OANDA announced in a press release today that:

It has acquired Boston-based Currensee Global Inc., a leader in forex market copy trading within a proprietary social trading network. Together, the integration of the two leading technology platforms from OANDA and Currensee will provide traders with a unique offering.

Copy trading, a method by which traders can mirror the trading behavior of experienced forex investors from around the world, has realized tremendous growth in recent years. In addition, copy trading makes it possible for individual traders to share research data and collaborate with other traders.

OANDA's CEO K Duker said that:

With the acquisition of Currensee's award-winning copy trading platform, OANDA’s clients will benefit from the collective experience of Currensee’s extensive community of traders. Like OANDA, Currensee has a strong business vision coupled with an expert engineering pedigree. We are committed to continue serving the needs of all Currensee customers, Trade Leaders, and partners and look forward to making OANDA’s competitive spreads and superior execution available to this new group of traders.

Technical teams are scheduled to begin the work to make the Currensee platform available to OANDA clients and a notice will be issued once this work is completed.

Currensee CEO Dave Lemont put it this way:

The Currensee team is excited to join forces with OANDA, a company that shares our commitment to transparency and customer success. Our clients and partners will continue to receive best-in-class service from Currensee, and can expect even more as we work closely with OANDA to deliver an even better Trade Leaders Investment Program around the world.

Now that they'll be exposed to a much wider audience, I wonder how Currensee's Trade Leaders have been performing recently? More on that from us here at the Trading Gurus in the not too distant future!

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In a news release yesterday FXCM announced that:

Its U.S. subsidiary Forex Capital Markets LLC has agreed to assume the forex accounts of Alpari US LLC.

On Friday, September 27, 2013, accepted Alpari U.S. accounts will be transferred to FXCM U.S. after the close of trading.

After a detailed market review, Alpari selected FXCM because of their strong U.S. presence, financial stability, platform synergies and execution capability. Alpari U.S. clients will be transitioned from Alpari’s MetaTrader 4 (“MT4”) platform to the FXCM MT4 Platform and should see minimal changes in platform functionality. FXCM’s upgraded MT4 platform integrates seamlessly with its No Dealing Desk forex execution.

The deal affects all U.S. resident MT4 clients of Alpari US LLC.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

At this time the Alpari U.S. web site remains strangely silent on the matter.

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Somewhat unusually for the Trading Gurus, here we reproduce in full today's statement by CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, without further comment:

On September 30th, at the stroke of midnight, our country will face a government shutdown unless a continuing resolution to fund it is adopted.  That would be grave news for consumers.

Under a shutdown scenario, government regulators will be handcuffed in our ability to go after crooks who are trying to evade our oversight and protection of markets.  You can bet the “do-badders” are licking their chops.

The dark markets that Dodd-Frank brought into the light of day will go dark again.  The lights will go out.  Given the huge growth in the derivatives industry and our new oversight of swaps, CFTC’s market oversight functions are more important than ever.  Taking our cops off the beat for even a few days could have disastrous impacts on these markets that consumers depend upon.

In the longer term, I remain concerned about the stagnant budgetary circumstances and am convinced that a targeted transaction fee on trading, like the one the President has proposed to Congress, is needed to fund the agency and keep the markets safe.  But for now, let’s avoid a “Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights” debacle, and hope a deal can be reached to keep the lights on.

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Alpari UK has announced that it:

Has expanded its product range with the introduction of binary options. Alpari UK’s new web-based binary options platform gives new and experienced traders even more opportunity to take advantage of short and long-term market moves.

Alpari UK is one of the few global brokers authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) currently offering binary options.

Alpari UK CEO Daniel Skowronski added that:

Our number one focus is to ensure that we continually evolve and enhance our consumer offering. Binary options are the latest addition to our product portfolio and follow on from other recent product launches in 2013 such as our social trading product TraderConnect and VPS.

Binary options are traded through a new web based platform, and not the familiar MetaTrader 4 platform known (and loved?) by Alpari's existing forex trading clients. According to the news release:

Traders follow only three steps. Firstly, they choose the financial market (asset) they would like to trade; then they select how long the trade will last (from a variety of timeframes such as 30 seconds, 60 seconds, end of day, end of week and up to one year); and finally they select the amount they would like to trade.

If you're an existing Alpari customer opening a new binary options account couldn't be simpler. Login with your MyAlpari credentials, click a few buttons (making sure to read all the small print when prompted!) and in no time at all you'll be looking at something like this:

Alpari UK binary options platform trading the FTSE 100 and S&P 500

Alpari UK binary options platform trading the FTSE 100 and S&P 500

Alpari's new platform is evidently a "white label" version of the SpotOption platform, and should you wish to experiment with a "demo" version of Alpari's offering you can in fact do so on the SpotOption web site! Alpari also provide a video to help you get to grips with what they say is a very simple way of trading the financial markets – "You simply decide if the market will go up or down. Your risk is limited":

As the Alpari UK binary options page on their web site explains:

With an Alpari UK binary options account you have a choice of 16 currency pairs, 24 indices indices and 10 commodities.

The minimum deposit for an options account is 100 units of your favourite currency, unless you're a fan of the Yen in which case you'll need 10,000 of them.

The first obvious question to ask at this juncture is how Alpari intend to compete with IG here in the UK. The second obvious question is how can you turn even a modest profit using binary options?

I'll let you know if I discover the answers to one or both questions!

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MetaQuotes have just announced the public beta testing of a new combined MQL4/MQL5 development environment. According to their original announcement about the forthcoming changes to MetaTrader 4:

We have transferred the maximum possible amount of MQL5 language functions and features fully preserving MQL4 functionality. In other words, all powerful MQL5 functions, including ООP and the native code compiler, will become available in MQL4.

To achieve this, we have developed a unified compiler that automatically supports both MQL4 and MQL5 languages. MetaEditor will also become a single application both for MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms. Thus, it will be possible to compile both MQL4 and MQL5 from any version.

It seems that all existing MQL4 functionality has not in fact been preserved. According to MetaQuotes once again:

This is a preliminary version for everyone's information.

Differences from the old MQL4 version:

  • Changed the priority of AND/OR logical operations. Now, everything is similar to the standard C/C++
  • Introduced shortened evaluation of logical expressions. Now, when a logical expression is evaluated before reaching its end, the remaining subsequent expressions are not evaluated, like in C/C++.
  • Only integer values are now used in switch operator. Real values could have been used before
  • A dot symbol cannot be used in variable names any more. Also, '@', '$' and '?' symbols cannot be used in variable names
  • Tightened requirements for start function. Parameters could have been set in start function before. Now, all init, start, deinit, OnInit, OnStart, OnTick, OnTimer and other entry points should exactly match their signatures
  • Due to expansion of keywords, such names as short, long, float, const, virtual, input, delete, new, do, char cannot be used now
  • Now, imported dll functions cannot accept MQL string arrays as a parameter, like in MQL5
  • Introduced predefined _Period, _Symbol, _LastError, _CriticalError, _StopFlag, _Point, _Digits, _UninitReason, _RandomSeed variable names that may come into conflict with simple variables declared under the same names in existing source files
  • datetime type has become an 8-byte one, like in MQL5.

Having downloaded the beta IDE the first thing we did was compile a wide range of our existing expert advisors. Most recompiled without errors, but as suggested by the bullet points above there was one significant problem we encountered. A much loved function in one of our DLLs looks like this:

int _parse(string str, string& tokens[]);

and the error message the new MQL4 compiler emits when it encounters it reads as follows:

Invalid parameter for import function

This is not an entirely trivial problem to solve, especially if you don't possess the source code to the offending DLL!  Nevertheless we set out undaunted to see how object oriented programming for MetaTrader 4 works in practice. That meant starting from an expert advisor originally written for MetaTrader 5. Turning to our old friend Ray the Random Robot we changed the extension of the source to his multi-currency incarnation from MQ5 to MQ4 and tried to compile it in the new IDE. That resulted (not entirely unexpectedly!) in a long list of errors including things like "CDealInfo – undeclared identifier" and "HistoryDealsTotal – function not defined". This is actually rather good news if you're an MT4 fan, since it means MetaQuotes are continuing to support the traditional MetaTrader 4 order handling functionality. After a bit of cutting and pasting from his MQL4 version, objected oriented Ray compiled with a few warnings and no errors whatsoever.

Unfortunately we have no idea at the moment whether he's capable of actually trading. The .EX4 file produced by the new compiler doesn't run in currently available versions of the MetaTrader 4 terminal. We're informed that a new version of the MT4 terminal that will run these new executables is due to arrive "next month". According to MetaQuotes when that happens:

MQL4 code protection [will be] considerably increased

which sounds like more good news. Until then, if you'd like to experiment with object oriented programming for MetaTrader 4 you can download Ray's source code from the Trading Gurus Community Forum.

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Following our recent report that FXCM had made an unsolicited offer to acquire GAIN Capital it looked likely that the GAIN board weren't very keen on that prospect. That perception was confirmed this morning when I received an email signed:

Gary Tilkin, CEO and President, Global Futures and Forex Limited.

Gary told me that:

I am writing with exciting news. Today, GFT and GAIN Capital Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: GCAP) announced that they have agreed to merge. The combination creates a larger, stronger company bringing innovation in trading technology and award winning customer service to our clients and partners.

Both GAIN and GFT have long and established histories in the online trading space, and together can leverage the best of breed in technology, service, dealing, and execution to create a new industry leader.

GAIN themselves express things slightly differently. In one press release this morning they said that:

The Board of Directors of GAIN Capital Holdings, Inc.(NYSE: GCAP), a global provider of online trading services, today announced that it has rejected an unsolicited written proposal from FXCM Inc. to acquire GAIN for 0.3996 shares of FXCM Class A common stock for each share of GAIN common stock.

The GAIN Board of Directors, with the assistance of its financial and legal advisers, has completed a thorough evaluation of the proposal, as well as a range of options to build shareholder value. Based on its evaluation, the Board has determined that pursuing the transaction proposed by FXCM would significantly undervalue the Company and its prospects and would not be in the best interests of the Company's shareholders at this time. The Board therefore unanimously rejected the proposal and reaffirmed its commitment to GAIN's strategic plan.

In a second press release they say that:

GAIN Capital Holdings, Inc. today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Global Futures & Forex, LTD (GFT), a global provider of retail forex and derivatives trading with offices in London, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purchase price is approximately $107.8 million which, including $80 million of GFT cash at closing, results in a net purchase price of $27.8 million. The purchase price will be paid with $40 million in cash, a five-year $40 million seller note and the issuance of approximately 4.9 million shares of GAIN common stock.  Both companies will initially retain their separate brand identities, while benefiting from significant synergies and capabilities across their complementary businesses. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Whether it's a "merger" or an "acquisition" it looks as though FXCM has a fight on its hands to deliver what it called at the start of the month:

The expected improvement of financial strength and stability of the combined entity.

GAIN evidently has other ideas!  Here's how the GCAP and FXCM share prices looked shortly after the market opened today:

NinjaTrader daily chart of FXCM and GCAP at 9:40 EST on April 25th 2013

NinjaTrader daily chart of FXCM and GCAP at 9:40 EST on April 25th 2013

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Sid is the Superstitious Robot and Ray is the Random Robot and they are cousins. They finally got to meet in person earlier this week thanks to Sid's appearance in the Designs of the Year 2013 exhibition at The Design Museum in London. Here's the undeniable proof:

Two Robots and a Human at the Design of the Year 2013 Exhibition

Two Robots and a Human at the Designs of the Year 2013 Exhibition

Sid the Superstitious Robot is the "brains" behind Shing Tat Chung's Superstitious Fund, which was selected to appear in the digital category of this year's design awards. Sid and the Superstitious Fund didn't win the category unfortunately. That honour went to the new UK Government web site, which won the overall Design of the Year 2013 award too.  In all the circumstances Sid wasn't too disappointed to lose out to a much better funded design.

Since Ray blew his entire (thankfully virtual) account recently I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Sid has actually been making some real profits recently spread betting on the FTSE 100 index, and with only 47 days left out of the 12 months the Superstitious Fund was designed to run his account was showing an overall loss of 6.3%, having been down over 10% after less than a month's trading back in June last year.

Just in case you're wondering about the design on the back of Ray's tee shirt here it is, elegantly modelled once again by yours truly:

Design by committee is fraught with danger!

Design by committee is fraught with danger!

None of the Design Museum staff passed comment on the tee shirt, but I did ask a couple of passers by to comment on Superstitious Sid's modus operandi after they had examined him closely. One felt it was:

A ridiculous way to try and make money from the markets!

whereas another thought it was:

An extremely interesting psychological experiment!

What's your take? Sid the Superstious Robot will remain on display at The Design Museum until July 7th if you'd like to take a closer look before deciding.

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It's all go today. I've only just finished blogging about connecting a new trading platform to one of my own brokers, and now I find said broker is in the news for a very different reason. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission have just issued a press release announcing that they have:

Today issued an Order requiring Interactive Brokers LLC (IB) of Greenwich, Conn., to pay a $225,000 civil monetary penalty for failing to calculate the amount of customer funds on deposit, the amount of funds required to be on deposit in customer segregated accounts, failing to maintain sufficient U.S. dollars (USD) in customer segregated accounts in the United States to meet all USD-denominated obligations, and supervision failures. The CFTC’s Order also requires IB to cease and desist from violating CFTC Regulations, as charged.

According to their website Interactive Brokers have been:

Rated Best Online Broker for the Second Year in a Row by Barron's 2013


For 36 years the IB Group has been building electronic access trading technology that delivers real advantages to traders, investors and institutions worldwide. Interactive Brokers Group and its affiliates' equity capital exceeds $4.8 billion. We are the largest US electronic broker based on daily average revenue trades executing 407,000 trades per day.

Despite that reputation and all that equity capital, IB have fallen foul of the CFTC who find (with IB's assistance!) that:

From at least January 2008 through at least April 4, 2011, IB failed to compute as of the close of business each day, on a currency-by-currency basis, the amount of customer funds required to be on deposit and the amount of customer funds actually on deposit in segregated accounts on behalf of commodity and options customers.

Additionally, between September 21, 2011 and May 8, 2012, IB improperly covered a portion of its USD commodity futures and options customer obligations with Japanese yen and Swiss francs to maximize its interest earnings and not at the request of any of its commodity customers. As a result, IB did not retain enough USD in segregation to meet its USD-denominated obligations to its commodity customers – with the USD segregation requirement shortfall ranging from approximately $90 million to $300 million during that time, according to the Order.  IB discovered and self-reported this violation to the CFTC on May 10, 2012; however, IB had excess segregated funds ranging from $48.4 million to $455.3 million at all relevant times.

The Order itself goes into a bit more detail than the CFTC's press release, and reveals that:

From at least January 2008 until at least April 4, 2011, IB failed to compute as of the close of business each day, on a currency-by-currency basis, the amount of customer funds required by the Act and Regulations to be on deposit and the amount of customer funds on deposit in segregated accounts on behalf of commodity and options customers. Rather, IB only prepared such segregation calculations on an overall, USD-equivalent basis, in violation of Regulation 1.32(a).

From September 21,2011 to May 8, 2012, IB covered a portion of its USD commodity futures and options customer obligations with Japanese yen and Swiss francs. It did not do so at the request of any of its commodity customers but rather to maximize its interest earnings, in violation of Regulation 1.49(b ). As a result, IB did not retain enough USD in segregation to meet its USD denominated obligations to its commodity customers, in violation of Regulation 1.49(e). The shortfall in USD requirement ranged from approximately $90 million to $300 million during that time. IB discovered and self-reported the violations of Regulation 1.49 to the Commission on May 10,2012. During the time period of the violations of Rule 1.49, IB had excess segregated funds on deposit in customer segregated accounts (including USD plus other currencies) of between $ 48.4 MM and $ 455.3 MM.

Prior to May 9, 2012, IB did not have procedures in place to ensure compliance with Regulations 1.49 and 1.32. In fact, IB was not aware of its obligations under Regulation 1.49 until May 2012. Moreover, IB further failed to adequately train and diligently supervise its officers, employees, and agents to ensure compliance with Regulations 1.32 and 1.49, in violation of Regulation 166.3. IB independently implemented corrective measures after discovering the violations; and IB cooperated with the Division in investigating the circumstances.

The Order also reveals that:

In anticipation of the institution of an administrative proceeding, Respondent has submitted an Offer of Settlement ("Offer"), which the Commission has determined to accept. Without admitting or denying any of the findings or conclusions herein, Respondent consents to the entry of this Order Instituting Proceedings Pursuant to Sections 6(c) and 6(d) of the Commodity Exchange Act, as Amended, Making Findings and Imposing Remedial Sanctions ("Order") and acknowledge service of this Order.

In all the circumstances one can't help but wonder how many other brokers there are still out there that don't even know what regulations they are supposed to be complying with, how the CFTC will discover that fact if said brokers don't follow in IB's footsteps and notify the CFTC themselves, and what fine the CFTC would impose if said brokers didn't offer an appropriate sum of money in advance?

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MultiCharts have just announced on their blog that they have introduced what they describe as:

The BEST currently available free trading software.

The MultiCharts hype machine goes on to say that:

MultiCharts 8.5 Starter Edition is a FREE version of our award-winning trading platform. Starter Edition was designed for beginner traders to ease the burden of buying expensive software when you are just starting out. MultiCharts .NET Starter Edition offers all features of MultiCharts .NET, including LIVE trading capabilities (chart, DOM, drag-and-drop strategies and fully automated), best charting in the industry, advanced strategy development capabilities in C# and Visual Basic, integration with Visual Studio, high-precision tick-by-tick strategy and portfolio backtesting, extremely fast optimization and more.

They then go on to mention the tiny little fly in the trading ointment:

You can [only] trade up to two (2) symbols at a time.

Here at the Trading Gurus we take all such claims with a large pinch of salt until we've performed our own tests. Here are our hasty initial impressions.

Many moons ago now FXCM introduced the Strategy Trader platform, which looked to us a lot like a "white label" version of the venerable MultiCharts platform, but with strategy programming using the C# language rather than the PowerLanguage flavour of TradeStation's EasyLanguage. More recently FXCM announced that they were dropping support for Strategy Trader whilst subsequently introducing "free" trading using the NinjaTrader platform. Meanwhile MultiCharts .NET was announced, with similar pricing to the standard MultiCharts platform. If you're still following the saga it looks like the new MultiCharts .NET 8.5 Starter Edition is the uprated C# equivalent of MultiCharts Discretionary Trader, which was free of charge but did not allow automated trading, and is now conspicuous only by its absence from MultiCharts web site.

The first thing to note is that even though it's free of charge there are both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of MultiCharts .NET SE available. As MultiCharts point out:

If you have a 32-bit Windows, MultiCharts can only use up to 2 GB of RAM. If you have 64-bit Windows, MultiCharts can use all RAM for maximum performance.

On firing up the installer it discovered I already had Microsoft .NET Framework versions 3.5 and 4.0 on my hard drive, and so it only installed the new platform itself. As it did that the installation small print took the trouble to point out to me that you can:

Get started right away with FREE 30 days of real-time futures, index and FX data (no credit card required) – just fill out a simple form when you start the program. All necessary features to be a successful trader are at your fingertips!

Having finally got the platform installed I started it up to discover that my screen suddenly looked like this:

MultiCharts .NET SE initial sign on screen

MultiCharts .NET SE initial sign on screen

It rather looks as though MultiCharts are hoping to earn a crust from the product courtesy of DQN's IQFeed doesn't it? Despite that enticing offer I couldn't help but notice that MC SE appears to support Interactive Brokers out of the box. Since I have an account with IB I selected the "I have a data feed subscription" option and clicked "Next", which led me here:

MultiCharts .NET SE Interactive Brokers Getting Started Wizard

MultiCharts .NET SE Interactive Brokers Getting Started Wizard

At that point in proceedings the Wizard's magic deserted it, since I actually run Interactive Brokers' IB Gateway on a separate server. To try and keep MultiCharts SE happy I closed that down and started up IB's Trader Workstation on the same machine as my MCSE installation. Since Ray the Random Robot and his offspring have a particular penchant for cable, I then looked up GBP and selected GBP.USD on the IDEALPRO "exchange":

Ray Robot II loves the Great British Pound!

Ray Robot II loves the Great British Pound!

Since a lot of "beginner traders" like to start out on the S&P e-mini futures I selected them on Ray's behalf too:

Ray thought he'd try out the June 2013 ES futures contract on MCSE also

Ray thought he'd try out the June 2013 ES futures contract on MCSE also

Having selected Ray's two favourite instruments I clicked the "Finish" button, but MultiCharts SE refused to finish! It kept popping up the IB symbol search window, so eventually I clicked "Cancel" instead, and then manually connected to Interactive Brokers. However I still couldn't seem to open up a chart or a DoM for either cable or the e-minis. As luck would have it I am familiar with the innermost workings of MultiCharts so next I fired up the MultiCharts .NET QuoteManager, which revealed this to me:

MultiCharts .NET SE QuoteManager reveals some Interactive Brokers connection issues

MultiCharts .NET SE QuoteManager reveals some Interactive Brokers connection issues

So there you have our initial impressions of MultiCharts .NET SE. It looks like there are one or two teething troubles that MultiCharts still need to sort out, if you don't particularly want to pay for IQFeed at least. In case it's of some help to somebody, here's what QuoteManager looks like when it is configured correctly:

MultiCharts .NET SE QuoteManager correctly connected to Interactive Brokers

MultiCharts .NET SE QuoteManager correctly connected to Interactive Brokers

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I received a message in my inbox this morning advising me that:

FXCM Proposes Acquisition of Gain Capital

According to the accompanying press release FXCM sent a letter to the members of GAIN's Board of Directors last night:

To inform them of FXCM's desire to reach agreement on a transaction that would create the industry leader in online FX trading.

According to FXCM CEO Drew Niv:

FXCM believes that the substantial potential operating and capital synergies between the two companies would result in an accretive deal with a strong growth profile and improved economies of scale. Additionally, FXCM believes customers of both FXCM and Gain will greatly benefit from the expected improvement of financial strength and stability of the combined entity.

This proposed merger is the highest priority for FXCM, and we hope that Gain is as excited as we are about the potential a combined company could have.

It remains to be seen how excited GAIN Capital's shareholders are about the proposed deal, but a comparison between the two companies stock price charts tells a large part of the story. Here is a NinjaTrader chart combining the two:

FXCM versus GAIN weekly chart on April 9th 2013

FXCM versus GAIN weekly chart before the NYSE open on April 9th 2013

As you can see, Gain's shareholders can't be too happy about the post IPO performance of their investment which is now down to around half the IPO price of $9.00 per share. On the other hand investors in FXCM are almost back to where they started at $14.00 per share. According to FXCM once again:

The proposed transaction would give Gain shareholders 0.3996 shares of FXCM Class A common stock for each share of Gain common stock. Based on FXCM's closing price of $13.39 on Monday, April 8, 2013, this results in an offer price of $5.35 per share of Gain common stock, which in aggregate would represent $210.4 million in total value. This price represents a 25% premium to Gain's closing share price on April 8, 2013. FXCM is also prepared to offer up to $50 million in cash consideration in lieu of FXCM shares.

FXCM are holding a conference call at 8:15 a.m. (EST) this morning to reinforce their message. Do you suppose GAIN's shareholders will find the bait sufficiently tempting?

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