What is the Spread?

Spread Definition. The Spread is the difference between the Bid and Ask prices in a currency pair quote. Dealing in currencies can be confusing at the start because you must always deal with a currency pair. The first currency in the pair is the “Base” currency. The second currency in the pair is labeled the “Quote” currency or “Counter” currency. A quotation then defines how many units of the counter currency are needed to buy one unit of the base currency. The quotation of a currency pair usually consists of two prices, much as with stocks traded on an exchange. The “Bid”, usually lower than the “Ask”, is the price at which a market maker or a broker is willing to buy the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. Ask or Offer, usually higher than Bid, is the price at which a broker is willing to sell the base currency in exchange for the quote currency. If the Bid price for a EUR/USD pair is 1.2750 and the Offer price is 1.2752, the difference, 2 “pips” in forex trader slang, is referred to as the “spread”. Most forex brokers derive their trading profits from the spread, so it is beneficial to review broker spreads before transacting trades. Spreads tend to be in the 2-5 pip range for major currencies, but spreads will widen for more exotic pairs where liquidity and cost issues must be factored into the quote by the broker. If margins tend to widen and shrink for no apparent reason, you may want to reconsider your broker.

Risk Statement: Trading Foreign Exchange on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The possibility exists that you could lose more than your initial deposit. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you.