Let's take the idea of buying first. What if you bought something (it could literally be almost anything...a house, a piece of jewelry or a stock) and it went up in value. If you sold it at that point, you would have made a profit...the difference between what you paid originally and the greater value that the item is worth now.
Currency trading is the same way...
Let's say you want to buy the AUDUSD currency pair. If the AUD goes up in value relative to the USD and then you sell it, you will have made a profit. A trader in this example would be buying the AUD and selling the USD at the same time.
For example if the AUDUSD pair was bought at 0.74975 and the pair moved up to 0.76466 at the time that the trade was closed/exited, the profit on the trade would have been 149 pips. (See the chart below…)
Created using IG’s web trading platform
Had the pair moved down to 0.74805 before the trade was closed, the loss on the trade would have been 17 pips.
Also, it makes no difference which currency pair you are trading. If the price of the currency you are buying goes up from the time you bought it, you will have made a profit.
Here is another example using the AUD. In this case we still want to buy the AUD but let’s do this with the EURAUD currency pair. In this instance we would sell the pair. We would be selling the EUR and buying the AUD simultaneously. Should the AUD go up relative to the EUR we would profit as we bought the AUD.
In this example if we sold the EURAUD pair at 1.2320 and the price moved down to 1.2250 when we closed the position, we would have made a profit of 70 pips. Had the pair moved up instead and we closed out the position at 1.2360 we would have had a loss of 40 pips on the trade.
Remember, we are always buying or selling the currency on the left side of the pair. If we buy the currency on the left side, which is called the base currency, we are selling the one on the right side which is called the cross or counter currency. The opposite would be true if we were selling the currency on the left side.
Now let's take a look at how a trader can make a profit by selling a currency pair. This concept is a little trickier to understand than buying. It is based on the idea of selling something that you borrowed as opposed to selling something that you own.
In the case of currency trading, when taking a sell position you would borrow the currency in the pair that you were selling from your broker (this all takes place seamlessly within the trading station when the trade is executed) and if the price went down, you would then sell it back to the broker at the lower price. The difference between the price at which you borrowed it (the higher price) and the price at which you sold it back to them (the lower price) would be your profit.
For example, let’s say a trader believes that the USD will go down relative to the JPY. In this case the trader would want to sell the USDJPY pair. They would be selling the USD and buying the JPY at the same time. The trader would be borrowing the USD from their broker when they execute the trade. If the trade moved in their favor the JPY would increase in value and the USD would decrease. At the point where they closed out the trade, their profits from the JPY increasing in value would be used to pay back the broker for the borrowed USD at the now lower price. After paying back the broker, the remainder would be their profit on the trade.
For example, let’s say the trader shorted the USDJPY pair at 122.761. If the pair did in fact move down and the trader closed/exited the position at 121.401, the profit on the trade would be 136 pips.
Created using IG’s web trading platform
On the other hand, if the pair was shorted at 122.761 and the pair did not move down but rather it moved up to 122.951 when the position was closed, there would be a loss on the trade of 19 pips.
In a nutshell, this how you can make a profit from selling something that you do not own.
In wrapping up, if you buy a currency pair and it moves up, that trade would show a profit. If you sell a currency pair and it moves down, that trade would show a profit.
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