Forex Trading - Forex Signals as a Trading Tool

Prices in Forex markets are the most volatile of any trading instrument. They change farther and faster (on average) than stocks and bonds, though commodities can be pretty roller coaster, too.

This presents non-professional investors with a dilemma: either sit by a computer monitor all day, looking for price movements in real time or potentially lose a whole lot of money. But there's a way out of that dilemma. Use signal services.

Forex signals are buy and sell indicators based on technical analysis. Technical analysis uses historical price and volume data to statistically analyze trends. The goal is to establish, with a stated probability, the likelihood of future price movements.

A signal could be as simple as 'Buy euros now at 1.1901'. Those signals are delivered in any number of ways, by email, SMS text message to a cell phone, IM message and so on. Some are no more than flashing text and/or icons on trading software. The software contains in-built algorithms that use the methods of technical analysis, combines it with current market data and generates a signal.

For example, one commonly used technical indicator is something called MACD (Moving Average Convergence/Divergence). Without going into details here, it uses the moving average - the change in an average price over time. A signal can be generated when the value of MACD crosses above (or below) a certain threshold. Buy when it moves above the line, sell when it falls below.

Some signal services allow clients to automate the process of Forex trading even further. You can leave standing orders that when a certain signal is generated, carry out the recommendation. You get an email recommending 'Buy euros now at 1.1901' and the broker automatically enters an order to do just that.

As with any trading tool, it has to be used intelligently in order to avoid disasters. Entirely automating your buys and sells can amount to automatically losing money. Using a signal service can make your life easier, but never abandon your investments entirely to an automated service.

If you plan to do that, you may as well simply turn your investments over to a broker with the instruction: 'Maximize my returns, but keep the risk down to a reasonable level'. Sensible, but not helpful if you want to control your destiny.

Signal services are definitely useful, however. They can relieve investors of the need to continually monitor prices. They can simplify the sometimes bewildering complexity of charts. They can help the investor make better decisions about when to buy or sell and at what price.

All that comes at a price, of course. Signal services range from $50-$250 per month, though some are cheaper and a few are more. Only the individual investor can decide whether the cost is justified. As with any trading service, if you make more than it costs than you would without it, that's profitable.

But, buyer beware. There are dozens of firms that will be happy to take your money. Whether their analysis, and therefore, their signals, are worth anything is a learning experience all its own.

At minimum, investors should use order types that help control risk. Stop-loss orders, limit orders and other common types are an essential means of limiting losses and timing buy and sell orders. That technique, commonly employed in stock trading, is even more critical in the volatile world of Forex.