Forex vs Stocks

How can you compare forex trading to trading individual stocks? With InterTrader, the forex market and the stock market are equally simple to access, via the same trading account, but there are several key reasons why you might prefer one market to the other:

Your trading plan

Are you looking to make a small number of trades each with a significant return? Or do you want to make numerous short-term trades and rely on your risk management strategy to control your bottom line? What is your risk profile? Are you happy to increase your risk for the chance of a quick return?

Stocks, particularly blue-chips, are generally used for longer-term buy-and-hold investments, where your return will be determined over weeks and months. Picking which stocks to trade is often based on quantitative data like a company’s balance sheet or more qualitative factors such as the reputation of a particular brand.

By contrast, the typical volatility of the forex market provides a more suitable venue for day traders, looking to make a profit from short-term price swings with or against the prevailing trend. While the forex market supports many different trading styles, often you’ll find that forex traders want to spot patterns in the price history and have little interest in holding positions for any length of time.

Degree of leverage

Due to the high trading volumes of the forex market, spread betting and CFD providers will typically offer far greater leverage on forex trades than on stock trades.

For instance, with InterTrader you can trade UK blue-chip stocks with a minimum margin requirement of 3% of the position size, giving you a gearing ratio of 1:33 on your investment capital.

While this is still considerable leverage, on forex trades you can achieve much higher gearing. For example, if GBP/EUR was trading at 140.00, the minimum margin on a £1 per pip position is just £40, representing a gearing ratio of 350:1. So your risk/return is 350 times the risk/return of the equivalent physical trade.

While leverage does maximise the return on your investment capital, you should note that it similarly maximises your risk and take suitable risk protection measures as provided by InterTrader.

Freedom of choice

The forex market and the stock market each offer freedom of choice in a different way. In the stock market you’ll find literally thousands of individual stocks to trade across exchanges worldwide, a staggering amount of choice even when you restrict yourself just to the blue-chips on each exchange.

Conversely, the forex market consists of a small list of major forex pairs and a slightly longer list of minor pairs. There are a fair number of currencies to exchange around the world, but nothing like the colossal number of listed companies to trade. And even then, forex traders tend to narrow their activities down to four or five heavily traded pairs.

So do you want to sift for trading opportunities among thousands of available stocks, or would you rather focus your attention on a small number of markets that typically produce significant activity?

On the other hand, the forex market provides trading opportunities right around the clock. While stock exchanges are ruled by opening and closing hours, you can trade your favourite forex pairs at any time during the trading week (Sunday 23:00 to Friday 21:15). Whether you prefer to trade when you return home from work, or you seek inspiration in the small hours of the morning, you are free to trade your way.

Size of the market

Why trade forex? Because the forex market is so vast, with $4 trillion traded on any given day, no single participant can have as great an impact on the market for an individual forex pair as they can have upon individual stocks.

If a large institutional investor buys or sells a stock this can massively influence the price in contrast to any trends you are tracking. Similarly, influential analysts can skew prices with their recommendations. You will have to account for these potential effects in your trading plan if you choose to trade stocks.

By contrast, the size of the forex market means that, under normal circumstances, it cannot be cornered by major players. This might help to give you greater confidence if you choose to trade forex.

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Losses can exceed deposits

Spread betting and CFD trading are leveraged products and as such carry a high level of risk to your capital which can result in losses greater than your initial deposit. These products may not be suitable for all investors. CFDs are not suitable for pension building and income. Ensure you fully understand all risks involved and seek independent advice if necessary.

InterTrader is a trading name of InterTrader Limited which is owned and controlled by GVC Holdings PLC. InterTrader Limited is authorised and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, ref 597312. Registered address: Suite 6, Atlantic Suites, Europort Avenue, Gibraltar.