The process of analysing a financial instrument's historical prices and other statistics generated by market activity, in an effort to determine probable future prices.
For many years, traders active in the stock market and foreign exchange market have found that one successful way to forecast future movements in rates is to analyze the patterns that can be seen in past movements. This approach is often referred to as technical analysis which actually dates back to the late 1800s. It has gained in importance since the 1990's through the usage of computer models and advanced charting techniques.
Currencies rarely spend much time in tight trading ranges and have the tendency to develop strong trends. Over 80% of volume is speculative in nature resulting in a market that frequently overshoots and then corrects itself. A technically trained trader can easily identify new trends and breakouts that provide multiple opportunities to enter and exit positions.
Fundamental analysis mostly refers to the use of economic data to predict forex price movements. While technical analysis focuses on historical price action and repeating behavior, fundamental analysis takes into consideration the demand and supply for a currency based on the current and expected return in holding it.
Demand and supply of a currency are influenced mostly by central banks and monetary policy. When a central bank decides to add to money supply or lowers interest rates, the value of the local currency goes down since there is more of it in circulation and the rate of return on assets denominated in that currency is lower. On the other hand, when a central bank decides to lessen money supply or increases interest rates, the value of a local currency goes up since there is less of it in circulation and the rate of return on securities denominated in that currency is higher.