July 2016 Forex Industry Metrics: Post-Brexit Lull in Volatility

Forex market players weren’t in the mood for a Brexit after-party as trading activity retreated from the sharp surge in June. Then again, it seemed unlikely that those strong moves would be sustained given how traders are still waiting to see how central bank officials would react.

Data from international derivatives marketplace CME Group revealed that forex trading volumes fell 29% from an average of 1.02 million contracts per day in June to 724,000 contracts per day in July. On a year-over-year basis, this represents just a 1% drop from July 2015. British pound futures and options ADV was still up 47% from the same period a year ago while emerging market currencies such as the Brazilian real and Mexican peso also posted higher volumes.

Institutional trading activity also slowed, as shown by the metrics from Gain Capital’s institutional FX trading arm GTX. July forex volumes were down 13% from the previous month to $10.5 billion in ADV. As for institutional platform FXSpotStream, total volumes fell from $456,490 million in June to $412,617 million in July but still reflected an impressive 39.6% gain on a year-over-year basis.

Moving over to exchanges, the Tokyo Financial Exchange reported a 26.7% monthly decline in the total trading volume of Exchange FX margin contracts to 3,402,708, which is just 3.1% lower compared to July last year. Most currency pairs on the Click 365 platform suffered declines in trading activity for the month, but GBP/JPY, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, and CHF/JPY managed to stay positive based on the year-on-year change.

Data from The Tokyo Financial Exchange

Data from The Tokyo Financial Exchange

On a more interesting note, forex brokers have shown mixed results so far. For Hotspot FX, volumes fell 9% in July to $26.2 billion in ADV compared to June’s $28.8 billion. On the other hand, GMO Click spot forex volumes rose 5% to $1.14 trillion in July, representing a 3% gain from the same month a year ago.

Apart from the post-Brexit lull, other factors that may have played into the drop in July volumes were fewer trading days (21 in July vs. 22 in June) and the Fourth of July holiday which dampened liquidity during the U.S. long weekend. Overall, the July trading metrics are understandably lower than the Brexit-driven June numbers but aren’t bad enough to show an industry slowdown.

Besides, it looks like trading activity is picking up again this month, thanks to the monetary policy adjustments being announced by major central banks. So far, we’ve already got the RBA cutting interest rates by 0.25% this week and the BOJ expanding their stimulus efforts. The BOE Super Thursday is still coming up while the RBNZ is gearing up for their own policy decision next week.