What Are Forex Market Hours?

Forex market hours refers to the specified period of time when participants are able to transact in the foreign exchange market.

Key Takeaways

  • Forex market hours refers to the specified period of time when participants are able to transact in the foreign exchange market.
  • The forex market is available for trading 24 hours a day except for weekends.
  • The forex market is decentralized and driven by local sessions, four in particular-Sydney, Tokyo, London, and New York.
  • Trading volume varies from one session to another, though the highest trading volume tends to occur when the London and New York sessions overlap.
  • The benchmark spot foreign exchange rate, used for daily valuation and pricing for many money managers and pension funds, is set at 4 p.m. London time.

Understanding Forex Market Hours

Forex market hours are the schedule by which forex market participants can buy, sell, exchange, and speculate on currencies all around the world. The forex market is open 24 hours a day during weekdays but closes on weekends. With time zone changes, however, the weekend gets squeezed.

The forex market opens on Monday at 8 a.m. local time in Wellington, New Zealand, which equates to Sunday 2 p.m. in New York City under Eastern Standard Time (EST), and closes at 5 p.m. local time in New York City, which equates to Saturday 11 a.m. New Zealand Time. During these hours traders in the forex market can execute trades, though trading conditions may vary.

Forex trading starts in New Zealand but is called the Sydney session. 

International currency markets are made up of banks, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, as well as retail forex brokers and investors around the world. Because this market operates in multiple time zones, it can be accessed at any time except for the weekend break.

The international currency market isn't dominated by a single market exchange but involves a global network of exchanges and brokers around the world. Forex market trading hours are based on when trading is open in each participating country. While the time zones overlap, the generally accepted time zone for each region are as follows: 

  • New York: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST)
  • Tokyo: 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. (EST)
  • Sydney: 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. (EST)
  • London: 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST
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The two busiest time zones are London and New York. The period when these two trading sessions overlap (London afternoon and New York morning) is the busiest period and accounts for the majority of volume traded in the trillions of dollars a day market.

It is during this period that the Reuters/WWM benchmark spot foreign exchange rate is determined. The rate, which is set at 4 p.m. London time, is used for daily valuation and pricing for many money managers and pension funds.  

Special Considerations

While the forex market is a 24-hour market, some currencies in several emerging markets are not traded 24 hours a day. 

The seven most traded currencies in the world are the U.S. dollar, euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Australian dollar, Canadian Dollar, and Swiss franc, all of which are traded continuously while the forex market is open. Speculators typically trade in pairs crossing between these seven currencies from all over the world, though they favor times with heavier volume.

When trading volumes are heaviest, forex brokers will provide tighter spreads (bid and ask prices closer to each other), which reduces transaction costs for traders. Likewise, institutional traders also favor times with higher trading volume, though they may accept wider spreads for the opportunity to trade as early as possible in reaction to new information they have.

Despite the highly decentralized nature of the forex market, it remains an efficient transfer mechanism for all participants and a far-reaching access mechanism for those who wish to speculate from anywhere on the globe.