In addition to being the largest and most liquid financial market in the world, one of the great advantages of forex trading and one of its most attractive features is the all-day operation of the market – making it open to all global participants regardless of time of day. With 24 hours of daily trading opportunities, it is truly the market that never sleeps. But how does the forex market manage to be open around the clock? Find out.
How Long is the Forex Market Open?
First things first, just how long exactly is the forex market open?
The forex market is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week so you can trade whenever you want to, not when the market dictates. There is no waiting for the opening bell or scrambling to get your order executed before a daily close. Trading begins with the opening of the Sydney session and closes with the New York session, by which time it starts all over again, round the clock. This means you can be as active or passive as you’d like, and trade on your own schedule – be it morning, noon, or night.
This is one of the big differences that sets it apart from the stock market, where trading sessions are limited to exchange hours, generally coinciding with regular business hours, Monday through Friday. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for instance, is only open 09:30 to 16:30 EST. There is after-hours trading involved on some exchanges, but there is usually much less liquidity available. And as a stock trader you’re also limited to trading on exchanges of your home country or that of your broker.
The forex market, on the other hand, gives traders anywhere in the world the flexibility to trade during the US, Asian and European market hours, with good liquidity available at most hours of the day. A good retail broker like ICmarkets gives you the opportunity to trade this huge decentralized market with access to top liquidity, most accurate data, and fast execution by using ECN (Electronic Communication Network) technology.
Forex Market Sessions
So how is the forex market able to stay active around the clock? Sessions.
Forex trading is not done at one central location such as an exchange but is conducted between participants through electronic communication networks (ECNs) in various markets around the world. Trades are conducted over a global network rather than any single physical location that closes at the end of the local working day, ensuring that international currency trades can happen at truly international hours, with each major time-zone having its own regional session.
The forex market can be broken up into four major trading sessions: the Sydney session, the Tokyo session, the London session, and the New York session. The market opens in Sydney at 7:00 AM Monday local time and closes at 5:00 PM Friday local time in New York. In between each forex trading session, there is a period of time where two sessions are open at the same time, and these session overlaps are generally the busiest times during the trading day.
When is the Forex Market Most Active?
Unlike stocks and commodities, currency is a global necessity for banks, international trade and global businesses, and this requires a 24-hour market across various time-zones to satisfy need. The international scope of currency trading also means that there are always traders around the world who are creating and fulfilling orders for a particular currency. All during the trading week there are possibilities to make currency trades, but some hours of the day are indeed busier than others.
Each trading day starts with the opening of the Australasia region, followed by Europe and then North America. As one region’s market session closes another opens, or has already opened, so forex trading continues without pause. When these markets overlap for a few hours, the most active period of forex trading commences. There is more volume when two markets are open at the same time, and thus more opportunities to conduct big trades. These hours are:
New York and London: between 8:00 am — 12:00 noon EST (EDT)
Sydney and Tokyo: between 7:00 pm — 2:00 am EST (EDT)
London and Tokyo: between 3:00 am — 4:00am EST (EDT)
For example, trading EUR/USD or GBP/USD pairs during the New York and London session overlap would provide the best volume as the two markets for these currencies are active simultaneously.
We will cover the best hours to trade forex in a follow up post, so stay tuned.
Chances are that as you’re reading this the forex market is open right now. The flexible forex trading hours provide the best opportunity for trade in the global markets, and can be experienced risk-free with a free demo account that will give you a taste of all the action. Practice trading during the various forex sessions to get a feel for the markets, and feel free to contact our support team with any questions. We’re open whenever the markets are (24/5).