What is the best time to trade forex and Binary Options

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The Best Times to Trade Binary Options

Lesson 1: The Best Times to Trade Binary Options

Welcome to our new series on binary options trading for beginners, where we will take you by the hand and show you a systematic way to trade binary options. Today we will touch on the best times to trade binary options.

Binary options’ trading involves trading several assets and making money based on the outcome of the price direction. Some of these assets are traded on a 24-hour basis: here we have currencies, commodities and stock indices. Stocks are not usually traded on a 24-hour basis. The trading hours of a stock market determine the times at which a stock listed in that market is traded. When you take the time zones of the trading capitals of the world into consideration, this gives different trading hours for trading stocks on the binary options market.

The binary options market is one where traders make money based on predicting direction, and volatility is what gives price action direction in the market.

Trading works best when the market is bubbling with activity from traders all over the world. When there is good trader activity in the market, it generates the liquidity and volatility needed for the underlying asset to get to its target before the option expires.

Even though assets like currencies and commodities are supposed to be 24-hour markets, there are only certain times of the day when the market activity is at its maximum. This is usually when we have an overlap of the trading zones of the world.

Because not all assets have the same trading hours, we will discuss the various classes of assets as separate entities, taking into account their own peculiar trading hours.

Timing for Stocks

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As we mentioned earlier, stocks are usually traded for a maximum of 6 to 8 hours a day. Stocks of most major companies outside the US are traded on the US stock markets as American Depository Receipts (ADR). As such, the US markets are used as the benchmark of checking the trading hours for stocks. US stock markets usually trade from 9.30am EST to 4pm EST.

However, there are other markets in Europe that are just as important, such FTSE (7am GMT to 3.30om GMT) and the Xetra Dax (8am GMT to 4.30pm GMT) in Germany. If you are trading stocks in the binary options market, pay attention to the times at which the stock markets in which they are listed are in operation.

Timing for Currencies

The forex market is most active when there is an overlap of the London/Asian and London/New York time zones. The diagram below gives a perfect illustration of this.

You also need to know that the local currencies of the active time zones will have increased volatility over others. For instance, the Australian Dollar will be more active during the Asian/London time zone overlap than the London/New York time zone overlap.

Timing for Commodities

Commodity markets are most active at the following times:

Crude oil (NYMEX.CL) – 9am EST to 2.30pm EST

Natural gas – 9.30am EST to 5.15pm EST

Corn – 9.30am EST to 1.15pm EST

Gold – 8.20am EST to 5.15pm EST

Silver – 8.25am EST to 5.15pm EST

Another way of studying the trading times would be to group the commodities under the exchanges where they are traded. As such, the agricultural commodities, which are traded in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, are more actively traded from 9.30am EST to 1.15pm EST and from 6pm EST to 7.15am EST the next day.

Full information on trading hours is available on the CME Group website.

Timing for Index Futures

Stock indices are CFD instruments that measure the movement of the relevant exchanges, As such, the DJ30, NASDAQ100 and S&P500 will conform to the US markets open from 9.30 am EST to 4.30pm EST, and the DAX30 will conform to that of the Xetra Dax’s trading hours.

Once you master the trading hours for each asset, you are one step away from potential profitability in the market.

Making Sense of Forex Market Hours

When you are starting out trading forex pairs, whether it be in the spot market or using binary options, there is a lot of basic information required. Many traders skip over this basic information, and instead seek out strategies immediately. The forex market is open 24-hours a day because banks/businesses are open at different times around the world, providing liquidity to forex pairs. Yet each hour of the day has different tendencies based on what part of the globe is open for business. Understand forex market hours, and hourly tendencies, and you’ll be better able to apply your strategies at opportune times.

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Forex Market Sessions

Major markets are open at different times throughout the day. Which market(s) is open directly affects the liquidity and volatility and forex pairs.

The EURUSD for example is most liquid and volatile during the London and New York sessions, especially during the “overlap” period when London and New York are both trading.

The USDJPY typically has the most volatility when Tokyo first opens, and when New York opens many hours later.

Currencies generally see increased liquidity when one or more markets that actively trade, or use, that currency are open for business.

Here are the forex sessions based on different time zones:

Figure 1. GMT

Figure 2. EST (New York)

These charts do not show every market in the world, although these are the major ones. The Canadian market is open while New York is open, and London overlaps with other European markets.

Germany opens one hour before London; therefore, some consider that to be the open, and not the start of the London session. Volatility, on average, doesn’t see a marked increased until London opens though.

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Those major sessions directly impact currency pair volatility. The charts below show hourly volatility. If your strategy is based on volatility or you’re using a trending strategy, focus on times of day where the price moves are largest. The “spikes on the chart” are ideal times, as the price needs to be making higher highs or lower lows in order for volatility to increase during that time (see: Trading Efficiently – The 2 to 3 Hour Trader).

If you are using more of a range trading strategy, or prefer low volatility, trade during the sedate times, where the charts show decreased hourly volatility.

All figures below are current as of January 9, 2020. While subject to change, the charts provide a good overall context for relative intra-day volatility.

Figure 3.

8 to 17 GMT provide the best trending opportunities, with 13 to 17 generally providing the biggest moves.

Those seeking reduced volatility, or times more likely to quietly range, trade between 20 and 5 GMT.

The USDCHF is very similar to the EURUSD in terms of its hourly volatility structure, although the USDCHF moves less overall each day and therefore overall hourly volatility is several pips less.

Figure 4.

Figure 5.

Figure 6.

The NZDUSD has very similar hourly volatility to the AUDUSD, and they both move roughly the same amount each day.

Currently updated volatility charts and other forex statistics are available at Daily Forex Stats.

Learning the basics, such as what the market sessions and hours mean to you as a trader, can significantly help in determining what strategies to exercise and when. No matter what time frame you trade on, you should have a checklist which helps you determine what type of market environment you are trading in. This will also help with filtering trades and capitalizing on good opportunities.

Trading Forex with Binary Options

Binary options are an alternative way to play the foreign currency (forex) market for traders. Although they are a relatively expensive way to trade forex compared with the leveraged spot forex trading offered by a growing number of brokers, the fact that the maximum potential loss is capped and known in advance is a major advantage of binary options.

Defining Binary Options

Binary options have two outcomes: They settle either at a pre-determined value (generally $100) or at $0. This settlement value depends on whether the price of the asset underlying the binary option is trading above or below the strike price by expiration.

Binary options can be used to speculate on the outcomes of various situations: Will the S&P 500 rise above a certain level by tomorrow or next week? Will this week’s jobless claims be higher than the market expects? Or will the euro or yen decline against the U.S. dollar today?

For example, say gold is trading at $1,195 per troy ounce currently and you are confident that it will be trading above $1,200 later that day. Assume you can buy a binary option on gold trading at or above $1,200 by that day’s close, and this option is trading at $57 (bid)/$60 (offer). You buy the option at $60. If gold closes at or above $1,200, as you had expected, your payout will be $100, which means that your gross gain (before commissions) is $40 or 66.7%. On the other hand, if gold closes below $1,200, you would lose your $60 investment, for a 100% loss.

Binary Option Buyers and Sellers

For the buyer of a binary option, the cost is the price at which the option is trading. For the seller of a binary option, the cost is the difference between 100 and the option price and 100.

From the buyer’s perspective, the price of a binary option can be regarded as the probability that the trade will be successful. Therefore, the higher the binary option price, the greater the perceived probability of the asset price rising above the strike. From the seller’s perspective, the probability is 100 minus the option price.

All binary option contracts are fully collateralized, which means that both sides of a specific contract – the buyer and seller – have to put up capital for their side of the trade. So if a contract is trading at 35, the buyer pays $35, and the seller pays $65 ($100 – $35). This is the maximum risk of the buyer and seller and equals $100 in all cases.

Thus the risk-reward profile for the buyer and seller in this instance can be stated as follows:

Buyer

  • Maximum risk = $35
  • Maximum reward = $65 ($100 – $35)

Seller

  • Maximum risk = $65
  • Maximum reward = $35 ($100 – $65)

Forex Markets

Binary options in forex are available from exchanges such as Nadex, which offers them on the most popular pairs such as USD-CAD, EUR-USD, and USD-JPY, as well as on a number of other widely-traded currency pairs. These options are offered with expirations ranging from intraday to daily and weekly. The tick size on spot forex binaries from Nadex is 1, and the tick value is $1.

The intraday forex binary options offered by Nadex expire hourly, while the daily ones expire at certain set times throughout the day. The weekly binary options expire at 3 P.M. on Friday.

For forex contracts, Nadex calculates the expiration value by taking the midpoint prices of the last 25 trades in the forex market, eliminates the highest five and lowest five prices, and then takes the arithmetic average of the remaining 15 prices.

Examples of Binary Options in Forex

Let’s use the EUR-USD currency pair to demonstrate how binary options can be used to trade forex. We use a weekly option that will expire at 3 P.M. on Friday, or four days from now (or Monday). Assume the current exchange rate is EUR 1 = USD 1.2440.

Consider the following scenarios:

1. You believe the euro is unlikely to weaken by Friday and should stay above 1.2425. The binary option EUR/USD>1.2425 is quoted at 49.00/55.00. You buy 10 contracts for a total of $550 (excluding commissions). At 3 P.M. on Friday, the euro is trading at USD 1.2450. Your binary option settles at 100, giving you a payout of $1,000. Your gross gain (before taking commissions into account) is $450, or approximately 82%. However, if the euro had closed below 1.2425, you would lose your entire $550 investment, for a 100% loss.

2. You are bearish on the euro and believe it could decline by Friday, say to USD 1.2375. The binary option EUR/USD>1.2375 is quoted at 60.00/66.00. Since you are bearish on the euro, you would sell this option. Your initial cost to sell each binary option contract is, therefore, $40 ($100 – $60). Assume you sell 10 contracts, and receive a total of $400. At 3 P.M. on Friday, let’s say the euro is trading at 1.2400.

Since the euro closed above the strike price of $1.2375 by expiration, you would lose the full $400 or 100% of your investment. What if the euro had closed below 1.2375, as you had expected? In that case, the contract would settle at $100, and you would receive a total of $1,000 for your 10 contracts, for a gain of $600 or 150%.

Additional Basic Strategies

You do not have to wait until contract expiration to realize a gain on your binary option contract. For instance, let’s say by Thursday the euro is trading in the spot market at 1.2455, but you are concerned about the possibility of a decline in the currency if U.S. economic data to be released on Friday are very positive. In this case, your binary option contract (EUR/USD>1.2425), which was quoted at 49.00/55.00 at the time of your purchase, is now at 75/80. Therefore, you could sell the 10 option contracts you had purchased at $55 each, for $75, and book a total profit of $200 (or 36%).

You can also put on a combination trade for lower risk/lower reward. Let’s consider the USD/JPY binary option to illustrate. Assume your view is that volatility in the yen – trading at 118.50 to the dollar – could increase significantly, and it could trade above 119.75 or decline below 117.25 by Friday. You, therefore, buy 10 binary option contracts (USD/JPY>119.75, trading at 29.50/35.50) and also sell 10 binary option contracts (USD/JPY>117.25, trading at 66.50/72.00). Therefore, you pay $35.50 to buy the USD/JPY>119.75 contracts, and $33.50 (i.e., $100 – $66.50) to sell the USD/JPY>117.25 contracts. Your total cost would be $690 ($355 + $335).

Three possible scenarios arise by option expiration at 3 P.M. on Friday:

  1. The yen is trading above 119.75. In this case, the USD/JPY>119.75 contract has a payout of $100, while the USD/JPY>117.25 contract expires worthless. Your total payout is $1,000, for a gain of $310 (or about 45%).
  2. The yen is trading below 117.25.In this case, the USD/JPY>117.25 contract has a payout of $100, while the USD/JPY>119.75 contract expires worthless. Your total payout is $1,000, for a gain of $310 (or about 45%).
  3. The yen is trading between 117.25 and 119.75: In this case, both contracts expire worthlessly and you lose the full $690 investment.

The Bottom Line

Binary options are a useful tool as part of a comprehensive forex trading strategy but have a couple of drawbacks in that the upside is limited even if the asset price spikes up, and a binary option is a derivative product with a finite lifespan (time to expiration).

However, binary options have a number of advantages that make them especially useful in the volatile world of forex. For starters, the risk is limited (even if the asset prices spikes up), the collateral required is quite low, and they can be used even in flat markets that are not volatile. These advantages make forex binary options worthy of consideration for the experienced currency trader.

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