Online forex and commodity trading
Commodity trading is as old as the financial markets, and perhaps even older than that. The first example of an organised exchange for trading commodities dates back to Amsterdam in These days there are a whole host of markets available to trade with just a few clicks of a mouse or taps on your mobile device, but some commodities remain as popular as ever.
There are a range of commodities you can trade, including agricultural commodities such as corn, soybean and wheat. It's the energy markets, in the form of oil and gas trading, and metal markets like gold and silver , however, that tend to be more popular with traders these days.
The commodity markets are traded in a similar way to other types of financial markets, but there are some points to be aware of in order to avoid any shocks or surprises when dipping your toe into commodities trading. In this article, we focus on two of the more actively traded commodities: As these are slightly different blends of oil, the prices vary depending on which one you are trading.
Prices don't just depend on how much oil is being pumped out of the ground, for example. As economies slow and demand drops, the price of oil and other commodities also tends to follow suit. Since oil prices are also impacted by world events such as politics and socioeconomic situations, including the Middle East crisis, it helps as an oil trader to keep on top of news so as not to get caught out by an unexpected shift in oil prices.
Other factors influencing oil prices include decisions by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC and other major oil producing nations, such as Iran, on how much oil is produced and supplied to the market. An ability to try and forecast how well or badly the world economy may fare in the months ahead is a definite plus point when it comes to trading a commodity like oil.
But there is plenty of news that can cause fluctuations in the price on a day-to-day basis — and on an even shorter-term scale than that. If for example the US releases figures that show its economy is improving more quickly than expected, this could cause a surge in the price of oil as traders start to bet that demand will increase, consequently putting up the cost of a barrel. Or it could be that an oil-producing country resists international pressure to stabilise oil prices by increasing production.
This could see further slides in the oil price as investors worry that more of the commodity will be produced than is needed. It really is a market that can be buffeted by plenty of world events, so it pays to stay on top of major economic news releases. Another enduringly popular commodity is gold, which has long been considered a store of wealth and has held a special allure for many of us — as the Californian gold rush back in the s would undoubtedly attest.
Traditionally, in times of trouble and market volatility, gold is perceived as a 'safe haven' — somewhere for investors to store their money away from other riskier assets. Although the yellow metal can in theory be traded in many currencies, the typical market quote is to price gold in dollars, usually as 'dollars per troy ounce'. This relationship to the US dollar is an important one and is another factor that will have an influence on the price of gold.
If the dollar becomes more attractive to investors and starts to rise, the price of gold will usually drop. In recent years, some people have seen the US dollar as a safe haven for their money and that has reduced the appeal of gold. This is another aspect to weigh up when trading gold: For example, if the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, decided to cut interest rates, this would normally weaken the US dollar and lift the price of gold.
As with oil, because gold is such a global commodity it pays to keep a watchful eye on the major economic announcements such as interest rates and unemployment figures, which are released on a regular basis. The energy markets are also popular among commodity traders.
The advent of renewable energy has generated added interest for commodities such as national gas, heating oil and gasoline. Set up in , NASDAQ was the world's first electronic stock market, though it originally operated as an electronic bulletin board [ citation needed ] , rather than offering straight-through processing STP.
By investment firms on both the buy side and sell side were increasing their spending on technology for electronic trading. Traders also increasingly started to rely on algorithms to analyze market conditions and then execute their orders automatically. The move to electronic trading compared to floor trading continued to increase with many of the major exchanges around the world moving from floor trading to completely electronic trading.
While the majority of retail trading in the United States happens over the Internet, retail trading volumes are dwarfed by institutional, inter-dealer and exchange trading.
However, in developing economies, especially in Asia, retail trading constitutes a significant portion of overall trading volume . For instruments which are not exchange-traded e.
US treasury bonds , the inter-dealer market substitutes for the exchange. This is where dealers trade directly with one another or through inter-dealer brokers i.
They acted as middle-men between dealers such as investment banks. This type of trading traditionally took place over the phone but brokers moved to offering electronic trading services instead.
Similarly, B2C trading traditionally happened over the phone and, while some still does, more brokers are allowing their clients to place orders using electronic systems. Many retail or "discount" brokers e. Charles Schwab , E-Trade went online during the late s and most retail stock-broking probably takes place over the web now.
Larger institutional clients, however, will generally place electronic orders via proprietary electronic trading platforms such as Bloomberg Terminal , Reuters Xtra , Thomson Reuters Eikon , BondsPro, Thomson TradeWeb or CanDeal which connect institutional clients to several dealers , or using their brokers' proprietary software.
For stock trading, the process of connecting counterparties through electronic trading is supported by the Financial Information eXchange FIX Protocol. Used by the vast majority of exchanges and traders, the FIX Protocol is the industry standard for pre-trade messaging and trade execution.
While the FIX Protocol was developed for trading stocks, it has been further developed to accommodate commodities,  foreign exchange,  derivatives,  and fixed income  trading. For retail investors, financial services on the web offer great benefits. The primary benefit is the reduced cost of transactions for all concerned as well as the ease and the convenience. Web -driven financial transactions bypass traditional hurdles such as logistics. Exchanges typically develop their own systems sometimes referred to as matching engines , although sometimes an exchange will use another exchange's technology e.
Exchanges and ECNs generally offer two methods of accessing their systems —. From an infrastructure point of view, most exchanges will provide "gateways" which sit on a company's network, acting in a manner similar to a proxy , connecting back to the exchange's central system. Many brokers develop their own systems, although there are some third-party solutions providers specializing in this area. Some banks will develop their own electronic trading systems in-house, but this can be costly, especially when they need to connect to many exchanges, ECNs and brokers.