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Home » Banking » Foreign Exchange » Forex versus Futures

Forex versus Futures


Liquidity

In the spot Forex market, almost $2 trillion is traded daily, making it the largest and most liquid market in the world. This market can absorb trading volume and transaction sizes that dwarf the capacity of any other market. The futures market traders a puny $30 billion per day. Thirty billion?!! Peanuts! The futures markets can't compete with its limited liquidity. The Forex market is always liquid, meaning positions can be liquidated and stop orders executed without slippage except in extremely volatile market conditions.

24-Hour Market

At 2:15 p.m. EST Sunday, trading begins as markets open in Sydney and Singapore. At 7 p.m. EST the Tokyo market opens, followed by London at 2 a.m. EST. And finally, New York opens at 8 a.m. EST and closes at 5 p.m. EST. So, before New York trading closes the Sydney and Singapore markets are back open - itís a 24 hour seamless market! As a trader, this allows you to react to favorable or unfavorable news by trading immediately. If important data comes in from England or Japan while the U.S. futures market is closed, the next day's opening could be a wild ride. (Overnight markets in futures currency contracts exist, but they are thinly traded, not very liquid, and are difficult for the average investor to access).

Commission Free Trading

You know whatís great about trading currencies? You pay NO commissions! Because you deal directly with the market maker via a purely electronic online exchange, you eliminate both ticket costs and middleman brokerage fees. There is still a cost to initiating any trade, but that cost is reflected in the bid/ask spread that is also present in futures or equities trading. Brokers are compensated for their services through the bid-ask spread instead of via commissions.

Price Certainty

When trading Forex, you get rapid execution and price certainty under normal market conditions. In contrast, the futures and equities markets do not offer price certainty or instant trade execution. Even with the advent of electronic trading and limited guarantees of execution speed, the prices for fills for futures and equities on market orders are far from certain. The prices quoted by brokers often represent the LAST trade, not necessarily the price for which the contract will be filled.

Guaranteed Limited Risk

Traders must have position limits for the purpose of risk management. This number is set relative to the money in a traderís account. Risk is minimized in the spot FX market because the online capabilities of the trading platform will automatically generate a margin call if the required margin amount exceeds the available trading capital in your account. All open positions will be closed immediately, regardless of the size or the nature of positions held within the account. In the futures market, your position may be liquidated at a loss, and you will be liable for any resulting deficit in the account. That sucks.

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