Forex Market Snapshot

Friday, November 9, 2007

Forex Market Snapshot


The facts and figures that will be denoted in this article relate to the foreign exchange market. Much of the information is drawn from the findngs of the 2007 Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and Derivatives Market Activity conducted by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in April 2007 and released on September 25, 2007. 54 central banks and monetary authorities took part in this survey, collecting information from approximately 1280 market participants.

Summary of this survey by BIS:"The 2007 survey shows an unprecedented rise in activity in traditional foreign exchange markets compared to 2004. Average daily turnover rose to $3.2 trillion in April 2007, an increase of 71% at current exchange rates and 65% at constant exchange rates. Against the background of low levels of financial market volatility and risk aversion, market participants point to a significant expansion in the activity of investor groups including hedge funds, which was partly facilitated by substantial growth in the use of prime brokerage, and retail investors. A marked increase in the levels of technical trading – most notably algorithmic trading – is also likely to have boosted turnover in the spot market." - BIS


  • Decentralized , over-the-counter market, also known as the 'interbank' market
  • Main participants: Central Banks, commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, corporations and private speculators
  • The free-floating currency system began in the early 1970's and was ratified in 1978
  • Online trading trend started in the mid to late 1990's

Source: BIS Triennial Survey 2007

Trading Hours

  • 24 hours market . Note: not 24/7 though
  • Sunday 5pm EST through Friday 4pm EST.
  • Trading starts in New Zealand, followed by Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and America


  • Largest financial market in the world
  • $3.5 trillion average daily turnover, equivalent to:
    • More than 10 times the average daily turnover of global equity markets1
    • More than 35 times the average daily turnover of the NYSE2
    • Nearly $500 a day for every man, woman, and child on earth3
    • An annual turnover more than 10 times world GDP4

  • The spot market accounts for just under one-third of daily turnover

1. About $281 billion - World Federation of Exchanges aggregate 2006
2. About $86 billion - World Federation of Exchanges 2006
3. Based on world population of 6.6 billion - US Census Bureau
4. About $48 trillion - World Bank 2006.

Source: BIS Triennial Survey 2007

Major Markets

  • The United States & the United Kingdom markets account for just over 50% of turnover
  • Major markets: London, New York, Tokyo
  • Trading activity is the heaviest when major markets overlap5
  • Nearly two-thirds of NY activity occurs in the wee morning hours while European markets are open6

5. The Foreign Exchange Market in the United States - NY Federal Reserve
6. The Foreign Exchange Market in the United States - NY Federal Reserve

Average Daily Turnover by Geographic Location

Source: BIS Triennial Survey 2007

Technical Analysis

Commonly used technical indicators:

  • Moving averages
  • RSI
  • Fibonacci retracements
  • Stochastics
  • MACD
  • Momentum
  • Bollinger bands
  • Pivot point
  • Elliott Wave


  • The US dollar is involved in an overwhelming 80% of all foreign exchange transactions that take place daily , equivalent to over US$2.7 trillion per each single day.

Currency Codes

  • USD = US Dollar
  • EUR = Euro
  • JPY = Japanese Yen
  • GBP = British Pound
  • CHF = Swiss Franc
  • CAD = Canadian Dollar
  • AUD = Australian Dollar
  • NZD = New Zealand Dollar

Average Daily Turnover by Currency

N.B. Because two currencies are involved in each transaction, the sum of the percentage shares of individual currencies totals 200% instead of 100%.

Source: BIS Triennial Survey 2007

Currency Pairs

  • Dollar bloc: USD/CAD, AUD/USD, NZD/USD
  • Major crosses: EUR/JPY, EUR/GBP, EUR/CHF

Average Daily Turnover by Currency Pair

Source: BIS Triennial Survey 2007