What are the Forex Market Hours?

FX Author By Jeffrey Cammack Author Information Updated: April 15, 2020

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:

RegionCityOpen (GMT)Close (GMT)
EuropeLondon8:00 am5:00 pm
Frankfurt7:00 am4:00 pm
AmericaNew York1:00 pm10:00 pm
Chicago2:00 pm11:00 pm
AsiaTokyomidnight9:00 am
Hong Kong1:00 am10:00 am
PacificSydney10:00 pm7:00 am
Wellington10:00 pm6:00 am
 

 

Preferred Forex Brokers in South Africa

Find below brokers to sign up and trade the Forex market hours with.

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.

  • Sibulelo says:

    Hi team forex. I’m sibulelo based in Pretoria, can I get an attachment of the trading times please.
    Regards
    Sibulelo Conjwa

  • Lindo says:

    Good day. I would like to know the best time to trade Gold?

    • Chris Cammack says:

      Hi Lindo, thanks for your question – we’re primarily focused on Forex on this site but gold CFD trading follows the same patterns. The best time to trade gold CFDs for South Africans is probably when the European and US markets overlap, so between 13:00 – 17:00 GMT.

  • John says:

    Hey Chris.
    When do Stock markets like S&P500 NASDAQ and DowJones open in south africa? and which broker do you best suggest a beginner south african trader to day trade on those markets. Thanks!

    • Chris Cammack says:

      Hi John, thanks for your question. The US stock market is open from 15:30-22:00, South African time. While I can’t tell you which broker to use, I can point you to our list of brokers for beginners: https://tradeforexsa.co.za/forex-brokers-south-africa/brokers-for-beginners/ – these are all good for new traders. As a beginner trader, it is critical that you use a demo account until you feel fully comfortable with the markets and make sure you take advantage of your broker’s educational content. Good luck!

  • Lesedi says:

    Hey guys I want to know we’re can I get e mentor or class around cape town

    • Chris Cammack says:

      Hi Lesedi, thanks for your question. Many brokers will offer a mentoring or training service. The best in the Cape Town area is probably with Khwezi Trade, who will give you personal mentoring and in-depth training. Be aware that you will be required to make a deposit, usually in the region of 10,000/15,000 Rand for this service. I would get in touch with them directly to discuss the options they have.

  • Nkosinathi Makhubela says:

    Hi Chris, On march this year I experienced the shift from EST to EDT through the markets and I didn’t understand what it meant, asked around but didn’t get a satisfying answer so I ended up concluding that the time shift was because of the pandemic’s effect on the markets (lol) . Thank you Chris now I understand this concept and I have a new question if you don’t mind which is “why isnt the metatrader platform not affected by these time shifts in that the candlestick closes are still the same especially the 4 Hour closes?”

    • Chris Cammack says:

      Hi Nkosinathi, thanks for your comment and your question. Daylight savings time is quite an odd concept I must admit, and one that is more and more unnecessary all the time. It seems that time zone changes in MT4 are dependent on your broker’s server time – please see MetaTrader’s explanation here: http://usermanual.tickstory.com/doku.php?id=time-zones. I imagine this also holds true for candlesticks – if your server time is set to UTC then all charting will be unaffected by daylight savings.

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