The Best Forex Trading Hours
The optimal time to trade the forex (Foreign Exchange) market is when it's at its most active levels, when trading spreads (the differences between bid prices and the ask prices) tend to narrow. In these situations, less money goes towards the market makers who facilitate currency trades, leaving more money for the buying and selling investors to personally pocket.
The Four Major Forex Exchanges
The four major forex exchanges are located in New York, London, Singapore and Tokyo. When more than one exchange is simultaneously open, this not only increases trading volume, it also spikes volatility (the extent and rate at which equity or currency prices change), which likewise benefits forex traders. This may seem paradoxical. After all, investors generally fear market volatility. But in the forex game, greater volatility translates to greater payoff opportunities.
Worldwide Forex Markets Hours
The forex has fifteen independent worldwide exchanges, open weekly from Monday through Friday--each with unique trading hours. But from a trading perspective, the four most important windows are as follows (times shown represent Eastern Standard Time):
- London: 3 AM to 12 PM (noon)
- New York: 8 AM to 5 PM
- Singapore: 3 PM to 12 AM (midnight)
- Tokyo: 7 PM to 4 AM
While each exchange functions independently, they all trade the same currencies. Consequently, when two exchanges are open, the number of traders actively buying and selling a given currency dramatically increases. The bids and asks in one forex market exchange immediately impact bids and asks on all other open exchanges, reducing market spreads and increasing volatility. This is certainly the case in the following windows:
- 8 AM to 12 PM (noon) EST, with both New York and London exchanges open
- 3 PM to 5 PM, with both New York and Singapore exchanges open
- 7 PM to 12 AM (midnight) EST, with both Tokyo and Sydney exchanges open
- 3 AM to 4 AM EST, with both Tokyo and London exchanges open
The most favorable trading time is the 8 AM to noon overlap, when both New York and London exchanges are open. These two trading centers account for more than 50% of all forex trades. On the flipside, from 5 PM to 6 PM EST, the only operation open for business is the Singapore exchange, which accounts for less than 10% of annual forex trading volume. But there an be exceptions. Political or military crises that develop during this hour, could potentially spike volatility and trading volume, making this window a favorable time to trade.
Best Time Doesn't Always Mean Profitable
Forex traders should proceed with caution, because currency trades often involve high leverage rates of 1000 to 1. While this ratio offers tantalizing profit opportunities, it comes with an investor's risk of losing an entire investment on a single trade. In fact, a 2014 Citibank study found that just 30% of retail forex traders break even or better. But tellingly, 84% of those polled believe they can make money in the forex market. The chief takeaway: new forex investors should open accounts with firms that offer demo platforms, that let them make mock forex trades and tally imaginary gains and losses, until investors become seasoned enough to confidently trade for real.
Disclaimer: The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.