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Hedging in Forex: Definition, Strategy, and Guide on How to Use It

Author: Patrick Dresdner
Patrick Dresdner
All publications of the author

*Updated March 2023!

While the forex market has the potential to yield substantial profits, trading it also involves significant risks. Investors use different tools to mitigate their risk exposure, and hedging is one of them. When you hedge, you take positions that cancel out the risk of another position. Although hedging helps you avoid losses, it also reduces your earnings potential. Therefore, it is crucial to learn about several hedging techniques and their pros and cons. This article explains "what is hedging in forex", the types of hedging, and how to use them efficiently to mitigate your risk exposure. 

What Is Hedging In Forex?

Hedging refers to opening a new position to offset the risk of an existing position. Investors employ this trading strategy to hedge against losses resulting from adverse market movements by simultaneously holding two opposing positions. It is a standard tool used to cater to the significant degree of market volatility of the currency market. It helps protect portfolios from unfavorable changes in currency prices. A trader could hedge against loss by opening a short position in a currency pair if he anticipates a rise in the value of that pair, but the market moves in the opposite direction.

What Are The Risks That Instigate Traders To Hedge Their Positions in Forex?

While trades employ hedging techniques for different reasons, the risks listed below might be the most prevalent ones.

1. Exchange Rate Risk

Traders risk incurring losses due to swings in the value of two currencies. Therefore, they hedge their positions by fixing an agreed-upon exchange rate and shielding the trades from negative price swings.

2. Interest Rate Risk 

Fluctuating interest rates can also impact the exchange rates of the underlying forex pairs and result in a financial loss. Hedging can help traders to reduce their interest rate risk using swaps. 

3. Political Instability Risk 

A country's political instability can also lead to dramatic changes in the value of currencies being traded. Traders may opt to buy political risk insurance to hedge their positions. 

4. Liquidity risk

Sometimes, It can be challenging for traders to locate willing buyers or sellers in the forex market due to its volatility and unpredictability. By establishing a counterposition that can be bought and sold quickly, hedging can increase market liquidity.

Hedging Strategies In Forex

To protect yourself against increased market volatility, you can use numerous forex hedging strategies. Below we list a few of them. 

1) Correlation Trading

The most typical hedging strategy involves using a currency pair that correlates negatively to the one being traded. For instance, If you're long on the EUR/USD pair (buying euros and selling dollars) and are concerned about your portfolio, you might hedge your position by shorting the USD/CHF pair (selling dollars and purchasing francs) since the USD/CHF and the EUR/USD pairs are negatively correlated. 

2) Options

Currency options give the right, but not the obligation, to purchase or sell a currency at a fixed exchange rate on or before a specific date. Traders can exercise options contracts at any time before the designated date. Options are a valuable tool for protecting against unfavorable currency value changes.

3) Currency Swaps

It's a mutual understanding between two parties whereby one party agrees to exchange currencies with the other party at a fixed exchange rate with the expectation that the transaction will be reversed at a later date. Currency swaps help reduce exposure to long-term currency risk. Additionally, they offer greater flexibility by enabling parties to modify the trade following shifting market conditions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hedging In Forex

While hedging in forex has some advantages, it also has certain disadvantages. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of hedging in forex;

Advantages of Forex hedging 

  1. Risk reduction: The primary benefit of hedging in forex is reducing the risk of loss. By opening counter positions, traders can offset possible losses from current positions. This hedging forex strategy protects the trader from excessive losses in volatile market conditions.

  2. Protection from volatility: Forex markets can be highly volatile at times. Hedging strategies for forex help traders limit losses in a volatile market by counterbalancing the risks. Traders can hedge currency pairs to escape huge losses.

  3. Flexibility: Forex hedging provides more flexibility to traders. They can easily adjust or remove a hedge based on market conditions. Hedging in forex allows traders to revise strategies as the market changes.

Disadvantages of Forex hedging

  1. Costs incurred: Hedging forex strategies involve transaction costs as traders take additional positions in the market. These trading costs decrease the overall profitability.

  1. Reduced profits: When the market moves in the intended direction, hedging strategies for forex can limit potential profits. The counter positions opened can offset the gains earned from the initial trades.

  1. Complex process: Forex hedge strategies can be complex to understand and implement. It requires in-depth knowledge and analysis to set up an effective hedge. Beginners may find it difficult to hedge in forex without proper guidance.

  1. Requires strict monitoring: For the best results, traders must closely monitor hedged positions. Any delays in adjusting or removing hedges can lead to losses. Continuous monitoring is essential to achieving objectives with a forex hedge strategy.

How To Hedge In Forex Trading?

The hedging strategy calls for deep thought and preparation. Here are some guidelines for making the most of hedging:

i) Assess the risk exposure

Even before you stake your funds in the currency market, you must understand the risks involved and know your risk tolerance level. 

ii) Know your hedging objectives

Make up your mind regarding what risk you mainly wish to hedge and what hedging strategies you will likely use to hedge your positions.

iii) Select the right technique

While options, forward contracts, and currency swaps are some hedging techniques, you must select the one that best fits your trading style.

iv) Keep an eye on the market

After finalizing a hedging strategy, monitor the market for potential trading opportunities. That's how you can better modify your positions and make the best of your hedging strategy. 

v) Use other risk management tools besides hedging

Remember, hedging is just one tool you can use to cater to the market's volatility. Consider using other tools as well, such as stop-loss orders and trailing stops.

Examples of Forex Hedging 

  1. A US company has exported items valued at €1 million to Europe, anticipating payments in 3 months. The company can buy a 3-month EUR/USD forward contract to hedge the forex risk to sell €1 million at a fixed exchange rate. By doing so, the company will get a predictable USD amount even if the EUR/USD exchange rate changes over the next 03 months.

  1. A UK-based company must pay $5 million in 6 months to import raw materials from the US. To hedge forex exposure, the company can buy a 6-month USD/GBP forward contract to purchase $5 million at a predetermined exchange rate. That's how the cost will remain as budgeted even if the USD/GBP spot rate increases significantly in 6 months.

Final Thoughts 

Hedging helps traders protect their capital against loss in the forex market. Although it's a viable tool for trading the financial markets, it also has some drawbacks. Therefore traders must carefully assess their preferred hedging strategy and its potential pros and cons besides learning how to hedge forex more effectively. Using it with other risk management tools, such as stop-loss orders, trailing stops, etc., is also a good idea to cater to the market's volatility. 

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Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Statistically, only 11-25% of traders gain profit when trading Forex and CFDs. The remaining 74-89% of customers lose their investment. Invest in capital that is willing to expose such risks.