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Currency Pairs

Currencies are traded in pairs. A currency pair is the quotation of the relative value of a currency unit against the unit of another currency. The first currency of a currency pair is called the base currency, and the second currency is called the quote, or counter, currency.

Currency pairs are written by concatenating the ISO currency codes (ISO 4217) of the base currency and the quote currency, separating them with a slash character.

Example: GBP/USD

  • GBP -> base currency
  • USD -> quote/counter currency

According to the average daily trading volume and to the liquidity we distinguish between: Majors, Minors and Exotic Pairs.

Major pairs

The most traded currency pairs in the world are called the Majors.
They involve Euro, US dollar, Japanese yen, Pound sterling, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar and the Swiss franc.

The Majors are:

  • EUR/USD - Euro/US dollar
  • USD/JPY - US dollar/Japanese Yen
  • GBP/USD - British Pound/US dollar
  • AUD/USD - Australian dollar/US dollar
  • USD/CHF - US dollar/Swiss franc
  • USD/CAD - US dollar/Canadian dollar

These currency pairs have high liquidity and represent more than 80% of the total Forex volume.

Minor Pairs

The Minor Currency Pairs ("Minors”) consist of those currencies traded less actively than the Majors, although their economies are still significant and they also tend to be active in international trade.

Exotic Pairs

The Exotic Pairs ("Exotics") are those pairs that are from emerging economies rather than from developed/industrialized nations. This includes:

  • USD/TRY - US dollar/Turkish lira
  • EUR/TRY - Euro/Turkish lira
  • USD/ZAR - US dollar/South African rand
  • EUR/ZAR - Euro/South African rand
  • USD/CNY - US dollar/Chinese Yuan
  • USD/INR - US dollar/Indian Rupee
  • USD/MXN - US dollar/Mexican peso
  • USD/SGD - US dollar/Singapore dollar
  • etc.

Currency pairs that are not paired versus the dollar are called "Currency crosses" or simply "Crosses". Pairs that involve the euro are often called "Euro Crosses".

Currency Crosses

  • GBP/CAD - British pound/Canadian dollar
  • GBP/CHF - British pound/Swiss franc
  • GBP/JPY - British pound/Japanese yen
  • GBP/NZD - British pound/New Zealand dollar
  • GBP/AUD - British pound/Australian dollar
  • CAD/JPY - Canadian dollar/Japanese yen
  • AUD/JPY - Australian dollar/Japanese yen
  • AUD/CAD - Australian dollar/Canadian dollar
  • AUD/NZD - Aussie dollar/New Zealand dollar
  • AUD/CHF - Australian dollar/Swiss franc
  • NZD/JPY - New Zealand dollar/Japanese yen
  • CHF/JPY - Swiss franc/Japanese yen
  • etc.

Euro Crosses

  • EUR/CHF - Euro/Swiss franc
  • EUR/JPY - Euro/Japanese yen
  • EUR/GBP - Euro/British pound
  • EUR/CAD - Euro/Canadian dollar
  • EUR/AUD - Euro/Australian dollar
  • EUR/NZD - Euro/New Zealand dollar

Currency Pairs/Currencies nicknames

Currency pairs and currencies are often referred to by nicknames by traders rather than their symbolic nomenclature. These are some common examples:


Currencies

CurrencyNickname
Australian dollar (AUD)Aussie
British pound (GBP)Cable / Sterling
Canadian dollar (CAD)Loonie
New Zealand dollar (NZD)Kiwi
Swiss franc (CHF)Swissy
U.S. dollar (USD)Buck / Greenback

Currency Pairs

CurrencyNickname
GBP/USD (British Pound/US Dollar)Cable
EUR/USD (Euro/US Dollar)Euro or Fiber
USD/CHF (Swiss Franc/US Dollar)Swissy
USD/CAD (US Dollar/ Canadian Dollar)Loonie
AUD/USD (Australian Dollar/US Dollar)Ozzie
EUR/GBP (Euro/British Pound)Chunnel
USD/JPY (US Dollar/Japanese Yen)Yen

*Table taken from Wikipedia (latest data can be obtained from the Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and Derivatives Market Activity,
http://www.bis.org/publ/rpfxf10t.pdf)

Most traded currencies by value

Currency distribution of global foreign exchange market turnover[1]

RankCurrencyISO 4217 codeSymboldaily share (%)
1United States dollarUSD$84.9%
2EuroEUR39.1%
3Japanese yenJPY¥19.0%
4Pound sterlingGBP£12.9%
5Australian dollarAUD$7.6%
6Swiss francCHFFr6.4%
7Canadian dollarCAD$5.3%
8Hong Kong dollarHKD$2.4%
9Swedish kronaSEKkr2.2%
10New Zealand dollarNZD$1.6%
11South Korean wonKRW1.5%
12Singapore dollarSGD$1.4%
13Norwegian kroneNOKkr1.3%
14Mexican pesoMXN$1.3%
15Indian rupeeINR$0.9%
16Other12.2%
Total200%

The ISO Code of the most known currencies:

  • AUD - Australian dollar
  • BRL - Brazilian real
  • CAD - Canadian dollar
  • CHF - Swiss Franc
  • CNY - Chinese Yuan
  • DKK - Danish krone
  • EUR - Euro
  • GBP - British Pound
  • HKD - Hong Kong dollar
  • HUF - Hungarian forint
  • IDR - Indonesian rupiah
  • ILS - Israeli new sheqel
  • INR - Indian rupee
  • JPY - Japanese yen
  • MXN - Mexican peso
  • MYR - Malaysian ringgit
  • NOK - Norvegian krone
  • NZD - New Zealand dollar
  • PKR - Pakistani rupee
  • PLN - Polish zloty
  • RON - Romanian new leu
  • RUB - Russian rouble
  • SEK - Swedish krona
  • SGD - Singapore dollar
  • TRY - Turkish lira
  • USD - United States dollar
  • ZAR - South African rand

ISO Codes for precious metals:

  • XAU - Gold
  • XAG - Silver
  • XPD - Palladium
  • XPT - Platinum
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