The currency markets are the only desks that provide trading around the clock. The clock should always be based on the Greenwich Meantime (GMT) non-daylight saving. The institutional traders are based in major financial hubs across the globe, allowing for constant trading, unlike the stock markets.
Forex Market Open Hours Table
The forex timetable for the financial hubs loop around every day. The time zones are as follows.
However, the market closes 22:00 GMT on every Friday evening (finishing the New York Session) and reopens Sunday evening at 22:00 GMT (Sydney Session). This is because around the world, there are four major timezones that the currency markets trade around. They are Sydney (Australia), Tokyo (Japan), London (United Kingdom), New York (America).
Opens Sunday at 22:00 GMT / Closes Friday at 22:00 GMT
Markets are not traded over the weekend.
Understanding the open hours, sessions, for each forex market and how they overlap is important. Often the first hour of trading in each major center sets the tone for general direction in the rest of the session. There will also be more activity when major market centers overlap, as in the case with the New York open which coincides with London already being open.
The London trading session in Forex markets starts at 08:00 GMT. London time and finishes at 17:00 GMT. Most of the largest market moves will happen during this trading session, relatively more volatile and more liquid than other sessions. For many financial markets, London is considered the financial center of the world, and forex is one of them. According to the BIS triennial report for 2013, 40.9% of forex trades in April 2013 were executed in London. The opening hours of a major market session can give rise to Breakout strategies, read more about London Breakout Strategy.
New York Session
The New York session starts just after lunch in London, this reactivates the market which often drifts sideways for an hour or two. New York might be the largest Stock market in the world but in Forex its share of trading for April 2013 was 18.9% according to the BIS report. This session starts at 13:00 GMT and finishes at 22:00 GMT. It also brings important economic data for the afternoon which helps revive the market. This session will show most price moves during its first hours of the day where it overlaps with London. Afternoons tend to be less volatile and show smaller price ranges.
New York Breakout strategy is also possible on the open of this session, read more about New York Breakout Strategy.
Minor Market Sessions
These sessions are the Tokyo and Sydney trading days which overlap each other for the most part. the Tokyo session Starts at 00:00 GMT and finishes at 09:00 GMT. However, trading volumes tend to be small and the Market will usually drift within a range of high price and low price for the greater part of the session. This behavior is what actually gives rise to the Breakout Strategy. The BIS report gave trading volume for these two centers at 5.6% and 2.7% respectively. Accordingly, large price moves or high volatility are usually unlikely especially in the Major Currency pairs and exchange rates tend to stay within a tight range.
Market Session Overlap
The chart above shows how the different trading sessions overlap and for how long. You can see that the two most important centers are also the ones that overlap for the longest amount of time. The London and New York trading sessions together accounted for 59.8% of trading volume in April 2013.