A:

In forex markets, currency trading is done on some of the world's most powerful currencies. The major currencies traded are the U.S. dollar the Japanese yen, the euro, the British pound and the Canadian dollar.

A currency pair such as EUR/USD, for example, represents a euro and U.S. dollar currency pair. The first currency is the base currency and the second currency is the quote currency. So, to buy EUR/USD at 1.1200 on a trade for 100,000 currency units, you would need to pay US$112,000 (100,000 * 1.12) for 100,000 euros.

Pips relate to the smallest price movement any exchange rate can make. Because currencies are usually quoted to four decimal places, the smallest change in a currency pair would be in the last digit. This would make one pip equal to 1/100th of a percent, or one basis point. For example, if the currency price we quoted earlier changed from 1.1200 to 1.1205, this would be a change of five pips.

To get the value of one pip in a currency pair, an investor has to divide one pip in decimal form (i.e. 0.0001) by the current exchange rate, and then multiply it by the notional amount of the trade.

Keeping with our earlier example for the EUR/USD currency pair, the value of one pip is 8.93 euros ((0.0001/1.1200) * 100,000). To convert the value of the pip to U.S. dollars, just multiply the value of the pip by the exchange rate, so the value in U.S. dollars is $10 (8.93 * 1.12). The value of one pip is always different between currency pairs because there are differences between the exchange rates of different currencies. A phenomenon does occur when the U.S. dollar is quoted as the quote currency. When this is the case, for a notional amount of 100,000 currency units, the value of the pip is always equal to US$10.

To learn more, see Common Questions About Currency Trading, A Primer On The Forex Market and Forces Behind Exchange Rates.

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