ABS (asset-backed security): An ABS is pretty much the same thing as a mortgage-backed security, except that the securities backing it are assets such as credit card debt, loans, leases, a company's receivables, royalties, etc., and not mortgage-based securities.
Arbitrage: The simultaneous purchase and sale on different markets, of the same or equivalent financial instruments so as to profit from price or currency differentials.
Ask Price: The ask is the price the market is prepared to sell a specific currency pair in the Forex market. At this price, traders can purchase the base currency. It is displayed on the right portion of the quotation. As an example, in the quote USD/CHF 1.4666/71, the ask is 1.4671; this means that you can purchase 1 USD for 1.4671 Swiss francs. The ask price is also called the offer price.
Back Office: All of the administrative functions (order confirmation, cash transactions, ownership titles, etc...) relating to financial market transactions processed by a broker or financial intermediary.
Bar Chart: A charting style which displays 4 important pieces of price information per unit of time: the time unit's high and low (as displayed by the vertical line, the open price (which is displayed with a small horizontal line on the left side of the vertical line) and the close price (which features a small horizontal line on the right side of the vertical line).
Base Currency: The base currency is the 1st currency of a currency pair. It indicates how much the base currency is worth when measured against the other currency. For example, if the USD/CHF rate is equal to 1.6215, then 1 dollar is worth 1.6215 Swiss francs. In the forex markets, the American dollar is normally considered to be the "base" currency for quotes; in other words, quotes are expressed as a unit of $1 per the second currency quoted in the pair. The main exceptions to this rule are the euro, the British pound, and the Australian dollar.
Bear Market: A decling market or, more technically, a market that has declined 20% from its previous peak price.
Benchmark: A benchmark is a reference index that allows you to measure and compare the performance of a security or a stock portfolio. For example, an index such as the FTSE 100 is a benchmark.
Bid/Ask Spread: The spread is the difference between the bid and ask price.
Bid Price: The bid is the price the market is willing to buy a specific currency pair. At this price, a forex trader can sell the base currency. It appears on the left of the quotation. As an example, if the USD/CHF is equal to 1.4527/32, the bid price is 1.4527; meaning you can sell one US Dollar for 1.4527 Swiss Francs.
Binary Option: a type of option where the payoff is either some fixed amount of some asset or nothing at all. (Learn more about binary options here.)
BOJ: Japan's central bank (Bank of Japan).
Break-even: The break-even point is the price at which you have neither achieved a profit nor suffered a loss.
Breakout: A breakout happens when the price bursts out of a congestion pattern such as a trading range, flag or pennant, or goes through some other support or resistance level. Oftentimes, the term "breakout" is used to describe upward movements, while "breakdown" is used to describe downward breakouts. (visual example)
Broker: A person or a company that acts as a "middleman", pairing together sellers and buyers for a commission or a fee. On the other hand, a "dealer" commits its own money, taking 1 side of a position, with the objective of earning a profit off of the spread by closing out the position in a later trade with another trader.
Bull Market: A market that is characterised by rising prices.
Buy Limit order: An order to buy at a price that is lower than the current price. (see picture)
Buy Stop order: An order to buy at a price that is higher than the current price. (see picture)
Cable: The British pound/US Dollar exchange rate GBP/USD.
Carry Trade: This technique entails borrowing from a currency whose interest rate is generally low (usually the yen) and investing this money in assets or currencies that earn significantly higher rates. An example would be if you borrowed yen at a rate of 0.5% and invested in New Zealand at a rate of 8.25%.
CFD: A Contract for Difference is a special trading instrument that allows financial speculation on stocks, commodities and other instruments without actually buying. (The advantages of trading CFDs)
Commodities: A physical substance, such as food, grains, and metals, which is interchangeable with another product of the same category, and which investors can buy or sell, usually through futures contracts. The price of a commodity is subject to supply and demand. Risk is actually the reason trading of basic agricultural products began. For example, a farmer risked the cost of producing a product ready for market at some time in the future because he didn't know what the selling price would be.
CPI: The Consumer Price Index is the average price of a randomly picked basket of goods. It is used to measure the evolution of prices.
Credit Default Swaps (CDS): Credit Default Swaps are tradable securities that allow a buyer to protect himself from default by an institution or a state. These insurance contracts - invented in 1994 by Blythe Master at JP Morgan - can also be used to speculate on the bankruptcy of a state, because all traders have the option of buying or selling CDSs without holding the corresponding bond.
Cross (or currency pair): When someone invests in currencies, he's buying one currency against another one. These two currencies form a pair (ex: EUR/USD).
Cross rate (or parity): The current exchange rate between 2 currencies where neither of the currencies are the USD.
Currency Pair: Every Forex trade involves the simultaneous buying of one currency and the selling of another currency. These two currencies are always referred to as the currency pair in a trade.
Day Trading: Refers to a style or type of trading where trade positions are opened and closed during the same day, that way a portfolio is held in cash during the hours that the market is closed. The idea is to make small profits using high leverage, and making many transactions so as to maximise overall profits.
Dealer: Someone who acts as a principal or counterpart to a transaction. Principals take one side of a position, hoping to earn a spread (profit) by closing out the position in a subsequent trade with another party. In contrast, a broker is an individual or firm that acts as an intermediary, bringing buyers and sellers together for a fee or a commission.
Direct Market Access (DMA): An investor who has direct access to the financial markets can intervene directly in the order book of each market and place orders in real-time at current prices (see the "No Dealing Desk" definition). The investor can therefore visualise the market's depth by observing the market's trends.
Discretionary Trading: A trading style that gives the trader complete freedom, as he or she defines his or her strategy according to his or her own criteria. The trader's main difficulty will be controlling his or her emotions in order to make rational and carefully considered decisions.
Dovish: If a Federal Reserve official is said to have a "dovish stance", then this means that he is in favour of maintaining low interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy. He is not particularly worried about inflation.
Drawdown: Reduction in account equity from a trade or series of trades. An important indicator that allows you to measure the maximum risk of loss using a strategy and the ability to climb back up.
ECB (European Central Bank): The European Central Bank (ECB) is one of the world's most important central banks, responsible for monetary policy covering the 16 member States of the Eurozone. It was established by the European Union (EU) in 1998 with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.
ECN (Electronic Communication Network): ECN brokers feed and display in real-time the ECN order book data and the prices that the banks apply on the interbank market. This helps improve the market's transparency by providing information to all participants. Typically, ECN brokers are paid by a commission of the volume traded. With ECN brokers, all transactions are directly processed on the interbank market (see the "No Dealing Desk" definition).
Executable Streaming Prices (ESP): In ESP mode, transactions are executed with just one click. This is the most competitive form of trading since there is no slippage. The customer clicks on the buy or sell price and the transaction is immediately processed.
Exotic Currency: An exotic is a currency pair in which one currency is the USD and the other is a currency from a smaller country such as the Polish Zloty. There are approximately 25 exotics that can be traded.
Expert Advisor (EA): A software program that automates the process of placing trade orders.
Fade/fading the market: Trading strategy which consists in betting against the forex trend. Fading the currency exchange market is similar to short-term scalping. This technique carries a high degree of risk.
FOMC: The Federal Open Market Committee. This is the Fed's monetary policy committee; it brings together members of the board of governors of the central banks of the federal states of the United States. This committee meets at least 8 times a year to define the U.S.'s monetary policy. In particular, it determines the evolution of the Fed's key interest rate, a key determinant of the American stock market's direction. See our central bank rates to see where the rate is at today.
Forex: Forex stands for the FOReign EXchange market. It's the world's biggest financial market, with a daily volume exceeding $3 trillion daily. Foreign exchange is the simultaneous selling of one currency and the buying of another currency. These currencies are trades through a broker (or a dealer) and are executed in currency pairs (ex: EUR/USD = the euro and the US dollar). This market is three times bigger than the stock and futures markets combined!
Futures contract: An obligation to exchange a good or instrument at a set price on a future date. The primary difference between a Future and a Forward is that Futures are typically traded over an exchange (Exchange- Traded Contacts - ETC), versus forwards, which are considered Over The Counter (OTC) contracts. An OTC is any contract NOT traded on an exchange.
Fed (Federal Reserve): The Central Bank of the United States.
Gap: The price gap between consecutive trading ranges (ex: last night's closing price vs. today's opening price, if the high of today's opening candlestick is lower than the low of last night's closing candlestick). In theory, prices will usually come back to this “empty” zone in order to fill in the gap, while continuing the initial trend, however, this doesn't always happen. In some cases gaps are not filled in. (Visual example of a gap)
Hawkish: A central bank that is "hawkish" is one that hints of future interest rate increases. Hawkish statements usually have a positive effect on the currency. Being hawkish is the opposite of being dovish.
Hedging: The practice of having both a buy and a sell position on a same currency pair.
IF DONE Order: A Contingent or ‘If Done’ order is an order that is not activated until another separate order is executed. The contingent order facility enables you to attach orders to an already existing order so that you do not have to watch the markets at every moment of the day. The first order is a limit order, while the second order is either a stop, a limit or an OCO.
IMF: Launched in 1944, the International Monetary Fund is an international organisation whose membership includes 186 countries. The objective of this fund is to help countries survive major crises and help promote economic stability.
Interest Rate Differential: A differential measuring the gap in interest rates between two similar interest-bearing assets. Traders in the forex market use interest rate differentials (IRDs) when pricing forward exchange rates. Based on the interest rate parity, a trader can create an expectation of the future exchange rate between two currencies and set the premium (or discount) on the current market exchange rate futures contracts.
Intraday Position: A position that is opened and closed anytime during a regular day of trading (unlike an overnight position).
Introducing Broker: A person or organization which is able to perform all the functions of a broker except for the ability to accept money, securities, or property from a customer.
Key Rate: The key rate is the interest rate that controls (either directly or indirectly) bank lending rates and the cost of credit paid by borrowers. A central bank decides what this rate will be. An increase or a decrease in the key rate can have an influence on exchange rates.
Leverage: Leverage is the ratio of the amount used in a transaction to the required security deposit (margin). It is the ability to control large dollar amounts of a security with a comparatively small amount of capital. Leveraging varies dramatically with different brokers, ranging from 10:1 to 500:1. Leverage is frequently referred to as gearing. The formula for calculating leverage is: Leverage = 100 / Margin Percent.
Limit Order: A buy limit order is an order to buy at a price that is lower than the current price. A sell limit order is an order to sell at a price that is higher than the current price. (see picture)
Loop Order: A Loop Order is a perpetual or repeating order placed in anticipation of a cyclical movement in the market. It is a pair of matching orders where the first leg is active and the second dormant. When the desired price is reached for the active order, it is executed, the dormant order becomes active, and a new order (a copy of the one just executed) is created in a dormant state. This process repeats until the order is explicitly cancelled.
Loop Order: Nano lot = 0.001 of a lot = 100 base units ($100 if the account is in $) = $0.01 per pip for the EUR/USD
Micro lot = 0.01 lot = 1,000 base units = $0.10$ per pip for the EUR/USD
Mini lot = 0.10 lot = 10,000 base units = $1 per pip for the EUR/USD
Lot standard 1.00 lot = 100,000 base units = $10 per pip for the EUR/USD
The above lot sizes are the most common ones. Certain brokers use a different lot size scale or feature accounts denominated in cents instead of dollars/euros/etc… For example, the nano lot is often 0.01 since the accounts are in cents.
Major and Minor Currencies: The seven currencies that are traded most often are also referred to as major currencies. They include the EUR, USD, JPY, GBP, AUD, CAD and CHF. All other currencies are referred to as minor currencies. The most frequently traded minors are the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), the South African Rand (ZAR) and the Singapore Dollar (SGD).
Market Maker: A dealer who regularly quotes both bid and ask prices and is ready to make a two-sided market for any financial instrument.
Margin: The amount of money needed to maintain a position. Each time the trader executes a new trade, a certain percentage of the account balance in the margin account will be earmarked as the initial margin requirement for the new trade based upon the underlying currency pair, its current price, and the number of units traded (called a lot).
Margin Call: If the funds available on a trading account are insufficient to cover the losses of open positions, the broker makes a margin call. If the broker hasn't defined a stop out level, it will automatically close out all or part of the open positions. If the broker has defined a stop out level, the margin call is just a warning to alert you that the stop out level will soon be reached. (See also the definition of a Stop Out).
MTF (Multilateral Trading Facility): a multilateral trading system is similar to a stock market. It allows investors to trade -in a transparent and regulated manner - financial instruments that don't necessarily have a centralized market.
No Dealing Desk: When an investor is in "no dealing desk" mode, each transaction is immediately processed on the interbank market. You benefit from the best market prices, provided by banks which are constantly competing against each other. Spreads can therefore be reduced but they aren't fixed (see the "Slippage" definition), especially when volatility is increasing during important economic announcements.
OCO (One Cancels the Other Order): A designation for two orders whereby if one of the two orders is executed then the other one is automatically cancelled.
Oscillators: (see Stochastic Oscillators)
OTC (Over the Counter): Non-regulated mutual agreement market where transactions are done outside of the markets, directly between buyers and sellers. The OTC market is less transparent than an organised market since the prices are determined by the market makers.
Overbought: This is when a market displays excessively high prices, due to prior heavy buying of a currency.
Overbought: This is the opposite of the above definition, meaning when heavy trading has driven prices down to relatively low levels.
Overlap: A transformation zone where resistance turns into support, or vice-versa (see visual example).
Prime Broker: A prime broker is a broker offering professional services specifically geared towards hedge funds and other large institutional customers. It provides custody for assets, provides financing for leverage, and prepares daily account statements for its clients, who are money managers, hedge funds, market makers, arbitrageurs, specialists and other professional investors.
Pips (or Points): The smallest unit of price of any foreign currency, representing the digits added to or subtracted from the 4th decimal place, ex: 0.0001. Depending on the context, it's usually one basis point (0.0001 for the EUR/USD, GBD/USD, USD/CHF currency pairs, and 0.01 for the USD/JPY currency pair). With certain brokers, prices may be displayed in fractional pips, so you might see 5 numbers after the decimal, ex: 0.00012 (1.2 pips).
PMI: The Purchasing Managers' Index - a composite indicator of a company's manufacturing activity.
Pullback: When the price falls, or pulls, back downward from a peak. Such a movement can be interpreted as being a momentary reversal of an upward price trend, or a brief pause in a prevailing price rise. (visual example)
Quantitative Easing: Technique used by central banks in times of crisis to create money by increasing the supply of a currency. To do this, the central bank lends money to the state by buying treasury bills and other financial products. The long term goal is to lower interest rates in order to help businesses, government and households to borrow at lower long-term interest rates.
Quote Currency: The quote currency is the second currency in any currency pair. This is frequently called the pip currency and any unrealised profit or loss is expressed in this currency.
Rollover or Swap (Reconduction): All open positions (at the end of a day of trading) must be rolled over to the next day. The interest rate differential between the two currencies will determine whether a credit or a debit is applied to the client's account. This happens at midnight (meaning midnight wherever your broker is located - ex: you live in Dublin Ireland but your broker is located in Cyprus, midnight in Cyprus will be 10:00PM in your area!). It can be tripled between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Check your broker's website, they usually post the current applicable rollover rates. A few brokers actually don't even charge rollover fees (such as eToro, but this should NOT be your only criterion for choosing a broker!).
Scalping: A strategy of buying at the bid and selling at the offer as soon as possible. Nothing to do with those monkeys who try to sell you concert tickets at three times the face value right outside of the venue.
Segregated Account: An account that is kept separate from your broker's accounts. This type of account is only used for clients' deposits and withdrawls. In the event that your broker declares bankrupcy, your money will be protected since it will not be linked to your broker's balance sheet.
Sell Limit order: An order to sell at a price that is higher than the current price. (see picture)
Sell Stop order: An order to sell at a price that is lower than the current price. (see picture)
Shorts/short selling: Short selling on the stock market means a trader sells a stock that he/she doesn't own. When you sell one share your broker will lend you the security. The shares are sold and the proceeds are credited to your account. Sooner or later, you must close the short position by buying back the same number of shares to give them back to your broker. If the price drops, you can buy the share back at a lower price and make a profit on the difference. If the stock price rises, you must buy them back at a higher price and you lose money. This is the principle of contracts for difference (CFDs).
Slippage: Refers to the difference between the price an order actually trades at and the price at which the investor was hoping to get. This is often linked to widening spreads which can occur when the market becomes especially volatile.
SNB: Swiss National Bank, Switzerland's central bank.
Spike: Unusual and significantly lower low or higher high within a series of prices.
Spot Price: The current market price. Settlement of spot transactions usually occurs within 2 business days.
Spread: This point or pip difference between the bid and ask price of a currency pair. Ex: EUR/USD = 1.4000/1.4003, the spread is of 3 pips.
Stochastic Oscillators: They allow "overbought"/"oversold" conditions to be indicated on a scale of 0 to 100%. The indicator is based on the observation that in a strong upward trend, the period's closing prices tend to be concentrated in the upper portion of the period's range. And in the opposite situation, as prices drop within a strong downward trend, closing prices tend to near the very bottom of the period's range. Stochastic calculations produce two lines, %K and %D, which are used to indicate the "overbought"/"oversold" zones of a chart. The divergence between these lines and price action represent a powerful buy or sell signal.
Stop Loss: A stop loss is an easy protection mechanism that you add to your order (either when you place your order or soon afterwards). Example: you want to buy EUR/USD at 1.3100, but want to make sure you don't lose your shirt if the market goes south, so you would place a "stop loss" at 1.3000 so that if the market falls, you only lose 100 pips. The advantage is that it exits your order automatically, you don't have to sit there monitoring the market (and you'll be happy to have used a stop loss if your internet connection or computer experiences a malfunction!). ALWAYS use a stop loss with all of your orders, even when you're scalping.
Stop Out: This is equal to the minimum required margin (expressed as a %) needed to keep positions open. For example, if the Stop Out level is 20%, the amount of funds in your account (Account Equity) must be equal to 20% of the margin used in order to hold the positions open. If insufficient funds are available, the broker will automatically start closing positions starting with the least profitable one until the required level of margin is reached. (See also the definition of a Margin Call).
Straight Through Processing (STP): In STP mode, transactions are entirely computerised and immediately processed on the market. Brokers are only paid through the spread.
Swing Trading: Swing trading consists of combining technical signals and indicators in order to select promising trades that should reach an objective over a time span of a couple of days.
Systematic Trading: This trading style determines the choice of trades in a rigourous and quantified manner, using precise criteria. This approach reduces human intervention (sometimes eliminating it completely), so it also reduces the potential errors that can be made during the decision-making process due to emotions.
Tapering (tightening of monetary policy): Tapering refers to a progressive reduction of asset purchases by central banks (the opposite of quantitative easing) in order to improve conditions for economic growth. If a central bank reduces its activities too quickly, it can send the economy into a recession, if it does not slow down its activity, it can lead to high inflation.
Throwback: The opposite of a pullback. A throwback occurs after an upward breakout when price declines toward or comes very near the breakout price.
Ticks: Just as a pip is the smallest price movement (the y-axis), a tick is the smallest interval of time (the x-axis) that occurs between two trades. Most brokers will "group" sequences of data and calculate the open, high, low and close over regular time intervals (1-minute, 5-minutes, 1-hour, daily and so forth).
Trailing Stop: A trailing stop is a feature of many trading applications which helps you lock in profits. The software will watch each of your positions. Each time one of your long positions goes up, the software adjusts your stop loss. If the prices moves back down a predetermined amount, you will hit the stop loss, and the software will automatically sell your stock.
Trading Range: Lateral tunnel, defined by a resistance and a horizontal support, in which prices will evolve during a certain length of time.
Volatility: Statistical measure of the change in price of a currency pair over a given period of time.
Volume Spread Analysis (VSA): VSA is a particular form of technical analysis which assesses the volume compared to the price action. VSA considers "crowd mentality" and incorporates what the balances of supply and demand will do to the market and when it is likely to move. VSA looks at volumes to establish what the professional players in the market are doing and how prices are being manipulated by volume. It does this by looking at three components: the price versus volume, the closing price and the price range. (VSA video)
Warrant: A certificate that is typically issued along with a bond or preferred stock, entitling the holder to buy a specific amount of securities at a specific price (call warrant), usually above the current market price at the time of issuance, for an extended period, anywhere from a few years to forever. In the event that the price of the security rises higher than the warrant's exercise price, then the investor can buy the security at the warrant's exercise price and resell it for a nice profit. Otherwise, the warrant will simply expire or remain unused. Warrants are listed on options exchanges and trade independently of the security with which it was issued.