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What are the Forex Market Hours?

FX Scouts By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: August 20, 2019

The Forex Market Hours

Forex trading can be done almost 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. We say “almost” because every day at rollover time (5 pm New York time), you are unable to place trades for a few minutes.

The duration of rollover depends on the broker you use, but it’s usually between 2-5 minutes. Close to rollover time, the spreads on different currency pairs can be much wider than usual. This can make it impractical and risky to trade close to rollover time, especially if you use a tight stop loss.

How late does the Forex market open and close?

There are 4 main Forex trading sessions, the Sydney session, the Tokyo session, the London session, and the New York session. The Forex market opens every Sunday at 17:00 New York time (*EST in winter and *EDT in summer) and closes every Friday at the same time. We use New York time as our benchmark because the market open/close is always at 17:00 in New York, right through the year. 17:00 New York time is the end of the U.S. session and during certain times of the year it is also the start of the Sydney session.

During the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, when the U.S. session closes at 17:00 EST, it is midnight (00:00) in South Africa. When it is summertime in the northern hemisphere and the U.S. session closes at 17:00 EDT, it is 23:00 in South Africa. So, in South Africa, the Forex market opens and closes at either 23:00 (**roughly between March and November) or 00:00 (**roughly between October and March), depending on the time of the year.

Although we can say that the Forex market is open from Sunday 17:00 EST/EDT to Friday 17:00 EST/EDT, we can also say that it closes every day for a few minutes from Monday to Thursday at 17:00 EST/EDT for rollover. Soon after rollover, the Sydney trading session starts and the cycle is repeated. Of course, rollover also takes place when the market closes on Friday.

*EST = Eastern Standard Time

*EDT = Eastern Daylight Time

**In New York, the transition from EST (winter) to EDT (summer) happens at 02:00 on the second Sunday in March and the transition from EDT (summer) to EST (winter) happens at 02:00 on the first Sunday in November. To establish the specific dates of the transitions, you can use a calendar or consult your Forex broker.

As you can see in this table, the best time to trade Forex is generally between 10:00 and 16:00 SAST (South Africa Standard Time). 10:00 SAST is when the London session opens and 16:00 is one hour into the U.S. session. Between 10:00 and 16:00 is a good time to catch important economic news releases which can have a great impact on the exchange rates. During these hours, the Tokyo session overlaps the London session and a few hours later, the London session overlaps the U.S. session.

When the London session opens, there is often big market participation and good volatility. Likewise, the open of the U.S. session brings immense trading volume to the market. During these hours, intraday traders have the best chance of getting enough market movement to hit their profit targets. False moves (e.g. fakeouts) are also less common than during the first few hours of the Tokyo and Sydney sessions. Liquidity is also really high, which means that large positions can be absorbed by the market easier, with a smaller chance of experiencing slippage or significant market impact.

The table above is calculated from EST (wintertime in New York), which is 7 hours behind South Africa Standard Time. In this example, the London trading session starts at 10:00 SAST while the U.S. session opens at 15:00. After the transition from EST to EDT in March, the London session opens at 09:00 South Africa Standard Time and the U.S. session at 14:00. It is important to know this because many traders start trading when the London session opens or when the London and U.S. sessions overlap.

*To keep it simple, we only consider U.S. time transitions. In Europe, the transitions between summertime and wintertime only differ a few days from that of the U.S.

Here is a table with market times (in GMT) for major cities around the world:

Region City Open (GMT) Close (GMT)
Europe London 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Frankfurt 7:00 am 4:00 pm
America New York 1:00 pm 10:00 pm
Chicago 2:00 pm 11:00 pm
Asia Tokyo midnight 9:00 am
Hong Kong 1:00 am 10:00 am
Pacific Sydney 10:00 pm 7:00 am
Wellington 10:00 pm 6:00 am
 

 

Conclusion

Although the Forex market can be traded basically 24/5, the best market liquidity, volatility, and trading conditions are generally experienced during the London session and early U.S. session. During these sessions, some of the most important central banks, speculators, businesses, financial institutions, commodity markets, and stock markets are active, all of which can affect the currency markets in a meaningful way.

When the Forex market is most active, spreads are usually low and large orders can be executed effectively. Market movements are also generally more reliable and forceful than during less active market times.

 

Preferred Forex Brokers in South Africa

Broker Trading Platforms Trading Conditions Deposit
FXTM USD 10 Start Trading Read Review
FP Markets USD 100 Start Trading Read Review
Plus500 ZAR 1500 Start Trading Read Review
easyMarkets USD 100 Start Trading Read Review
eToro USD 200 Start Trading Read Review
AvaTrade USD 100 Start Trading Read Review

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Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.