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Forex currency pairs

Forex trading is based around pairs of currencies. A small number of currency pairs, known as Majors have come to dominate the market.

As you can see, there are two currencies listed in this quote. The first symbol, EUR represents the Euro, and the Euro is the base currency. The second symbol, USD represents the US Dollar, and the Dollar is the quote currency in this pair. In this example, you'll need 1.1200 Dollars to buy 1 Euro.

Forex quote example

PairBidAsk
EUR/USD1.11991.1200

Forex majors

Forex majors are the most heavily traded currencies. They typically include the US Dollar (USD), the Euro (EUR), the Japanese Yen (JPY), the British Pound Sterling (GBP), the Australian Dollar (AUD) as well as the Swiss Franc (CHF).

Forex market statistics compiled by the Bank for International Settlements in its triennial central bank survey show that the USD has an 87.0% share of daily turnover in the global foreign exchange market. The EUR is a distant second with a 33.4% share, followed by JPY, GBP, AUD and CHF with 23.0%, 11.8%, 8.6% and 5.2% shares respectively.

Major currency pairs

As every Forex trade is structured around two currencies, the following pairs have come to dominate turnover in the global foreign exchange market. Click each currency pair's name for more information about the pair's dynamics and a comparison of spreads by broker.

  • EUR/USD: The Euro and the US Dollar
  • USD/JPY: The US dollar and the Japanese Yen
  • GBP/USD: The British Pound Sterling and the US Dollar
  • USD/AUD: The US Dollar and the Australian Dollar
  • USD/CHF: The US dollar and the Swiss Franc

The following table shows each of these currency pairs' share of the global foreign exchange market turnover over time. These statistics are drawn from the Bank of International Settlement's triennial survey of central banks. All amounts show daily averages in billions of US Dollars in April 2013.

200720102013
Currency pairAmount%Amount%Amount%
EUR/USD89226.81,09827.71,28924.1
EUR/JPY43813.256714.397818.3
GBP/USD38411.63609.14728.8
USD/AUD1855.62486.33646.8
USD/CHF1514.51664.21843.4

Exotic currency pairs

Other currency pairs are either known as Minors or Exotics. Exotic currency pairs have the smallest volumes and the least amount of liquidity. They are typically quoted against the US Dollar.

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