Forex markets are open 24 hours a day five days a week. But of course they close for the weekend late on Friday evening London time, or at the end of the business day on the east coast of the USA if you prefer. This begs the question which Forex markets open first each day and where does the new Forex business week start ?
To answer these questions we need to think back to our school geography lessons, look at the map of the globe and consult the world clock.
As with most matters related to international dates and timelines the starting point is found in London. But not in the traditional heartland of finance, the City of London. Nor indeed in its much younger neighbour Canary Wharf, whose shining towers are located on the former docks of the Isle of Dogs. In fact to find our starting point we need to head south from Canary Wharf and cross under the river Thames. Whether we travel on the docklands light railway, or walk via the foot tunnel linking Millwall with Greenwich, which opened all the way back in 1902.
Once in Greenwich we will need to head through the town and up the hill, to the park beyond. Then onwards to the Royal Observatory and the site of the prime meridian, from which all international dates and times were calculated. This imaginary line, that circumnavigates the globe is humbly denoted, at the observatory, by an unassuming stainless steel strip during the day and the iridescent glow of a laser beam at night, yet it is intrinsically linked to global trade and the development of the modern world.
It was the ability to track and calculate, with precision, the time that you had travelled east or west away from Greenwich, that allowed mariners to accurately plot their position on world's oceans. An ability that facilitated massive growth in both the volume, speed and safety of international trade. Which in turn helped London become the global centre of finance that it is today. All of this is thanks to the work of the British clock maker John Harrison who produced the first reliable working marine chronograph in 1760.
Today the usual form of notation used when describing an international date and time is to reference it as being a certain number of hours ahead of or behind GMT
ime. A fitting and lasting tribute to Harrison's tireless and timeless work.