Forex trading hours
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To become a successful forex trader, you need to know when to trade, and when to abstain. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trader, it is essential to be aware of the opening and closing times of the stock market, the best hours to trade forex, and especially which days or months are more interesting to trade depending on the market.
You are wondering what is the best time of day to trade, or just the most important hours of the forex market?
Then this article is made for you.
We will take a look at the hours of the main stock exchange places, the forex quotation times, see what happens on public holidays, and finally what are the best days of the week and the best months to trade and invest online.
The forex market is open 24 hours a day, five days a week. GMT forex trading hours correspond to London hours. Forex quotation hours are from Sunday evening at 10 PM GMT (London time), to Friday evening at 9 PM GMT (London time). Between Sunday evening at 10 PM GMT and Friday evening at 9 PM GMT, the forex market is open all the time.
It should be noted that spreads increase before the forex market closure on Friday evening, and are also higher when the forex market opens on Sunday evening. Indeed, there is less liquidity in the market at this moments. To learn more about CFDs, visit our CFD page.
In fact, international currency markets are made up of banks, different commercial companies, central banks, hedge funds, investment management firms, not to mention retail forex brokers and investors around the world.
Since this market operates in multiple time zones, it can be accessed at nearly any time of the day. Moreover, the international currency market is not actually dominated by a single market exchange, but instead, entails a global network of exchanges and brokers throughout the world. Forex trading hours are based on when trading is open in every participating country.
CFD trading hours are 24/24 for the forex market, but the majority of volumes are exchanged during the main trading sessions.
Here is some information about stock markets and forex trading hours
Forex opening time
Sunday evening at 10 PM GMT
Forex closing time
Friday evening at 9 PM GMT
Forex quotation times
All the time from Sunday 10 PM GMT to Friday 9 PM GMT
Forex volatility hours
During main trading sessions and economic news
Paris stock exchange closing time
4.30 PM GMT for the CAC 40 spot contract
Stock exchange closing days
Stock exchanges are closed on Saturday and Sunday
New York stock exchange opening time
2.30 PM GMT
Forex public holidays
New Year's day and Easter day
Crypto currency trading hours
24/7 depending on the broker
The main stock market sessions – Forex and CFD hours
Trading in the financial markets is not only about trading systems and good entry points. It is also a question of choosing the right time to place an order. In this article, you will discover how to trade using the right trading times. In this respect, there are specific activity periods for different currency pairs and shares. Trading sessions in Asia, America and Europe involve various financial markets, and all have advantages and disadvantages. Each of the different trading periods is characterized by volatility for different currency pairs and markets.
The main trading sessions are:
- The London session
- The American session
- The London/USA overlap
- The Tokyo session
The minor trading sessions are:
- The Wellington/Auckland session
- The Sydney session
- The Frankfurt session
- The Hong Kong session
- The Singapore session
In the interbank forex market, the majority of large international banks have several offices around the world, which allows them to pass their local clients' foreign exchange orders to an affiliated branch at any time during the 24-hour cycle.
This process should typically be carried out in an orderly manner at any time of the working week, unless interrupted by a bank holiday. Banks operate during regular business hours in each regional office, and the open trading register is passed on to another regional office, usually in a later time zone.
If you are trying to analyze the best times to trade forex currency pairs, it is essential to understand how these forex trading sessions work, and which currency pairs or markets are the most liquid and volatile during those business hours, within a relevant forex session.
- London: from 8 AM to 5 PM GMT – 35% of the total forex volumes
- New York: from 1 PM to 10 PM GMT – 20% of the total trading volume
- Sydney: from 10 PM to 7 AM GMT – 4% of the total trading volume
- Tokyo: from 00 AM to 9 AM GMT – 6% of the total trading volume
The most important trading volumes take place when markets overlap: the European session with the American session. Knowing how trading hours work is very important, as not all trading strategies work in illiquid markets.
To see our trading hours, simply look at the trading conditions of each financial instrument.
Stock exchange trading hours
The world's trading day starts officially in Australia, when the institutions of Sydney and New Zealand open at around 9 AM GMT +10, until the market finally closes on Friday evening at 9 PM GMT.
Although there is no official start and end for trading hours, these times normally reflect the usual opening hours during which traders may be able to execute trading transactions on different currency pairs. So, for retail traders, trading usually starts early on Monday and ends late on Friday.
Here are the trading hours of the most important stock exchange places around the world. For the forex market, trading hours are from Sunday evening to Friday evening, 24/24. The commodity market is the least liquid market, and trading hours are shorter and different for each contract.
Stock market index
8 AM to 7 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8:30 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:30 PM GMT
8 AM to 4:20 PM GMT
7:30 AM to 5 PM GMT
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM GMT
6 PM to 8 PM GMT
3 PM to 5 PM GMT
7 PM to 9 PM GMT
9 PM to 11:45 PM GMT
10 PM to 11:50 PM GMT
NYSE & NASDAQ
DOW JONES & SP500
2:30 PM to 9 PM GMT
2:30 PM to 9 PM GMT
Major and minor forex trading hours
In each of the major trading places, most banks operate during normal business hours every day of the week, except weekends and holidays. These hours overlap with the normal hours of other major trading places, in different time zones. As a result of these overlaps, we can observe an uninterrupted trading flow; a smooth and continuous transition for forex trading around the world.
Risky forex trading hours
When liquidity is low, usually when a market opens, and around 12 PM GMT, there is considerable risk when trading. Low liquidity can lead to higher volatility that is not usual during normal trading hours. Professional traders do not recommend to open positions anywhere between 12 PM and 2 PM GMT. Most of these high-risk hours can put a trader's account at risk.
Risk factors include:
- Volatility spikes: Low liquidity can lead to volatility spikes that can easily hit your stop loss
- Low liquidity: This is related to the forex market's depth, and impacts the ability to handle large transactions effectively
- Dealing spread: Spreads usually widen when liquidity is low
Best hours for trading the market
The first three hours of each major trading session are usually the best in terms of momentum, trend, and retracement. It is then that traders tend to find the best trading opportunities. In addition, the TOTH (Top Of The Hour), the first and the last five minutes of each hour will usually provide volatility and tricky market movements because some intraday traders take their profits, and new buyers or sellers join the market.
Do you still find it difficult to know which trading session you are in? There is nothing to worry about. Why not try the MetaTrader Supreme Edition plugin, and use the Session Map expert advisor (EA)? It will show you the running session in real-time.
Source: Session Map expert advisor, MetaTrader Supreme Edition, Admiral Markets
Focus on your trading hours!
The MetaTrader 4 Supreme Edition's Admiral Day Session indicator allows you to view on an "Offline" chart only a desired time period per day.
For example, let's say you want to trade in the morning, only from 9 AM GMT to 12 PM GMT. This MetaTrader 4 indicator removes all other trading periods to display only the time window of your choice.
This makes it even more convenient for you to test your scalping and day trading strategies! You will only have a visual on the periods when you will take orders.
How to display the "Offline" chart?
You just need to follow these steps:
- Go to the "File" menu at the top left of your MetaTrader 4 trading platform
- Select "Open Offline"
- The "Open Offline chart" window opens
- Double-click on the symbol you want, corresponding to the reference present in the Admiral Day Session indicator
That's it! Your "Offline" chart is open with only the times you want to trade!
Forex public holidays
Very often, stock exchange places are closed on public holidays, or trading hours can be reduced. These days may vary from a country to another: New Year's day, December 31, December 24, July 4 in the USA, July 14 in France, Labor day in the USA, Easter day, Moon Festival for the Asian market, etc.
Brokers usually inform their clients about the reduced trading hours for each financial instruments. Trading days with reduced hours are less interesting, as liquidity is lower and the market may be more difficult to trade. Generally speaking, there is less liquidity in the world stock exchange places during summer, and after December 15 (or 20) each year. The week between Christmas and New Year is a very quiet trading week. Public holidays involving reduced trading hours should be avoided if you want to trade using short-term forex strategies and approaches (such as scalping).
The forex trading week
The trading week starts Sunday evening at 10 PM GMT, and trading volumes are low. Monday is usually a quiet day, unless there are elections or other major events during the weekend. Volatility increases on Tuesday and on average it decreases again on Wednesday, unless we have the Fed Minutes.
Thursday and Friday are usually the most volatile days of the week. If you are looking for volatility for your trading strategy, it may be interesting to look at the markets during these days. Let's take a look at the average amplitudes for major currency pairs:
Source: MetaTrader platform
The red columns indicate less volatile days and the green columns are the most volatile days of the week. This is also partly due to the fact that major economic news such as the ECB interest rates are published on Thursdays, or on Fridays (NFP for example).
Knowing the daily amplitudes of forex currency pairs is essential, because if you have a small capital it may be better to trade on the least volatile days. The correlation between currency pairs is easy to identify with a professional trading platform, such as the Supreme Edition of MetaTrader.
The best days of the week to trade
Trading starts Sunday evening at 10 PM GMT with low volumes, as the US and European stock markets are still closed. It is not very interesting to trade before Monday morning because as volatility in quite low, spreads can be widened.
This does not mean that this trading period is not good for everyone. Some traders like to trade with little volatility, even if spreads are usually higher. Ultimately, the ideal trading hours must be in correlation with your trading strategy.
On average, market volatility on Tuesday is 120% - 130% of Monday's volatility. If your trading strategy requires volatility, it can be interesting to look at the financial markets on Tuesday, especially since it is usually a day with economic news.
Wednesday is a little quieter than Tuesday, and there is a disadvantage in holding open positions from Wednesday to Thursday: in many markets, the weekend swaps are applied on Wednesday.
Friday is an interesting trading day – as Thursday is. These days are abundant in economic news for several countries. In addition, the third Friday of each month is known as the triple witching day, as many futures and options expire. This generates a lot of volatility in the markets, especially on American indexes and currency pairs, just as much as on commodities.
In addition, on each first Friday of the month we have the NFP publication (Non-Farm Payroll indicator), which usually has an impact on US currency pairs and US indexes such as the Dow Jones 30, the Nasdaq 100 or the S&P 500.
The best months to trade Forex
From a volatility point of view, we can distinguish 3 main periods over the year:
The first period has significant volumes, and high volatility:
Summer is a calm period in the markets, regarding the exchanged volumes:
The second more volatile period:
December is an atypical month, with very low trading volumes after December 15.
When it comes to investment returns over these months, it is difficult to compare each year to another as markets change a lot. For example, January 2015 was very volatile with significant movements for Swiss franc currency pairs, as the Swiss National Bank raised the Swiss franc rate floor.
In 2011, summer was very volatile because in the middle of the crisis banking stocks were massively sold. It was at that time that the AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers), the French financial regulator, issued a temporary ban on the short sell of certain securities of the Paris stock exchange.
If you are looking for the best times to trade or the best month to trade, keep in mind that what happened in the past may not happen again, and that you need to analyze the fundamentals of the current market to judge if you have opportunities to seize at this time.
Economic news – The most volatile stock market hours
Stock markets are more volatile when economic news is published.
You don't have enough space on your screens to display the economic calendar?
Here is the solution!
The Admiral Calendar indicator available with the Supreme Edition of MetaTrader 4 displays the hours of economic publications directly on your MT4 trading chart as a vertical line with small bells at the bottom. A simple click on these bells allows you to see the details of each publication with:
- The name of the economic news
- Example: PMI Services Index
- The geographical zone concerned
- Example: Euro zone
- The exact date and time of the publication
- Example: 24/05/2019 at 11 AM GMT
- The forecast data
- Example: 55.1
- The previous data
- Example: 55
- The actual data
- Example: 56.2
The importance of economic news is visible through the color code of the MetaTrader 4 Supreme Edition's Admiral Calendar indicator.
Color code :
- Green for low-impact publications
- Orange for medium-impact publications
- Red for high-impact publications
This tool allows you to automatically take into account the hours of economic news on your MT4 trading chart.
CFD trading hours
As previously mentioned, one of the greatest characteristics of the foreign exchange market is that it is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. This enables investors around the globe to trade during normal business hours, after work, and even throughout the night. However, not all trading hours have the same opportunities. Indeed, some forex trading times around the world experience consistently volatile price action, while some others lack in liquidity.
A 24-hour market offers a substantial advantage for many individual and institutional traders, as it guarantees liquidity and a solid opportunity to trade at any time, however, it is not deprived of certain pitfalls. Although different currency pairs can be traded at any time you wish, a trader cannot monitor a position for such long periods of time. This means that there will be times when interesting opportunities will be missed, or even worse, times when the market will completely change its trend while the trader is not nearby. To reduce such risk, a trader must know when the forex market is the most volatile, and therefore decide when are the best times for their forex trading strategy.
Typically, the market is separated into three trading sessions during which activity is at its peak: the Asian session, the European session, and the American session. More commonly, these three trading sessions are known as the Tokyo, London and New York sessions. Such names are used interchangeably, simply because these three cities represent the key financial centres for each region.
Markets are most active during these trading sessions because the majority of banks and corporations make their daily transactions. There is also a greater concentration of online speculators.
When it comes to crypto currencies, trading hours may vary from one broker to another. Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Litecoin or Ether are in principle available for trading 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sometimes, crypto currency brokers have more limited trading hours, depending on their liquidity provider.
Make sure to understand the hours of the MT4 trading platform!
It is very easy! Simply apply the Admiral Local Time indicator to your MT4 forex trading chart and you will find at the bottom of the chart the hours corresponding to your computer's time, in order to find your way around the hours of the day.
Forex hours – The Asian trading session (Tokyo trading session)
When liquidity is restored to the forex market after the weekend, the Asian markets are naturally the first to observe action. In other words, the forex market trading hours start there, with the Asian stock market opening on Monday morning (at around 9 AM GMT +10). The most important exchanges during this session (between 00 AM and 6 AM GMT) happen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and the Japanese yen currency pair.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of other countries with considerable pull that are present during this period, including Australia, China, New Zealand, and Russia. In fact, to allow for these different markets' activities, the Asian session hours are frequently considered to run between 11 PM and 8 AM GMT.
The European trading session (London trading session)
Before the Asian trading session ends, the European trading session takes over in keeping the currency market active. This forex trading time zone is very dense, and involves a number of key financial markets. During this session, all European crosses (currency pairs involving at least one European currency) can be traded, including GBP/JPY and GBP/NZD. In the equity sector, the DAX 30 stock market index is an excellent trading instrument during the London session because it is linked to German companies.
London is the capital of the financial markets in Europe, but there are other important markets during the European session such as the Paris Stock Exchange, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Official business hours for the London session run between 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM GMT. Therefore, the European forex trading hours are commonly observed as running between 7 AM and 4 PM GMT.
The American trading session (New York trading session)
When the American session begins, the Asian markets have already been closed for about two hours, but it is still day time in Europe and market places are still open. Most of the foreign exchange volumes are traded at that time, because on top of European exchanges the Western session is influenced by activity in the US, with a few contributions from Canada, Mexico, and other countries in South America.
The best currency pairs to trade during the American session are the cross pairs with the USD and CAD. Due to the correlation between JPY currency pairs and the US stock market, USD/JPY and GBP/JPY are also good currency pairs to trade. Concerning commodities, Gold and WTI are also good options.
Considering the early activity in commodity trading, and the visible concentration of economic releases, the North American hours non-officially start at 12 PM GMT. Once the American trading sessions closes around 8 PM GMT and activity is over, we can observe a drop in liquidity until the Asian trading session opens.
Need a reference point to follow the succession of trading sessions?
The Admiral Session Map expert advisor (EA) provides you with a mini world map in a separate window of the MT4 trading platform.
This is a real advantage, since you can keep this window open on one of your trading screens to always see all the information this expert advisor gathers, such as:
- The time periods corresponding to the different trading sessions around the world
- New York
The expert advisor (EA) clearly identifies the periods when the sessions overlap and when there is the most volatility in the CFD and forex markets, indicating with a vertical line the current time and where we are in relation to the different openings and closures of the global stock exchanges.
Economic news are materialized by a color code on the lower part of the window of the Admiral Session Map expert advisor (EA):
- Red for news with strong impact
- Orange for news with moderate impact
- Grey for news with low impact
A simple click on one of the colors displays a window within the Admiral Session Map EA with a summary of the economic news in the following form:
- Title: BNS speech
- Time: 5:30 PM
- Nature of impact: High impact
That's not all!
You can also click on the names of the different trading sessions, such as "London" to get a summary of the movements of the main forex pairs during the corresponding trading session.
Finally, a last tab located at the top right of the small Session Map window displays information about your trading account, such as:
- The balance
- The available funds
- The pending profit or loss
- The margin used
- The free margin
This tool is a real visual reference for the different stock exchange openings and closures.
The key point here is that the Session Map EA clearly indicates when trading sessions overlap, in order to find the most volatile periods.
Forex trading hours to avoid
Forex trading hours are 24/24, and the market experiences more volatile trading periods with more volumes exchanged.
The trading hours to avoid depend on your activity and trading strategy. Scalpers will look for liquid markets with very low spreads, so the Asian session may be less interesting for an Australian scalper.
If you have a trading strategy that does not require much volatility, then you do not have to trade volatile markets. Markets are more volatile when trading sessions overlap between them. It should also be remembered that traders must sometimes rest, and that the best trading times are those that match the investor's profile.
Forex trading times and currency trading sessions – Conclusion
When trading the forex market, a market participant must first of all define whether high or low volatility will work best with their individual trading style and strategy. If price action is more important, then periods when trading sessions overlap might be the preferable option. Those wanting high volatility will need to identify which time frames are most active for the currency pair they are aiming to trade on.
To better understand which trading session suits your trading style the best, open an unlimited demo trading account to test your trading strategies.
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