Online trading of currencies is gaining momentum all around the world since the last two decades. Africa alone today has estimated approx. 1.3 million forex traders, South Africa and Nigeria are the leading countries with around 400,000 traders locally combined.
The currency market is a decentralized international financial market where buying, selling and exchange of global currencies among buyers and sellers take place.
In the currency market, the values of currencies are determined based on supply and demand, and it is the largest financial market with transactions crossing over $6.6 trillion per day.
The bulk of currency trading volume comes from trading between banks, institutions, governments and companies. But approximately 5.5% of trading volume constitutes of retail investors and this figure is growing.
The advancement in internet, electronic trading tech, the rise of low-cost brokerages and the availability of diverse trading platforms to African traders have caused online trading to gain popularity among retail investors in Africa, especially Nigeria and South Africa.
How does currency or Forex market work? What decides currency rates?
Currency trading is the buying, selling and exchange of currencies like Euro or the US Dollar or any other two currencies against one another; where you give one currency to get another.
If you have travelled abroad or ordered something online from a different country in another currency like EUR or USD, then it is likely you have made a forex transaction.
Currency trading always involves trading between a pair of currencies. In contrast to stock trading where you buy a company’s share, it involves taking a position on a currency pair.
For example, GBP/USD represents the value of how much US Dollars you can buy with one Pound. If you think that Pound’s value will rise, you buy GBP with dollars. If your prediction is right, you could make a profit. Similarly, you can trade any other currency available in the Forex Market.
FX or currency market works on a simple economic concept of demand and supply. For instance, if there are more buyers for the US dollars in the market, its value will appreciate and vice-versa.
The demand and supply are affected by global trade, geopolitical events, interest rates and financial news. These factors create volatility in the currency market which in turn creates an opportunity for traders to speculate on the movements of currency prices.
For example, if the US Federal Reserve announces a higher interest rate, then US dollars will appreciate and other weaker currencies will likely depreciate against it.
What differentiates FX from other financial markets is that it operates 24 hours in different time-zones. It means when the trading day ends in the US, it begins in Japan and Hong Kong. That’s why currency prices are constantly changing.
How are currencies traded?
Currencies are always traded in pairs like EUR/USD or GBP/EUR.
There are mainly four ways how institutions, companies and individuals trade in FX market: spot contracts, swaps, forward and options. Swaps account for roughly 50% of the total FX trade.
Forex Spot, Forward and Swap Contracts
Most actual trade or non-speculative trade of currencies between banks, corporations, the governments take place using contracts like spot, forward and swaps.
In the Spot FX, currencies are exchanged at the current market price or exchange rate. Spot trades are usually settled within 2 days of contract and the majority of currency trading takes place through swaps.
Swap, also known as a cross-currency swap, is an agreement between two parties to exchange two different currencies at a predetermined spot-rate over a period of time. Swaps are more common among financial institutions or governments. Global companies usually get into a currency swap mainly for securing cheaper debts.
The forward contract is similar to spot trading, except in this the currency exchange occurs in the future. A forward contract entails an agreed-upon exchange rate, volume and a specified maturity date. When the contract reaches it maturity date, the buyer has to pay the amount at the agreed-upon exchange rate. The buyer may incur losses if the current spot rate is lower than the pre-agreed rate.
Currency derivatives are of two types options or futures. Currency derivatives are considered one of the best options to manage currency-risks. They are usually exchange-based futures and options contracts. These future-oriented currency contracts can be purchased at a predetermined price and date.
FX Options is a contract where a buyer obtains the right to buy foreign currencies from a seller at a specified rate and date. The buyer, however, is not obligated to buy it. Similar to insurance, the buyer just needs to pay the premium to buy an FX Option. FX Futures contract is similar in nature but parties are obligated to settle the contract.
Multinational corporations usually use FX Options to protect their investments from currency fluctuations.
Locally in Nigeria, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) is planning to introduce financial derivatives next year. Currently, LCSE offers trading in four asset classes including currencies (both local and foreign). In the rest of Africa, JSE offers currency derivatives on all major currencies against ZAR.
A contract for difference (CFD) is an agreement between the two parties (trader and broker) to exchange the difference in the price of an underlying asset at the end of the trade. The difference in price is calculated from the point when the contract opened to when it ended. In CFD trading, neither broker nor the investor owns any underlying asset.
Most retail forex traders trade forex online as CFDs with retail forex brokers. But there are no locally regulated forex brokers in Nigeria.
All the best forex brokers available in Nigeria are foreign brokers that offer CFDs on currency pairs. As online forex trading is still unregulated in Nigeria, traders must ensure they only trade with top-tier regulated brokers for safety of their funds & fair-dealing; like through brokers regulated by FCA or ASIC or CySEC.
How currency trading can be risky?
The Forex market is inherently risky. The risks range from market risks like extreme volatility to other risks like the use of high margin.
Here are some of the risks that you should watch out for:
Market volatility and unpredictability
The forex market can be highly unpredictable. The release of a new economic data or a new bilateral/regional trade deal can cause volatility in the Forex market.
Major currency pairs tend to remain relatively stable. But exotic currency pairs which have lower trading volumes can be very volatile.
Volatile currencies tend to move in any direction based on a market event or even without it in some cases. The unpredictable movement can cause huge losses.
Leverage and margin risk
The availability of high leverage is one of the reasons why currency trading is why so many traders get attracted to it.
Leverage can amplify a trader’s profit but at the same time, the unwise use can cause significant losses.
For example, in a 100:1 leverage factor, a trader could trade USD$10,000 with just $100 margin deposit. So, suppose a currency pair made a 1 pip loss that means loss of $1. If it changes to 50 pips loss than half of your margin money could be gone in seconds.
Counterparty or third-party risk
Risks related to counter-party or market maker or Broker, where they are not able to fulfil your contract or order due to credit risk or volatile market conditions is another major risk factor. And sometimes these counterparties also deal in malpractices.
There have been numerous instances in the past when people were fooled through Ponzi schemes & bad brokers. For the safety of your capital, one must always choose a broker that is regulated by multiple Tier I and Tier II regulators.
Other risks to know
There are other associated risks too with trading currencies including Country risk, Interest Rate Risk, Transaction Risk, Liquidity Risk etc. One must understand all these risks and try to mitigate them before trading.
Another major risk is of losing money. There is no denying that Forex trading is very risky. Roughly 60-70% of traders lose their capital due to different reasons. However, unwise use of leverage is considered one of the top reasons for trading-losses.
One can possibly mitigate some of these risks by adopting a sound trading plan, using leverage (max 1:10) and proper risk management.
NGX Group Gains 10% to Lift Stock Market by 0.26%
By Dipo Olowookere
The nation’s stock market rebounded by 0.26 per cent on Wednesday after going down by 0.71 per cent on Monday, which was the last trading session as the exchange was closed on Tuesday for a public holiday in Nigeria.
Investors were in high spirits yesterday when they returned to the market and this reflected in the level of activity as the trading volume rose by 47.47 per cent to 499.5 million stocks from 338.7 million stocks, the trading value increased by 25.16 per cent to N5.1 billion from N4.1 billion, while the number of deals grew by 2.25 per cent 5,998 deals from 5,866 deals.
Business Post reports that when the exchange closed for the day, FBN Holdings was the most traded equity with the sale of 147.6 million units valued at N1.8 billion, followed by eTranzact, which transacted 105.2 million units worth N215.6 million.
Furthermore, Access Bank sold 27.9 million units worth N266.0 million, Transcorp traded 22.3 million units valued at N22.8 million, while GTCO recorded a turnover of 20.6 million shares worth N612.9 million.
It was observed that the market closed in the positive territory as a result of the growth posted by the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc as its share price went up by 10.00 per cent to settle at N21.45.
GlaxoSmithKline rose by 6.87 per cent to N7.00, NPF Microfinance Bank gained 5.85 per cent to trade at N1.81, Coronation Insurance grew by 4.17 per cent to 50 kobo, while FBN Holdings appreciated by 3.83 per cent to N12.20.
On the flip side, Prestige Assurance was the worst loser as its value depreciated by 8.51 per cent to 43 kobo, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance fell by 8.33 per cent to 55 kobo, Academy Press also dropped 8.33 per cent to 33 kobo, Cadbury Nigeria lost 5.88 per cent to sell for N8.00, while Union Bank went down by 5.66 per cent to N5.00.
In all, a total of 21 stocks closed on the gainers’ chart while 18 stocks finished on the losers’ chart, indicating a positive market breadth and investor sentiment.
However, three of the five major sectors of the market closed bearish with the energy, consumer goods and banking counters losing 0.39 per cent, 0.24 per cent and 0.20 per cent respectively, while the insurance and industrial goods sectors rose by 0.58 per cent and 0.04 per cent apiece.
At the close of transactions, the All-Share Index (ASI) improved by 105.04 points to 41,249.71 points from 41,144.67 points, while the market capitalisation expanded by N54 billion to N21.526 trillion from N21.472 trillion.
Naira Appreciates to N414.07/$1 as Bitcoin Hits $66k
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange (forex) market by 0.16 per cent or 66 kobo on Wednesday, October 20 as trading returned after the Eid-el-Maulud holiday break.
At the close of business at the midweek session, the local currency was sold for N414.07/$1 in contrast to N414.73/$1 it was traded on Monday, according to data obtained from FMDQ Securities Exchange.
During the second trading session of the week, a turnover of $334.97 million was recorded as against the $172 million achieved at the preceding session.
This indicated a $162.97 million or 48.7 per cent rise in the value of transactions yesterday and because of the anticipation of pressure on the Nigerian currency, FX supply was made available to traders and this supported the growth posted by the domestic currency during the trading day.
But at the interbank segment of the market, the Nigerian currency maintained stability against the American Dollar as it remained unchanged at N410.89/$1 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at the cryptocurrency market, Bitcoin (BTC) rallied to an all-time high (ATH) of $66,000 yesterday as optimism surged for greater mainstream acceptance in the wake of the successful launch of the first exchange-traded fund for US investors.
In a Naira equivalent, the most popular digital coin in the world was sold for N37,004,384.99 after it rose by 2.8 per cent.
On October 19, 2021, the Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) was launched. The bitcoin exchange-traded fund is the first ETF ever to be approved in the United States and it’s based on bitcoin futures markets.
This development, Business Post gathered, triggered a renewed interest in the cryptos and caused Litecoin (LTC) to rise by 9.3 per cent to N117,992.99. Dash (DASH) went up by 5.9 per cent to sell for N111,892.63, Tron (TRX) grew by 4.7 per cent to trade at N58.70, while Ripple (XRP) appreciated by 4.4 per cent to trade at N635.00.
Further, Dogecoin (DOGE) was 4.2 per cent higher to sell at N150.96, Cardano (ADA) saw its value rise by 4.1 per cent to N1,305.81, Binance Coin (BNB) made a 3.4 per cent gain to trade at N205,395.75, while Ethereum (ETH) rose by 1.7 per cent to trade at N2,203,900.99.
However, the US Dollar Tether (USDT) went down by 0.4 per cent to sell for N565.49.
Oil Prices Continue Ascent as US Crude Inventories Drop
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices showed no sign of slowing yet again on Wednesday as a drop in crude inventories in the United States supported the market amid a supply crunch in the energy market.
Brent crude rose by 80 cents or 0.94 per cent to trade at $85.88 per barrel and the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 91 cents or 1.1 per cent to sell at $83.87 per barrel.
A week after it reported a sizeable oil inventory build that pushed prices lower for a while, US crude stocks fell by 431,000 barrels in the most recent week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, as against expectations for an increase.
At 426.5 million barrels, inventories remain below the five-year average for this time of the year.
On its part, the American Petroleum Institute (API) noted a build last week which was estimated at 3.294 million barrels, above analyst expectations of a 2.233 million barrels build.
Crude markets, in general, remain supported on the back of a global coal and gas crunch, which has driven a switch to diesel and fuel oil for power generation.
The switching from gas to oil could account for the demand of 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day, depending on winter weather and prices of other sources of energy, a move that has supported oil prices.
However, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it plans on arresting the high energy prices, a move that could push down oil prices.
The commission said it would bring coal prices back to a reasonable range and crackdown on any irregularities that disturb market order or malicious speculation on thermal coal futures, according to foreign media.
The possible Chinese intervention sent the key Chinese coal futures plunging early on Wednesday.
In entirety, the market is highly bullish as supply has tightened especially with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) maintaining a slow increase in supply rather than intervening to add more barrels to the market, just as US demand has increased.
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- NGX Group Gains 10% to Lift Stock Market by 0.26% October 21, 2021
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