As Forex traders, it is very important to know what is the availability of the market. Moreover, it is important to understand how do the different trading hours or sessions impact your trading strategy.
The Forex market is open 24-hours a day from Sunday 10:00 PM GMT to Friday 10:00 PM GMT, this includes most holidays worldwide. 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.
A trading week consists of the following major sessions:
|GMT: from 10:00 PM GMT to 7:00 AM GMT
ET: from 5:00 PM ET to 2:00 AM ET
|GMT: from 12:00 AM GMT to 9:00 AM GMT
ET: from 8:00 PM ET to 4:00 AM ET
|GMT: from 8:00 AM GMT to 5:00 PM GMT
ET: from 3:00 AM ET to 12:00 PM ET
|New York (American)
|GMT: from 1:00 PM GMT to 10:00 PM GMT
ET: from 8:00 AM ET to 17:00 PM ET
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.
Table of Contents
Forex Trading Hours Explained
Prefer something a little more succinct in video format? Check this:
Let’s look at the sessions one-by-one and see what exactly happens over a 24-hour period on the Forex Market.
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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 volume 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 volatility 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 volatility 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.
New York Session
Forex market hours of the US start with New York. This is because New York 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 volume increases significantly as New York 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 York 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. In fact, we created a holistic trading strategy for the GBPUSD just based on this one fact. The strategy is called Simple System and you can find it in this course. It uses a profitable pattern that we discovered for GBPUSD.
Finally, you can see that although the New York and Australian sessions don’t overlap, they follow each other back-to-back, with a break during weekends.
Overlaps – Best times to trade the Forex market?
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 York 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
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.
You should assess the risk to take the following week. This will depend on your trading strategy and profile.
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.
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. Let’s take a look at the example below:
As the NFP reading took place during Feb 7 at 1:30 PM GMT (8:30 ET), you can see how the price spiked. The main reason for this volatility was the higher-than-expected NFP value of 225k. However, you can notice that after a couple of hours the price stabilized and continued its horizontal trend.
This kind of strong price movement can distort your strategy and even impact your trades. So it is always handy to keep an economic calendar while planning your trading week.
Next steps and Bonus
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.
The Forex Market Hours Map is in HD (over 1920p) resolution, so you can even use it as your desktop background if you like. Choose your timezone from this link.