When can you trade forex?

Forex Trading Sessions

Now that you know what forex is, why you should trade it, and who makes up the forex market, it’s about time you learned when you can trade.

It’s time to lean about the different forex trading sessions.

Yes, it is true that the forex market is open 24 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean it’s always active the whole day.

You can make money trading when the market moves up, and you can even make money when the market moves down.

BUT you will have a very difficult time trying to make money when the market doesn’t move at all.

And believe us, there will be times when the market is as still as the victims of Medusa. This lesson will help determine when the best times of the day are to trade.

Forex Market Hours

Forex Market Hours

Before looking at the best times to trade, we must look at what a 24-hour day in the forex world looks like.

The forex market can be broken up into four major trading sessions: the Sydney session, the Tokyo session, the London session, and Pipcrawler’s favorite time to trade, the New York session. Below are tables of the open and close times for each session:

Summer (approx. April – October)

Time Zone EDT GMT

Sydney Open

Sydney Close

6:00 PM

3:00 AM

10:00 PM

7:00 AM

Tokyo Open

Tokyo Close

7:00 PM

4:00 AM

11:00 PM

8:00 AM

London Open

London Close

3:00 AM

12:00 PM

7:00 AM

4:00 PM

New York Open

New York Close

8:00 AM

5:00 PM

12:00 PM

9:00 PM

 

 

 

Winter (approx. October – April)

Time Zone EST GMT

Sydney Open

Sydney Close

4:00 PM

1:00 AM

9:00 PM

6:00 AM

Tokyo Open

Tokyo Close

6:00 PM

3:00 AM

11:00 PM

8:00 AM

London Open

London Close

3:00 AM

12:00 PM

8:00 AM

5:00 PM

New York Open

New York Close

8:00 AM

5:00 PM

1:00 PM

10:00 PM

Actual open and close times are based on local business hours. This varies during the months of October and April as some countries shift to/from daylight savings time (DST). The day within each month that a country may shift to/from DST also varies.

You can see that in between each forex trading session, there is a period of time where two sessions are open at the same time. During the summer, from 3:00-4:00 am EDT, the Tokyo session and London session overlap, and during both summer and winter from 8:00 am-12:00 pm ET, the London session and the New York session overlap.

Naturally, these are the busiest times during the trading day because there is more volume when two markets are open at the same time. This makes sense because during those times, all the market participants are wheelin’ and dealin’, which means that more money is transferring hands.

Now, you’re probably looking at the Sydney open and thinking why it shifts two hours. You’d think that Sydney’s open would only move one hour when the U.S. adjusts for standard time, but remember that when the U.S. shifts one hour back, Sydney actually moves forward by one hour (seasons are opposite in Australia). You should always remember this if you ever plan to trade during that time period.

Let’s take a look at the average pip movement of the major currency pairs during each forex trading session.

Pair Tokyo London New York
EUR/USD 76 114 92
GBP/USD 92 127 99
USD/JPY 51 66 59
AUD/USD 77 83 81
NZD/USD 62 72 70
USD/CAD 57 96 96
USD/CHF 67 102 83
EUR/JPY 102 129 107
GBP/JPY 118 151 132
AUD/JPY 98 107 103
EUR/GBP 78 61 47
EUR/CHF 79 109 84

From the table, you will see that the European session normally provides the most movement.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of the session, as well as those periods when the sessions overlap.

Tokyo Session

The opening of the Tokyo session at 12:00 AM GMT marks the start of the Asian session. You should take note that the Tokyo session is sometimes referred to as the Asian session because Tokyo is the financial capital of Asia.

One thing worth noting is that Japan is the third largest forex trading center in the world.

This shouldn’t be too surprising since the yen is the third most traded currency, partaking in 16.50% of all forex transactions. Overall, about 21% of all forex transactions take place during this session.

Below is a table of the Asian session pip ranges of the major currency pairs.

Which Pairs Should You Trade?

Since the Tokyo session is when news from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan comes out, this presents a good opportunity to trade news events. Also, there could be more movement in yen pairs as a lot of yen is changing hands as Japanese companies are conducting business.

Take note that China is also an economic superpower, so whenever news comes out from China, it tends to create volatile moves. With Australia and Japan relying heavily on Chinese demand, we could see greater movement in AUD and JPY pairs when Chinese data comes in.

Now let’s check out how you can trade the London session.

London Session

Just when Asian market participants are starting to close shop, their European counterparts are just beginning their day.

While there are several financial centers all around Europe, it is London that market participants keep their eyes on.

Historically, London has always been at a center of trade, thanks to its strategic location. It’s no wonder that it is considered the forex capital of the world with thousands of businessmen making transactions every single minute. About 30% of all forex transactions happen during the London session.

Which Pairs Should You Trade?

Because of the volume of transactions that take place, there is so much liquidity during the European session that almost any pair can be traded.

Of course, it may be best to stick with the majors (EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, and USD/CHF), as these normally have the tightest spreads.

Also, it is these pairs that are normally directly influenced by any news reports that come out during the European session.

You can also try the yen crosses (more specifically, EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY), as these tend to be pretty volatile at this time. Because these are cross pairs, the spreads might be a little wider though.

Next up, we have the New York session, a jungle where dreams are made of. Hey, isn’t that an Alicia Keys song?

New York Session

Right as European traders are getting back from their lunch breaks, the U.S. session begins at 8:00 am EST as traders start rolling into the office. Just like Asia and Europe, the U.S. session has one major financial center that the markets keep their eyes on. We’re talking of course, about the “City That Never Sleeps” – New York City baby! The concrete jungle where dreams are made of!

Which Pairs Should You Trade?

Take note that there will be a ton of liquidity as both the U.S. and European markets will be open at the same time. You can bet that banks and multinational companies are burning up the telephone wires. This allows you to trade virtually any pair, although it would be best if you stuck to the major and minor pairs and avoid those weird ones.

Also, because the U.S. dollar is on the other side of the majority of transactions, everybody will be paying attention to U.S. data that is released. Should these reports come in better or worse than expected, it could dramatically shake up the markets, as the dollar will be jumping up and down.

Confused on which sessions start when? We made the next section just for you!

Best Times of Day to Trade Forex

Quick pop quiz! What time of the day are TV ratings highest? If you said during prime time, then you would be correct!

What does this have to do with trading sessions? Well, just like TV, “ratings” (a.k.a. liquidity) are at their highest when there are more people participating in the markets.

Logically, you would think that this happens during the overlap between two sessions. If you thought that way, you’d only be half right. Let’s discuss some of the characteristics of the two overlap sessions to see why.

Tokyo – London Overlap

Liquidity during this session is pretty thin for a few reasons. Typically, there isn’t as much movement during the Asian session so, once the afternoon hits, it’s pretty much a snooze fest. With European traders just starting to get into their offices, trading can be boring as liquidity dries up.

This would be an ideal time to take a chill pill, play some putt-putt or look for potential trades to take for the London and New York sessions.

London – New York Overlap

This is when the real shebang begins! You can literally hear traders crack their knuckles during this time, because they know they have their work cut out for them. This is the busiest time of day, as traders from the two largest financial centers (London and New York) begin duking it out.

It is during this period where we can see some big moves, especially when news reports from the U.S. and Canada are released. The markets can also be hit by “late” news coming out of Europe.

If any trends were established during the European session, we could see the trend continue, as U.S. traders decide to jump in and establish their positions after reading up what happened earlier in the day. You should watch out though, at the end of this session, as some European traders may be closing their positions, which could lead to some choppy moves right before lunch time in the U.S.

Best Days of the Week to Trade Forex

So now we know that the London session is the busiest out of all the other sessions, but there are also certain days in the week where all the markets tend to show more movement. Know the best days of the week to trade forex.

Below is a chart of average pip range for the major pairs for each day of the week:

Pair Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
EUR/USD 69 109 142 136 145 144
GBP/USD 73 149 172 152 169 179
USD/JPY 41 65 82 91 124 98
AUD/USD 58 84 114 99 115 111
NZD/USD 28 81 98 87 100 96
USD/CAD 43 93 112 106 120 125
USD/CHF 55 84 119 107 104 116
EUR/JPY 19 133 178 159 223 192
GBP/JPY 100 169 213 179 270 232
EUR/GBP 35 74 81 79 75 91
EUR/CHF 35 55 55 64 87 76

 

As you can see from the chart above, it would probably be best to trade during the middle of the week, since this is when the most action happens.

Fridays are usually busy until 12:00 pm EST and then the market pretty much drops dead until it closes at 5:00 pm EST. This means we only work half-days on Fridays.

The weekend always starts early! Yippee!

So based on all these, we’ve learned when the busiest and best days of the week to trade forex are. The busiest times are the best times to trade because they give you a higher chance of success.

Managing Yo Time Wisely

Unless you’re Edward Cullen, who does not sleep, there is no way you can trade all sessions. Even if you could, why would you? While the forex market is open 24 hours daily, it doesn’t mean that action happens all the time!

Besides, sleep is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle!