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Forex Education

When Can You Trade Forex?

Forex Trading Sessions

Now that you know who participates in the forex market, it’s time to learn when you can trade!

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 learn about the different forex trading sessions.

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 entire 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.

Quiet Forex Sessions

This lesson will help determine when the best times of the day are to trade.

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:

Spring/Summer in the U.S. (March/April – October/November)

Local TimeEDTBST (GMT+1)
Sydney Open – 7:00 AM Sydney Close  – 4:00 PM5:00 PM 2:00 AM10:00 PM 7:00 AM
Tokyo Open – 9:00  AM Tokyo Close – 6:00 PM8:00 PM 5:00 AM1:00 AM 10:00 AM
London Open – 8:00 AM London Close – 4:00 PM3:00 AM 11:00 AM8:00 AM 4:00 PM
New York Open – 8:00 AM New York Close – 5:00 PM8:00 AM 5:00 PM1:00 PM 10:00 PM

Fall/Winter in the U.S. (October/November – March/April)

Local TimeESTGMT
Sydney Open – 7:00 AM Sydney Close  – 4:00 PM3:00 PM 12:00 AM8:00 PM 5:00 AM
Tokyo Open – 9:00  AM Tokyo Close – 6:00 PM7:00 PM 4:00 AM12:00 AM 9:00 AM
London Open – 8:00 AM London Close – 4:00 PM3:00 AM 11:00 AM8:00 AM 4:00 PM
New York Open – 8:00 AM New York Close – 5:00 PM8:00 AM 5:00 PM1:00 PM 10:00 PM

Actual open and close times are based on local business hours, with most business hours starting somewhere between 7-9 AM local time.

Open and close times will also vary during the months of October/November and March/April as some countries (like the United States, England and Australia) shift to/from daylight savings time (DST).

The day of the month that a country shifts to/from DST also varies, confusing us even more.  And Japan doesn’t observe daylight savings, so thank you Japan for keeping it simple.

Now, you’re probably looking at the Sydney Open and wondering why it shifts two hours in the Eastern Timezone.

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.

Also take notice 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 ET, for example, 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 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 let’s take a look at the average pip movement of the major currency pairs during each forex trading session.

PairTokyoLondonNew York
EUR/USD7611492
GBP/USD9212799
USD/JPY516659
AUD/USD778381
NZD/USD627270
USD/CAD579696
USD/CHF6710283
EUR/JPY102129107
GBP/JPY118151132
AUD/JPY98107103
EUR/GBP786147
EUR/CHF7910984

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

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Notice how some currency pairs have much larger pip movements than others.

Daily Pip Range

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

When Can You Trade Forex: 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.

Tokyo Session

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.

PairTokyo
EUR/USD56
GBP/USD54
USD/JPY30
AUD/USD65
NZD/USD58
USD/CAD39
USD/CHF40
EUR/JPY57
GBP/JPY72
AUD/JPY65
EUR/GBP23
EUR/CHF

These pip values were calculated using averages of past data. Take note that these are NOT ABSOLUTE VALUES and can vary depending on liquidity and other market conditions. Also, the session range for EUR/CHF has not been included since the Swiss franc has been pegged to the euro at 1.2000 during the period.

Here some key characteristics that you should know about the Tokyo session:

  • Action isn’t only limited to Japanese shores. Tons of forex transactions are made in other financial hot spots like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney.
  • The main market participants during the Tokyo session are commercial companies (exporters) and central banks. Remember, Japan’s economy is heavily export dependent and, with China also being a major trade player, there are a lot of transactions taking place on a daily basis.
  • Liquidity can sometimes be very thin. There will be times when trading during this period will be like fishing – you might have to wait a long, long time before getting a nibble.
  • It is more likely that you will see stronger moves in Asia Pacific currency pairs like AUD/USD and NZD/USD as opposed to non-Asia Pacific pairs like GBP/USD.
  • During those times of thin liquidity, most pairs may stick within a range. This provides opportunities for short day trades or potential breakout trades later in the day.
  • Most of the action takes place early in the session when more economic data is released.
  • Moves in the Tokyo session could set the tone for the rest of the day. Traders in latter sessions will look at what happened during the Tokyo session to help organize and evaluate what strategies to take in other sessions.
  • Typically, after big moves in the preceding New York session, you may see consolidation during the Tokyo session.

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.

When Can You Trade Forex: 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.

London Session

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.

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

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PairLondon
EUR/USD83
GBP/USD82
USD/JPY36
AUD/USD60
NZD/USD64
USD/CAD66
USD/CHF58
EUR/JPY80
GBP/JPY102
AUD/JPY86
EUR/GBP40
EUR/CHF

These pip values were calculated using averages of past data. Take note that these are NOT ABSOLUTE VALUES and can vary depending on liquidity and other market conditions. Also, the session range for EUR/CHF has not been included since the Swiss franc has been pegged to the euro at 1.2000 during the period.

Here are some neat facts about European session:

  • Because the London session crosses with the two other major trading sessions–and with London being such a key financial center–a large chunk of forex transactions take place during this time. This leads to high liquidity and potentially lower transaction costs, i.e., lower pip spreads.
  • Due to the large amount of transactions that take place, the London trading session is normally the most volatile session.
  • Most trends begin during the London session, and they typically will continue until the beginning of the New York session.
  • Volatility tends to die down in the middle of the session, as traders often go off to eat lunch before waiting for the New York trading period to begin.
  • Trends can sometimes reverse at the end of the London session, as European traders may decide to lock in profits.

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.

When Can You Trade Forex: 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!

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

PairNew York
EUR/USD77
GBP/USD68
USD/JPY34
AUD/USD68
NZD/USD62
USD/CAD67
USD/CHF56
EUR/JPY72
GBP/JPY77
AUD/JPY71
EUR/GBP36
EUR/CHF

These pip values were calculated using averages of past data. Take note that these are NOT ABSOLUTE VALUES and can vary depending on liquidity and other market conditions. Also, the session range for EUR/CHF has not been included since the Swiss franc has been pegged to the euro at 1.2000 during the period.

Here are some tips you should know about trading during the New York session:

  • There is high liquidity during the morning, as it overlaps with the European session.
  • Most economic reports are released near the start of the New York session. Remember, about 85% of all trades involve the dollar, so whenever big time U.S. economic data is released, it has the potential to move the markets.
  • Once European markets close shop, liquidity and volatility tends to die down during the afternoon U.S. session.
  • There is very little movement Friday afternoon, as Asian traders are out singing in karaoke bars while European traders head off to the pub to watch the soccer match.
  • Also on Fridays, there is the chance of reversals in the second half of the session, as U.S. traders close their positions ahead of the weekend, in order to limit exposure to any weekend news.

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.

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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.

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.

Forex Trading Session Overlaps

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. Zzzzzz. 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:

PairSundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
EUR/USD69109142136145144
GBP/USD73149172152169179
USD/JPY4165829112498
AUD/USD588411499115111
NZD/USD2881988710096
USD/CAD4393112106120125
USD/CHF5584119107104116
EUR/JPY19133178159223192
GBP/JPY100169213179270232
EUR/GBP357481797591
EUR/CHF355555648776

As you can see from the chart above, it’s 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 usually the best times to trade since high volatility tends to present more opportunities.

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!

You need sleep to recharge and have energy so that you can do even the most mundane tasks like mowing the lawn, talking to your spouse, taking the dog for a walk, or organizing your stamp collection.

You’ll definitely need your rest if you plan on becoming a hotshot currency trader.

Every trader should learn when to trade.

Actually, scratch that.

Every trader should know when to trade and when NOT to trade.

Knowing the optimal times you should trade and the times when you should sit out and just play some Fortnite instead.

Unless you play Fortnite a little too much already.

Fortnite Addiction

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of the best and worst times to trade:

Best Times to Trade:

  • When two sessions are overlapping of course! These are also the times where major news events come out to potentially spark some volatility and directional movements. Make sure you bookmark the Market Hours cheat sheet to take note of the Opening and Closing times.
  • The European session tends to be the busiest out of the three.
  • The middle of the week typically shows the most movement, as the pip range widens for most of the major currency pairs.

Worst Times to Trade:

  • Sundays – everyone is sleeping or enjoying their weekend!
  • Fridays – liquidity dies down during the latter part of the U.S. session.
  • Holidays – everybody is taking a break.
  • Major news events – you don’t want to get whipsawed!
  • When you just broke up with your significant other because you chose trading forex over him or her. Wait until the next London session instead.

Can’t seem to trade during the optimal sessions? Don’t fret.

You can always be a swing or position trader. We’ll get back to that later.

Meanwhile, let’s move on to how you actually make money trading currencies. Excited? You should be!

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