Trader Yurovskiy Kirill: The Most Volatile Currency pairs for Short-Term Trading


For short-term forex traders, volatility means opportunity. More volatile currency pairs present traders with the potential for larger moves over shorter time frames, allowing savvy short-term traders to capitalize. However, with high volatility comes high risk. Traders need to understand which currency pairs tend to see spikes in volatility and what drives these price swings. This allows traders to be prepared to enter and exit positions quickly when volatility strikes.

Why Volatility Matters for Short-Term Traders

Short-term traders aim to profit from smaller price movements over shorter time frames ranging from a few minutes to a few hours or days. These traders employ technical analysis tools like price action analysis, chart patterns, or indicators to attempt to predict potential turning points. More volatile pairs present more favorable risk-to-reward scenarios for trades. If a trader expects a 100 pip movement and sets a reasonable stop loss of 30 pips, the risk-reward ratio is over 3:1. Less volatile pairs may only expect 30-50 pip movements, making rewarding short-term trades more difficult.

Higher volatility also leads to larger spreads that short-term traders can take advantage of. The difference between the buy and sell price can present opportunities for scalpers. By rapidly opening and closing positions, profits can accumulate quickly in volatile environments.

Measuring Volatility in Forex

There are a few key metrics used to measure volatility in the forex market. The most common is to use historical volatility estimates based on standard deviation over certain time frames. Typically, pairs are compared based on volatility over 1-week, 1-month, and 1-year time frames. The higher the standard deviation, the more volatile the pair.

Another method is to look at the average pip movement over a period to identify volatility. Pairs that have larger average daily ranges and pip movements point to more volatility.

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Finally, traders can identify volatility by examining a pair’s beta, which looks at correlations relative to other pairs. Higher beta indicates larger reactions to new information. Read more about trading on the

The Major Pairs

When looking for volatile pairs, major currencies should be the first place traders look. Despite typically being less volatile than exotic crosses, the major pairs still present plenty of volatility.


The Euro/U.S. dollar is the most traded pair, commanding over 20% of daily forex volume. High liquidity leads to strong trends and swift reactions to news events like employment data and interest rate changes. Immediate support and resistance levels are key for short-term EUR/USD traders.


Cable, or GBP/USD, tends to be more volatile than EUR/USD. The pair reacts strongly to U.K. politics and economic news. Brexit brought exceptional volatility episodes to cable. Expect this reaction to U.K. uncertainty to continue, presenting traders with opportunities.


USD/JPY volatility typically comes from events impacting the U.S. dollar or Japanese Yen differently. For example, changes in Fed or BOJ monetary policy often ignite spikes in USD/JPY volatility. Traders must stay updated on central bank policies and growth metrics that may differ in the U.S. and Japan.

The Cross Pairs

Cross pairs involve trading a major currency against another major currency. These present ample volatility too.


The battle between Euro and British pound volatility makes EUR/GBP an exciting short-term trade. Relative economic performance and political instability between Britain and mainland Europe means this cross reacts well to events across both regions.


Switzerland’s stable economy and central bank policy dampened EUR/CHF volatility up until 2015 when the SNB unpegged the Franc. Since then, this pair returned to heightened volatility around economic instability in the Eurozone. Traders anticipating ECB policy shifts may exploit volatility in EUR/CHF.

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Combining the volatility of cable and USD/JPY results in exceptional short-term volatility in GBP/JPY. Traders need to be updated on U.K. and Japanese news to capitalize on swift moves after unexpected events. Watch for volatility around Brexit developments, BOJ policy shifting, and diverging growth rates.

Exotic Currency Pairs

While exotic pairs typically have lower liquidity, they often present high volatility. Less asset flow means exotics react aggressively to sudden shifts in sentiment.


The Swedish Krona reacts strongly to political issues across Scandinavia along with global risk sentiment. Traders can expect volatility around events like Swedish property data, oil price movements, and volatility in European stocks.


The Mexican Peso is vulnerable to uncertainty, making USD/MXN an attractive volatile pair. Debt concerns, inflationary pressure, trade deals, and political unrest all ignite fast movements in this pair. Be prepared around Mexican election cycles and Fed policy shifts impacting emerging market capital flows.


Turkey’s economy and political landscape results in a highly volatile Lira in USD/TRY. Changing geopolitics, concerns over authoritarianism under Erdogan, inflation, and foreign investment flows can all trigger aggressive TRY reactions.


Finally, South Africa’s Rand is exceptionally volatile against the U.S. Dollar. As an exotic commodity currency, USD/ZAR responds rapidly to gold price shifts, South African politics, inflation worries, and risk appetite for higher yield assets. Watch Fed policy signals closely in USD/ZAR.

Economic Data Impacts

One of the biggest drivers of short-term volatility comes around economic data releases and subsequent central bank policy signals. Key reports like non-farm payrolls, GDP, trade balances along with inflation and employment metrics have market moving influence.

Stay updated on major report release dates from the U.S., U.K., Europe, Japan, and other major economies. Be ready for volatility spikes when data surprises analyst expectations or changes the rate hike/cut landscape from central banks.

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Understand which currency pairs are most sensitive to data from certain countries. Follow an economic calendar closely so volatility spikes don’t come as a surprise.

Geopolitical Event Impacts

Geopolitical uncertainty often results in currency volatility as money flows to safe haven assets. Events like elections, referendums, unanticipated political actions, civil unrest, and more can all drive volatility.

Watch for event risk scenarios that may spark swift risk-off trading. Examples include an election upset or sudden leadership resignation. These create uncertainty the currency market reacts to quickly.

Also follow escalating tensions between nations that may lead to aggressive positioning in correlated currencies for protection. Even rumor-based posturing can ignite temporary volatility spikes worth exploiting.

Technical Levels Matter

Aside from news events, volatility also arises around key technical levels in a currency pair. Major round numbers like 1.3000 or 1.3500 in EUR/USD often act as support and resistance. Other levels come from previous swing points marked by prior highs and lows.

When prices near these areas, breakouts and reversals pick up pace. Traders look to enter breakouts or fade reversals, amplifying volatility through increased transaction volume. Watch price action around these levels closely for opportunities.

Choosing the Right Volatile Pairs

When selecting higher volatility forex pairs for short-term trading, consider the following criteria:

– Average daily range – Look for pairs with above average pip movements

– Historical volatility – Choose pairs with higher standard deviations

– Beta correlation – Pick pairs with higher relative volatility

– Event risk – Monitor pairs sensitive to scheduled news events

– Technical levels – Trade pairs as prices approach key support/resistance 

The major and cross pairs discussed all present ample volatility. Exotic pairs can bring even more opportunity during uncertain times but require extra care in risk management. Follow economic calendars, geopolitics, and technical levels consistently to capitalize on volatility across any shorter-term horizon.

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