Margin and leverage are among the most important concepts to understand when trading forex. These essential tools allow forex traders to control trading positions that are substantially greater in size than would be the case without the use of these tools. At the most fundamental level, margin is the amount of money in a trader's account that is required as a deposit in order to open and maintain a leveraged trading position.
Knowing where interest rates are headed is important in forex trading and requires a good understanding of the underlying economics of the country in question. Generally speaking, countries that are performing very well, with strong growth rates and increasing inflation will probably raise interest rates to tame inflation and control growth. On the flip side, countries that are facing difficult economic conditions ranging from a broad slowdown in demand to a full recession will consider the possibility of reducing interest rates.
When you trade forex, you're effectively borrowing the first currency in the pair to buy or sell the second currency. With a US$5-trillion-a-day market, the liquidity is so deep that liquidity providers—the big banks, basically—allow you to trade with leverage. To trade with leverage, you simply set aside the required margin for your trade size. If you're trading 200:1 leverage, for example, you can trade $2,000 in the market while only setting aside $10 in margin in your trading account. For 50:1 leverage, the same trade size would still only require about £40 in margin. This gives you much more exposure, while keeping your capital investment down.
Currencies are traded on the Foreign Exchange market, also known as Forex. This is a decentralized market that spans the globe and is considered the largest by trading volume and the most liquid worldwide. Exchange rates fluctuate continuously due to the ever changing market forces of supply and demand. Forex traders buy a currency pair if they think the exchange rate will rise and sell it if they think the opposite will happen. The Forex market remains open around the world for 24 hours a day with the exception of weekends.