September volumes slumped slightly from August figures, and profits dipped as well. However, most brokers were able to post respectable overall statistics due to relatively strong early to mid-month gains. The month also saw a reversal from August trends, with equity indices pulling back and both oil and gold selling off. The movement in gold drove the majority of PL volatility during the month.
After a relatively quiet start to the month, the second half of July brought strong profits for brokers, allowing most to far exceed the results seen in June. Although volumes were only up marginally from the prior month, revenues were robust because of broad-based USD selling and the late month rally in metals. By the beginning of August, metals had reached all time highs and EURUSD was at a level not seen for 16 months.
June profits and volumes were front-loaded with the bulk of PL in the first 10 days of the month, primarily due to broad-based USD selling. Profitability in that period was focused in EUR and JPY pairs, along with indices and gold. Mid-month activity was relatively flat, but the month finished well primarily because of the continuation of the gold rally. Overall, both profits and volumes recovered well from the lows seen in May.
May volumes were very similar to April totals, but still far below the highs reached in February and March. Although volumes were in line with April, profits were far lower. Losses in oil suppressed profitability in the early weeks of May as the majority of retail clients held their long positions into the rally at the start of the month. Movements in indices later in May helped salvage respectable, though below average, overall profits for the month.
April saw broker volumes fall off significantly from the near-record numbers recorded in February and March. Profits, though down as well, were respectable as a result primarily of mid-month moves in oil markets that saw prices fall briefly into negative territory. Profits were also buoyed by movements in gold and US indices. Oil prices will likely be in focus again in May as we approach the expiration of this month’s futures contract.
The recent rise in market volatility has left all brokers susceptible to being taken advantage of by predatory traders but this is particularly true for startups and smaller brokers. While the opportunities for traders to attempt to exploit brokers have always existed, current market conditions have exacerbated the risk with strategies ranging from weekend gap loading to depth of book and spread arbitrage.
Volume totals in March matched the strong numbers from February, though daily figures trailed off late in the month. Daily profit figures also softened in the second half of the month, but monthly totals exceeded February as volatility in a broad range of markets brought strong early month results. After the turbulent market movements in February and March, volatility will likely continue while markets try to discover their true bottom.