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How to Choose a Trading Market

At the beginning of your trading journey, defining your personal goals and trading strategy can make all the difference. A crucial part of this process is learning about the characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks of the various financial markets underlying the contracts for difference that stand before you. Let’s take a closer look:

An illustration of the types of trading markets

Financial Markets Explained

Financial markets can be understood as the platforms where market actors engage in the trading of financial securities and derivatives, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and metals. These markets encompass a variety of assets, facilitating the exchange of capital to spur business growth and enable investors to generate returns.

Traditionally, financial markets are associated with exchanges, physical or electronic entities that facilitate the trading of securities. Examples include prominent exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and NASDAQ. These exchanges provide regulated environments where stocks are bought and sold, although corporate actions like mergers can occur outside their purview, directly between entities.

While stocks primarily trade on exchanges, currencies and bonds are often traded bilaterally, although some bonds are listed on exchanges. Increasingly, electronic systems are emerging to facilitate trading in these assets, aligning with global initiatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10, which aims to enhance the regulation and oversight of financial markets worldwide.

Financial markets are integral to the functioning of economies, serving as conduits for capital allocation. Businesses leverage these markets to raise funds for expansion, while investors utilise them to deploy capital for profit generation. To illustrate, consider a bank acting as a financial market, where depositors' funds are pooled to extend loans to borrowers, who repay with interest. This symbiotic relationship benefits both depositors, who see their savings grow through interest, and borrowers, who access capital to finance endeavours.

Financial markets encompass various types, ranging from local exchanges to global behemoths like the NYSE. While some markets may be modest in size, others command international attention, transacting trillions of dollars daily.

Types of Trading Markets

As mentioned above, financial markets can take a variety of forms in accordance with the products being traded, and thus provide for a diverse range of CFDs. While these underlying financial markets are highly diverse and can range from ETFs to crypto (depending on jurisdiction) and options, below we’ll delve into a few key types of financial markets you may wish to understand more deeply when making your CFD trading choices:

Stock Markets Explained

The stock market, involves buyers and sellers engaging in stock transactions , which represent ownership stakes in businesses. These stocks can be publicly traded on stock exchanges as well as privately traded via different means, such as equity crowdfunding.

The size of the stock market has seen significant growth over the years. For instance, the total market capitalization of publicly traded stocks worldwide has reached nearly $100 trillion, and there are sixty stock exchanges across the globe.

At the core of the stock market is the stock exchange, where stockbrokers and traders buy and sell various securities, including stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. Listing stocks on an exchange enhances their liquidity, making them more appealing to investors. Stock exchanges may also ensure settlement guarantees, providing confidence to market participants. Additionally, stocks may be traded over the counter (OTC), outside formal exchanges.

Trading in stock markets involves the transfer of stocks or securities from sellers to buyers in exchange for money, contingent on agreeing upon a price. Stocks confer ownership interests in specific companies, attracting a diverse range of participants, from individual investors to institutional players like banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. These participants may execute buy or sell orders through stock exchange traders, who facilitate transactions on their behalf.

Stock exchanges, at their core, function as arenas where securities can be bought and sold. As a byproduct of this activity, real-time trading information is disseminated to market participants, aiding in determining fair prices for listed securities.

Various stock exchanges around the world exhibit different characteristics, attracting traders based on liquidity and pricing advantages. For instance, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) features a hybrid market, accommodating both electronic and floor-based trading, while the NASDAQ operates solely through electronic networks.

Many traders tend to participate in the more popular exchanges due to their broad market participation, which generally offer better pricing and higher liquidity. The preference for trading on well-established exchanges underscores the importance of market depth and liquidity in executing transactions effectively.

Stock Market Pros and Cons

The stock market, like other areas of financial activity, has pluses as well as minuses.

Among the stock market's advantages are its ability to offer the potential for portfolio growth as companies expand and become more profitable, as well as the increasing ease of access to investing as online trading platforms have proliferated in number. Furthermore, share trading has a relatively low entry barrier, enabling investors to start with minimal capital, and high liquidity.

On the other hand, stock markets the world over can sometimes be characterised by high levels of volatility as companies' fortunes wax and wane, increasing the risk of investment loss. Along the same lines, while the stock market has relatively low barriers to entry even for beginners, it is advisable to take time to research and build market market knowledge before investing.

In summary, while stocks may offer many growth opportunities for those wishing to trade related CFDs, prudent trading entails weighing the inherent risks and demands as well as diligent research and monitoring. It is important for traders to recognise the distinctions between share CFD trading and traditional stock trading, which we offer only via Plus500 Invest. CFD stock trading is distinctive as the trader does not own the underlying asset, and share CFDs are leveraged, which increases the risk of significant financial losses.

Forex Market Explained

Foreign exchange (forex or FX) markets are a popular sphere of market activity among traders and investors the world over. This market is where the buying and selling of national currencies occurs, and often reflects the geopolitical and economic fortunes of the various countries the bills of which are being purchased and sold. Accordingly, CFDs on forex pairs are deeply entwined with the dynamics of the underlying market.

The FX market can be understood as made up of three different, but related, markets: forward, spot, and Futures. Spot forex trades take place ‘on the spot’, for example when a traveller wishes to switch a certain amount of his own national currency for that of his destination at the exchange rate in place at the time of the transaction.

The forward forex market, however, is made up of transactions between a buyer and a seller that are set to take place at an agreed-upon time and price in the future. This area of market activity generally takes place outside of organised exchanges, in contrast to the third sphere of the forex market, Futures.

Futures forex trades take place in much the same fashion as the forward market but are organised on recognised exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

Forex Market Pros and Cons

However, despite its potential for returns, the forex market is not without its challenges. The volatility inherent in currency markets can be daunting, as prices may exhibit abrupt and unpredictable movements, catching inexperienced traders off guard. Consequently, individuals lacking the requisite expertise or risk management skills may find themselves susceptible to significant losses when trading forex CFDs.

Moreover, while CFD forex trading may yield swift gains, it may not align with the objectives of investors seeking more enduring returns or those with a preference for longer-term investment strategies. The transient nature of profits in the underlying forex market necessitates constant monitoring and adaptability, which may prove taxing for individuals accustomed to more passive investment approaches.

In essence, while the CFD forex market offers enticing advantages such as high liquidity, accessibility, and the potential returns, it also presents inherent risks, including volatility and complexity. Therefore, prospective traders must carefully weigh these factors and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate this dynamic financial landscape effectively.

Commodities Market Explained

The commodities market is one of the most venerable areas of trading activity and may offer diverse opportunities for those considering entry into the sphere of commodities CFDs. This underlying market consists of the buying and selling of the most essential goods, such as oil (CL), Copper (HG), and more.

Commodities, in essence, are goods that serve as interchangeable products, primarily used as inputs in the manufacturing of other goods or services. They can be broadly categorised into two main types: hard commodities and soft commodities.

Hard commodities encompass natural resources like metals (e.g., gold, silver, copper) and energy sources (e.g., oil, gasoline) that are typically mined or extracted from the earth. On the other hand, soft commodities consist of agricultural materials such as livestock (e.g., live cattle), and crops (e.g., coffee, wheat), which are grown rather than mined.

Within these categories lie various commodities markets, each with its own distinct specifications and trading dynamics. Energy markets revolve around commodities used for energy generation, including crude oil and gasoline. Metals markets involve materials used in jewellery making and industrial production, such as silver and copper. Agricultural markets focus on crops used to produce food, from corn (ZC) to soybeans (ZS) and more.

What Are Commodities CFDs?

Trading commodities involves buying and selling these underlying goods, typically through methods such as commodities futures, commodities CFDs, or trading commodities stocks. Futures contracts allow traders to speculate on the future price movements of commodities, while commodities CFDs offer a way to trade on price fluctuations without owning the underlying asset.

The commodities market presents a diverse array of opportunities for traders, with commodities serving as essential building blocks of both the economy and everyday life. Understanding the fundamentals of commodities trading is crucial for beginners looking to navigate this dynamic and influential market successfully; this includes understanding its pros and cons as well.

The Commodities Market’s Pros and Cons

One notable advantage offered to potential traders by the commodities CFD market is a generally high level of liquidity. Commodities CFDs’ underlying assets are readily marketable, allowing traders to buy or sell them, and can act to preserve liquidity even when the economy overall is going through a period of relative volatility

Also, with a diverse array of commodities CFDs available for trading, investors can benefit from portfolio diversification when trading, thereby mitigating the risks associated with overexposure to any single underlying asset class. Moreover, commodities CFDs can serve as a hedge against inflation. Unlike many other assets negatively impacted by inflation, commodity prices often appreciate in response to rising inflation rates, thereby safeguarding investors' purchasing power. Some commodities, such as gold (XAU), are even considered safe haven assets by many market experts.

However, participation in the commodities CFD market also carries with it inherent risks, chief among them being high volatility. Particularly in the realm of energy commodities, price fluctuations can be extreme, necessitating a cautious approach from traders to navigate potential losses.

Furthermore, CFD commodity markets remain susceptible to geopolitical dynamics and economic fluctuations, which can precipitate sudden and drastic shifts in prices. Such unpredictability poses a challenge for traders seeking stability in their investment endeavours.

In conclusion, while commodity CFD trading offers opportunities for liquidity, diversification, and inflation hedging, it also exposes traders to heightened volatility and susceptibility to external factors. Careful consideration of these pros and cons is essential for making informed investment decisions in the commodities CFD market.

Best Practices When Choosing an Underlying Trading Market

Choosing the appropriate CFD for your trading endeavours requires careful consideration and a systematic approach toward the related financial market. Here are some tips that may aid you in making the most appropriate choice:

Take Stock of Your Trading Goals

Before delving into any market, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your objectives. Determine whether you're aiming for short-term gains or long-term investments. Assess your risk tolerance level—are you comfortable with high-risk, high-reward opportunities, or do you prefer a more conservative approach? By establishing your trading goals, you can streamline your options and focus on the CFDs that best align with your aspirations.

Research, Research, Research

Once you've outlined your objectives, delve into researching various CFDs to identify the one that best suits your needs. Consider factors like liquidity, volatility, trading hours, and available assets.

Evaluate Underlying Market Accessibility

Accessibility is key when selecting a CFD based on a certain market. Evaluate factors such as the availability of trading platforms, ease of account setup, and access to real-time market data. Beginners may prefer markets with user-friendly platforms and educational resources, like our Plus500 Trading Academy, to flatten their learning curve.

Stay Up-to-Date

Make sure you're updated on market trends and news, as the economy is made up of many factors and therefore can be known to change rapidly. The articles in our News & Market Insights section can assist you in making sure you have the best information possible when deciding when, where, and how to participate in CFD trading.

Take Stock

Don't be afraid to assess your trading goals and adjust your CFD selection accordingly. Moving from trading CFDs on one financial market to another may lead to deeper knowledge and greater overall expertise for you as a trader.

By following these steps and considering relevant factors, you can make an informed decision and select the right CFD that suits your trading objectives and preferences. Remember, thorough research and evaluation are essential for trading success.


In conclusion, embarking on your trading journey necessitates a meticulous approach, beginning with a clear definition of your personal goals and strategies. Understanding the characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks of various financial markets on which CFDs are based is paramount in navigating the complex world of trading. From the expansive realm of stock markets to the intricate dynamics of forex, commodities markets, and more, each corner of the market offers unique opportunities and challenges for those trading related contracts for difference.

By taking stock of your trading goals, conducting thorough research, and evaluating market accessibility, you can make informed decisions aligned with your aspirations. Staying abreast of market trends and continuously reassessing your objectives enables you to adapt and refine your trading approach over time.

Ultimately, the journey into CFDs on financial markets is a dynamic and evolving process, requiring diligence, adaptability, and a commitment to ongoing learning. By adhering to best practices and considering relevant factors, you can navigate the complexities of trading with confidence, maximising your potential for success in the ever-changing landscape of global finance.


What are the main types of trading markets?

There are many different trading markets with related CFDs available to traders, depending on their jurisdiction, from commodities, shares, and ETFs to cryptocurrency, forex, and more.

What is the most traded market in the world?

The largest market in the world by trading volume is forex, with $7.5 trillion settled per day.

How do I decide which underlying market to trade on?

The decision of which CFD to trade is very individual, and it is up to each trader to conduct research, take account of the various market factors, and practise trading in order to make the best choice possible.

What is the hardest CFD market to trade?

Which underlying market is most difficult to trade, with regard to the related CFD, varies according to the individual investor’s risk tolerance, prior knowledge, and budget, among other factors.

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