How the FX Market Functions
Foreign Exchange is the world's largest financial market. It runs 24 hours a day
– from 3pm New York time on Sunday to 5pm on Friday - only closing for a few
hours each week.
Other than the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), where currency futures trade,
there is no physical FX market. Rather the "market" is an interconnected network
of bank traders, brokers, dealers and fund managers. Indicative and executable pricing
is shared through electronic dealing platforms such as Reuters, Bloomberg EDS and
London remains the main foreign exchange trading Centre with just over 50% of the
flow. London is nicely situated to catch the end of the day in Asia and the beginning
of the day in North America. As such, London foreign exchange traders typically
put in 12 hour days.
In a 2007 BIS survey (http://www.bis.org/publ/rpfxf07t.htm),
average daily FX turnover was calculated to be $3.2 trillion. To put this in perspective,
the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest equity market, traded approximately
$120 billion daily in 2007. The TSX traded about $6.5 billion daily in 2007.
The vast majority of FX trades (more than 90%) have nothing to do with international
payments (whether for imports or exports) but are executed for speculative purposes
and, to a lesser extent, hedging purposes.
Learn How to Read Currency Exchange