The worldwide foreign currency market is open 24 hours a day, five days a week. However, it is closed on weekends. Unlike stock markets, which are closed at a specific time of day, orders in the forex market are executed over-the-counter.
If you are more interested in stock trading, we also have an article about stock market opening and closing times.
In this article
The FX market is the largest financial market in the world. Forex trading (exchange of currencies) does not occur in a centralised location but rather between participants via phone, online mediums and electronic communication networks (ECNs). This is a global operation taking place round the clock.
Currencies are required worldwide for international trade, by central banks, and worldwide corporations. In 1971, the gold standard was finally abandoned by the US, and central banks have been heavily dependent on foreign exchange markets. Since then, foreign currencies have been "floated", that is, trade relative to each other, rather than bound to the value of gold.
The forex market's capacity to operate 24 hours a day is partly due to numerous worldwide time zones and the fact that trades are conducted across a global network. There is one physical exchange that closes at a specific time of day. For example, when you hear that the US dollar closed at a given price, it simply means that it was the price at market close in New York. Unlike securities, currencies are traded globally well after New York closes.
The foreign exchange market is disorganised and dispersed, with no true centre. Instead, electronic trading takes place at forex retail brokers, central banks, commercial banks, and commercial businesses.
Traditionally, the market is divided into three peak activity sessions: Asian, European, and North American. These three sessions are also known as the Tokyo, London, and New York sessions. A fourth Australian (Sydney) session is occasionally utilised to bridge the time difference between New York and Tokyo.
The market is open 24 hours a day across various regions of the world, from 5 p.m. EST on Sunday to 4 p.m. EST on Friday. At any one moment, at least one market is open, and there is a few hours of overlap between one region's market shutting and another's opening. Because currency trading is so global, there are constantly traders worldwide creating and satisfying demand for a certain currency.
You can see forex trading hours around the world divided into four sessions in below image:
You must be aware of when the market is most volatile and, as a result, determine what periods are optimal for your own trading technique and style.
The market is often divided into three primary periods, during which activity is at its peak: the Asian, European, and North American sessions, or, more commonly, the Tokyo, London, and New York sessions.
These names are used interchangeably among forex traders since these three cities serve as the primary financial centres for each area. When those three financial centres are conducting business, the markets are most active. Because most banks and businesses perform their daily transactions, a bigger number of speculators are online.
When liquidity returns to the currency (or FX) market at the start of the week, Asian markets are the first to witness movement. Unofficially, activity from this region is represented by the Tokyo capital markets, which operate from midnight to 6 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
However, many other major countries were present throughout this period, including China, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. Given how dispersed these markets are, it stands to reason that the start and finish of the Asian session are extended beyond the regular Tokyo hours. Asian hours are commonly thought to be between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. GMT, allowing for activity in these various markets.
Just before the Asian trading hours end, the European session takes over keeping the currency market lively. This FX time zone is densely packed with key financial markets. London has the privilege of determining the boundaries for the European session.
This trading time is additionally extended due to the participation of foreign capital markets (including Germany and France) before the formal opening in the United Kingdom. At the same time, the session's conclusion is prolonged later since volatility persists until after the closure. As a result, European hours are normally from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. GMT.
The Asian markets have already been closed for many hours by the time the North American session begins, but European traders are barely halfway through the day. The Western session is dominated by activities in the United States, with contributions from Canada, Mexico, and South American countries. As a result, it is not surprising that activity in New York City represents the session's highest volatility and engagement.
In theory, an effective period to trade forex is when the market is most active, i.e., when the biggest amount of “deals” (buying and selling) occur. In such a situation, liquidity is abundant, and spreads are narrower. As a result, the best time to trade is when open marketplaces overlap. The most overlap occurs between the London and New York sessions.
During this period, there is also considerable volatility, so despite a smaller gap at first, important economic news announcements might cause the spread to expand. However, excessive volatility might be advantageous when trading in the FX market.
The London session is also the busiest of them all, especially in the middle of the week. On the other hand, trading on a Friday offers lesser volatility and lower liquidity due to fewer individuals trading. It also depends on the currency pair you're trading; for example, trading on JPY might be more appropriate during the Asian session.
Given the early activity in financial futures and commodities trading and the concentration of economic releases, the North American hours begin unofficially at 12 p.m. GMT. With a significant gap between the closure of US markets and the start of Asian trading, a dip in liquidity causes the North American session to end around 8 p.m. GMT.
Because of increased trading activity during those hours, the Asian/European sessions frequently overlap, resulting in increased volatility.
When the currency pair is a cross of currencies (such as EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY), a higher response is expected during overlap in Tokyo and London sessions. Of course, the presence of planned event risk for each currency will continue to significantly impact activity, independent of the session of the pair or its components.
Open and closing times will also change throughout October/November and March/April when several nations (including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia) transition to and from daylight savings time (DST).
During the week, at least one forex trading session is always open. However, there are times when the market is extremely calm, and trading volume is low or "thin."
It would help if you generally avoided trading when only one trading session was active and instead waited for trading sessions to overlap. The number of traders actively buying and selling a particular currency increases significantly when two main financial hubs are open.
The largest trading volume happens when the London and New York trading sessions coincide. These two financial centres account for more than half of all trade volume.
The optimal time to trade forex will depend on the currency pair you want to trade. When the trading sessions of the separate currencies overlap, most of the trading activity for a single currency pair occurs.
For example, when both the Sydney and Tokyo sessions are open, the AUD/JPY will see a larger trading volume. Furthermore, while the London and New York sessions are open, the EUR/USD will see a larger trading volume.
When trading forex, you must first determine if high or low volatility is ideal for your trading style. Those seeking high volatility may be better suited to trading solely during session overlaps or even only around economic release periods. Understanding the various forex trading sessions may give you an advantage when trading currencies most effectively.
Although the forex market theoretically never shuts, retail traders can only trade between Sunday and Friday at 5:00 p.m. ET.
The currency market opens at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The FX market closed at 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday.
The FX market has four trading sessions:
Sydney is open between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. UTC.
Tokyo is open between 12:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. UTC.
From 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., London is open. UTC
From 1:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. UTC, New York is open.
Economic data, central bank pronouncements, and political uncertainties all influence forex markets. When trading FX, keep in mind that you're speculating on two currencies, so you'll need to keep an eye on market movers in each nation. Around these occasions, forex will be more widely traded.