The Forex market opens and closes as well as the four global sessions.
Fx market is open 24-hours a day for retail trade* every Sunday at 5 pm EST. It then closes each Friday at 5 pm EST.
Please note that market liquidity is very low at the start of the trading week. Therefore, many traders consider the market to be open only for the 5 weekdays.
At this point you may be asking, if Forex is indeed a 24 hour market, why can I only trade Monday through Friday?
What is a retail trader, you ask? Put simply, a retail trader is someone who buys or sells for their personal account, and not for another company or organization. So unless you are an institutional trader, you are a retail trader.
This brings me to a very common misconception in the Forex world – the idea that the market closes on weekends. In truth, the Forex market never closes. The only thing that closes is the ability for retail traders to participate.
This is what creates so called “gaps” when the market opens at the beginning of the week. It’s simply the result of your broker updating their charts from last week’s price action to the current price action at the start of the trading week.
For now, just know that the market never closes due to the needs of international trade, as well as the needs of central banks and global industries to conduct business.
So although the ability for retail traders to participate is halted over the weekends, the Forex market as a currency exchange is alive and well.
There are various sessions that occur around the world which make up the Forex hours each day.
Let’s take a look at those market sessions
Because this is a 24 hour market, there is always at least one active trading session. There are even times when these sessions overlap.
The easiest way to visualize how these Forex market sessions operate is to imagine the earth relative to the sun. Wherever the sun is shining, the Forex market is open. This is of course a simplified way of thinking about it, but it does help to visualize the Forex hours in this way.
A trading week consists of the following major sessions:
-- - - Session - - - - - - - - - Duration ( GMT /ET)
Sydney (Australian) - - - - - GMT: from 10:00 PM GMT to 7:00 AM GMT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ET: from 5:00 PM ET to 2:00 AM ET
Tokyo (Asian) - - - - - -- - - GMT: from 12:00 AM GMT to 9:00 AM GMT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ET: from 8:00 PM ET to 4:00 AM ET
London (European) - - - - - - - - - GMT: from 8:00 AM GMT to 5:00 PM GMT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ET: from 3:00 AM ET to 12:00 PM ET
NewYork (American) - - - - - - - - --GMT: from 1:00 PM GMT to 10:00 PM GMT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ET: from 8:00 AM ET to 17:00 PM ET
Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT ).
Eastern Standard Time(ET).
As you can see from the chart above, there are several market sessions which overlap. The most obvious, and the most heavily traded, is the London / New overlap. This is when liquidity is at its highest as many Forex market participants prefer trading during this time.
But like most things, it’s all relative to your trading style as well as your lifestyle. Obviously if you’re located in a part of the world where the London / New session overlap occurs at 3 AM, this may not be the most advantageous for your lifestyle.
The great thing about trading price action on the higher time frames is that Forex hours and market sessions don’t particularly matter. For example, if you spot a on the daily time frame, you would simply set your pending order and let the market decide what becomes of it. It doesn’t particularly matter which session triggers the order.
But in the lower time frames
Learning the details of each session is key to identify market liquidity levels and spot the optimal times to place an order. That’s why in this article we will review the Forex market hours and the best times to trade.
The four global sessions
Let’s look at the sessions one-by-one and see what exactly happens over a 24-hour period on the Forex Market.
If we go from right to left (just as the sun rises – from East to West), then you will notice that the first major session to open is the Sydney Forex Market session. This session is open from 10:00 PM GMT to 7:00 AM GMT or from 5:00 PM ET to 2:00 AM ET.
Despite the low market versus other major sessions, when Sydney opens is when the Australian Dollar and New Zealand Dollar, in pairing with the US Dollar , get to the trading action.
The Tokyo session follows shortly after. This session is also called the Asian session, because right after Tokyo large economic hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong start waking up. The Asian session starts around 12:00 AM GMT , when most of Europe is in a deep sleep. This is why you often hear European traders talking about waking up at 3 AM to trade the Asian session before going back to bed.
Also, you may have already noticed that some Forex sessions overlap quite significantly. For example, the Australian session and Asian session. You can use this to your advantage knowing that pairs like AUDJPY and NZDJPY will have the highest during the Forex Market Hours of these two sessions.
Undoubtedly, London is the Economic Centre of Europe, and it’s just natural that the European session is also called the London session. Moreover, by the time the Brits wake up, other major economic hubs like Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Zurich have already started into their Forex Market Hours for the day.
An interesting observation is that the Forex Market Hours of the Tokyo and London sessions overlap for approximately 1 hour (varies for other European countries). You can (and probably should) use this fact to your advantage. This means that all the crosses of European currencies and the JPY will have the highest at the start of the European session.
So if you are trading the GBPJPY you can simply carry out a few powerful trades between 8:00 and 9:00 AM GMT , and then you are free for the day.
Forex market hours of the US start with New . This is because New is one of the biggest financial centers in the world as well as being the East-most major city in America. The American session includes other major economic hubs such as Chicago (World’s largest derivative market), Toronto (Canadian financial hub), and others.
Market increases significantly as New and London sessions, the two World’s biggest finance centers, overlap. The American session starts when Europe is only half-way through. Also, please note that you are going to get an extremely fast-paced and volatile market.
Volume traded during the New and London sessions represents 50% of all forex trades in a day.
A lot of the major pairs like EURUSD, GBPUSD and USDCHF experience massive movements and specific patterns during this time.
Finally, you can see that although the New and Australian sessions don’t overlap, they follow each other back-to-back , with a break during weekends.
As you could see from the information above, there are three main overlaps when you can see higher market activity, representing the best times for Forex traders:
- The New and London Overlap: from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM GMT
The Tokyo and London Overlap: from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM GMT
The Tokyo and Sydney Overlap: from 12:00 AM to 7:00 AM GMT
Advantages of a 24-Hour Market:
It offers the ability to trade at any time of the day regardless of where you live
There are very few gaps from day to day, unlike the stock market
More liquidity even during slower sessions
Disadvantages of a 24-Hour Market:
The 24 hour nature of the Forex market can lead to traders over-thinking their positions
The Forex market requires more self-discipline to take breaks away from trading due to the market never closing
The fact that the Forex market never sleeps means it’s easy to overtrade.
Instead of trading for a few hours each day, you may find yourself waking up early or staying up late just to place trades.
That’s a bad idea!
Furthermore, many new traders find it hard to take breaks from the market.
They feel the need to monitor their positions 24-hours a day.
This is one of the more destructive habits of new traders and is enabled by the fact that the Forex market never closes.
The good news is that these disadvantages are easily cured by a well-structured Forex trading course, discipline and no small amount of practice.
WHAT ABOUT WEEKENDS?
The weekend is the best time for planning. No open markets, no news, no economic events to disturb you. Ideally, it would be best if you don’t leave short term open positions over the weekend, while the Forex market doesn’t move over the weekend, there might be expectations on economic events that influence prices.
Elections, referendums, or similar events may cause market gaps, which can delay the trigger of StopLoss orders. In other words, the broker will close the trade when there’s a market, at the first available price, not at the one specified initially.
Scalpers, swing traders, and investors have a different time horizon. For this reason, they may have different expectations regarding the duration of a trade. Scalpers will strive for precision and accuracy. However, swing traders will strive to get the right market direction. Finally, investors will choose the time, rather than price, for positioning.
You should assess the risk to take the following week. This will depend on your trading strategy and profile.
CONSIDERING MAJOR ECONOMIC EVENTS
One of the main reasons why the Forex market moves come from economic data or news. Fortunately, these events are scheduled in the economic calendar. Then, traders know in advance that markets get volatile during specific hours of a day.
The impact of an economic event like the Non-farm payroll (NFP) in the US can alter the market’s usual behavior during the week.
So it is always handy to keep an economic calendar while planning your trading week.
I hope this lesson has shed some light on the subject of Forex market hours as well as the various market sessions that make up a 24 hour period.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
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The Forex market is a 24 hour market that technically never closes
Retail traders are those who trade for their personal account
Retail trading hours in the Forex market are between 5pm EST on Sunday until 5pm EST Friday
There are 4 market sessions that make up the Forex market hours – London, New , Sydney and Tokyo
Whatever your trading strategy, it is always beneficial to keep in mind the Forex Market Hours of the Four Forex sessions. Different sessions are dominated by different types of traders, banks, governments and, as we saw, – currency pairs. Taking this into account will certainly give you a competitive advantage.
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