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Knowledge base: Glossary
Posted by on 29 January 2014 04:10 PM


Appreciation ― a currency is said to "appreciate" when it's price increases against a specific currency or group of currencies in response to market demand.

Arbitrage ― the purchase or sale of an instrument and simultaneous taking of an equal and opposite position in a related market, in order to take advantage of small price differentials between markets.

Around ― jargon used by dealers in quoting when the forward premium/discount is near parity. For example, "two-two around" would translate into 2 points to either side of the present spot price.

Ask Rate ― the rate at which a financial instrument if offered for sale (as in bid/ask spread).

Asset Allocation ― division of funds among different markets, instruments or investments to diversify risk and/or create exposure to areas considered attractive, consistent with an investor’s objectives.



Back Office ― the departments and processes related to the settlement of financial transactions.

Balance of Trade ― the value of a country’s exports minus its imports.

Base Currency ― the base currency is usually the currency in which an investor or issuer maintains its book of accounts. In the Forex markets, the US Dollar is normally considered the "base" currency for quotes, meaning that quotes are expressed as a unit of $1 USD per the other currency quoted in the pair. The main exceptions to this rule are the Sterling, the Euro and the Australian Dollar.

Bear Market ― a market in which prices decline.

Bid Rate ― the rate at which a trader is willing to buy a currency.

Bid/Ask Spread ― the difference between the bid and offer price, and the most widely used measure of liquidity.

Big Figure ― the first few digits of an exchange rate, as referred to by dealers for simplicity. These digits change relatively slowly, and are omitted in dealer quotes, especially in times of high market activity when time is tight. For example, a USD/JPY rate might be 107.30/107.35, but would be quoted verbally without the first three digits i.e. "30/35".

Book ― in a professional trading environment, the "book" is the net positions of a dealing desk.

Broker ― an individual or firm that acts as an intermediary, putting together buyers and sellers for a fee or commission. In contrast, a "dealer" commits capital and takes one side of a position, hoping to earn a spread (profit) by closing out the position in a subsequent trade

Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 ― the agreement that established fixed foreign exchange rates for major currencies, provided for central bank intervention in the currency markets, and pegged the price of gold at US$35 per ounce. The agreement lasted until 1971, when President Nixon overturned the Bretton Woods agreement and established a floating exchange rate for the major currencies.

Bull Market ― a market in which prices rise.

Bundesbank ― Germany’s Central Bank.



Cable ― trader slang referring to the Sterling/US Dollar exchange rate. So called because the rate was originally transmitted via a transatlantic cable beginning in the mid 1800s.

Candlestick Chart ― a chart indicating the trading range for the period as well as the opening and closing price. If the open price is higher than the close price, the rectangle between the open and close price is shaded. If the close price is higher than the open price, that area of the chart is not shaded.

Central Bank ― a government or quasi-governmental organization that manages a country’s monetary policy. For example, the US central bank is the Federal Reserve, and the German central bank is the Bundesbank.

Chartist ― someone who uses charts and graphs and interprets historical data to find trends to predict future movements. Also referred to as Technical Trader.

Churning ― unethical practice employed by some brokers to increase their commissions by excessively trading in a client's account. It is also referred to as "churn and burn", "twisting" and "overtrading".

Clearing ― the process of settling a trade.

Contagion ― the tendency of an economic situation to spread from one market to another.

Collateral ― something given to secure a loan or as a guarantee of performance.

Commission ― a transaction fee charged by a broker.

Confirmation ― a document exchanged by the parties to a transaction that states the terms of said transaction.

Contract ― the standard unit of trading.

Counterparty ― participant in a financial transaction.

Country Risk ― risk associated with an international transaction, including but not limited to legal and political conditions.

Cross Rate ― the exchange rate between any two currencies that are considered non-standard in the country where the currency pair is quoted. For example, in the US, a GBP/JPY quote would be considered a cross rate, whereas in UK or Japan it would be one of the primary currency pairs traded.

Currency ― form of money issued by a government or central bank and used as legal tender and a basis for trade.

Currency Risk ― the likelihood of an adverse change in exchange rates.



Day Trading ― refers to taking positions which are opened and closed on the same trading day.

Dealer ― someone who acts as a principal or counterparty to a transaction, hoping to earn a spread (profit) by closing out the position in a subsequent trade. In contrast, a broker is an individual or firm that acts as an intermediary, putting together buyers and sellers for a fee or commission.

Delivery ― an Forex trade where both sides make and take actual delivery of the currencies traded.

Depreciation ― fall in the value of a currency against another currency or group of currencies.

Derivative ― a contract that changes in value in relation to the price movements of a related or underlying security, future or other physical instrument. An Option is the most common derivative instrument.

Devaluation ― deliberate downward adjustment of a currency’s price, normally by official announcement.



Economic Indicator ― a government-issued statistic on the state of an economy, which might affect market prices. Common indicators include employment rates, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, retail sales, etc.

End Of Day Order (EOD) ― an order to buy or sell at a specified price. This order remains open until the end of the trading day.

Equity ― in a margin account, it's an accounting equation, which defines the amount currently held in a customer’s account calculated as if all the opened positions will be closed at the current market quotes. It's usually calculated as the account balance plus unrealized gains and minus unrealized losses.

European Monetary Union (EMU) ― EMU created the single European currency called the Euro, which replaced the national currencies of the member EU countries in 2002. The current members of the EMU are Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Euro ― the currency of the European Monetary Union (EMU). A replacement for the European Currency Unit (ECU).

European Central Bank (ECB) ― the Central Bank for the new European Monetary Union.



Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) ― the regulatory agency responsible for administering bank depository insurance in the US.

Federal Reserve (Fed) ― the Central Bank for the United States.

Flat/Square ― dealer jargon used to describe a position that has been completely reversed, e.g. you bought $500,000 then sold $500,000, thereby creating a neutral (flat) position.

Foreign Exchange (Forex, FX) ― simultaneous buying of one currency and selling of another.

Forward ― the pre-specified exchange rate for a foreign exchange contract settling at some agreed future date, based upon the interest rate differential between the two currencies involved.

Forward Points ― the pips added to or subtracted from the current exchange rate to calculate a forward price.

Fundamental Analysis ― analysis of economic and political information with the objective of determining future movements in a financial market.

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.



Good Till Cancelled Order (GTC) ― an order to buy or sell at a specified price. This order remains open until filled or until the client cancels.



Hedge ― a position or combination of positions that reduces the risk of your primary position.



Inflation ― an economic condition whereby prices for consumer goods rise, eroding purchasing power.

Initial Margin ― the initial deposit of collateral required to enter into a position as a guarantee on future performance.

Interbank Rates ― the Foreign Exchange rates at which large international banks quote other large international banks.



Leading Indicators ― statistics that are considered to predict future economic activity.

LIBOR ― London Inter-Bank Offered Rate. Banks use LIBOR when borrowing from another bank.

Limit Order ― an order with restrictions on the maximum price to be paid or the minimum price to be received. As an example, if the current price of USD/JPY is 102.00/05, then a limit order to buy USD would be at a price below 102. (i.e. 101.50)

Liquidity ― the ability of a market to accept large transaction with minimal to no impact on price stability.

Liquidation ― the closing of an existing position through the execution of an offsetting transaction. 

Long Position ― a position that appreciates in value if market prices increase.



Margin ― the required equity that an investor must deposit to collateralize a position.

Margin Call ― a request from a broker or dealer for additional funds or other collateral to guarantee performance on a position that has moved against the customer.

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.

Market Risk ― exposure to changes in market prices.

Mark-to-Market ― process of re-evaluating all open positions with the current market prices. These new values then determine margin requirements.

Maturity ― the date for settlement or expiry of a financial instrument.



Offer ― the rate at which a dealer is willing to sell a currency.

Offsetting Transaction ― a trade with which serves to cancel or offset some or all of the market risk of an open position.

One Cancels the Other Order (OCO) ― a designation for two orders whereby one part of the two orders is executed the other is automatically cancelled.

Open Order – an order that will be executed when a market moves to its designated price. Normally associated with Good Till Cancelled Orders.

Open Position ― a deal not yet reversed or settled with a physical payment.

Over the Counter (OTC) ― asked to describe any transaction that is not conducted over an exchange.

Overnight ― a trade that remains open until the next business day.



Pips ― digits added to or subtracted from the fourth decimal place, i.e. 0.0001. Also called Points.

Political Risk ― exposure to changes in governmental policy which will have an adverse effect on an investor’s position.

Position ― the netted total holdings of a given currency.

Premium ― in the currency markets, describes the amount by which the forward or futures price exceed the spot price.

Price Transparency ― describes quotes to which every market participant has equal access.



Quote ― an indicative market price, normally used for information purposes only.



Rate ― the price of one currency in terms of another, typically used for dealing purposes.

Resistance ― a term used in technical analysis indicating a specific price level at which analysis concludes people will sell.

Revaluation ― an increase in the exchange rate for a currency as a result of central bank intervention. Opposite of Devaluation.

Risk ― exposure to uncertain change, most often used with a negative connotation of adverse change.

Risk Management ― the employment of financial analysis and trading techniques to reduce and/or control exposure to various types of risk.

Rollover ― process whereby the settlement of a deal is rolled forward to another value date. The cost of this process is based on the interest rate differential of the two currencies.



Settlement ― the process by which a trade is entered into the books and records of the counterparts to a transaction. The settlement of currency trades may or may not involve the actual physical exchange of one currency for another.

Short Position ― an investment position that benefits from a decline in market price.

Spot Price ― the current market price. Settlement of spot transactions usually occurs within two business days.

Spread ― the difference between the bid and offer prices.

Sterling ― slang for British Pound.

Stop Loss Order ― type whereby an open position is automatically liquidated at a specific price. Often used to minimize exposure to losses if the market moves against an investor’s position. As an example, if an investor is long USD at 156.27, they might wish to put in a stop loss order for 155.49, which would limit losses should the dollar depreciate, possibly below 155.49.

Support Levels ― a technique used in technical analysis that indicates a specific price ceiling and floor at which a given exchange rate will automatically correct itself. Opposite of Resistance.

Swap. The forex swap is an investment strategy that is a combination purchase and sale of the same amount of one currency, while purchasing a different currency that carries two different value dates. This essentially creates a situation in which the investor offsets the sale with the purchase, and also positions the investor to earn a return in both a short and a long position. A forex swap is not the same as a currency trade, which is a simple exchange of currencies based on the current performance of one currency against the other.



Technical Analysis ― an effort to forecast prices by analyzing market data, i.e. historical price trends and averages, volumes, open interest, etc.

Tomorrow Next (Tom/Next) ― simultaneous buying and selling of a currency for delivery the following day.

Transaction Cost ― the cost of buying or selling a financial instrument.

Transaction Date ― the date on which a trade occurs.

Turnover ― the total money value of all executed transactions in a given time period; volume.

Two-Way Price ― when both a bid and offer rate is quoted for a Forex transaction.



Uptick ― new price quote at a price higher than the preceding quote.

Uptick Rule ― in the U.S., a regulation whereby a security may not be sold short unless the last trade prior to the short sale was at a price lower than the price at which the short sale is executed.

US Prime Rate ― the interest rate at which US banks will lend to their prime corporate customers.



Value Date ― the date on which counterparts to a financial transaction agree to settle their respective obligations, i.e., exchanging payments. For spot currency transactions, the value date is normally two business days forward. Also known as maturity date.

Variation Margin ― funds a broker must request from the client to have the required margin deposited. The term usually refers to additional funds that must be deposited as a result of unfavorable price movements.

Volatility (Vol) ― a statistical measure of a market’s price movements over time.



Whipsaw ― slang for a condition of a highly volatile market where a sharp price movement is quickly followed by a sharp reversal.



Yard ― slang for a billion.

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