What is Forex?

The worldwide Foreign Exchange market is often referred to as "Forex," "retail forex," or simply "FX." Put simply, Forex is the exchange of one currency for another at an agreed exchange price on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. It is the world's largest financial market, with an average volume of $ 4 trillion* per day. Compare this to the New York Stock Exchange, which has a daily turnover of $50bn* and it’s easy to see how the worldwide Forex market is the biggest financial market in the world. (* Bank for International Settlements, December 2010)

A true 24 hour market

The Forex market follows the sun around the world. Trading begins on Monday morning in Sydney and Auckland, the major center then moves on to Tokyo and Singapore, London and finally New York. Banks and other institutions maintain round the clock trading operations that respond to economic and political developments in real time. Forex trading begins at 14:15 Eastern Time on Sunday, when markets open in Australia and New Zealand. Tokyo begins trading at 19:00 Eastern Time, followed by London at 2:00 Eastern Time. Finally, New York opens at 8:00 Eastern Time and closes at 17:00 Eastern Time. The New York close is by convention the end of one trading day and the beginning of the next. Forex is the world’s only true 24-hour market.

What are the most commonly traded currencies in the Forex market?

The most popular currencies and their symbols are shown below:

Symbol Currency
USD - United States Dollar
EUR - Euro (eur/usd)
JPY - Japanese Yen (usd/jpy)
GBP - British Pound or Sterling (gbp/usd, or stg/usd)
CHF - Swiss Franc (usd/chf)
CAD - Canadian Dollar (usd/cad)
AUD - Australian Dollar (aud/usd)
NZD - New Zealand Dollar (nzd/usd)