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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Forex versus Stocks

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24-hour Trading



Commission Free Trading



Instant Execution of Market Orders



Short-Selling without an Uptick



24-Hour Market

The Forex market is a seamless 24-hour market. Most brokers are open from Sunday at 2PM EST until Friday at 4 PM EST with customer service available 24/7. With the ability to trade during the U.S., Asian, and European market hours, you can customize your own trading schedule.

Commission Free Trading

Most Forex brokers charge no commission or additional transactions fees to trade currencies online or over the phone. Combined with the tight, consistent, and fully transparent spread, Forex trading costs are lower than those of any other market. The brokers are compensated for theirs services through the bid/ask prices.

Instantaneous Execution of Market Orders

Your trades are instantly executed under normal market conditions. You also have price certainty on every market order under normal market conditions. What you click is the price you get. You’re able to execute directly off real-time streaming prices. There's no discrepancy between the displayed price shown on the platform and the execution price to enter your trade. Keep in mind that most brokers only guarantee stop, limit, and entry orders are only guaranteed under normal market conditions. Fills are instantaneous most of the time, but under extraordinarily volatile market conditions order execution may experience delays.

Short-Selling without an Uptick

Unlike the equity market, there is no restriction on short selling in the currency market. Trading opportunities exist in the currency market regardless of whether a trader is long or short, or which way the market is moving. Since currency trading always involves buying one currency and selling another, there is no structural bias to the market. So you always have equal access to trade in a rising or falling market.

More Reasons to Like Forex

No Middlemen

Centralized exchanges provide many advantages to the trader. However, one of the problems with any centralized exchange is the involvement of middlemen. Any party located in between the trader and the buyer or seller of the security or instrument traded will cost them money. The cost can be either in time or in fees. Spot currency trading does away with the middlemen and allows clients to interact directly with the market-maker responsible for the pricing on a particular currency pair. Forex traders get quicker access and cheaper costs.

Buy/Sell programs do not control the market

How many times have you heard that "fund A" was selling "X" or buying "Z"? Rumor had it that the funds were taking profits because of the end of the financial year or because today is "triple witching day", all as an explanation of why this stock is up or the market in general is down or positive on the session. The stock market is very susceptible to large fund buying and selling.

In spot trading, the liquidity of the Forex market makes the likelihood of any one fund or bank to control a particular currency very slim. Banks, hedge funds, governments, retail currency conversion houses and large net-worth individuals are just some of the participants in the spot currency markets where the liquidity is unprecedented.

Analysts and brokerage firms are less likely to influence the market

Have you watched TV lately? Heard about a certain Internet stock and an analyst of a prestigious brokerage firm accused of keeping its recommendations, such as "buy" when the stock was rapidly declining? It is the nature of these relationships. No matter what the government does to step in and discourage this type of activity, we have not heard the last of it.

IPO's are big business for both the companies going public and the brokerage houses. Relationships are mutually beneficial and analysts work for the brokerage houses that need the companies as clients. That catch-22 will never disappear.

Foreign exchange, as the prime market, generates billions in revenue for the world's banks and is a necessity of the global markets. Analysts in foreign exchange don't drive the deal flow, they just analyze the forex market.

8,000 stocks versus 4 major currency pairs

There are approximately 4,500 stocks listed on the New York Stock exchange. Another 3,500 are listed on the NASDAQ. Which one will you trade? Got the time to stay on top of so many companies? In spot currency trading, there are dozens of currencies traded, but the majority of the market trades the 4 major pairs. Aren’t four pairs much easier to keep an eye on than thousands of stocks?.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

MACD is an acronym for Moving Average Convergence Divergence. This tool is used to identify moving averages that are indicating a new trend, whether it’s bullish or bearish. After all, our first priority in trading is being able to find a trend, because that is where the most money is made.

With an MACD chart, you will usually see three numbers that are used for its settings.

• The first is the number of periods that is used to calculate the faster moving average.
• The second is the number of periods that are used in the slower moving average.
• And the third is the number of bars that is used to calculate the moving average of the

difference between the faster and slower moving averages.

For example, if you were to see “12,26,9” as the MACD parameters (which is usually the default setting for most charting packages), this is how you would interpret it:

• The 12 represents the previous 12 bars of the faster moving average.
• The 26 represents the previous 26 bars of the slower moving average.
• The 9 represents the previous 9 bars of the difference between the two moving averages. This

is plotted by vertical lines called a histogram (The blue lines in the chart above).

There is a common misconception when it comes to the lines of the MACD. The two lines that are drawn are NOT moving averages of the price. Instead, they are the moving averages of the
DIFFERENCE between two moving averages.

In our example above, the faster moving average is the moving average of the difference between the 12 and 26 period moving averages. The slower moving average plots the average of the previous MACD line. Once again, from our example above, this would be a 9 period moving average.

This means that we are taking the average of the last 9 periods of the faster MACD line, and plotting it as our “slower” moving average. What this does is it smoothes out the original line even more, which gives us a more accurate line.

The histogram simply plots the difference between the fast and slow moving average. If you look at our original chart, you can see that as the two moving averages separate, the histogram gets bigger. This is called divergence, because the faster moving average is “diverging” or moving away from the slower moving average.

As the moving averages get closer to each other, the histogram gets smaller. This is called convergence because the faster moving average is “converging” or getting closer to the slower moving average. And that, my friend, is how you get the name, Moving Average Convergence Divergence! Whew, we need to crack our knuckles after that one!

MACD Crossover

Because there are two moving averages with different “speeds”, the faster one will obviously be quicker to react to price movement than the slower one. When a new trend occurs, the fast line will react first and eventually cross the slower line. When this “crossover” occurs, and the fast line starts to “diverge” or move away from the slower line, it often indicates that a new trend has formed.

From the chart above, you can see that the fast line crossed under the slow line and correctly identified a new downtrend. Notice that when the lines crossed, the histogram temporarily disappears. This is because the difference between the lines at the time of the cross is 0. As the downtrend begins and the fast line diverges away from the slow line, the histogram gets bigger, which is good indication of a strong trend.

There is one drawback to MACD. Naturally, moving averages tend to lag behind price. After all, it's just an average of historical prices. Since the MACD represents moving averages of other moving averages and is smoothed out by another moving average, you can imagine that there is quite a bit of lag. However, it is still one of the most favored tools by many traders.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger bands are used to measure a market’s volatility. Basically, this little tool tells us whether the market is quiet or whether the market is Loud! When the market is quiet, the bands contract; and when the market is Loud, the bands expand. Notice on the chart below that when the price was quiet, the bands were close together, but when the price moved up, the bands spread apart.

That’s all there is to it. Yes, we could go on and bore you by going into the history of the Bollinger band, how it is calculated, the mathematical formulas behind it, and so on and so forth, but we really didn’t feel like typing it all out.

In all honesty, you don’t need to know any of that junk. We think it’s more important that we show you some ways you can apply the Bollinger bands to your trading.
The Bollinger Bounce

One thing you should know about Bollinger Bands is that price tends to return to the middle of the bands. That is the whole idea behind the Bollinger bounce (smart, huh?). If this is the case, then by looking at the chart below, can you tell us where the price might go next?

If you said down, then you are correct! As you can see, the price settled back down towards the middle area of the bands.

That’s all there is to it. What you just saw was a classic Bollinger bounce. The reason these bounces occur is because Bollinger Bands act like mini support and resistance levels. The longer the time frame you are in, the stronger these bands are. Many traders have developed systems that thrive on these bounces, and this strategy is best used when the market is ranging and there is no clear trend.

Now let’s look at a way to use Bollinger Bands when the market does trend.

Bollinger Squeeze

The Bollinger squeeze is pretty self explanatory. When the bands “squeeze” together, it usually means that a breakout is going to occur. If the candles start to break out above the top band, then the move will usually continue to go up. If the candles start to break out below the lower band, then the move will usually continue to go down.

Looking at the chart above, you can see the bands squeezing together. The price has just started to break out of the top band. Based on this information, where do you think the price will go?

If you said up, you are correct! This is how a typical Bollinger Squeeze works. This strategy is designed for you to catch a move as early as possible. Setups like these don’t occur everyday, but you can probably spot them a few times a week if you are looking at a 15 minute chart.

So now you know what Bollinger Bands are, and you know how to use them. There are many other things you can do with Bollinger Bands, but these are the 2 most common strategies associated with them. So now you can put this in your trader’s toolbox, and we can move on to the next indicator.

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