Fewer trading days and a bit of easing up from the “January effect” combined for a slight dip in trading activity for February this year. Aside from that, forex players seemed to be sitting tight with all the lingering global uncertainties so low volatility also likely weighed on volumes last month.
Forex ECN Hotspot FX, which just completed a takeover from CBOE Holdings Inc., reported that February trading activity edged 8.8% lower from $29.55 billion in average daily volumes (ADV) to $26.89 billion. GTX, which is the institutional arm of Gain Capital Holdings, also reported cooling trading volumes from January which dropped 14% to $11.1 billion ADV. On a year-over-year basis, February 2017 total trading volumes are still up 25%.
As for FastMatch, volumes didn’t dip too much in February, which is still one of the best months ever for the forex ECN. ADV dipped to $16.6 billion, down 2% from the previous month and still pretty close to its record levels in January and in November last year with $17.1 billion ADV. Compared to trading activity in the same month a year ago, volumes are up by nearly 50%.
Multi-bank aggregation service FXSpotStream also printed a small 1% dip in volumes for February down to $18.7 billion in ADV, indicating that top dog institutions like Credit Suisse, Bank of America, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and UBS didn’t pare trading activity too much since the start of the year. However, this amounted to a 10.8% year-over-year drop in volumes from $20.9 billion in February 2016.
Over in Japan, the Tokyo Financial Exchange reported a 24.2% month-over-month drop in trading volumes for February at 2,402,878 contracts on its Click 365 platform. This translates to a 46.2% slowdown in activity from the same month last year. Most of the pairs reported declines for the month except for AUD/JPY, GBP/USD, and EUR/JPY. The largest reductions were seen for USD/JPY, TRY/JPY, and GBP/JPY.
Looking at the charts for those pairs in February shows a lot of sideways price action, particularly for the pound and yen pairs. At that time, Brexit bill debates were starting in the House of Lords and traders were also hesitant to push the pound any higher as leading U.K. indicators started to reflect signs of economic weakness. Meanwhile, the Japanese yen seemed to be taking its cue from the Greenback, which was also tossing and turning from Trump’s rhetoric.
Moving forward, financial and political uncertainties in the West could continue to influence trading conditions and metrics for the next few weeks. Then again, we could see some of these big issues get resolved as U.K. Prime Minister May’s Article 50 date approaches and the FOMC meeting in March could draw attention back to monetary policy. Aside from that, French election jitters seem to be abating as several polls have shown weakening numbers for pro-Frexit Le Pen’s camp.