According to the Bank for International Settlements, foreign-exchange trading increased to an average of $5.3 trillion a day. To put this into perspective, this averages out to be $220 billion per hour. The foreign exchange market is largely made up of institutional investors, corporations, governments, banks, as well as currency speculators. Roughly 90% of this volume is generated by currency speculators capitalizing on intraday price movements.
Unlike the stock and futures market that are housed in central physical exchanges, the Foreign exchange market is an over-the-counter market, decentralized market completely housed electronically. Banks from Hong Kong to Zurich and from London to New York. Though most investors are familiar with the stock market, they are unaware how small in volume it is in relation to the Forex market.
In the diagram above, it can be easily seen how the FX market’s $5.3 trillion per day in trading volume dwarfs the equities and futures markets. In fact, it would take thirty days of trading on the New York stock exchange to equal one day of Forex trading!
Traders from other markets are attracted to the Forex because of this extremely high levels of liquidity. Liquidity is important as it allows traders to get in and out of a position at with ease 24 hours a day 5 ½ days a week. It allows large trading volumes to enter and exit the market without the large fluctuations in price that would happen in less liquid market. This means that if you will never get in a position because of the lack of a buyer. This liquidity can vary from one trading session to another and one currency pair to another as well.
As the most traded currency, the US dollar makes up 85% of Forex trading volume. At nearly 40% of trading volume, the euro, is ahead of the third place Japanese yen, that takes almost 20%. With volume concentrated mainly in the US Dollar, Euro and Yen, Forex traders can focus their attention on just a handful of major pairs. In addition, the greater liquidity found in the Forex market is conducive to long, well-defined trends that respond well to technical analysis and charting methods.
In sum, the Forex market size and depth make it the ideal trading market. This liquidity makes it easy for traders to sell and buy currencies. This is why traders from all different asset classes are turning to the Forex market.