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Forex Quotations Explained

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As a forex beginner, learning the financial market is the first thing you need to do. One of the key aspects of financial markets is learning about forex quotes. A forex quote is the price of one currency compared to another. As a trader, you need to understand that forex quotes are the language of the financial market.  Every trader — both novice and forex beginner — has to understand this language. 

Currency quotes always involve currency pairs, since you are comparing the prices of two currencies. Your profit or loss as a trader is determined by the fluctuations in the price quote. Understanding how to read forex quotes is useful when you are trading. We traders thrive on perfecting and being fluent in the language of financial markets. Many beginners in forex trade might believe that the language is daunting, yet that is far from the truth. Learning forex quotes is intuitive and requires minimal mental effort.

In this article, we cover all the aspects of forex quotes — bids and asks, currency pairs, pips and spreads — basics every trader needs to understand.

What are Forex Quotes?

In the financial market, a forex quote shows the price of different currencies. It is important to know that your profit or loss depends on the movement of the forex quotes (prices). This means traders need to have a sound understanding when it comes to reading forex quotes. 

So, what exactly is a forex quotation in trade forex? A forex quote is the market price of one currency with reference to another currency. Forex quotes are always in pairs. Forex quotes involve buying one currency by selling another currency. Let’s look at a forex quote involving a EUR and USD.

First, there are 2 currency codes or symbols. The EUR is the currency symbol for the European Union euro. The USD represents the U.S. dollar. The currency codes are also known as International Organization for Standardization codes. They are abbreviations of currencies from every single country in the world. 

Currency codes consist of 3 letters. The first 2 letters represent the name of the country. The last letter represents the name of the currency of that particular country. 

During normal market conditions, brokers quote 2 prices for a pair of currencies. The brokers then get the difference between those 2 prices of the currencies.

Forex Currency Pairs

A forex currency pair is a pair of 2 currency codes or symbols present in a forex quote.

All currencies in the financial market are always quoted in pairs. The logic behind the pairing of currencies is being able to find the value of each currency by comparing it to another currency. A forex currency pair has a base currency and a quote currency (also known as the counter currency). The Forex currency pair will represent the currencies you are trading.

The base currency is the first currency symbol of the forex currency pair (in this case, the GBP). The quote currency is the second currency symbol (USD).

Some of the most common base currencies are:

  • EUR (euro)
  • USD (U.S. dollar)
  • GBP (British pound)
  • AUD (Australian dollar)

Any currency can be the quote currency including one of the above common base currencies. In a currency pair, the base currency always equals 1, regardless of the value of the quote currency. Forex currency pairs tell you how much quote currency is needed to buy one value of the base currency. 

Here is an example of a base currency being compared to a quote currency.

Bid and Ask Quotes

A forex quote has 2 parts: 1 bid quote and 1 ask quote. To understand the bid and ask quotes we will use the following example.

EUR/USD = 1.2700/04

In this example, the bid price is 1.27 and the asking price is 1.2704. The difference between the bid quote and the ask quote is very small: 1/100th of the unit. Only the last 2 digits of the 4 trailing digits are shown (in this case 0.04).

EUR/USD = 1.2700/1.2704

The bid price is 1.2700 and the ask price is 1.2704.

The bid price is not the price you will bid when you want to buy a currency pair. The bid and ask quotes are terms, used from the perspective of the forex brokers. If you are a potential buyer, a forex broker will ask for more than what they would bid if you are selling. The bid price is the price at which traders can sell a given currency. The ask price is the price you as a trader can buy a given currency.

From our example, if you want to buy EUR, which is the base currency, you will pay 1.2704 the asking price of the broker. If you are selling, then you will accept 1.2700, which is the broker’s bid.

Pips and Spreads in Forex

The spread in forex quotations is defined as the difference between the bid price and the ask price. It’s also known as the “bid/ask spread.” The unit of measuring a spread is called a pip. The spread is simply defined as the commission earned by the broker. Instead of brokers charging an extra fee for making any trades, they built the cost into the buy/sell price of the currency pair. 

Another common term you’ll hear when trading on the financial market is “pips.” A pip is a unit measure used in financial markets and the smallest unit of measure in any forex currency quote. The pip is also referred to as ticks or points.

From our example:

EUR/USD = 1.2700/1.2704

The difference between the 1.2700 bid and the 1.2704 ask is 4 pips. The spread is the difference of 4 pips. As a trader, knowing the spread is very important when it comes to buying and selling. Today, forex brokers can state currency pair prices up to the 5th decimal place. This means the pip can fluctuate by even 1/10 of 1 pip. 

The smaller spreads are the best. Smaller fluctuations make forex trades to be more profitable. According to FOREX.com Review, FOREX.com is one of the best trading platforms for forex beginners.

Best Forex Brokers

Below is a list of the best forex brokers you will find in various forex platforms. You can use these brokers when trading in the financial markets.

Account Minimum
100 of your selected base currency
Pairs Offered
80+
Get started securely through FOREX.com’s website
Account Minimum
100 of your selected base currency
Pairs Offered
80+
1 Minute Review

FOREX.com is a one-stop-shop for forex traders. With a massive range of tradable currencies, low account minimums and an impressive trading platform, FOREX.com is an excellent choice for brokers searching for a home base for their currency trading. New traders and seasoned veterans alike will love FOREX.com’s extensive education and research center that provides free, informative forex trading courses at multiple skill levels. While FOREX.com is impressive, remember that it isn’t a standard broker. You can’t invest in the stock or bond market through your FOREX.com and you cannot open an account with tax advantages. The confusing pricing and margin structures may also be overwhelming for new forex traders.

Best For
  • MetaTrader 4 users
  • Beginner forex traders
  • Active forex traders
Pros
  • Impressive, easy-to-navigate platform
  • Wide range of education and research tools
  • Access to over 80 currencies to buy and sell
  • Leverage available up to 50:1
Cons
  • Cannot buy and sell other securities (like stocks and bonds)
  • Confusing margin requirements that vary by currency
  • Limited customer support options
  • Cannot open an IRA or other retirement account
Commissions
$10 value per pip
Account Minimum
$0
Get started securely through IG Group’s website
Commissions
$10 value per pip
Account Minimum
$0
1 Minute Review

IG is a comprehensive forex broker that offers full access to the currency market and support for over 80 currency pairs. The broker only offers forex trading to its U.S.-based customers, the brokerage does it spectacularly well. Novice traders will love IG’s intuitive mobile and desktop platforms, while advanced traders will revel in the platform’s selection of indicators and charting tools. Though IG could work on its customer service and fees, the broker is an asset to new forex traders and those who prefer a more streamlined interface.  

Best For
  • New forex traders who are still learning the ropes
  • Traders who prefer a simple, clean interface
  • Forex traders who trade primarily on a tablet
Pros
  • Easy-to-navigate platform is easy for beginners to master
  • Mobile and tablet platforms offer full functionality of the desktop version
  • Margin rates are easy to understand and affordable
  • Access to over 80 currency pairs
Cons
  • U.S. traders can currently only trade forex
  • Customer service options are lacking
  • No 2-factor authentication on mobile
Account Minimum
$50 USD
Pairs Offered
47
Get started securely through eToro’s website
Account Minimum
$50 USD
Pairs Offered
47
1 Minute Review

Though Australian and British traders might know eToro for its easy stock and mobile trading, the broker is now expanding into the United States with cryptocurrency trading. U.S. traders can begin buying and selling both major cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) as well as smaller names (like Tron Coin and Stellar Lumens).

eToro offers traders the opportunity to invest their assets into premade portfolios or cryptocurrencies, similar to services offered by robo-advisors through traditional brokers. Though eToro isn’t a one-stop-shop for everything an investor needs, its easy-to-use platform and low spreads is a great way to enter the cryptocurrency market.

Best For
  • International Forex/CFD Traders
  • New cryptocurrency traders looking for an easy-to-use platform
  • Traders who want to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on-the-go
Pros
  • Simple platform that is easy to master
  • CopyTrader feature that allows new traders to copy the same strategies used by professionals
  • Virtual dummy account that gives you $100,000 to practice trades
Cons
  • U.S. traders currently limited to cryptocurrencies
  • Only 15 major coins available to trade
Account Minimum
$100 USD (or equivalent)
Pairs Offered
69
Get started securely through HYCM’s website
Account Minimum
100 EURO
Pairs Offered
50+
Get started securely through AvaTrade’s website
Account Minimum
100 EURO
Pairs Offered
50+
1 Minute Review

A fully regulated broker with a presence in Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, British Virgin Islands, Australia and Japan, Avatrade deals with mainly forex and CFDs on stocks, commodities, indexes, forex, cryptocurrencies, etc. This brokerage is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and began offering its services in 2006. It offers multiple trading platforms and earns mainly through spreads.

Best For
  • Beginners
  • Advanced traders
  • Traders looking for a well-diversified portfolio
Pros
  • Controlled by regulatory agencies of multiple countries
  • Choice offered in terms of trading platforms
  • Support available in 14 languages and trading platforms in 20 languages
  • Practice/demo account available for trying out
  • Breadth of trading assets
Cons
  • Does not accept customers from the U.S. as it isn’t regulated in the U.S.
  • Transferring funds to the account may take up to five days; withdrawals could take up to 10 days

The Language of Forex Trading

As a trader, you will always want to buy forex during low prices and sell when the price goes up. To master the art of forex trading you need to understand the language of forex trading. Forex quotations are the compass to effective forex trading.

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