The simplest answer is that the forex is open for trading all the time, but that the specific hours it opens and closes at any given location depending upon where you are in the world. The base reference time for all opening and closing times worldwide is Greenwich Mean Time, commonly abbreviated GMT. Many websites devoted to clarifying forex business hours describe the opening and closing times with three or four significant examples, usually
For instance, if we take a less active period between 5 pm – 7 pm EST, after New York closes and before Tokyo opens, Sydney will be open for trading but with more modest activity than the three major sessions (London, US, Tokyo). Consequently, less activity means less financial opportunity. If you want to trade currency pairs like EUR/USD, GBP/USD or USD/CHF you will find more activity between 8 am – 12 am when both Europe and the United States are active.
Some time later, the EUR/USD exchange SELL rate (the rate at which you can sell euros for US dollars) is 1.5500. You sell your €1 000 and get $1 550. Having started with $1 450, you now have $1 550 – you’ve made a profit of $100. Alternatively, the EUR/USD exchange SELL rate could be 1.3500. If you sell your €1 000, you’ll get $1 350. Having started with $1 450, you now have $1 350 – you’ve made a loss of $100.
Both types of contracts are binding and are typically settled for cash for the exchange in question upon expiry, although contracts can also be bought and sold before they expire. The forwards and futures markets can offer protection against risk when trading currencies. Usually, big international corporations use these markets in order to hedge against future exchange rate fluctuations, but speculators take part in these markets as well.
Unlike trading on an exchange where the contract sizes are predetermined, when trading forex online, you get to decide the size of your positions. This allows traders to start with the capital they feel comfortable with. At ThinkMarkets, you can start participating in the fascinating currency markets with no minimum deposit requirement for a Standard account and only $500 minimum deposit for a ThinkZero account.
Foreign exchange trading increased by 20% between April 2007 and April 2010 and has more than doubled since 2004. The increase in turnover is due to a number of factors: the growing importance of foreign exchange as an asset class, the increased trading activity of high-frequency traders, and the emergence of retail investors as an important market segment. The growth of electronic execution and the diverse selection of execution venues has lowered transaction costs, increased market liquidity, and attracted greater participation from many customer types. In particular, electronic trading via online portals has made it easier for retail traders to trade in the foreign exchange market. By 2010, retail trading was estimated to account for up to 10% of spot turnover, or $150 billion per day (see below: Retail foreign exchange traders).
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The need to exchange currencies is the primary reason why the forex market is the largest, most liquid financial market in the world. It dwarfs other markets in size, even the stock market, with an average traded value of around U.S. $2,000 billion per day. (The total volume changes all the time, but as of August 2012, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) reported that the forex market traded in excess of U.S. $4.9 trillion per day.)