Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Foreign Exchange Online Trading Platforms: A Comparison

By guest blogger +Angie Picardo 
The foreign exchange market (forex) exists to facilitate currency conversion for international transactions. It allows a person in the United States, for example, to pay in US dollars and someone in the European Union to pay Euros. The forex market is characterized by liquidity, a large trading volume and its continuous operation. There are many online platforms that offer forex trading; here are several for your consideration.

eToro Standard: eToro is a private social trading company based out of Cyrpus. Founded in 2007, eToro offers users the ability to use social metrics to make trading decisions. Users’ traders are automatically uploaded to the eToro network, the statistics of trades are aggregated and users can use the data to make their own trades. Since eToro is an international platform, its statistics represent trades from all over the globe. eToro is also set to launch a feature called Guru Finder, which will allow users to follow and copy the portfolios of knowledgeable users.

Its platform is available for forex, commodities and stock indices. eToro is the top forex-only specialist for experienced traders and has a superior social trading platform. eToro has an account minimum of $250 and its spreads start at three pips. The platform also features smart phone apps so that traders can monitor their portfolio while on the go.

TD Ameritrade: Ameritrade is an online broker that was founded in 1971, based out of the United States (specifically, Omaha, Nebraska), and publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its thinkorswim platform is aimed at expert-level traders who want to stream all of their data into one dashboard. Thinkorswim supports trading in forex stocks, complex options, and futures. It functions as a trading dashboard that feeds in selected data and it also features a number of tools to keep traders apprised of their portfolio’s statistics.

Ameritrade’s thinkorswim features a single click order entry, pairs trading, Beta weighting, and it lets users analyze risks and rewards via a series of graphic visualizations of trades and market data. One of its nicer features is thinkScripts, which allows investors to set trading conditions that let Ameritrade know at what point you would like your trades to be executed automatically. Thinkorswim’s dashboard also includes newsfeeds, calendars, tutorials, and live chat.

OptionsXpress: OptionsXpress is a subsidiary of Charles Schwab, a company publicly traded on the NYSE. Based out of Chicago, OptionsXpress was founded in 2000. The company provides brokerage services for futures, mutual funds, forex, options, and stocks. OptionsXpress’ features tutorials and also hosts free live events to help users improve their skills. Their services features easy-to-use tools like All-In-One Trade Ticket, which functions as a dashboard from which users can build strategies and make trades. Strategy Scan helps investors identify trading options based on personal risk tolerance and several other factors. The Trade & Probability Calculator can quickly identify risks and opportunities of an options trade. Finally, Virtual Trade lets users test trade options in a totally risk-free Virtual Trade account.

Fidelity Investments: Fidelity is another Unite States-based company, hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1946 and its assets currently total around $1.7 billion USD. Fidelity offers commodities trading (among other services) in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. It requires a minimum initial investment of $2,500, but offers a buying commission of 0.99-2.9% and a selling commission of 0.75-2%.

Open E Cry (OEC): OEC is considered to be the best platform for trading in both futures and in forex. This platform features extensive, sophisticated desktop and mobile applications. OEC’s spreads start at one to two pips and they have an account minimum of $5,000. Their forex account is held by GAIN Capital.

Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy site where you can find advice on topics ranging from forex trading to asset allocation.

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