So what are the best forex trading times? The forex market is open 24 hours a day during the business week, but this does not necessarily mean that all of those 24 hours are good for trading. There is a lot more activity on the foreign exchange markets at certain times of day and generally speaking, the best times to trade are when the markets are busiest.
The two biggest trading floors for forex are London and the US markets. Although the UK does not use the euro, most euro countries are within one hour time difference from the UK, as is Switzerland. US time zones also include Canadian. So the London session and the US session between them cover most of the major currencies that are traded.
The London session starts at 8.00 UTC and finishes at 16.00 UTC. The currencies that are most active during this session are the euro (EUR), British pound (GBP) and US dollar (USD) which is involved in the majority of all trades.
The US session starts at 13.00 UTC (8.00 EST) and finishes at 22.00 UTC (17.00 EST). The most traded currencies during these times are USD, EUR, GBP, AUD (Australian dollar), JPY (Japanese yen) and CAD (Canadian dollar).
The peak trading time, as you might expect, is during the three hours when these two sessions overlap and the markets are open in both London and New York. This period runs from 13.00 to 16.00 UTC (8.00 to 11.00 EST).
If you like to let your orders run over several days it may not make so much difference to you to know the busiest times on the markets. But if you are involved in day trading forex where you might open and close a trade within a few minutes, you will find most opportunities coming up during the most active hours.
If you are involved in a cross rate, i.e. a currency pair that does not involve the US dollar, you may have another window of time when the financial centers in your two countries are open for business.
For example if you were trading AUD/JPY you might find that trading was good during what is called the Asian session. The Australian and Japanese business hours are pretty close and on a day when activity was expected you might find some profitable trades during the overlap. However, generally speaking this is a slower session for just about all currencies.
So the best time for most forex traders is during that three hour window in the morning in the US and the afternoon in the UK and Europe, when the markets are open on both sides of the Atlantic. Trading can be frantic during those hours, there is maximum liquidity and the currencies move far and fast. A lot of the important financial news is released during this period too, especially toward the beginning. So these hours are the best forex trading times if you want to grab quick profits.
Some of the forex scalping expert advisor programs that were popular until recently have been getting a bad press in the last few months. It seems that they are selling when they should buy and buying when they should sell. So what is happening, and can you still trade successfully with a scalping expert advisor?
Scalping is a tactic that relies on making small, quick trades to exit with a profit not many times the size of the spread. In fact generally anything more than 3 times the spread is not considered scalping at all. Scalpers are aiming to move in and out of the market in just a few minutes, or sometimes even less than one minute. They plan to do this many times in a day to achieve many small profitable trades adding up to good profits over the course of time.
The first problem for all forex scalpers is finding a broker who will allow you to do this. Brokers, even if they are not deliberately taking a position against you, often have some time delay before they cover your position in the open market. This may only be a few seconds to one minute which is not significant with long term trading but can put them into a loss position with successful scalpers who may close their trade before the broker has covered it.
But assuming that you are hooked up with a broker who will accept your EA working in this manner, why does it happen that sometimes the EA itself starts to foul up the trading?
One reason is that some EAs have been based around indicators that lag, such as moving averages. It should be obvious to anybody that if you are trading on small price movements you need to react very fast to new trends and a lagging indicator is not the best to use.
However, while the market was relatively stable with slow moving trends, it was possible to profit from scalping tactics even with lagging indicators. This pattern may continue for several years, long enough for many people to believe this is a genuinely possible system and certainly long enough for scalping expert advisor software to be developed to implement these strategies.
But sooner or later the market will enter a more volatile period. This may only happen every 7-10 years but when it does, lagging indicators become useless for scalping techniques. It is better to use indicators such as Bollinger bands which do not rely on measuring movements over such a long period in the past.
So if you want to continue scalping during times when the market is particularly volatile, you should ask questions about the basis of the software that you are thinking of buying and look for a scalping expert advisor that does not rely on lagging indicators.
If you want to trade forex for profit, there is one thing that you must have and that is a trading plan. The forex market is a fast moving financial environment where a lot of money can be made in a short time, and lost too. This makes it stressful and confusing in the beginning.
If you do not have a plan for your trading strategies you will be making decisions based on the emotions of the moment which could be fear, greed, panic or euphoria. Decisions made from emotion will almost certainly not be good decisions.
First establish your goals and your boundaries. Do you have a clear idea of how much you might expect to make if your trading is successful? It will probably not be millions. Plan for a slowly increasing level of profits and start small. If you have big expectations you will be tempted to take big risks to try to meet your profit targets, and you could end up with nothing but losses.
Boundaries means risk. How much money are you prepared to risk when you trade forex? This should be money that you do not need for any other purpose. Are you confident enough that you have a good chance of making money with it, rather than losing it? Have you already been trading successfully with a demo account?
You also need to be clear about your position size for each trade. This means taking account of the consequences when a trade goes against you. This will certainly happen sometimes.
Your position size will also relate to your system. Some systems aim to provide a very high percentage of winning trades but losses are large when they happen; others have more losing trades but each loss is smaller. What are the chances of your system giving you two, three, or five or more losses in a row? You need to adjust your position size to provide for the worst that can be expected, because sooner or later it will happen.
A forex trader needs to remain as calm as a poker player and accept losses as well as gains. It is all part of the experience. Remind yourself that your trading system is based on sound analysis and if you keep to your trading plan you should profit. At all times you should know how much you have at risk, what is your potential gain and your potential loss, and where you plan to close the trade in both cases.
Your trading plan should also include how you will implement your forex trading system. What sources of information will you use? Which of the indicators are most valuable for your forex trading style? Where will you go for advice when you need it?
Foreign exchange trading requires a clear strategy that you can set out in a written plan. Remember, if you fail to plan you are planning to fail. You can modify your plan if it needs it, but do not change it while you have open trades. Never enter the market to trade forex without a clear trading plan that you know you can stick to!
Just as there are rules and guidelines for forex trading strategies when you are learning how to make money on the forex market, there are also tricks for dealing with personal factors and habits that undermine our success. Here are 5 golden rules for handling ourselves so that we can move smoothly from hesitant beginner to successful forex trader.
1. Keep Cool
Successful traders do not let their trading depend on their emotions or their emotions depend on their trading. They do not risk more because they are feeling lucky, they do not hesitate when the signs are right, or pull out of a trade too soon out of fear. Equally, they are unlikely to celebrate a gain, nor will they sulk, shout or kick the dog when they lose.
A person who is ruled by their emotions will not make it as a forex market trader. Self discipline can be learned but make sure that you have fully mastered your emotions on a demo account before you think of going live. If you are still taking unplanned risks you are not ready for real trading.
2. Think For Yourself
Different traders have different techniques. This means it there is limited value in getting advice from anybody else. In fact, unless you know that the person follows your system and techniques, their advice is probably worthless to you.
Do not copy somebody else’s system just because they seem to be making money with it. Do your own research and check everything that you are told. Even then, consider carefully before abandoning the system that you have chosen before. There may be factors that you have not taken into account. Something that works for somebody else will not necessarily work for you.
3. Keep Records
Keep a spreadsheet detailing every trade so that you can see patterns in your own results. You do not necessarily need to use it to change anything, but refer to it often to remind yourself of the many small trades that add up to success or failure.
What should you record? At a minimum, the currency pair, your position and the opening and closing prices. However, these bare facts will be much more informative if you can also add why you took the position. Did it fit the criteria of your system? What made you think that the trend would go your way? When you look back you will have a much better view of why your trading history is going well or not so well.
4. If In Doubt, Stay Out
Do not open a trade if you are hesitant or unsure about it, provided of course that you have a reason other than fear for your hesitation. A trade can only go one way or the other, so if it is not completely right, it is wrong. Wait. There will be plenty of better opportunities.
5. Limit Your Trades
Do not be drawn into thinking that you must never miss an opportunity. You do not have to be on top of a lot of different currency pairs and jump into every market regardless of what else you may be doing.
Limit the number of open trades that you have. It is not a good idea to have more than two open positions at the same time, and unless your first trade in the forex market is profitable you should not even consider opening a second.
People new to foreign exchange trading may be surprised to find that their forex broker may operate in some surprising ways. In fact, some companies offering forex trading services are not brokers in the traditional sense at all.
Traditionally a broker would work for you as a client, placing your buy and sell orders for you through their dealing desk and charging commission (for stock exchange transactions) or making their money from the spread (the difference between bid and ask prices) for forex trading. At one time orders would be placed by telephone. Now they are placed online, with you in full control of your account.
But standard forex accounts require significant investment. Typically the minimum deposit is anything from $10,000 to $50,000. Now that forex trading can be done from home, there are many new services springing up with lower deposit requirements, offering forex mini accounts. But their business model is not necessarily the same as traditional brokers, and this can have implications for you.
So these days, there are other types of companies that operate in different ways in order to provide services to the smaller investor. Most of these do not have dealing desks of their own.
Forex NDD (No Dealing Desk)
Brokers without a dealing desk communicate with external liquidity providers to provide prices and match clients’ trades. Because there is a range of liquidity providers, the real spread tends to be small but the broker may increase the spread to give themselves a reasonable profit margin.
Forex ECN (Electronic Communications Network)
ECN brokers provide a marketplace where many market users including banks, market makers and regular traders can see to have their trades filled. Trades will be entered in the name of your ECN provider for anonymity. Spread is generally small but the ECN will often charge a matching fee per trade.
Forex Market Makers
When you have an account with a market maker, your trades are not being matched by external providers but by the market maker themselves. This means that they take the opposite position and offer their prices to you, although of course these prices relate to the current price in the market. They will then offset their risk by taking an equivalent position to yours in an ECN or other environment.
Since they are not actually placing your order in the market, market makers are not brokers in the true sense of the word although most traders use the term forex broker loosely and include them. Others consider that the difference between market makers and bucket shops is not clear and prefer to avoid them.
Forex Bucket Shops
Bucket shops work a little like market makers but they do not offset their risk and may have very little connection to the real spot forex market. When you deal with a bucket shop you could be said to be betting against them. They oppose your trade and they profit by your loss. Like commercial bet takers, if you are successful they tend not to want your business and will probably close your account, returning your funds to you.
Bucket shops are illegal in some jurisdictions, and even if they are legal in your country, they are best avoided, certainly for beginners. A bucket shop is working against you, not for you, and is not a forex broker at all.