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Introduction to Fundamental Analysis

What is Fundamental Analysis?

Fundamental analysis studies the core underlying elements that influence the economy of a particular entity, like a stock or currency. It attempts to predict price action and trends by analyzing economic indicators, government policy, societal and other factors within a business cycle framework.

If you think of the markets as a big clock, fundamentals are the gears and springs that move the hands around the face. Anyone can tell you what time it is now, but the fundamentalist knows about the inner workings that move the clock's hands towards times (or prices) in the future.

Are you a technician or fundamentalist?

There's a tendency to pigeonhole traders into two distinct schools: fundamental or technical. In fact, most smart traders favor a blended approach versus being a purist of either type.

Fundamentalists need to keep an eye on signals derived from price charts, while few technicians can afford to completely ignore impending economic data, critical political decisions or pressing societal issues that influence price action.

Forecasting economic conditions using models

Fundamental analysis is very effective at forecasting economic conditions, but not necessarily exact market prices. Studying GDP forecasts or employment reports can give you a fairly clear picture of an economy's health and the forces at work behind it. But you still need a method to translate that into specific trade entry and exit points.

The bridge between fundamental data and a specific trading strategy usually comes from a trader model. These models use current and historical empirical data to estimate future prices and translate those into specific trades.

Beware of "analysis paralysis"

Forecasting models are both art and science, with so many different approaches that traders can get overloaded. It can be tough to decide when you know enough to pull the trigger on a trade with confidence.

Many traders switch to technical analysis at this point to test their hunches and see when price patterns suggest an entry.

Look for fundamental drivers first

The fundamentals include everything that makes a country and its currency tick. From interest rates and central bank policy to natural disasters, the fundamentals are a dynamic mix of distinct plans, erratic behaviors and unforeseen events.

That said, not every development will move a country's currency. Try to start by identifying the most influential contributors to this mix versus following every fundamental out there.

»Next: Forex Market Drivers

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