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What are Simple and Exponential Moving Averages?

Moving averages are important components of many technical indicators. A simple moving average determines the average of a range of closing prices for a security or index for a specific period of time. An exponential moving average is a moving average that gives more weight to the most recent data. Simple moving averages are not weighted for time the way that exponential moving averages are, which has the effect of snapping the chart to the most current information, while simple moving averages have lag. Continue reading...

What is an FX swap?

A Foreign Exchange (FX) Swap is a short-term arrangement where a company or institution swaps domestic currency for another, then swaps it back after a short time - this may involve the use of a Forward contract. If a company sells something internationally, and they now hold a significant amount of foreign currency, they may want to exchange it for their domestic currency. If, however, they already have a payment obligation in the foreign currency within the next few months, they may use an FX Swap arrangement. Continue reading...

What is a Swap?

A swap is an over-the-counter agreement between institutions to "swap" one thing for another, usually the cash flow related to interest-bearing instruments. Given the negotiable and over-the-counter nature of swaps, there are many permutations and manifestations of this concept. The most common is the interest rate swap, in which the counter-parties agree to pay the interest due on principal amounts which are not exchanged. Continue reading...

What is a Settlement Date?

The length of time after a trade is executed that the securities are due delivered and the payment is due paid varies for different types of transactions, but the date on which this occurs is the settlement date. Most exchange-traded corporate securities in the United States are required to be settled three days after the trade order is entered, which is called T+3. That date is the settlement date, and is the final date on which the transaction must be finalized by both parties involved. Continue reading...

What does notional value mean?

Notional Value is used in futures, options, and forex markets to describe the total value of the principal of a contract or transaction, especially when either none or only part of that value has actually been exchanged. Notional value is used most often in interest rate swaps and futures contracts, and is "notional" because either no principal changed hands at the beginning of the contract (such as in an interest rate swap), or only a small payment was used to buy a larger position (such as in a futures contract). Continue reading...

What is a currency swap?

In a currency swap, institutions will enter into an arrangement lasting anywhere from 1 to 30 years, in which they loan each other an equal principal amount at the current exchange rate, lending out their currency and taking a loan in a foreign currency, and paying an interest rate in foreign currency to their lending counter-party. Institutions that engage in a currency swap (also called a cross-currency swap) seek to increase their exposure or liquidity in a foreign currency, and in some cases seek to take advantage of favorable interest rates in the arrangement. In fact, a currency swap can be considered a variation on an interest rate swap, except that in this case, a notional principal is exchanged at the onset. Continue reading...

What is Ex-Date?

The Ex-Date is for a stock indicates the last date of the month where a dividend is payable. It is two days before the record date. If an investor buys a stock before the ex-date, they are entitled to the dividend that the stock is scheduled to pay that month. If the investor buys on or after the ex-date, then they will not receive the dividend payment for that month - the seller does. When checking Google Finance or a newspaper for a stock quote, the ex-date is typically marked with a lowercase “x.” Continue reading...

What is a foreign currency swap?

These are generally referred to as currency swaps or cross-currency swaps , since “foreign” is a little redundant (currencies are from different countries anyway). Central banks and large institutions sometimes swap principal amounts and loan interest in their domestic currency in exchange for a foreign currency, to provide liquidity and a hedge. Currency swaps are where banking institutions, particularly central banks, exchange a loan in one currency for a loan in another currency. Continue reading...

What is a credit default swap?

A Credit Default Swap is a contract that provides a hedge against credit default risk. To guarantee against the non-payment of a loan, a Credit Default Swap can be purchased for a premium. The seller of the swap bears the risk of payment if a bond issuer defaults, or if there is a similarly threatening “credit event” which is agreed upon in the terms of the swap contract. Generally, the buyer of a credit default swap will pay quarterly premiums for the protection, and the annualized premium is called the "spread," which may be a set percentage of the notional amount. Continue reading...

What is a commodity swap?

Like a currency or interest rate swap, a commodity swap is a contractual agreement to trade one cash flow for another. Commodity swaps are facilitated by Swap Dealers (SDs) who pair up various companies, mostly in the oil industry, who are looking to trade a floating (market price) cash flow outlay for a fixed one, or vice-versa. Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs) are the agents licensed by the National Futures Association to solicit and broker commodity swaps through Swap Dealers (SDs). (Requirements — found here) Continue reading...

Who is a commodity trading advisor (CTA)?

A Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) is registered with the National Futures Association (NFA) to manage client funds in a managed futures account (MFA) or other pooled investment such as a hedge fund or commodity pool in which the primary instruments being used are commodity futures, swaps, and other commodities derivatives. CTAs are a particular type of money manager specializing in commodities. Commodities Trading Advisors (CTAs) are licensed to manage commodity pools, managed futures accounts, and commodity-based hedge funds on behalf of clients. Continue reading...

What is foreign exchange?

The Foreign Exchange is abbreviated Forex, and it refers to the global network of 24/7 currency trading which is the largest and most liquid market in the world economy. Several of the largest Foreign Exchange markets are in London, New York, Singapore, and Tokyo, but there are other market centers and over-the-counter transactions which are part of what is known as the Forex. All currency exchanged for another currency is considered a Forex transaction, including currency exchanges by tourists at kiosks, but it gets much larger than that. Continue reading...

What is an 'expiration date' in reference to option trading?

An ‘expiration date’ refers to the time when an option contract must either be acted upon by the owner (buying or selling the security in question) or left to expire. With derivatives such as options and futures, there will be an expiry, or expiration date in the contract, after which they expire worthlessly. Most options contracts will expire in 3, 6 or 9 months from when they are generated, and they all share the same expiration day of the month on their contracts in the United States, which is the 3rd Friday of the month at 4 PM. Continue reading...

What is absolute frequency?

In statistics, the number of times that a specific value shows up in a data set is the absolute frequency of that value. The absolute frequency can then be used to find the relative frequency, which is the probability that the specific value is observed in a given number of trials. The relative frequency (empirical probability) takes the absolute frequency and divides it by the total number of trials (cumulative frequency), and can be expressed as a ratio or percentage. Continue reading...

What is the Lightning Network?

The Lightning Network is a system that allows for extremely fast Bitcoin transactions off-chain. Lightning Network is a smart contract protocol that uses existing blockchains to mediate transactions off-chain to increase the speed at which they can be finalized. Such a technology is much sought-after in the Bitcoin community, where transactions can take hours to clear if the workflow for miners gets backed up. With the fast pace of business today, the emergence of many other options for faster settlement, such as Ethereum and Ripple, developers know that something like Lightning Network may be needed to keep Bitcoin relevant and make it more scalable. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Arbitrage?

Arbitrage opportunities can be found in a few different places in the market, when risk-free profit can be made. If a stock is purchased before the ex-dividend date, and a put is exercised when the share price falls after the dividend is distributed, it is known as dividend arbitrage. Arbitrage is when an investor finds a situation where one thing can be exchanged for another, such as the same thing on two different exchanges or similar fixed instruments which can be swapped, when no risk is taken and a profit is gained. Continue reading...

Who is a commodity trader?

Commodity traders must at least pass the FINRA Series 3 exam, which focuses on the commodities market exclusively. The term “trader” is often used in reference to the people at an investment firm who work on the actual trading desk, sometimes executing trade orders from the front office but also trading for the account of the firm and sometimes giving investment advice. Traders often have a role to seek out and engage in trades that will improve the portfolio of the firm at which they are employed and benefit the clients of the firm. Commodity traders could work for a commodity pool or they could be a commodity specialist at a firm focused on a wider variety of investing. Continue reading...

What are credit derivatives?

Stemming from the hedging strategy of Credit Default Swaps, an entire speculative derivatives market continues to grow, in which tranches of credit risk and indices are traded. With the ballooning of consumer credit in recent years, it is only natural that a credit derivatives market would follow it. In essence, the risk associated with a loan or bond is separated from the actual asset and is passed on to a counter-party for a premium, and then other market participants become involved, perhaps in the form of futures contracts or other derivatives. Continue reading...

Why Do You Want to Own the Shares of a Publicly Traded Corporation?

The idea is that a shareholder’s interest in a growing publicly traded company will become more valuable over time. The simplest answer is: to make money! Owning shares of a company’s stock is known as taking a long position, and this is done in the belief that the company is going to increase its earnings and profit margin into the future, or will at least remain steady. There are three ways to make money on stocks: Continue reading...

What is a Credit Spread?

Credit Spread is an indication of the default risk perceived in corporate bonds at the current time. The credit spread is the difference between the yield on the safest bonds and the riskiest bonds. How much does it cost corporations to issue bonds, in terms of the yield expected by investors in the current market? Typically, a higher spread indicates a more unstable economy. Buyers of large quantities of bonds tend to insure their purchases, and the cost of the insurance is usually reflected in so-called CDS's (Credit Default Swaps). The more expensive the CDS's are, the more risky it is to purchase the bond. Continue reading...