Integrated Marketing Communications Investopedia / Marketing communications

Integrated Marketing Communications Investopedia

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The foreign exchange market (forex or FX) is an unregulated global market in which trading does not occur on an exchange and does not have a physical address of doing business. Unlike equities, which are traded through exchanges worldwide, such as the New York Stock Exchange or the London Stock Exchange, foreign exchange transactions take place over-the-counter (OTC) between agreeable buyers and sellers from all over the world. This network of market participants is not centralized, therefore, the exchange rate of any currency pair at any one time can vary from one broker to another. (To get a complete overview of forex, see and .)

Tutorial: Electronic Trading

The main market players are the largest banks in the world, and they form the exclusive club in which most trading activities take place.This club is known as the interbank market. Retail traders are unable to access the interbank market because they do not have credit connections with these large players. This does not mean that retail traders are barred from trading forex; they are able to do so mainly through two types of brokers: markets makers and electronic communications networks (ECNs). In this article, we'll cover the differences between these two brokers and provide insight into how these differences can affect forex traders. (To continue reading on this subject, see, and The Global Electronic Stock Market.)

How Market Makers Work
Market makers "make" or set both the bid and the ask prices on their systems and display them publicly on their quote screens. They stand prepared to make transactions at these prices with their customers, who range from banks to retail forex traders. In doing this, market makers provide some liquidity to the market. As counterparties to each forex transaction in terms of pricing, market makers must take the opposite side of your trade. In other words, whenever you sell, they must buy from you, and vice versa.

The exchange rates that market makers set, are based on their own best interests. On paper, the way they generate profits for the company through their market-making activities, is with the spread that is charged to their customers. The spread is the difference between the bid and the ask price, and is often fixed by each market maker. Usually, spreads are kept fairly reasonable as a result of the stiff competition between numerous market makers. As counterparties, many of them will then try to hedge, or cover, your order by passing it on to someone else. There are also times in which market makers may decide to hold your order and trade against you.

There are two main types of market makers: retail and institutional. Institutional market makers can be banks or other large corporations that usually offer a bid/ask quote to other banks, institutions, ECNs or even retail market makers. Retail market makers are usually companies dedicated to offering retail forex trading services to individual traders.

Pros:

  • The trading platform usually comes with free charting software and news feeds. (For related reading, see .)
  • Some of them have more user-friendly trading platforms.

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