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London FX turnover at record levels, Bank of England report says

A daily average $2.1 trillion was traded in London during April 2011, according to the Bank of England’s Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee semi-annual turnover survey released today. The results, the highest recorded since the survey began in 2004, show that London remains the largest centre for global FX trading by an order of more than 2:1 over New York.

The survey tracks the activity of the largest 30 banks by volume and is up by nearly a quarter on the previous survey’s figure, based on the month of October 2010, and a rise of nearly 30% year-on-year. Spot trading rose by 32%, while swap trading was up 19%. Euro/dollar was by far the biggest pair traded in London, accounting for a third of all trading.

New York shrugged off a 5.3% decline in outright spot trading to post an increase in total trading to $798.7bn, up 5.9% from October 2010.

The most notable increase from the survey was from spot volumes traded by “other financial institutions,” which typically means hedge funds and high-frequency trading firms. Turnover from these firms increased 44%, versus a 32% increase in trading between reporting dealers. This shows a continuation of a trend pointed out in the Bank for International Settlements triennial survey last December, which asserted that the majority of the growth in the FX market has come from high-frequency trading over the past three years.

Spot trading also rose by 32% in Singapore, the world's third largest FX trading centre. An average $361.5bn a day changed hands during April, up 14% from October’s Foreign Exchange Market Committee survey. Swap trading was up by 20%, at $47.2bn.

In Tokyo, total trading rose to $284.6bn on the back of a strong rise in outright spot volumes, which rose by 10% on a year earlier. Forward trading was up by 7.9% over the same period.

In Australia, total growth of 12% over October was driven by an increase in FX swaps trading, which rose 15% to hit $149bn – three times the size of the outright spot market. Total average daily turnover for April stood at $219bn.

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