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The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized or over-the-counter (OTC) market for the trading of currencies. This includes all aspects of buying, selling and exchanging currencies at current or determined prices. In terms of trading volume, it is by far the largest market in the world, followed by the Credit market.
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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;
- its continuous operation: 24 hours a day except weekends, i.e., trading from 22:00 GMT on Sunday (Sydney) until 22:00 GMT Friday (New York);
- the variety of factors that affect exchange rates;
- the low margins of relative profit compared with other markets of fixed income; and
the use of leverage to enhance profit and loss margins and with respect to account size.
As such, it has been referred to as the market closest to the ideal of perfect competition, notwithstanding currency intervention by central banks.