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To trade $100,000 of currency, with a margin of 1%, an investor will only have to deposit $1,000 into her or his margin account. The leverage provided on a trade like this is 100:1. Leverage of this size is significantly larger than the 2:1 leverage commonly provided on equities and the 15:1 leverage provided in the futures market. Although 100:1 leverage may seem extremely risky, the risk is significantly less when you consider that currency prices usually change by less than 1% during intraday trading (trading within one day). If currencies fluctuated as much as equities, brokers would not be able to provide as much leverage.
Clearly, leverage should be used judiciously, but even with relatively conservative 10:1 leverage, the 7.5% yield on NZD/JPY pair would translate into a 75% return on an annual basis. So, if you were to hold a 100,000 unit position in NZD/JPY using $5,000 worth of equity, you would earn $9.40 in interest every day. That’s $94 dollars in interest after only 10 days, $940 worth of interest after three months, or $3,760 annually. Not too shabby given the fact that the same amount of money would only earn you $250 in a bank savings account (with a rate of 5% interest) after a whole year. The only real edge the bank account provides is that the $250 return would be risk-free.
While a margin amount of only 1/50th of the actual trade size is required from the trader to open this trade, however, any profit or loss on the trade would correspond to the full $100,000 leveraged amount. In the case of USD/CAD at the current market price, this would be a profit or loss of around $10 per one-pip move in price. This illustrates the magnification of profit and loss when trading positions are leveraged with the use of margin.
Trading leverage or leveraged trading allows you to control much larger amounts in a trade, with a minimal deposit in your account. Leveraged trading is also known as margin trading. You can open up a small account with a brokerage, and then essentially borrow money from the broker to open a large position. This allows traders to magnify the amount of profits earned.
Between 2003 and the end of 2004, the AUD/USD currency pair offered a positive yield spread of 2.5%. Although this may seem very small, the return would become 25% with the use of 10:1 leverage. During that same time, the Australian dollar also rallied from 56 cents to close at 80 cents against the U.S. dollar, which represented a 42% appreciation in the currency pair. This means that if you were in this trade – and many hedge funds at the time were – you would have not only earned the positive yield, but you would have also seen tremendous capital gains in your underlying investment.
This is why many traders decide to employ gearing, also known as financial leverage, in their trading - so that the size of the trading position and profits could be higher. Let's assume a trader with 1,000 USD on their account balance wants to trade big and their broker is supplying a leverage of 1:500. This way a trader can open a position that is as large as 5 lots, when it is denominated in USD. In other words, 1,000 USD * 500 (the leverage), would equal a maximum size of 500,000 USD for the position. The trader can actually request their orders of 500 times the size of his deposit to be filled.
For retail clients, leverages of up to 1:30 for currency pairs and 1:20 for indices are available. For professional clients, a maximum leverage of up to 1:500 is available for currency pairs, indices, energies and precious metals. Both retail and professional status come with their own unique benefits and trade-offs, so it's a good idea to investigate them fully before trading. Find out today if you're eligible for professional terms, so you can maximise your trading potential, and keep your leverage where you want it to be!