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An Introduction To CFDs by MarketInMotion.net

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Luke Seven

on 2 November 2013

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Transcript of An Introduction To CFDs by MarketInMotion.net

An Introduction To CFDs
An Introduction To CFDs
This is generally an easier method of settlement because losses and gains are paid in cash. CFDs provide investors with the all the benefits and risks of owning a security without actually owning it.
Forex refers to the foreign exchange markets and the buying and selling of currencies. Every day an average of more than 3 trillion dollars in transactions takes place in the Forex Market. Each of these transactions plays a vital role in establishing a currency pair's exchange rate.

When a traveler visits a new country, or when an international business pays its foreign employees, they each convert their local currency into local currency. Over time, these transactions cause a shift in the exchange rate.

When money flows into a currency it strengthens, and when money flows out of a currency it weakens. These shifts in value give life to the Forex market. Forex traders attempt to predict the direction of an exchange rate just like stock traders try to predict the direction of a stock price.

Forex traders buy a currency pair when they think the exchange rate will increase, and sell a currency pair when they think the exchange rate will decrease; and as a global market, they can do this 24 hours a day 5 days a week.
Indices / Index
A form of passive investing that aims to generate the same rate of return as an underlying market index. Investors that use index investing seek to replicate the performance of a specific index – generally an equity or fixed-income index – by investing in an investment vehicle such as index funds or exchange-traded funds that closely track the performance of these indexes.

Proponents of index investing eschew active investment management because they believe that it is impossible to "beat the market" once trading costs and taxes are taken into account. As index investing is relatively passive, index funds usually have lower management fees and expenses than actively managed funds. Lower trading activity may also result in more favorable taxation for index funds as compared with actively managed funds.

Unlike stock traders, who buy and sell equities, commodity traders focus on investing in commodities. These traders either takes positions based on forecasted economic trends or arbitrage opportunities in the commodity markets. Oil and gold are two of the most common traded commodities, but markets exist for cotton, wheat, sugar, cattle, pork bellies, lumber, silver and other precious metals.
Commodity traders usually do not have a need for the specific asset they are trading, but gain exposure through forward and future contracts. Contracts are usually hedged and actual delivery is a seldom occurrence.

The difference between where a trade is entered and exited is the contract for difference (CFD). A CFD is a tradable instrument that mirrors the movements of the asset underlying it. It allows for profits or losses to be realized when the underlying asset moves in relation to the position taken, but the actual underlying asset is never owned. Essentially, it is a contract between the client and the broker. Trading CFDs has several major advantages, and these have increased the popularity of the instruments over the last several years.
How a CFD Works
The Advantages
The Disadvantages
While CFDs appear attractive, they also present some potential pitfalls. For one, having to pay the spread on entries and exits eliminates the potential to profit from small moves. The spread will also decrease winning trades by a small amount (over the actual stock) and will increase losses by a small amount (over the actual stock). So while stocks expose the trader to fees, more regulation, commissions and higher capital requirements, the CFD market has its own way of trimming traders' profits by way of larger spreads.

Also note that the CFD industry is not highly regulated. The credibility of the broker is based on reputation, life span and financial position. There are many fantastic CFD brokers, but it is important, as with any trading decision, to investigate whom to trade with and which broker best fulfills your trading needs.
All you need to know about CFD
It should be noted that when a CFD trade is entered, the position will show a loss equal to the size of the spread. So if the spread is 5 cents with the CFD broker, the stock will need to appreciate 5 cents for the position to be at a breakeven price. If you owned the stock outright, you would be seeing a 5-cent gain, yet you would have paid a commission and have a larger capital outlay. Herein lies the tradeoff.
If a stock has an ask price of $25.26 and 100 shares are bought at this price, the cost of the transaction is $2,526. With a traditional broker, using a 50% margin, the trade would require at least a $1,263 cash outlay from the trader. With a CFD broker, often only a 5% margin is required, so this trade can be entered for a cash outlay of only $126.30.
Higher Leverage
CFDs provide much higher leverage than traditional trading. Standard leverage in the CFD market begins as low as a 2% margin requirement. Depending on the underlying asset (shares for example), margin requirements may go up to 20%. Lower margin requirements mean less capital outlay for the trader/investor, and greater potential returns. However, increased leverage can also magnify losses.
Global Market Access from One Platform
Most CFD brokers offer products in all the world's major markets. This means traders can easily trade any market while that market is open from their broker's platform.

No Shorting Rules or Borrowing Stock
Certain markets have rules that prohibit shorting at certain times, require the trader to borrow the instrument before shorting or have different margin requirements for shorting as opposed to being long. The CFD market generally does not have short selling rules. An instrument can be shorted at any time, and since there is no ownership of the actual underlying asset, there is no borrowing or shorting cost.
Professional Execution With No Fees
CFD brokers offer many of the same order types as traditional brokers. These include stops, limits and contingent orders such as "One Cancels the Other" and "If Done". Some brokers even offer guaranteed stops. Brokers that guarantee stops either charge a fee for this service or attain revenue in some other way.

Very few, if any, fees are charged for trading a CFD. Many brokers do not charge commissions or fees of any kind to enter or exit a trade. Rather, the broker makes money by making the trader pay the spread. To buy, a trader must pay the ask price, and to sell/short, the trader must take the bid price. Depending on the volatility of the underlying asset, this spread may be small or large, although it is almost always a fixed spread.
No Day Trading Requirements
Certain markets require minimum amounts of capital to day trade, or place limits on the amount of day trades that can be made within certain accounts. The CFD market is not bound by these restrictions, and traders can day trade if they wish. Accounts can often be opened for as little as $1,000, although $2,000 and $5,000 are also common minimum deposit requirements.
Variety of Trading Options

There are stock, index, treasury, currency and commodity CFDs; even sector CFDs have emerged. Thus not only stock traders benefit - traders of many different financial vehicles can look to the CFD as an alternative.
Advantages to CFD trading include lower margin requirements, easy access to global markets, no shorting or day trading rules and little or no fees. However, high leverage magnifies losses when they occur, and having to continually pay a spread to enter and exit positions can be costly when large price movements do not occur. CFDs provide an excellent alternative for certain types of trades or traders, such as short- and long-term investors, but each individual must weigh the costs and benefits and proceed according to what works best within their trading plan.
Definition of 'ETF Of ETFs'
An exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks other ETFs rather than stocks, bonds or derivatives. ETFs of ETFs track the performance of other ETFs, which may have direct exposure to the underlying securities they track.

ETFs of ETFs are tools that provide more diversification than regular ETFs. They can be constructed based on certain desirable factors such as risk levels, time horizons or sectors. One of these financial instruments can give an investor broad exposure to many different sectors and regions. Typically, ETFs have a lower expense ratio compared to more managed funds such as mutual funds.

In the past, shareholders received a physical paper stock certificate that indicated that they owned "x" shares in a company. Today, brokerages have electronic records that show ownership details. Owning a "paperless" share makes conducting trades a simpler and more streamlined process, which is a far cry from the days were stock certificates needed to be taken to a brokerage before a trade could be conducted.

While shares are often used to refer to the stock of a corporation, shares can also represent ownership of other classes of financial assets, such as mutual funds.
Definition of 'Shares'
A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset. While owning shares in a business does not mean that the shareholder has direct control over the business's day-to-day operations, being a shareholder does entitle the possessor to an equal distribution in any profits, if any are declared in the form of dividends. The two main types of shares are common shares and preferred shares.
If the underlying stock were to continue to appreciate and the stock reached a bid price of $25.76, the owned stock can be sold for a $50 gain or $50/$1263=3.95% profit. At the point the underlying stock is at $25.76, the CFD bid price may only be $25.74. Since the trader must exit the CFD trade at the bid price, and the spread in the CFD is likely larger than it is in the actual stock market, a few cents in profit are likely to be given up. Therefore, the CFD gain is an estimated $48 or $48/$126.30=38% return on investment. The CFD may also require the trader to buy at a higher initial price, $25.28 for example. Even so, the $46 to $48 is a real profit from the CFD, where as the $50 profit from owning the stock does not account for commissions or other fees. In this case, it is likely the CFD put more money in the trader's pocket.
Definition of 'Commodity'
A basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. Commodities are most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services. The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across producers. When they are traded on an exchange, commodities must also meet specified minimum standards, also known as a basis grade. Any good exchanged during commerce, which includes goods traded on a commodity exchange.

The basic idea is that there is little differentiation between a commodity coming from one producer and the same commodity from another producer - a barrel of oil is basically the same product, regardless of the producer. Compare this to, say, electronics, where the quality and features of a given product will be completely different depending on the producer. Some traditional examples of commodities include grains, gold, beef, oil and natural gas. More recently, the definition has expanded to include financial products such as foreign currencies and indexes. Technological advances have also led to new types of commodities being exchanged in the marketplace: for example, cell phone minutes and bandwidth.

The sale and purchase of commodities is usually carried out through futures contracts on exchanges that standardize the quantity and minimum quality of the commodity being traded. For example, the Chicago Board of Trade stipulates that one wheat contract is for 5,000 bushels and also states what grades of wheat (e.g. No. 2 Northern Spring) can be used to satisfy the contract.
Is is important for currency traders to consider what they want to get out of their accounts before deciding on the type to open. Demo accounts and mini accounts are great for the retail forex trader to learn a profitable system and get used to the broker's execution methods. For currency speculators who doesn't want to trade themselves, a managed account may be a better option.
Forex is short for foreign exchange, but the actual asset class we are referring to is currencies. Foreign exchange is the act of changing one country's currency into another country's currency for a variety of reasons, usually for tourism or commerce. Due to the fact that business is global there is a need to transact with most other countries in their own particular currency. After the accord at Bretton Woods in 1971, when currencies were allowed to float freely against one another, the values of individual currencies have varied, which has given rise to the need for foreign exchange services. This service has been taken up by the commercial and investment banks on behalf of their clients, but has simultaneously provided a speculative environment for trading one currency against another using the internet
For most traders, especially those with limited funds, day trading or swing trading for a few days at a time can be a good way to play the forex markets. For those with longer-term horizons and larger fund pools, a carry trade can be an appropriate alternative.
In both cases, the trader must know how to use charts for timing their trades, since good timing is the essence of profitable trading. And in both cases, and in all other trading activities, the trader must know his or her own personality traits well enough so that he or she does not violate good trading habits with bad and impulsive behavior patterns. Let logic and good common sense prevail. Remember the old French proverb, "Fortune favors the well prepared mind!"
Definition of 'Index'
A statistical measure of change in an economy or a securities market. In the case of financial markets, an index is an imaginary portfolio of securities representing a particular market or a portion of it. Each index has its own calculation methodology and is usually expressed in terms of a change from a base value. Thus, the percentage change is more important than the actual numeric value.

Stock and bond market indexes are used to construct index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) whose portfolios mirror the components of the index.The Standard & Poor's 500 is one of the world's best known indexes, and is the most commonly used benchmark for the stock market. Other prominent indexes include the DJ Wilshire 5000 (total stock market), the MSCI EAFE (foreign stocks in Europe, Australasia, Far East) and the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index (total bond market).

Because, technically, you can't actually invest in an index, index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (based on indexes) allow investors to invest in securities representing broad market segments and/or the total market.
An index is a statistical measure of the changes in a portfolio of stocks representing a portion of the overall market.

It would be too difficult to track every single security trading in the country. To get around this, we take a smaller sample of the market that is representative of the whole. Thus, just as pollsters use political surveys to gauge the sentiment of the population, investors use indexes to track the performance of the stock market. Ideally, a change in the price of an index represents an exactly proportional change in the stocks included in the index.

Mr. Charles Dow created the first and, consequently, most widely known index back in May of 1896. At that time, the Dow index contained 12 of the largest public companies in the U.S. Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) contains 30 of the largest and most influential companies in the U.S.

Before the digital age, calculating the price of a stock market index had to be kept as simple as possible. The original DJIA was calculated by adding up the prices of the 12 companies and then dividing that number by 12. These calculations made the index truly nothing more than an average, but it served its purpose.

Today, the DJIA uses a slightly different methodology, called price-based weighting. In this system, the weight of each security is the stock's price relative to the sum of all the stock prices. The problem with price-based weighting is that a stock split changes the weight of a company in the index, even though there is no fundamental change in the business. For this reason, not too many indexes are weighted on price.

Most indexes weigh companies based on market capitalization. If a company's market cap is $1,000,000 and the value of all stocks in the index is $100,000,000, then the company would be worth 1% of the index. These types of systems are made possible by computers - most are calculated to the minute, so they are very accurate reflections of the market.

It's important to note that an index is nothing more than a list of stocks; anybody can create one. This was especially true during the dotcom bull market, when practically every publication created an index representing a section of new economy stocks. What sets the big indexes apart from the small ones is the reputation of the company that puts out the index. For example, the DJIA is owned by Dow Jones & Company, the same people who publish The Wall Street Journal.

The proliferation of sector exchange traded funds (ETFs) has made it easier than ever for investors to implement sector-related strategies. Having more choices, however, means having to implement more analysis to assure that you are choosing the correct ETFs for your own strategy. This article will outline the basic types of sector ETFs and some advantages and disadvantages of each type to give you an idea of how you might best use this investment vehicle.
Why Invest in Sector ETFs?
The use of sector ETFs provides instant diversification, reducing the risk compared to purchasing individual stocks. For example, purchasing an energy-sector ETF will allow an investor to make a bet on energy prices better than buying one or two energy stocks. Many investors take a top-down approach, and make their decision based on an underlying trend in the economy. A sector ETF will allow them to capture that trend efficiently, without worrying about selecting stocks in that sector.
Although there are many different types of sector ETFs, those interested in building a portfolio using sectors ETFs as building blocks should focus on those families of ETFs that cover the full universe of sectors that make up the underlying index. Lastly, each investor should also consider the underlying index and weighting scheme that is used to create the ETF before implementing them into a strategy.

by Market In Motion
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