading in general which can also apply to Forex Trading. These include-

10. F1 Trader (PI Capital). Training is by Fred Tam. Fred is the Guru of Technical Analysis but now I only see the ads on his course for Financial Technical Analysis in conjunction with Open University Malaysia. No details on the fees for the F1 Trader.

11. Wealth Academy Trader (Adam Khoo's Group). Training by Conrad Lim, another Singaporean trader. The fees are about RM5000 for 5 days of tutorials. Conrad also conduct a course just on Japanese Candlesticks.

Since I am at it, here are some Options Trading Courses for comparison.

1. Wealth Mentors (Trainer Miriam MacWilliams) - The fees are about RM10,000 for 5 days. Just wonder how many would pay this kind of money. The high cost is probably due to the fact that Miriam is from the US.

2. Freely Options (Trainer Dr.Clement Chiang) - A very motivational speaker. From the preview, the strategy seems to emphasize on gapping and it has very high rewards since it also has very high risk. Not for the faint-hearted. The fees is about RM7800 for 2 days and 1 night (to trade the US stock market.)

3. Teraoptions (Trainer David Yuen) - seems like a straight forward trainer and a straight forward course. The fees is about RM4500 for 3 days.

So you see, there are plenty of choices and it can be bewildering to pick any particular course to attend. (Of course, if you have the money, you can choose more then one and then know which one is better.) The best is to attend the free previews that all of them provide and judge for yourself which is right for you, if you have the time.

It would be good if readers who have attended any of the previews or actual courses to give their views in the comments section as this will assist (or maybe confuse!) all potential Forex Course customers in making their choices.

In my next post, I'll give my views of what to look for in selecting a course and explain how I made my choice and my experience with Forex Investology.

Ronald Kwok