How are forex spreads calculated?

In foreign exchange (Forex) trading, understanding how spreads are calculated is essential to successful investing. While it can be a complex topic, traders need to understand the basics of forex trading in Hong Kong to make better-informed decisions about when to enter and exit trades. This article will outline the main ways in which forex spreads are calculated. 

How to calculate a forex spread

The most common method of calculating forex spread is based on the difference between a currency’s bid and ask prices. The bid price is the highest price a trader in Hong Kong is willing to pay for a currency pair, while the asking price reflects the lowest price at which another trader is willing to sell that pair. The spread is defined as the difference between these two values.

For example, if the USD/EUR currency pair has a bid price of 1.30 and an ask price of 1.31, then the spread would be calculated as 1.31 – 1.30 = 0.01 or one pip (also known as a point). Generally, spreads are quoted in terms of pips because it makes it easier to compare prices across different currency pairs. 

The spread size can vary depending on the market’s liquidity for that particular pair and other conditions, such as whether any current news events influence investor sentiment. Spreads tend to be tight during sessions where trading volume is high and widest when there is low liquidity in the market. 

Apart from the bid and ask prices, another important factor influencing the spread size is the amount of leverage available for a particular currency pair. Leverage is using borrowed funds to increase the size of trades, which can result in more enormous trades or losses depending on how accurately one predicts market movements. Higher leverage levels result in wider spreads since traders are taking on more risk. 

Finally, forex brokers may set their fixed spreads regardless of external conditions such as liquidity or leverage. This spread generally tends to be higher than variable spreads but offers more certainty regarding trading costs. 

Other techniques used by forex traders?

In addition to understanding how spreads are calculated, forex traders should also be familiar with other techniques to help them maximise their chances of doing well. 


Hedging is one of the most widely used techniques among forex traders. It involves taking two opposite positions on a single currency pair, reducing or eliminating risk, and helping to minimise losses if market conditions move in an unexpected direction. 


Stops are also a common technique used by forex traders. A stop-loss order is placed at a predetermined level and automatically closes out your position when it reaches that point, limiting potential losses due to adverse price movements.

A take-profit order

A take-profit order is similar but works in the opposite direction by closing out your position when it reaches the desired trading target. 


Forex scalpers also use short-term trading strategies, such as entering and exiting trades within a few minutes to capture small trades multiple times daily. Scalping requires exceptional discipline and risk management skills, as losses can quickly add up across many small trades. 

Technical analysis

Technical analysis is another method forex traders use to predict future price movements based on past data. This approach involves analysing chart patterns, oscillators, and other indicators to identify potential entry and exit points for profitable trades. 

Automated trading systems

Forex traders may also seek to use automated trading systems or “Expert Advisors” (EAs) that guide their trading decisions based on various indicators such as moving averages and trendlines. Such strategies can reduce the time spent analysing charts while providing traders with more consistent returns.


Understanding how forex spreads are calculated is essential for any successful currency trader. It is important to remember that individual brokers may set their fixed spreads, while variable spreads change according to market conditions such as liquidity and leverage. Other techniques, such as hedging, stop-losses, take-profit orders, scalping and technical analysis, can also enhance trading performance. By combining all these methods, traders can gain an edge over the markets and increase their chances of doing well in the long run. 


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