For many, working a full-time job is a non-negotiable part of life. Sustaining an existence, no matter how meager or lavish, often requires the dedication of most of our waking hours. Expenses such as rent, a mortgage, utilities, food and transportation are obligations that must be satisfied. While there are exceptions, meeting these challenges typically requires securing full-time employment, Monday through Friday.

Regardless of one’s chosen profession, working hours typically represent a major portion of our lives. However, the extent of time spent at work does vary depending upon location, culture and industry.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), workers from various international locales put in very different hours:1)Retrieved 2 May 2017 http://fortune.com/2015/11/11/chart-work-week-oecd/

Global Rank Country Average Working Hours Per Week
1 Mexico 42.85
6 Russia 38.17
8 Poland 36.98
15 Ireland 35.02
16 United States 34.40
24 United Kingdom 32.25
36 Germany 26.37
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As a point of reference, there are only 168 hours in a 7-day week. Assuming eight hours a day for sleep and 40 hours a week dedicated to a full-time job, there remains 72 hours of “free” time. Of course, “free” is a largely subjective term, but even while working a full-time schedule, three complete days a week are uncommitted.

Therein lies one of the biggest advantages to trading currencies on the forex: flexibility. No matter where one lives, or what one does for a living, it is possible to trade the forex.

Forex: Hours Of Operation

The forex is an over-the-counter market (OTC) specialising in the exchange of foreign currencies. It is the world’s largest market in terms of currency value traded, averaging in the neighborhood of US$5 trillion daily.2)Retrieved 3 May 2017 http://www.bis.org/statistics/d11_1.pdf
The forex is not a centralised marketplace; it is a conglomeration of individual regional markets, located around the world. The markets are integrated with one another electronically, thus trading is able to remain open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. Sunday at 9 PM UTC cues market open, until it closes on Friday 8 PM UTC.

The forex trading day is broken up into four primary sessions: America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. Each trading session provides a varying degree of market participation, based on the institutions, traders and investors actively involved in the market at that time.

Listed below are the world’s prominent forex trading hubs and their trading day’s most active hours (UTC):

City Open (UTC) Close (UTC)
New York 12 PM 9 PM
Tokyo 11 PM 8 AM
Sydney 9 PM 6 AM
London 7 AM 4 PM

With market participants actively engaging the forex from nearly every locale and time zone on the planet, trading opportunities can be found around the clock. Even if a substantial portion of your day is tied up with work responsibilities, it is still possible to trade the forex.

Favourable Market Conditions: Liquidity And Opportunity

Forex access is technically available on a 24/5 basis, but there are specific times and products that are conducive to profitable trading. Typically, traders prefer to enter and exit the market during periods of robust participation and market liquidity. Increased liquidity provides the pricing volatility and market efficiency necessary for the creation of optimal trading opportunities.

Liquidity is an important factor in regards to minimising both slippage and the bid/ask spread. Without adequate volume or participation, having an order filled at a desirable price becomes a formidable task. Thinly traded markets often have considerable spreads, which also contribute to higher costs associated with market entry and exit.

In forex, periods of time where the regional trading sessions overlap one another produce heightened liquidity on a consistent basis. Listed below are the daily time frames where the regional sessions coincide (UTC):

  • New York and London 12 PM to 4 PM
  • Sydney and Tokyo 11 PM to 6 AM
  • London and Tokyo 7 AM to 8 AM

In addition to the time of day, the product being traded is a crucial part of market liquidity. The most frequently traded currency pairs on the forex are known as the “majors.” Listed below are the major pairings, although periodic updates representing current trading volumes are possible:

While working a day job greatly reduces the ability for one to actively trade the premium time slots, knowing what and when to trade is a great place to begin. Developing a practical approach to the market, including concessions to one’s schedule, is a big part of creating a sustainable trading plan.

Putting It All Together

Active trading can be an all-consuming endeavour. However, given the current technology and resources available to aspiring forex participants, one is able to engage the market on his or her own terms. The following options make forex trading possible for people with a jam-packed work schedule:

  • Broker-Assisted Trading: Many individuals who cannot fully dedicate themselves to forex trading utilise the services of a full-service broker. A full-service broker can provide expertise as well as execute trades on the client’s behalf.
  • Automated Trading: Automated trade execution has become a popular way to trade forex without having to physically place orders upon the market. Software trading platforms are programmed with a strategy and execute it within the marketplace.
  • Trading Methodology: The disciplines of swing trading, intermediate and long-term investing require very little time in regards to the management of an open position. Due to the longer durations involved, decisions may be made at one’s leisure.

It’s important to realise that there are options for individuals who want to trade, but have limited time resources. Through the use of a full-service broker, automated trading or the selection of a more hands-off style, a full-time employee may engage and succeed in the forex.

Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, other information, or links to third-party sites are provided as general market commentary and do not constitute investment advice. FXCM will not accept liability for any loss or damage including, without limitation, to any loss of profit which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.

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