Schedule of Trading Sessions

Trading volume, volatility, and liquidity of financial instruments are directly influenced by the geography of trading sessions and regional macroeconomic factors.

Forex is a part of the global financial market, and currency trading activity is closely tied to the operating hours of major stock exchanges.

Trading sessions on stock exchange platforms adhere to local time, which can be determined by calculating the difference from UTC (Universal Time Coordinated or Universal Time). Unlike local time, UTC remains constant, with time zones expressing the variance from Universal Time.

Work schedule of main stock exchanges

Name of Stock Exchange Work hours Time zone Daylight saving time
New Zealand Exchange (Wellington) 10:00 - 16:45 UTC +12 UTC +13
Australian Securities Exchange (Sydney) 10:00 - 16:00 UTC +10 UTC +11
Tokyo Stock Exchange (Tokyo) 09:00 - 15:00 UTC +9 -
Singapore Exchange (Singapore) 09:00 - 17:00 UTC +8 -
Shanghai Stock Exchange (Shanghai) 09:30 - 15:00 UTC +8 -
Moscow Exchange (Moscow) 10:00 - 18:45 UTC +3 -
Dubai Financial Market (Dubai) 10:00 - 14:00 UTC +4 -
Saudi Stock Exchange (Ar-Riyadh) 11:00 - 15:30 UTC +3 -
Johannesburg Stock Exchange (Johannesburg) 09:00 - 17:00 UTC +2 -
Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Frankfurt) 09:00 - 17:30 UTC +1 UTC +2
Swiss Exchange (Zurich) 09:00 - 17:30 UTC +1 UTC +2
London Stock Exchange (London) 08:00 - 16:30 UTC +0 UTC +1
New York Stock Exchange (New York) 09:30 - 16:00 UTC -5 UTC -4
Toronto Stock Exchange (Toronto) 09:30 - 16:00 UTC -5 UTC -4
Chicago Stock Exchange (Chicago) 08:30 - 15:00 UTC -6 UTC -5
Average volatility of main instruments and cross pairs in the periods of various trading sessions

The table below shows reference data regarding average volatility (in points) on main currency pairs and the most popular cross rates in the periods of various trading sessions. The information is relevant as of 01.03.2015.

Pair Asia Europe-Asia Europe Europe-America America
AUD/JPY 61 31 74 53 63
AUD/USD 61 36 43 61 48
EUR/GBP 40 27 53 65 49
EUR/JPY 55 37 59 42 44
EUR/USD 49 39 83 100 87
GBP/CHF 66 47 74 56 83
GBP/JPY 84 43 48 89 98
GBP/USD 30 27 115 107 133
NZD/USD 104 51 71 82 78
USD/CAD 18 24 49 62 49
USD/CHF 14 24 94 67 48
USD/JPY 75 29 77 55 67
Asia (00:00-09:00 UTC)

The Asian markets open the trading day, setting the day’s tone for market sentiment. The Asian session comprises around 21% of all currency transactions carried out within a trading day. The most active trading pairs are the USD/JPY and EUR/JPY pairs, while the most traded single currencies are the Singapore dollar and Chinese yuan. Currency operations involving the Japanese yen account for approximately 16.5% of the total daily turnover.

  • Liquidity is quite low, resulting in thin trading. Investment companies and hedge funds often use this time to move the market closer to important price levels and option barriers;
  • Typically, Japanese and Australian economic data are released at the session's opening, influencing pairs like AUD/USD and USD/JPY and setting their range and direction for the day. Additionally, central bank protocols or statements from financial leaders may be scheduled for the session's end;
  • The majority of USD/JPY transactions are conducted by institutional investors with US dollar assets, particularly the Bank of Japan. Large Japanese exporters often convert their US dollar earnings into yen;
  • The yen’s exchange rate is influenced by demand and supply in the Japanese stock market, including stocks and bonds;
  • News releases from China, typically occurring in the morning after the Shanghai Stock Exchange opens, can drive price activity in pairs involving the AUD and JPY;
  • Morning prices of key commodities such as (oil, copper, gold and iron ore) play an important role in the Chinese stock markets, leading to speculative responses from currencies like the AUD, NZD, and JPY ;
  • If the previous American session saw increased activity in major currency pairs, the Asian session may witness global consolidation.
Overlapping of Asia/Europe (7:00-09:00 UTC)

From 7:00 to 09:00 UTC, the market experiences a transition as the first European players, including those from Frankfurt, Moscow, and Johannesburg, enter the trading arena, trading simultaneously with Asians. This two hour period tends to be the least active time in the market overall, as traders often use this time to adjust their positions following the Asian session and prepare for the opening of trading in Europe.

European session (7:00-16:30 UTC)

This trading session is considered the best, from a theoretical standpoint, as volatility is relatively high but not overly aggressive. The markets tend to calm down after 10:00 UTC until the opening of the American session.

  • Price tendencies for the EUR, GBP, and CHF are formed in the early hours;
  • The main trading turnover results from EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CHF, EUR/JPY, and GBP/JPY;
  • All European banks, including the ECB, investment companies, and hedge funds actively trade during these hours;
  • Economic statistics released from the Eurozone and Great Britain (up to 10:00 UTC), as well as central bank meeting outcomes and official statements, significantly influence market movements;
  • Large investors typically conclude their daily asset restructuring during this session, often converting European assets into US dollar assets before the American session, contributing to heightened market volatility.
Overlapping of Europe/America (13:30-16:30 UTC)

More than 70% of all transactions made during the European session and more than 80% of transactions made during the American session take place in this period.

  • Many traders, seeking quick profits from extreme volatility join the market during this time;
  • There is an aggressive clash of interests between large businesses and individual institutional players who trade exclusively during this period. Central banks are also actively involved in trading. High volatility may ensue, as attempts to break previously formed trends take place;
  • Economic data on the USA and Canada is often published during this time, including employment (NFP), GDP, retail sales, CPI indexes, and company stock reports. News such as NFP can significantly alter price dynamics in the weeks or months ahead;
  • The largest volumes of raw materials futures are traded, contributing to volatility in related currencies.

American session (13:30-20:00 UTC)

The US dollar often strengthens during this time. Aggressive speculation in USD instruments can persist until the close of trading, particularly on Fridays.

  • High liquidity at the beginning of the session is driven by the publication of economic statistics immediately after the opening of the New York Stock Exchange. American data affects practically all currency instruments, while oil reserves data influences the price of raw materials futures;
  • After the opening of the American stock market and bond market, foreign investors convert EUR, JPY, CHF, GBP into USD in order to carry out operations on American stock exchange platforms;
  • US banks facilitate capital movement between currency and stock markets. This marks a favorable period for financial maneuvers by major players capable of influencing volume accumulation at key price levels;
  • The American session sees significant trading turnovers not only in EUR/USD, GBP/USD, and USD/JPY, but also in USD/CAD (Canada), BRL/USD (Brazil), USD/MXN (Mexico), as well as in USD index, WTI oil, and S&P futures. These factors collectively shape market dynamics;
  • Due to speculative volumes accumulated during the American session after FOMC meeting and FRS Chair's press-conference, the market is characterized by the change of tendencies and forming of new trends in the mid-term.