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Speculation is the practice of engaging in risky financial transactions in an attempt to profit from short or medium term fluctuations in the market value of a tradable good such as a financial instrument, rather than attempting to profit from the underlying financial attributes embodied in the instrument such as capital gains, interest, or dividends. Many speculators pay little attention to the fundamental value of a security and instead focus purely on price movements. Speculation can in principle involve any tradable good or financial instrument. Speculators are particularly common in the markets for stocks, bonds, commodity futures, currencies, fine art, collectibles, real estate, and derivatives. Speculators play one of four primary roles in financial markets, along with hedgers who engage in transactions to offset some other pre-existing risk, arbitrageurs who seek to profit from situations where fungible instruments trade at different prices in different market segments, and investors who seek profit through long-term ownership of an instrument's underlying attributes. The role of speculators is to absorb excess risk that other participants do not want, and to provide liquidity in the marketplace by buying or selling when no participants from the other categories are available. Successful speculation entails collecting an adequate level of monetary compensation in return for providing immediate liquidity and assuming additional risk so that, over time, the inevitable losses are offset by larger profits. (via Freebase)