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What is the Global Forex Market?

By Jeffrey Cammack Published: October 9th, 2017 Updated: June 12th, 2019

The global Forex market is a decentralised market where different currencies are traded. The same way you can buy and sell stocks, it’s possible to buy and sell currencies. The Forex exchange market is by far the biggest market in the world concerning trading volume with an average daily amount of around $6 trillion.

Open 24 Hours a Day, 5 Days a Week

One of the main advantages of the Forex market is that it’s open around the clock, five days a week. No matter your time zone there are always trading opportunities to make money. However, some trading hours can have more impact on the currency exchange rate than the others.

A trading day can be organised in three trading sessions:

  • The Asia session starts at midnight GMT and ends at 8:00 AM.
  • The London session starts at 7:00 AM GMT and ends at 5:00 PM GMT.
  • The New York session starts at 1:00 PM GMT and ends at 10:00 PM GMT.

Each trading session has its opening hours, and between the open and the close of these trading sessions, the market has more volatility that when it is closed. During the Asia session, there is less market activity, and the market tends to move in small ranges, making this particular trading session great for short-term trading opportunities.

According to BIS data (Bank for International Settlement), more than 30% of all forex transactions happen during the London session. The banks and major FX players are very active during this session, which leads to a lot of trading activities in most currency pairs.

Because the first half of the US session overlaps with the European session, this period is usually the most liquid time of the day with trading opportunities abound.

How does Forex trading work?

When we exchange currencies, each has an established value/price and a currency exchange rate determined by the law of supply and demand. So if more people want to exchange Australian Dollars into US dollars, the price of the USD will rise against the AUD. Thus the currency exchange rate will change.  Conversely, if the supply side of a currency decreases, the currency exchange rate will typically fall.

What Drives Currency Exchange Rates?

To better follow what drives the currency exchange rates, we need only understand the building blocks of the supply and demand equation. Three key factors drive changes in currency exchange rates.

  • Central bank interest rates have a significant influence on currency exchange rates. If the central banks hike interest rates, it can mean the economy is growing, and the future economic outlook is optimistic which, in theory, is positive for the currency exchange rate. If the central bank cuts interest rates, I can be a sign that economic growth is stalling which could be harmful to the currency exchange rate.
  • Central bank interventions can be done either directly or indirectly through unconventional monetary policies. For example, since Japan’s economic growth is very dependent on exports, it likely wants a weaker currency to be competitive in the Global marketplace. In this regard, the Bank of Japan can increase the supply of its currency and devalued the Yen’s value.
  • News reports and economic data might also impact the currency exchange rates.

As a trader, your task is to identify what will and what won’t make the exchange rate move. Not all news reports are created equal, and some news events might lead to more significant market reactions than the others. The best way to stay up-to-date on planned economic news events is to check an economic calendar that will provide you with the news events that can drive changes in the exchange rate.


The global Forex exchange market is where currencies are bought and sold. For being the world’s biggest financial market, there is a lot of liquidity available in the market for you to start making successful transactions. The supply and demand of a currency changes due to various economic factors which in turn drives the currency exchange rate up and down.

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.