There are two main groups that trade currencies. About five percent of daily volume is from companies and governments that buy or sell products and services in a foreign country and must subsequently convert profits made in foreign currencies into their own domestic currency in the course of doing business. This is primarily hedging activity. The other 95 percent consists of investors trading for profit, or speculation. Speculators range from large banks trading 10,000,000
million currency units or more and the home-based operator trading perhaps 10,000 units or less.
Today, importers and exporters, international portfolio managers, multinational corporations, speculators, day traders, long-term holders, and hedge funds all use the FOREX market to pay for goods and services, to transact in financial assets, or to reduce the risk of currency movements by hedging their exposure in other markets.
A producer of Widgets in the United Kingdom is intrinsically long the British pound (GBP). If they sign a long-term sales contract with a company in the United States, they may wish to buy some quantity of the USD and sell an equal quantity of the GBP to hedge their margins from a fall in the GBP.
The speculator trades to make a profit by purchasing one currency and simultaneously selling another. The hedger trades to protect his or her margin on an international sale (for example) from adverse currency fluctuations. The hedger has an intrinsic interest in one side of the market or the other. The speculator does not.
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