What is a Lot in Forex?

In the past, spot forex was only traded in specific amounts called lots, or basically the number of currency units you will buy or sell.

The standard size for a lot is 100,000 units of currency, and now, there are also minimicro, and nano lot sizes that are 10,000, 1,000, and 100 units.

Some brokers show quantity in “lots”, while other brokers show the actual currency units.

As you may already know, the change in a currency value relative to another is measured in “pips,” which is a very, very small percentage of a unit of currency’s value.

To take advantage of this minute change in value, you need to trade large amounts of a particular currency in order to see any significant profit or loss.

Let’s assume we will be using a 100,000 unit (standard) lot size. We will now recalculate some examples to see how it affects the pip value.

  1. USD/JPY at an exchange rate of 119.80: (.01 / 119.80) x 100,000 = $8.34 per pip
  2. USD/CHF at an exchange rate of 1.4555: (.0001 / 1.4555) x 100,000 = $6.87 per pip

Your broker may have a different convention for calculating pip values relative to lot size but whatever way they do it, they’ll be able to tell you what the pip value is for the currency you are trading at that particular time.

In other words, they do all the match calculations for you!

As the market moves, so will the pip value depending on what currency you are currently trading.

How the heck do I calculate profit and loss?

Let’s buy U.S. dollars and sell Swiss francs.

  1. The rate you are quoted is 1.4525 / 1.4530. Because you are buying U.S. dollars you will be working on the “ASK” price of 1.4530, the rate at which traders are prepared to sell.
  2. So you buy 1 standard lot (100,000 units) at 1.4530.
  3. A few hours later, the price moves to 1.4550 and you decide to close your trade.
  4. The new quote for USD/CHF is 1.4550 / 1.4555. Since you initially bought to open the trade, to close the trade, you now must sell in order to close the trade so you must take the “BID” price of 1.4550. The price which traders are prepared to buy at.
  5. The difference between 1.4530 and 1.4550 is .0020 or 20 pips.
  6. Using our formula from before, we now have (.0001/1.4550) x 100,000 = $6.87 per pip x 20 pips = $137.40

Bid-Ask Spread

Remember, when you enter or exit a trade, you are subject to the spread in the bid/ask quote.

When you buy a currency, you will use the offer or ASK price. 

When you sell, you will use the BID price.

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