From this we can see that the Forex leverage ratio strongly depends on the strategy that is going to be used. To give you a better overview, scalpers and breakout traders try to use as high a leverage as possible, as they usually look for quick trades. Positional traders often trade with low leverage or none at all. A desired leverage for a positional trader usually starts at 5:1 and goes up to about 20:1.
Leverage simply allows traders to control larger positions with a smaller amount of actual trading funds. In the case of 50:1 leverage (or 2% margin required), for example, $1 in a trading account can control a position worth $50. As a result, leveraged trading can be a "double-edged sword" in that both potential profits as well as potential losses are magnified according to the degree of leverage used.
Leverage in finance pertains to the use of debt to buy assets. This is done in order to avoid using too much equity. The ratio of this debt to equity is the formula for leverage (debt/equity ratio) whereby the greater the proportion of debt, the higher the amount of leverage. If a company, investment or property is termed as "highly leveraged" it means that it has a greater proportion of debt than equity. When leveraged debt is used in such a way that the return generated is greater than the interest associated with it, then an investor is in a favourable position.
When scalping, traders tend to employ a leverage that starts at 50:1 and may go as high as 500:1. Knowing the effect of leveraging and the optimal leverage Forex trading ratio is vital for a successful trading strategy, as you never want to overtrade, but you always want to be able to squeeze the maximum out of potentially profitable trades. Usually a trader is advised to experiment with leverage within their strategy for a while, in order to find the most suitable one.
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.
For example, you might think the Euro (EUR) is going to increase in value against the Australian dollar (AUD) so you could place a trade to buy the EUR/AUD currency pair. If the Euro rises you would make a profit; if it drops you would incur a loss. Conversely, if you thought the Euro was going to decrease in value you could place a trade that would benefit from that price movement.
Currency values never remain stationary, and it is this dynamic that gave birth to one of the most popular trading strategies of all time, the carry trade. Carry traders hope to earn not only the interest rate differential between the two currencies (discussed above), but also look for their positions to appreciate in value. There have been plenty of opportunities for big profits in the past. Let’s take a look at some historical examples.
When a trader decides to trade in the forex market, he or she must first open a margin account with a forex broker. Usually, the amount of leverage provided is either 50:1, 100:1 or 200:1, depending on the broker and the size of the position that the investor is trading. What does this mean? A 50:1 leverage ratio means that the minimum margin requirement for the trader is 1/50 = 2%. A 100:1 ratio means that the trader is required to have at least 1/100 = 1% of the total value of trade available as cash in the trading account, and so on. Standard trading is done on 100,000 units of currency, so for a trade of this size, the leverage provided is usually 50:1 or 100:1. Leverage of 200:1 is usually used for positions of $50,000 or less.
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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.