Analyzing The ‘XAU/USD’ Financial Instrument & Determining The Trading Costs Involved



Gold is a precious metal and one of the most valuable assets in the market. It is considered to be a safe haven instrument and a popular asset class for hedging positions during market uncertainty. XAU/USD is the abbreviation for the pair Gold Spot against the US Dollar. XAU is the ticker for Gold Spot. It can be traded against other fiat currencies like EUR and GBP as well.

Understanding XAU/USD

Gold Spot is an asset that is traded in troy ounces (Oz). The XAU/USD market price represents the value of the US Dollar for 1 ounce (Oz) of Gold. It is quoted as 1 XAU per X USD. For example, if the current market price of XAU/USD is 1730.50, it signifies that each ounce of Gold is worth the US $1730.5.


XAU/USD Specification


Spread is the difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread usually varies based on the account type used for execution. The approximate spread on the gold spot on ECN account and STP account is as follows:

ECN: 100 | STP: 130


Typically, brokers do not charge any type of fee. But, on ECN accounts, there is some commission you must pay the broker for opening and closing a position. However, the fee is not significantly high.


Due to the high market liquidity and slower broker’s execution speed, slippage occurs. It is the difference between the trader’s demanded price and the price at which the broker executed the trade. Slippage can occur both in favor and against the trader.

Trading Range in XAU/USD

The trading range is a tabular representation of the volatility in the market for several different time frames. It gives the minimum, average, and maximum volatility in the pair for different time frames.

Procedure to assess Pip Ranges

  1. Add the ATR indicator to your chart
  2. Set the period to 1
  3. Add a 200-period SMA to this indicator
  4. Shrink the chart so you can assess a large time period
  5. Select your desired timeframe
  6. Measure the floor level and set this value as the min
  7. Measure the level of the 200-period SMA and set this as the average
  8. Measure the peak levels and set this as Max.

XAU/USD Cost as a Percent of the Trading Range

Cost as a percent of the trading range represents variation in the trade cost by considering the market’s time frame and volatility. Mathematically, it is the ratio of the volatility value and the total cost of the trade.

ECN Model Account

Spread = 100 | Slippage = 30 | Trading fee = 20

Total fee = Spread + Slippage + Trading fee

Total fee = 100 + 30 + 20 = 150 (pips)

STP Model Account

Spread = 130 | Slippage = 30 | Trading fee = 0

Total fee = Spread + Slippage + Trading fee

Total fee = 130 + 30 + 0 = 160 (pips)

The Ideal Timeframe to Trade XAU/USD

Gold is one of the oldest asset classes and one of the most reliable instruments as well. It is extensively traded in the market as most forex broker has XAU/USD available for trading. Its volatility and liquidity are no less than major currency pairs.

XAU/USD can be traded like any other foreign exchange pair. It, in fact, correlates with commodity currencies like AUD and NZD. Thus, traders use these two currencies in addition to USD, in order to analyze the pair. The same technical analysis applied to other markets can be used on the gold spot as well. However, the fundamentals do differ a little.

Coming to the costs, it technically remains the same for any time frame you trade. However, it relatively changes based on volatility and time frame. For example, a 1D trader who makes 2000 pips P/L on an average pays the same a 1H trader who makes 500 pips P/L on a trade. This is the reason the percentage values are higher in the 1H time frame than the 1D time frame.

Irrespective of the time frame you trade, you need to make sure that the market’s current volatility is above the average volatility. If you end trading when the volatility is at the minimum values, then you will have to pay the same costs for a trade that could not reach the target in your expected time.