Unless you’re using a sophisticated 100% automated trading algorithm, trading in the foreign exchange generally requires a certain amount of forex analysis to be successful. Forex trading also often involves using a combination of analysis methods for the most profitable results. In this article, Benzinga examines the best methods of forex market analysis and how you can use them to improve your currency trading results. Benzinga offers more useful information and articles on forex trading on its website.
Table of contents
- What is Forex Analysis & How Does it Work?
- 3 Top Methods of Analysis for Trading Forex
- 1. Technical Analysis
- 2. Fundamental Analysis
- 3. Sentiment Analysis
- Why Do Forex Traders Analyze the Markets?
- How to Apply Forex Market Analysis
- Understand Market Drivers & Monitor Market Conditions
- Chart Currency Indices
- Look for a Consensus in Multiple Markets
- Pick and Time Your Trades Wisely
- Use Fundamentals to Identify Economic Trends
- Know the Direction of the Underlying Trend
- Review Sentiment
- Should Every Currency Pair Undergo the Same Analysis?
- Forex Trading Strategies Can Lead to Winning Trades
- Compare Forex Brokers
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Forex Analysis & How Does it Work?
Knowledge is power. This phrase has even more meaning to forex traders who need to rely on accurate information regarding market dynamics to make more informed decisions on their trades. Forex market analysis typically includes assessing the level of supply and demand of one currency against another and can also take many other factors into account.
Successful forex traders usually analyze the market in a number of different ways. They might stick to one particular analysis method or use a combination of several methods to signal that they should initiate or close out their trades. The most common methods for analyzing the forex market consist of technical analysis, fundamental analysis and sentiment analysis.
Currency traders will also typically choose a type of analysis that complements their trading style. For example, if they scan the forex market for objective trade set-ups that involve certain technical events taking place, then they would generally use technical analysis as their best and principal method for analyzing the market.
On the other hand, if a trader bases their trades on certain fundamental factors, such as the benchmark interest rate and monetary policy of a country’s central bank, then they will probably find a fundamental analysis approach best suits them.
Some currency traders might analyze the news circulating around a particular currency pair to inform their trading activities while others might position themselves in the forex market using market sentiment indicators.
3 Top Methods of Analysis for Trading Forex
Profitable traders typically analyze the currency market’s prospects in one or more of three basic ways to determine whether they should position themselves long, short or neutral on a particular currency pair of interest. These common market analysis methods consist of technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis, and each method is described in further detail in the sections below.
1. Technical Analysis
Technical analysis is one of the cornerstones of forex market analysis. It uses the basic simplifying assumption that the current market exchange rate discounts all available information available to forex traders.
Technical analysis has the advantage over the other analysis methods of being able to provide objective buy or sell decisions that can help traders overcome their emotional impulses when trading currency pairs.
Many technical forex traders use a currency pair’s exchange rate history to measure the levels of supply and demand in the market by identifying levels of support and resistance on exchange rate charts. Others may use technical indicators computed from market observables like the exchange rate, volume and open interest.
Since the forex market is decentralized, however, observables like volume and open interest are less reliable and mainly come from the limited activity seen on futures exchanges.
2. Fundamental Analysis
Fundamental analysis focuses on how currencies are affected by socioeconomic and geopolitical factors in real-world situations. Currencies trade in pairs, so a fundamental analyst should examine the underlying fundamental factors for both currencies relative to each other.
A currency’s valuation can often be affected by the political environment in the issuing nation. For example, if a change of government is imminent in a country, then the incoming administration’s policies could significantly affect its currency valuation against other currencies, especially if they seem radically different from the former administration.
Natural disasters are additional fundamental factors that can adversely affect a currency’s relative valuation since they can negatively impact the issuing country’s potential for economic growth. Examples include major events like floods, earthquakes, landslides, epidemics and hurricanes.
While the forex market’s emphasis can and does change over time, the key economic fundamental factors that presently have the most significant effect on a currency’s relative value include:
- Employment data: A nation’s employment data has a considerable impact on a currency’s valuation. If the country has an increasing level of employment, this would indicate a strong economy and continued economic expansion. Conversely, a decrease in employment levels suggests a lagging economy that may cause the national currency to decline in value relative to other currencies. Perhaps the most closely watched economic data release by forex traders is the U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls number that usually comes out on the first Friday after the end of each month.
- Benchmark interest rates: A country’s central bank determines the nation’s benchmark interest rates according to the economic activity in the country. If a nation’s economy is very active and growing strongly, the central bank might raise interest rates to control inflation. When interest rates rise in one country versus those in other nations, demand for its currency generally rises among international investors. Also, the interest rate differential is paid or charged on a daily basis in the foreign exchange market, so it can affect the cost or benefit of holding a currency position overnight. FX traders closely review central banker statements for hints about benchmark interest rate changes and respond quickly to unexpected rate changes.
- Inflation data: The rising cost of goods and services plays a significant role in a currency’s valuation. Rising prices can indicate that a nation’s central bank is adding too much currency into the economy, that demand is strong or that certain key commodities are experiencing supply shortages that can cause a price rise. Oil prices are one of the most important drivers of inflation since most economic activity depends on oil derivatives to deliver many products.
- Trade deficit/surplus: A nation’s status as a net exporter or net importer can influence the valuation of its currency. If a country exports more than it imports overall, then it has a trade deficit that tends to weaken its currency, while a trade surplus will tend to make its currency stronger. For example, a nation with a trade deficit might depend on other countries to obtain products and services unavailable domestically at competitive prices. Since this cross-border trade probably entails paying for the goods and services in the currency of the exporting country, it will tend to weaken the importer’s currency and strengthen the exporter’s currency.
- Gross domestic product (GDP): A nation with high GDP growth will typically reflect a strong economy, which will in turn tend to attract foreign money. This key indicator of economic strength would be one of the main contributors to an increase in the value of the country’s currency. Conversely, the currency of a country with weak GDP growth would attract less foreign investment and would therefore tend to fall in value versus the currencies of countries showing better growth prospects.
- Commodity prices: The price of certain key commodities can play an important role in the valuation of certain currencies when their issuing nations either have a significant trade surplus or deficit in that commodity. For example, the currency of a country with an economy that is largely dependent on its oil exports can be vulnerable to an unexpected drop in oil prices. Furthermore, if the price of oil increases, then that nation’s currency would probably appreciate relative to the currencies of oil-importing nations.
3. Sentiment Analysis
Sentiment analysis is probably the least used method of analysis by currency traders since the forex market is sufficiently decentralized that no single indicator can reflect the sentiment of all market participants.
Some forex traders might use the Commitments of Traders (COT) report issued periodically by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that reflects activity in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) currency futures market as a sentiment indicator. Nevertheless, this U.S.-based exchange-traded market is relatively tiny in comparison to the huge decentralized global forex market.
Traders can also look at client positioning data released by some online forex brokers to gauge market sentiment. While this information only reflects a small amount of overall forex market activity, it can be useful to indicate market sentiment for currency pairs without a CME-listed futures contract.
Why Do Forex Traders Analyze the Markets?
Forex traders generally use one or more market analysis methods as virtually indispensable tools to help them better understand and respond appropriately to current market conditions before making a trading decision.
They will also typically include details about their analysis methods in their trading plan as a skillful means to suggest whether buying, selling or holding a position in particular currency pair makes sense.
Forex traders who use fundamental analysis also need to keep in mind that analyzing a particular currency pair requires taking into account the economic and geopolitical situation underlying the valuation of each currency relative to the other. They have to understand that present and future market exchange rates result from developments in a variety of fundamental factors.
These factors make monitoring and analyzing the current technical, fundamental and sentiment situation in a currency pair very important for a forex trader.
How to Apply Forex Market Analysis
Some tips for how to apply forex market analysis that forex traders can keep in mind when trading a currency pair appear below.
Understand Market Drivers & Monitor Market Conditions
Forex traders generally need to keep in touch with market conditions. This means knowing whether they are trading in a trending, ranging or correcting market, as well as whether it is an orderly or highly-volatile market. Technical indicators like the ADX can show if a currency pair’s market is trending or ranging, while indicators like historical volatility can highlight riskier currency pairs that exhibit sharp exchange rate movements.
Chart Currency Indices
Each national currency is traded against every other national currency in the forex market. You can create and chart an index for one currency to illustrate how it has fared overall relative to a basket of other currencies for a given timeframe. Reviewing this index and its evolution over time can give you useful insight into the underlying trends for an individual currency. Futures contracts for U.S. dollar and euro indices are traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
Look for a Consensus in Multiple Markets
You can sometimes determine if a forex pair is reaching a turning point in its exchange rate’s trajectory by looking at the charts of other assets over the same time frame to see if a similar reversal has already occurred or is currently in progress.
Pick and Time Your Trades Wisely
You have a better chance of trading forex successfully if you can first identify major long-term market turning points, and then fine-tune your entry point using technical analysis. Also, having the patience to wait for good trades and the discipline to stick to your trading plan will generally benefit you over less-prepared traders.
Use Fundamentals to Identify Economic Trends
Forex traders often use fundamental economic indicators to identify the causes for market movements and to assess the long-term prospects for a currency pair. For example, they might analyze a country’s GDP, interest and inflation rates and job and housing markets to get insight into the strength of that country’s economy and hence its currency.
Know the Direction of the Underlying Trend
Since the trend is your friend, forex traders should have a good sense of whether the underlying trend in a currency pair is up, down or neutral. They should also determine if the trend seems ripe for correction. Technical indicators like moving averages can filter out market noise to show the direction of the trend while indicators like the Relative Strength Index can help identify markets that seem ready to reverse direction.
Even though the forex market lacks a comprehensive market sentiment indicator, it may make sense for a forex trader to keep an eye on the COT report for a currency pair, if available. This lets them identify notable positioning situations that may have substantial implications for its future exchange rate.
Should Every Currency Pair Undergo the Same Analysis?
One of the interesting things about the forex market is that different currency pairs can display very different market conditions at the same time. This makes the most effective form of technical analysis to use on any given currency pair a more tailored and complicated decision that can depend significantly on the way that particular currency pair is presently trading.
From a fundamental analysis perspective, some currencies have a more complex fundamental picture with multiple economic indicators to consider by an analyst compared to other currencies. This seems especially true of those currencies issued by highly developed nations like the U.S, Japan and the U.K.
When considering the fundamentals of a less well-developed nation, however, other key fundamental factors may come into account. Such factors can potentially include political instability, very high inflation levels and long- or short-term currency devaluations.
Regarding market sentiment analysis, key sentiment indicators like the COT report are only available for a relatively small subset of major currency pairs that the CME hosts futures trading on. Those trading in currency pairs without a listed futures contract have to forgo sentiment analysis or resort to using other less reliable sentiment information, such as client positioning data from a retail forex broker, for example.
Forex Trading Strategies Can Lead to Winning Trades
Most successful trading strategies involve trading operating with a plan they have strategically developed ahead of time. This strategy helps remove the emotional element from trading that can interfere with a trader’s profitability. Such a plan will generally include one or several forex strategies that lay out how the trader will enter into and exit positions in one or more currency pairs.
These days, some currency traders might opt to allow technology to assist them in their trading endeavors by using fully automated forex trading robots that have a complete trading strategy coded into them.
Compare Forex Brokers
If you’re interested in getting involved in forex trading, many online forex brokers exist that can provide you with access to this huge and highly liquid market. You can usually try out their services, platform and tools by opening a demo account before funding a live account. Benzinga has taken some of the work out of choosing a suitable forex trading provider by offering insights and reviews on the most popular forex brokers and by creating the following comparison list.
FOREX.com is a one-stop shop for forex traders. With a massive range of tradable currencies, low account minimums and an impressive trading platform, FOREX.com is an excellent choice for brokers searching for a home base for their currency trading. New traders and seasoned veterans alike will love FOREX.com’s extensive education and research center that provides free, informative forex trading courses at multiple skill levels. While FOREX.com is impressive, remember that it isn’t a standard broker.
- MetaTrader 4 users
- Beginner forex traders
- Active forex traders
- Impressive, easy-to-navigate platform
- Wide range of education and research tools
- Access to over 80 currencies to buy and sell
- Leverage available up to 50:1
- Cannot buy and sell other securities (like stocks and bonds)
IG is a comprehensive forex broker that offers full access to the currency market and support for over 80 currency pairs. The broker only offers forex trading to its U.S.-based customers, the brokerage does it spectacularly well. Novice traders will love IG’s intuitive mobile and desktop platforms, while advanced traders will revel in the platform’s selection of indicators and charting tools. Though IG could work on its customer service and fees, the broker is an asset to new forex traders and those who prefer a more streamlined interface.
- New forex traders who are still learning the ropes
- Traders who prefer a simple, clean interface
- Forex traders who trade primarily on a tablet
- Easy-to-navigate platform is easy for beginners to master
- Mobile and tablet platforms offer full functionality of the desktop version
- Margin rates are easy to understand and affordable
- Access to over 80 currency pairs
- U.S. traders can currently only trade forex
- Customer service options are lacking
- No 2-factor authentication on mobile
HYCM is 1 of the world’s leading forex brokers, offering investors access to over 69 unique currency pairs. However, forex isn’t the only thing the broker offers — HYCM also offers high rates of leverage, stock and ETF trading, commodity investing and much more. Getting started with HYCM is quick and easy, and most investors can open an account in as little as 10 minutes.
HYCM offers a varying fee structure, which allows investors to choose the spread option that’s best for them. A wide range of educational and investing tools are available, which can be equally beneficial to both experienced and novice traders. Though HYCM isn’t currently available in the United States, it can be a great choice for residents of the other 140 countries where it offers service.
- Investors who want a customizable fee schedule
- Traders comfortable using the MetaTrader platform
- Islamic traders who need swap-free accounts that don’t build interest
- Mobile app with a simple trading experience
- Wide range of currency pairs available
- Excellent selection of educational tools
- Not currently available to traders based in the U.S.
86% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Plus500 is a European derivatives broker focusing on contracts for difference (CFDs). CFDs are similar to binary options in the U.S. where traders take all-or-nothing speculation on the prices of certain securities like indices, commodities or currencies. While not legal to trade in the U.S., CFDs are legal in many jurisdictions across the globe and Plus500 offers a wide array of tradable markets using these instruments.
Plus500 doesn’t charge commission and only profits off the spread, which is the difference between the buy and sell price of a specific security. But Plus500 is not a broker for beginners — the education materials are sparse and CFDs are risky derivatives capable of sapping out all of an investor’s capital. Only trade these instruments if you understand how they operate and the risks involved with buying them.
- Traders looking for a smooth mobile experience
- Great mobile app
- Low spreads and commissions
- Unlimited demo account
- Only derivatives are available
- Not open to U.S. residents
Billing itself as the world’s 1st eco-friendly broker, CedarFX makes it easy to trade and give back to the planet. You can choose a 0% Commission Account or an Eco Account — or open multiple accounts to meet all your needs.
CedarFX offers access to a wide range of tradable securities, including stocks, futures, major and exotic forex pairs, cryptocurrencies and more. Though CedarFX could introduce a few additional educational resources, the broker remains a unique option for traders invested in giving back.
- Forex investors
- Investors interested in 0% commission or eco conscious trading
- Investors looking for 24/7 customer service
- Allows users to offset their carbon footprint
- 0% commission investing
- Offers demo account access
- 24/7 customer service available through live chat
- Eco Account Option (10 trees planted for each lot traded)
- Fast deposits/withdrawals with Bitcoin
- Limited number of educational resources for new investors
Standard Accounts: $1,000
Founded in 2006, IFC Markets is a popular forex and contracts for difference (CFD) broker that provides high-quality trading services to over 185,000 clients from more than 80 countries. The broker has oversight from the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (BVI FSC) as well as the Labuan Financial Services Authority (LFSA) in Malaysia.
IFC Markets offers trading in over 600 financial instruments including forex stocks indices commodities cryptocurrency futures and synthetic assets through excellent trading platforms: MetaTrader 4 and MT5, and its own developed NetTradeX advanced platform. IFC Markets also gives clients unlimited trading opportunities via its unique GeWorko Portfolio Quoting Method that lets traders create their own synthetic instruments or choose from PCI Library synthetic instruments created by professionals.
- Traders who want to create their own trading instruments
- Intraday and mid-term traders
- Small volume traders
- Trading platforms variety
- The GeWorko Portfolio Quoting Method lets you create synthetic assets
- 15 years experience in the business
- Highly rated by clients with 8 recent international awards
- Insured by AIG Europe Ltd.
- Only regulated by 2 minor agencies
- Not available to traders in the U.S., Japan and Russia
A fully regulated broker with a presence in Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, British Virgin Islands, Australia and Japan, Avatrade deals with mainly forex and CFDs on stocks, commodities, indexes, forex, cryptocurrencies, etc. This brokerage is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and began offering its services in 2006. It offers multiple trading platforms and earns mainly through spreads.
- Advanced traders
- Traders looking for a well-diversified portfolio
- Controlled by regulatory agencies of multiple countries
- Choice offered in terms of trading platforms
- Support available in 14 languages and trading platforms in 20 languages
- Practice/demo account available for trying out
- Breadth of trading assets
- Does not accept customers from the U.S. as it isn’t regulated in the U.S.
- Transferring funds to the account may take up to five days; withdrawals could take up to 10 days
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the three types of analysis in forex?
Forex traders primarily use technical and fundamental analysis to inform their trading activities, although some may also use market sentiment indicators. Since the forex market is decentralized, however, popular futures exchange-compiled sentiment indicators like the Commitments of Traders (COT) report have less relevance to forex traders.
What is the most accurate indicator for forex?
The most accurate forex indicator will typically depend on prevailing market conditions and your chosen trading strategy. Many technical currency traders use moving averages, the Relative Strength Index, the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator, Bollinger Bands, the Stochastic Oscillator, the Ichimoku Cloud indicator, Fibonacci retracement and projection levels and the Average Directional Index (ADX).
Does technical analysis work on forex?
Yes, technical analysis works on forex, and it is typically the preferred market analysis method used for timing transactions among experienced forex traders.