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The foreign exchange market (forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized market
for the trading of currencies. The main participants in this market are the larger international
banks. Financial centers around the world function as anchors of trading between a wide range of
different types of buyers and sellers around the clock, with the exception of weekends.
Electronic Broking Services (EBS) and Reuters 3000 Xtra are two main interbank FX trading platforms.
The foreign exchange market determines the relative values of different currencies.
The foreign exchange market is unique because of the following characteristics:
- its huge trading volume representing the largest asset class in the world leading to high liquidity.
- its geographical dispersion.
- the variety of factors that affect exchange rates.
- the low margins of relative profit compared with other markets of fixed income.
- its continuous operation: 24 hours a day except weekends.
- the use of leverage to enhance profit and loss margins and with respect to account size.
The foreign exchange market assists international trade and investment by enabling currency conversion. For example, it permits a business in the United States to import goods from the European Union member states, especially Eurozone members, and pay euros, even though its income is in United States dollars. It also supports direct speculation in the value of currencies, and the carry trade, speculation based on the interest rate differential between two currencies.