If you’re used to the limited business hours of the stock market, FX does better by operating around the clock. This means there are opportunities all day and all night with just an internet connection to a trading platform.
The continuous 24/5 nature of forex market times is one of its greatest strengths. Aside from the number of opportunities to explore, it allows for substantial liquidity and volume.
Here, we’ll look at the primary forex trading session times, along with the best and worst forex market hours.
How forex market hours are 24/5
So, how does forex function like a well-oiled machine 24 hours a day, five days a week? It boils down to decentralization. Unlike instruments that operate through a centralized exchange, FX is decentralized.
For forex market hours, it means that trading doesn’t take place through a central spot but is distributed globally among different buyers and sellers. The beauty is that even if one session is closed, you will find a massive market in another. Forex spans multiple zones.
For instance, even when the Sydney session is not operating, you can trade Australian dollars at any other period with massive volume. There will always be a significant supply and demand of international currencies wherever you are in the world.
Therefore, opening the market beyond standard business hours is only natural. This contrasts securities like bonds and stocks that are domestic and don’t have international demand.
The major brokering platforms in forex are Electronic Broking Services (EBS) and Thomson Reuters Dealing (TRD), located in many different parts globally. These institutions are second in the hierarchy of forex market sessions.
The main source is the interbank market, a network of large commercial banks like Barclays, Citi, Bank of America, HSBC, Barclays, and JPMorgan, among others. At the third level, we have retail brokers who derive their prices from the likes of EBS and TRD. Then they pass these onto us, with a spread on top.
Ultimately, the expansive forex market hours are due to the sheer number of international participants. These include banks, hedge funds, central banks, governments, bureau de changes, brokers, commercial businesses, and, of course, the average Joe.
The four main forex session times
Now, let’s take a look at the forex trading hours. Despite the variety of forex time zones, we have four primary forex sessions:
- Sydney (21h00 to 06h00 GMT)
- Tokyo (23h00 GMT to 08h00 GMT)
- London (07h00 to 16h00 GMT)
- New York (12h00 to 21h00 GMT)
(Tip: You should use a forex time zone converter if you need clarification on the current times based on your location. It’s also easy to check what forex market is open now.)
So, officially, when is the forex market open? Trading begins at 21h00 GMT on Sunday and ends on Friday at 21h00 GMT. Aside from the weekend, there are other exceptions (if the days don’t fall on a weekend):
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
- New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Some brokers may halt trading during other holidays like Thanksgiving, Good Friday, and Easter Monday.
It’s worth noting that the main forex session times change due to daylight savings time (DST). This will vary slightly depending on your country, but it is generally from October to March/April. Here are the forex trading sessions during DST (note that only Sydney and Tokyo times change).
- Sydney (23h00 to 08h00 GMT)
- Tokyo (01h00 GMT to 09h00 GMT)
- London (07h00 to 16h00 GMT)
- New York (12h00 to 21h00 GMT)
The four main forex hours mentioned specify the standard banking times of the respective financial hubs in Australasia, Europe, and North America. They also represent the most traded currencies (AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, JPY, NZD, USD), resulting in the major pairs.
Despite the around-the-clock nature, some emerging currency markets, mainly exotic pairs, are not available for 24-hour trading.
London and New York are the busiest time zones of the four sessions, accounting for most of the total daily trading volume. Session overlaps (when two sessions are open concurrently) are also highly active forex market hours.
Let’s go over each session in more detail and discuss what to expect regarding the activity.
The Sydney session starts the entire forex market open at 21h00 GMT, ending nine hours later at 06h00 GMT. So, what is notable about this time? Being that the Sydney session is the ‘opening bell,’ it is relatively mild.
It starts to pick up steam as the Tokyo session nears. On Mondays, the Sydney session may present some rare, unusual gaps caused by weekend economic occurrences.
For other days, you should expect greater activity when any significant AUD and NZD-related news are released. This period is understandably preferable for Australian traders, even though it’s the least busy overall.
The Tokyo session is, of course, the second element of forex market hours. While it is sometimes referred to as the Asian session (due to the influence of China, Singapore, etc.), Japan is the center responsible for the volume bulk.
Trading during this period begins at 23h00 GMT and concludes at 08h00 GMT. The Tokyo forex trading times represent two of the three market overlaps. The Tokyo session begins as the Sydney session is about to end AND right at the start of the London forex open.
Overlaps are some of the busiest periods in FX because of the increased number of participants from multiple financial centers. Many traders regard them as the best forex market hours.
Besides this, the Tokyo session is quite vibrant for JPY-pairs, along with any economic announcements affecting the Yen.
The forex London open is at 07h00 GMT, with the session ending at 16h00 GMT. It is the precursor to the much anticipated New York session. Still, London certainly holds its own when it comes to favorable trading-times.
Firstly, you see greater movement in the British pound (along with other GBP pairs), one of the most traded currencies globally. Also, London forex market hours overlap with the New York session. This leads to a frenzy among Euro, pound, and dollar pairs, almost the entirety of FX.
New York session
We are now at a forex session that is always long-waited. This period typically generates the most volume and volatility across the board. The New York session is the juggernaut in currency trading, given the influence of the United States and the US dollar.
Any non-USD pairs that were quiet will see a volume increase during these forex hours. The New York session is where trends often begin and reach a peak or climax. This period is also when major economic announcements like the Fed interest rate and Non-Farm Payrolls are released.
Any non-USD pairs that were quiet will see a volume increase during these forex hours.
Forex closing times: why the market is closed on weekends
Many traders dread when the forex clock nears 21h00 GMT on Friday because it is when trading will eventually cease. But why is the forex market closed on weekends? The initial assumption would be that it should operate 24 hours during this time if it does on weekdays.
Well, the reason is straightforward. Everyone deserves a weekend breather, including the interbank market. Even in modern times, most commercial banks globally adhere to traditional business hours.
So, if they take a break, other organisations underneath them, like retail brokers, follow suit. It’s also a good time to perform any system maintenance. Some time ago, some brokers provided trading out of standard 24/5 forex market hours.
Yet, this creates the problem of too few participants, and with fewer traders comes a lack of liquidity. Forex sessions during the week carry massive volumes. But when this is low, two things happen.
Prices will behave erratically, resulting in massive gaps (although some people can take advantage of this). Secondly, the broker will have to charge much higher spreads to compensate for the reduced number of traders.
Weekend forex market hours offer the highest business risk because there is no operating counterparty.
However, foreign exchange isn’t technically closed but paused during the weekend. You can still trade international currencies with other forex dealers like online payment processors and bureau de changes.
The only difference is that the prices would be relatively the same as they were on Friday. This is actually a good thing because you don’t experience volatility as you would with a 24/7 market like crypto.
Your weekend forex schedule is to relax, review your past week and look for opportunities to capitalise on in the next week.
Best forex market hours to trade
Even though FX is open 24/5, that doesn’t mean you can trade at any random time. A successful and skilled trader always operates in the most favorable forex market hours for their strategy and availability.
The periods with the greatest activity are:
- Sydney-Tokyo overlap
- Tokyo-Sydney overlap
- London-New York overlap
- London session
- New York session
The chart below demonstrates the amount of pip volatility (using the Average True Range indicator) across the four main forex sessions on EUR/USD. We are using the euro as an example because it’s the most traded currency pair.
Note the frequent spike ATR when observing the London and New York periods. Higher volatility is a sign of the most increased pip range.
While we have highlighted the general best forex market hours, you don’t have to adhere to these due to numerous factors. Firstly, a clash in time zones naturally means traders miss opportunities.
For instance, it might be a period of sleep for one trader when the forex London session time is active. However, this doesn’t mean you should try to be awake at all sessions.
This is one advantage of adopting a long-term trading style like swing trading or position trading. Your entries are not affected by a certain forex session. Needless to say, a strategy is still necessary. It’s just that long-term traders plan to hold their positions for several days or weeks at a time.
On the other hand, the mentality with approaches like scalping and day trading scalping is different. These individuals are more meticulous about finding the perfect forex market hours, given the shorter time horizon of their orders.
Worst forex market hours to trade
So, which are the no-go forex sessions, the absolute worst times to have a position? Generally, you’ll want to avoid: the ‘rollover’ periods, late Friday, and specific news events.
- Rollover period (or a few hours before it): This is the first hour of the Sydney session. Here, pricing systems are reset across all financial centers, leading to an abnormal spread increase.
If you spot an opportunity towards the end of the New York session, it’s usually better to wait until after the first hour of the Sydney session.
- Late Friday: Here, we refer to most of the New York session leading to the weekend. The main fear is potential gaps. This may be an issue for short-term traders but not a big deal for long-term traders.
- Certain high-impact news announcements: These forex hours can (not always) be quite volatile because of the speculation in the forecasted outcomes. It may be too much of a brokerage risk to offer trading during these periods, leading to a jump in the spread.
There is some consensus that certain weekdays like Monday are not good for trading. Similar to selecting the top forex market hours, it depends on the trader. Sometimes these so-called worst days are personal preference instead of objectively bad times.
Many traders see Monday as the least volatile because the market is recovering from the weekend. Yet, it doesn’t stop a swing trader from spotting a decent opportunity and holding it.
Aside from the three listed forex market hours, most other times are relatively fine as long as you are in the right physical and mental state. It’s all systems go once a set-up appears that meets all your criteria.
FX is the largest financial market by a mile because of the variety and dispersion of forex market hours. Thanks to decentralization and the internet, currency trading continues to function like clockwork.
Even though the market is open for vast amounts of time, you shouldn’t be trading all the time. We don’t all have to engage in the same forex market hours because each person is unique in strategy and when they can participate.