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Using fundamental and technical analyses, the individual trader attempts to determine trends in the price movements of currencies, and by buying or selling currency pairs, attempts to gain profits. The most often traded currencies, the major currencies, are those of countries with stable governments and respected central banks that target low inflation. Currencies that often trade along with the U.S. Dollar include the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, the Swiss Franc and now the new European currency - Euro are therefore the most liquid, unlike "exotic" currencies which are often tightly regulated and simply too illiquid. Countries suffering political instability or economic turmoil, and who use monetary expansion to fuel the economy or monetary devaluation to increase exports, usually have relatively higher inflation and weaker currencies.

Traders can generate profits (or losses) whether a currency is rising or falling by buying one currency, which is anticipated to gain value against another currency or selling one currency, which is anticipated to lose value against another currency. Taking a long position is one in which a trader buys a currency at one price and aims to sell it later at a higher price. Alternatively, a short position is one in which the trader sells a currency that he anticipates to depreciate and aims to buy the currency back later at a lower price. Buying or selling currencies in response to economic or political events which occur are reactive, whereas buying or selling currencies on anticipated events is speculative. The bulk of currency activity is generated by market participants anticipating the direction of currency prices. In general, the value of a currency versus other currencies is a reflecti on of the condition of that country's economy with respect to the other major economies.

Foreign exchange is a continuous global market, providing participants with 24-hour market access. The only breaks in trading occur during a brief period over the weekend. Although foreign exchange is the most liquid of all markets, the fact that it is an international market and trading 24-hours a day, the time of day can have a direct impact on the liquidity available for trading a particular currency. The major dealer centers and time zones are that of Sydney, Tokyo, London, and New York. Therefore, traders must consider which players are in the market, since in the modern interconnected financial world, events that occur at any hour, in any part of the globe, can affect some or all parts of the investment community. In addition, although t rading in the "spot" market, the difference in time zones accounts for a two-day settlement period. The 24-hour nature of the foreign exchange market is a substantial attraction to many of its participants.

A proficient trader employs both technical and fundamental analyses prior to entering any trades. Fundamentals include watching the world news, and particularly studying variables that may cause the market price of a currency to fluctuate, including monetary and fiscal policy, political conditions, trade patterns, economic indicators (i.e. GDP, CPI, PPI), interest rates, inflation and unemployment numbers. Faith in a government's ability to stand behind its currency also impacts currency price. From time to time, central banks use intervention as an effective method of enforcing market adherence to their desired exchange rate comfort zones. Technical analysis, which has grown dramatically in popularity in the foreign exchange market since the 1980s, involves computer charting, using trend lines, support and resistance levels, reversals, and numerous patterns and analyses to study the behavior pa tterns of market crowds to track and identify buying and selling opportunities. Over long historical periods, currencies have displayed identifiable trends and patterns which provide investors with potentially profitable opportunities.

It is the trader's option to take either a conservative or a more risk-taking approach. Employing a conservative approach, the trader establishes and liquidates positions quickly and efficiently to capitalize on even the slightest of price fluctuations, using limit and stop orders to manage risk. A limit order is placed to ensure a position is established once a price level in the market has been reached.* A stop order is placed to automatically liquidate a position at a chosen price level in order to limit potential loss on a particular trade. By placing orders in relation to technical support and resistance levels, the trader may profit incrementally from the minor price fluctuations that occur each day.

* Under volatile market conditions, a broker may not be able to execute a limit or stop order at the exact price specified by the trader. CMS’s own policy, however, is to attempt to honor all stop and limit orders up to 10 lots in size.

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