Forex market hours as i briefly mentioned in part 1 of the 7 series of forex for beginners articles, is totally different than other trade markets such as stock exchange market. Since in forex market you can trade currencies with any other country, and obviously since there are different time zones in the world, forex market has to stay open 24 hours a day, so anyone from anywhere in the world can trade. However Forex market is not a 24/7 market, because on weekends market is closed.
To find out the exact timing, and know when the markets open and close, you have to take time zones into consideration. It may sound scary to some, but, it can be very simple when expressed in UTC. UTC stands for Universal Coordinated Time (aka;Greenwich Mean Time). It is used because its the standard (winter) time in Greenwich, London, which is the point of zero longitude on the globe.
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Knowing that, you can say that the normal forex market hours are 22.00 Sunday UTC to 22.00 Friday UTC. Which translate to 10 pm in the UK (winter time).
As for americans, since New York is 5 hours behind the UK, the market hours start from 5 pm Sunday, until 5 pm Friday in New York. For the US west coast, it would be 2 pm sunday/friday. For australia it would be 8 am Monday/Saturday in Sydney. For Germany it’s 11 pm, and so on.
As for summer, it may get a little bit confusing, since you have to take summer time daylight saving into account. It doesn’t apply to every country, but for those who it applies to, it makes one hour difference. But then of course the daylight saving operates in a different way in the southern hemisphere countries such as Australia which have summer time from September to March instead of March to September.
Here is an example of the oporating hours for major national markets:
Sydney: 10 pm to 7 am UTC
Tokyo: 12 midnight to 9 am UTC
London: 8 am to 5 pm UTC
New York: 1 pm to 10 pm UTC
Or you can express it in EST (Eastern US time):
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Sydney: 5 pm to 2 am EST
Tokyo: 7 pm to 4 am EST
London: 3 am to 12 noon EST
New York: 8 am to 5 pm EST
I know it sounds confusing and complicated, but, don’t worry, you don’t have to figure all of this out on your own (although you only need to know your own market’s hours). You can find this information easily on most trading platforms (forex trading websites). You don’t actually have to count everything to find out the right hours that the market operates in your country. I just explained the above info to familiarize you with the forex market hours and how it works.
Although the forex market operates 24 hours, it does not necessarily mean that trading at any time is a good idea. When markets just open, specially the big ones, most of the times, the prices can be very volatile and unpredictable. That’s why experienced traders stop trading for one hour, about 4 times a day (times that the 4 major markets open).
As you can imagine the US dollar is the most traded currency in the market. US dollars are traded 2.5 times more than its nearest competition, which is the euro. Which means, us forex market and what happens in it, are much more important, and have a greater impact on the financial markets. That’s why the New York forex market slows down around 3 pm local time (8 pm UTC).
So, as you can see, theoretically you can trade currencies 24 hours a day from Sunday night to Friday night. Since you can’t stay up 24 hours a day, there are many automated softwares that you can program to trade for you, while you sleep. Although you can trade 24 a day, a smart and cautious currency trader will limit his or her trading to certain hours of the day, based on market’s performance.
I hope this article was useful in helping you learn a little more about foreign exchange, specifically forex market’s hours of operation and how its calculated. Next week, we will have the part 3 of forex for beginners.