Schedule of Trading Sessions

Trading volume, volatility, and liquidity of financial instruments is directly dependent on the geography of trading sessions and regional macroeconomic factors. In realizing when an instrument has the widest range of rate fluctuations and the highest trading volumes, it is possible to improve the efficiency of the trading strategy selected significantly.

Forex is a part of the global financial market and the activity of trading operations with currencies is linked with the work schedule of main stock exchanges. The trading schedule at stock exchange platforms is set according to local time that can be determined through the difference with UTC (Universal Time Coordinated or Universal Time). UTC time never changes and time zones have the time expressed as the difference with 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 -
Sanghai 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)

Opens a trading day and forms main sentiments on markets. The Asian session takes around 21% of all currency transactions carried out within a trading day. In this regard, the most active and massive trading is made in USD/JPY, EUR/JPY, as well as in Singapore dollar and Chinese yuan. Currency operations with JPY make around 16.5% of the total daily turnover.

  • Liquidity is quite low, trading is "thin", investment companies and hedge funds usually use this time to move the market closer to important price levels and option barriers;
  • Usually, Japanese and Australian statistics are published at opening, which sends an impulse to the following pairs AUD/USD, USD/JPY and sets their range and direction of movement for the whole day. Publications of CB protocols or financial leader statements can be planned for the end of the session;
  • The main volume of transactions in USD/JPY pair is carried out by institutional investors with US dollar assets (first of all - by the Bank of Japan). Large Japanese exporters convert their income from US dollar to yen;
  • The yen exchange rate is influenced by demand/offer on the Japanese stock market (stock, bonds);
  • Most often in the morning, after the Shanghai Stock Exchange opens, news from China is published, which generates price activity in the pairs with AUD and JPY;
  • Morning prices for main raw materials (oil, copper, gold, iron ore) play an important role on Chinese stock markets - AUD, NZD, and JPY can give speculative response to them;
  • If there was increased activity in regard to main currency pairs at the previous American session, the Asian session turns into a period of global consolidation.
Overlapping of Asia/Europe (7:00-09:00 UTC)

At 07:00 UTC, the first European players join in - Frankfurt, Moscow, and Johannesburg; after that for two more hours, Asia and Europe trade together. It is the most inactive market period when traders fix their positions after the Asian session and prepare for opening of trading in Europe.

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

This is the most "adequate" trading session from theoretical point of view. Volatility, being quite high, but not aggressive, at the same time, calms down after 10:00 UTC and starts a new speculative growth after the opening of the American session.

  • Price tendencies regarding EUR, GBP, and CHF are formed in the first hours of the session;
  • The main trading turnover results from EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CHF, EUR/JPY, and GBP/JPY;
  • All European banks, including ECB, investment companies, and hedge funds operate on the market as participants;
  • The statistics published with regard to Eurozone and Great Britain (until 10:00 UTC), central banks' meeting results, officials' statements play an important role;
  • Large (portfolio) investors end their daily assets restructuration during the European session; afterwards they convert European assets into US dollar assets before the American session. That assures high volatility of the market.
Overlapping of Europe/America (13:30-16:30 UTC)

It is the most active and volatile time. 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.

  • A number of individual traders that aim to make a quick profit on extreme volatility join the market;
  • There is an aggressive clash of the interests of the big business and individual institutional players that trade only in that period. Central banks are involved in active operation. Attempts to break the trend that was formed during the day are made;
  • At this time, economic data on the USA and Canada are published: employment (NFP), GDP, retail sales, CPI indexes, company stock reports. Such news as NFP can change price dynamics completely one week or one month ahead;
  • The largest volumes of raw materials futures are traded adding volatility to dependent currencies.

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

The tendency for US dollar strengthening often prevails in the period of the American session. Aggressive opposition among speculators in USD instruments can last until the close of trading, especially on Friday.

  • High liquidity at the beginning of the session is stipulated by the publication of economic statistics immediately after the opening of the New York Stock Exchange. American data affect practically all currency instruments, and oil reserves data influence 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;
  • In that period, US banks are actively providing the movement of capital between currency and stock markets. That is the most favorable period for financial intrigues on the part of large players capable of affecting the accumulation of volumes at key price levels;
  • The American session means large 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. All these factors, in the aggregate, form 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.