A forex demo shows you how it works before you jump into it for real
Before airplane pilots actually fly on their own, they usually practice in simulators that re-create what flying will be like without any actual risk. Since currency trading is as dangerous financially as flying is physically, it makes sense that there would be a forex demo available, too.
A forex demo is a smart way for a new investor to start. Reading books and taking online courses can teach you the basics, but the best way to learn anything is to get some hands-on experience. However, with forex, hands-on experience could mean losing your shirt. So a demo gives you real-world training with no actual money being involved.
Usually, the demonstration comes courtesy of a brokerage or other financial Web site that has an interest in currying your favor. The plan is that once you’ve tested your skills in the demo, you’ll get into the real thing and take advantage of the paid services the demo provider has to offer -- forex signals, managed accounts, automated trading, etc. The demo is like a free sample, offered in the hopes that you’ll enjoy it so much that you buy something, too.
For that reason, be should be highly suspicious of any Web site that wants to charge for a demo. Considering there are literally dozens of sites that offer free demonstrations, there is absolutely no reason that you should pay for it.
When you sign up for a forex demo, you’re given a username and password and shown how to use the demo system. Sometimes it involves downloading a piece of software unique to the company; other times it’s simply done over the Internet. (Some demos require Macromedia Flash, which most browsers have installed, but which you’ll need the latest version of.) You determine how much imaginary money you want to start with, and off you go!
Once you’re signed in to the forex demo, you do all the things you would do if it were a real-world situation: reading the charts, following the trends, visiting online forums to get other traders’ opinions, and making trades. The trades are recorded in the forex demo only and don’t go anywhere into the actual market since there’s no real money involved. When the market changes, the program determines how much you’d have gained or lost based on the decisions you made. You’re able to say, “Whew! Good thing this was only for practice!” or “Too bad this wasn’t real!” And once you’ve gained some expertise using the forex demo, you can move on to the real thing and start making some money for real.
Trying to forecast forex rates is an acquired skill
It’s not easy to forecast the forex markets, but it’s what thousands of forex traders and brokers do every day, with varying degrees of success. Like forecasting the weather, predicting the forex market is sometimes a crapshoot, sometimes a guessing game, and always an adventure.
There are two basic philosophies on how to forecast the forex markets. One is technical analysis; the other is fundamental analysis. We’ll look at them both.
The technical approach examines past market action and uses that data to predict the future. Previous trends in most areas of life are almost always good indicators of the future; forex is no different. People have not changed much in the decades since the forex market was created. People still buy and sell and react to stimuli in much the same way as they did 50 years ago.
Since forex rates change constantly throughout the day, every day, looking at all the years of past data can be daunting. Smart analysts learned to look at the big picture, to skip the minor details and examine trends over a longer period of time.
Using fundamental analysis to forecast forex markets is a bit more in-depth, but it can also be highly accurate. Basically, fundamental analysis means forecasting the market based on external factors -- political moves, government involvement, social movements, even the weather. Someone good at fundamental analysis might forecast forex drop-offs because he knows a country’s government is unstable at the moment, or increases because the country has just elected a popular new leader. Anything that can affect a nation’s economy can affect the exchange rates, and that’s what a fundamental analyst uses to guess at the forex market’s future
Naturally, this means having to know a particular country in-depth, which is hard to do for more than a few countries at a time. (It becomes even more complicated when trying to forecast the euro, since several different countries use that currency.) But having that kind of intricate knowledge makes it much, much easier to forecast forex trends.
Most good traders use a mixture of both processes, technical and fundamental. For example, a trader might see that a country is currently facing a particularly strong hurricane season (fundamental) and know that in the past, strong hurricane seasons have meant a weaker economy for that nation (technical). Thus, he can predict down-turns for that nation with some degree of confidence.
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