Sunday, August 31, 2008

Forex: What Is A Pip?

If you are a beginning forex trader you might be wondering what exactly a pip is. Everyone throws around the lingo but hardly anyone ever stops to give a good explanation that makes things clear for the aspiring trader.

Generally, a pip is explained as the least significant digit of a price quote.

So, if the US Dollar (USD) trades at 120.19 JPY (Japanese Yen) then each unit of change, such as a an increase increase in value of the USD to 120.20 JPY, involves a one pip change in price.

I'm going to step out on a limb and say that a PIP is a price increment point. However, the more confusing official terminology is apparently percentage in point. Which is less confusing?

Either way, it's a single point of change in the quote price between two currencies. Now, while this is very simple, it can be confusing at first when you find out that different currency pairs are quoted to a varying number of digits.

By way of example, here are some relatively current price quotes for various currency pairs:
    AUD/JPY   093.29
    AUD/USD   0.8574
    EUR/USD   1.4668
    EUR/JPY   159.62
    GBP/JPY   198.05
    GBP/USD   1.8204
    NZD/USD   0.7001
    USD/CAD   1.0635
    USD/JPY   108.75
Unfortunately, it is possible that your trading platform will display partial pips! If so, I'd recommend turning that extra level of detail off when you are just getting started. Being clear on currency price and profit/loss calculations will be much more important to you as a beginner than worrying about price moves in the partial pip range.

Why such a feature is enabled by default is something that mystifies me. I guess people in the forex industry soon forget what it is like to be at the beginning of your trading experience -- things can be confusing at first.

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