In finance, equity trading is the buying and selling of company stock shares. Shares in large publicly traded companies are bought and sold through one of the major stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, which serve as managed auctions for stock trades.
Stock shares in smaller public companies are bought and sold in over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Equity trading can be performed by the owner of the shares, or by an agent authorized to buy and sell on behalf of the share's owner. Proprietary trading is buying and selling for the trader's own profit or loss.
In this case, the principal is the owner of the shares. Agency trading is buying and selling by an agent, usually a stockbroker, on behalf of a client. Agents are paid a commission for performing the trade. Major stock exchanges have market makers who help limit price variation (volatility) by buying and selling a particular company's shares on their own behalf and also on behalf of other clients.
Over the past 15 years with the popularity of the internet and discount brokerage firms, it has become increasingly luring for the average investor to partake in their own financial planning and direction of their future. Although trading can be incredibly stressful and dangerous financially, many people have made it their profession in place of a 9 to 5 job.
Individuals that pursue this non-mainstream career usually will have a knack for technical analysis, money management, tape reading and trader's psychology as well as enjoy working in a fast paced competitive environment.
A commodity market is a market that trades in primary economic sector rather than manufactured products. Soft commodities are agricultural products such as wheat, coffee, cocoa and sugar. Hard commodities are mined, such as gold and oil. Investors access about 50 major commodity markets worldwide with purely financial transactions increasingly outnumbering physical trades in which goods are delivered. Futures contracts are the oldest way of investing in commodities. Futures are secured by physical assets. Commodity markets can include physical trading and derivatives trading using spot prices, forwards, futures, and options on futures. Farmers have used a simple form of derivative trading in the commodity market for centuries for price risk management.
A financial derivative is a financial instrument whose value is derived from a commodity termed an underlier. Derivatives are either exchange-traded or over-the-counter (OTC). An increasing number of derivatives are traded via clearing houses some with Central Counterparty Clearing, which provide clearing and settlement services on a futures exchange, as well as off-exchange in the OTC market.
Derivatives such as futures contracts, Swaps (1970s-), Exchange-traded Commodities (ETC) (2003-), forward contracts have become the primary trading instruments in commodity markets. Futures are traded on regulated commodities exchanges. Over-the-counter (OTC) contracts are "privately negotiated bilateral contracts entered into between the contracting parties directly".
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) began to feature commodities in 2003. Gold ETFs are based on "electronic gold" that does not entail the ownership of physical bullion, with its added costs of insurance and storage in repositories such as the London bullion market. According to the World Gold Council, ETFs allow investors to be exposed to the gold market without the risk of price volatility associated with gold as a physical commodity.
The foreign exchange market (forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized market for the trading of currencies. This includes all aspects of buying, selling and exchanging currencies at current or determined prices. In terms of volume of trading, it is by far the largest market in the world. The main participants in this market are the larger international banks. Financial centres around the world function as anchors of trading between a wide range of multiple types of buyers and sellers around the clock, with the exception of weekends. The foreign exchange market does not determine the relative values of different currencies, but sets the current market price of the value of one currency as demanded against another.
The foreign exchange market works through financial institutions, and it operates on several levels. Behind the scenes banks turn to a smaller number of financial firms known as "dealers", who are actively involved in large quantities of foreign exchange trading. Most foreign exchange dealers are banks, so this behind-the-scenes market is sometimes called the "interbank market", although a few insurance companies and other kinds of financial firms are involved. Trades between foreign exchange dealers can be very large, involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Because of the sovereignty issue when involving two currencies, forex has little (if any) supervisory entity regulating its actions.
The foreign exchange market assists international trade and investments by enabling currency conversion. For example, it permits a business in the United States to import goods from European Union member states, especially Eurozone members, and pay Euros, even though its income is in United States dollars. It also supports direct speculation and evaluation relative to the value of currencies, and the carry trade, speculation based on the interest rate differential between two currencies.
In a typical foreign exchange transaction, a party purchases some quantity of one currency by paying with some quantity of another currency. The modern foreign exchange market began forming during the 1970s after three decades of government restrictions on foreign exchange transactions (the Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world's major industrial states after World War II), when countries gradually switched to floating exchange rates from the previous exchange rate regime, which remained fixed as per the Bretton Woods system.