Foreign exchange, or forex, trading is the buying and selling of global currencies. It’s one of the largest financial markets in the world, with over $5 trillion worth of currencies traded daily. When trading forex, investors speculate on price movements between currency pairs. The most popular and liquid pairs that dominate forex trading are known as the “majors”. Let’s take a closer look at the eight major forex pairs and what makes them the most widely traded.

What are the Major Currency Pairs?

The major forex pairs consist of seven different currencies. The eight most traded pairs are:

  • EUR/USD (Euro/U.S. Dollar)
  • USD/JPY (U.S. Dollar/Japanese Yen)
  • GBP/USD (British Pound/U.S. Dollar)
  • AUD/USD (Australian Dollar/U.S. Dollar)
  • USD/CAD (U.S. Dollar/Canadian Dollar)
  • USD/CHF (U.S. Dollar/Swiss Franc)
  • EUR/GBP (Euro/British Pound)
  • EUR/JPY (Euro/Japanese Yen)

These pairs all include the U.S. dollar on one side, with the other currency coming from the eurozone, Japan, the U.K, Australia, Canada, or Switzerland. This list frequently changes based on shifting economic and political factors. But the currencies above tend to have the highest liquidity and trade volume on the forex market.

Why are these Major Currency Pairs so Widely Traded?

There are a few key reasons these specific currency pairs dominate daily forex transactions:

1. The economies behind them are powerful and stable.

Countries like the United States, Japan, China, and those in the eurozone conduct a huge amount of international business and trade. Their economic policies and performance have ripple effects across the globe. So the strength and outlook for their currencies generates substantial interest from forex traders. Pairs like EUR/USD and USD/JPY see high liquidity because the economies involved are depended upon worldwide.

2. The countries are geographically close.

Proximity matters when it comes to forex trading volume. Countries that do a lot of bilateral trade and business with each other tend to have more liquid currency pairs. For example, the U.S. and Canada share one of the largest bilateral trade relationships in the world. So it’s no surprise USD/CAD is a major pair. The same dynamic applies to European neighbors with shared borders and trade policies.

3. The currencies represent contrasting monetary policies.

Having opposing monetary policies is another trait of the most traded forex pairs. For example, the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank occasionally pursue contrasting policies around interest rates and economic stimulus. This divergence means their currency values often fluctuate against each other, creating volatility and trading opportunities. Central banking contrasts between the U.S., Europe, and Japan make their shared currency pairs intriguing for forex traders to follow.

4. The countries have political stability.

While not always perfect representations of stability, the nations behind the major pairs do typically have fairly steady and predictable governance. Radical regime changes are uncommon in these developed economies. When governments change hands, transitions usually happen peacefully through elections. This relative domestic tranquility contributes to steady trading volumes between their currencies. Political unrest tends to dampen forex liquidity.

5. They offer traders accessibility and flexibility.

The major currency pairs are attractive for traders because they can seamlessly enter or exit positions with ease. Their high daily trade volume ensures readily available liquidity. These currency pairs also offer 24-hour trading access during weekdays due to time zone differences between countries. Geography plays a role in allowing constant forex trading across the world’s major financial centers.

Key Facts About the Most Traded Forex Pairs

Now let’s take a closer look at key details on each of the major currency pairs:


This is the most traded forex pair, representing about 27% of daily volume. As the official currency of 19 countries in the eurozone, the euro is the second most traded currency behind the U.S. dollar. Eurozone economic strength and monetary policy drives high trading interest in EUR/USD.


With the U.S. and Japan as the world’s first and third largest economies, USD/JPY has long been a top trading pair. It represents close to 17% of daily forex transactions. Japan is highly dependent on imports, so the value of the yen is crucial for its economic health. USD/JPY is sensitive to interest rate changes and trade flows between the U.S. and Asia.


Combining the British pound with the U.S. dollar, this pair accounts for more than 12% of daily forex trades. London is a major financial hub and the U.K. has deep trade ties globally, driving interest in the pound. But Brexit uncertainty has boosted volatility in GBP/USD. Traders focus on U.K. political drama and its potential economic implications.


Representing about 6.5% of daily forex transactions, AUD/USD has gained trading popularity in recent decades. Australia is a major exporter of commodities with extensive business relationships across the Pacific region. Changes to interest rates and commodity prices frequently move this pair. It attracts traders based on Australia’s role in the global economy.


At about 5% of daily volume, USD/CAD is sensitive to several factors. As previously mentioned, the U.S. and Canada are extremely close partners when it comes to bilateral trade, investment, and proximity. So policy moves and economic trends north of the border often impact USD/CAD. Pricing of oil and other commodities also influence this pair.


Switzerland has some of the lowest interest rates in the world, contrasting sharply with higher U.S. rates. This divergent monetary policy, combined with Switzerland’s reputation as a safe haven, makes USD/CHF an intriguing pair that represents about 5% of trades. Movements in gold pricing and U.S. stock market volatility also sway USD/CHF.


The euro/pound pair accounts for about 4% of daily transactions. With the U.K. as a major European Union trading partner, its relationship with the eurozone is crucial. Ongoing Brexit uncertainty continues influencing EUR/GBP pricing as details on the U.K.’s departure evolve. Relative economic performance between Europe and Britain is always a factor in driving trader interest.


Representing about 3% of daily volume, interest in the euro/yen pair has grown over the past decade. Japan relies heavily on exports to Europe as a top trading partner. So the relative value of the euro and yen is key for Japanese manufacturers and European importers. Monetary policies in Frankfurt and Tokyo make EUR/JPY responsive to changing interest rates.

Other Noteworthy Currency Pairs

Beyond the eight majors, here are some other currency pairs that regularly attract significant trading volume based on regional or economic interests:

  • USD/CNY (U.S. Dollar/Chinese Yuan)
  • EUR/CHF (Euro/Swiss Franc)
  • EUR/CAD (Euro/Canadian Dollar)
  • AUD/JPY (Australian Dollar/Japanese Yen)
  • GBP/JPY (British Pound/Japanese Yen)
  • EUR/AUD (Euro/Australian Dollar)
  • USD/ZAR (U.S. Dollar/South African Rand)
  • USD/MXN (U.S. Dollar/Mexican Peso)
  • USD/SGD (U.S. Dollar/Singapore Dollar)
  • USD/HKD (U.S. Dollar/Hong Kong Dollar)

While not considered majors, these pairs open up trading exposure to key economic relationships beyond the eight most traded currencies. They represent growing markets based on specific regional interests and expanding international trade ties.

Trading Strategies for the Major Forex Pairs

The highly liquid and dynamic nature of the major currency pairs allows for several effective trading strategies. Here are some smart approaches when trading the major pairs:

Follow the Trend

Monitoring long-term price trends and momentum can identify opportunities to follow the prevailing market direction on the most traded pairs. Using indicators like 50 and 200-day moving averages helps spot trend patterns.

Range Trading

When a major pair is ranging between price levels, traders can look to buy at support and sell at resistance. Range-bound markets allow taking advantage of bounded price movement.

Breakout Trading

This strategy looks to capitalize when support or resistance levels are breached on the majors. Breakouts from constrained ranges often lead to rapid price expansion as new orders flood in.

News Trading

Scheduled events like interest rate decisions, elections, and employment data lead to volatility on the major pairs. Savvy traders place trades ahead of news events to capture resulting price movements.

Retracement Fade

After a big price surge on a major pair, a correction or retracement usually follows. Fading the retracement can offer an opportunity to join the original price momentum.

###carry Trade

With majors representing contrasting interest rates, carry trades involve borrowing from a low-rate currency to fund positions in a higher yielding one. This strategy capitalizes on interest rate differentials.

Technical Analysis

Technical indicators like moving averages, oscillators like RSI and MACD, and chart pattern analysis are very effective when applied to the major pairs. Their high liquidity makes price action more reliable.

Fundamental Analysis

Macroeconomic and geopolitical developments driving the major economies move their respective currency pairs. Monitoring growth, monetary policy, and political events offers clues for future pricing behavior.

The major currency pairs offer no shortage of opportunities for traders seeking volatility, ample liquidity, and diverse global macroeconomic drivers. While not always the case, the majors tend to be less erratic and more stable compared to exotic pairs. Learning to apply the right mix of analysis and strategies can yield lasting success trading the most widely followed forex pairs.


The eight major currency pairs traded on the forex market represent the lion’s share of daily transactions. Their popularity is driven by the large, stable economies they represent and deep trade relationships between the countries. These pairs provide access to global commerce along with liquidity for traders. While not completely immune from manipulation attempts and volatility spikes, the major forex pairs offer opportunities for astute trading based on economic fundamentals and technical price dynamics. Their fortunes rise and fall on key differences in relative growth, monetary policy, political events, and regional factors impacting international trade flows. Traders who learn to follow the macroeconomic trends and technical patterns surrounding these closely watched pairs can find success in the world’s largest financial market.