How to trade the GBP/JPY forex pair How to trade the GBP/JPY forex pair How to trade the GBP/JPY forex pair

How to trade the GBP/JPY forex pair

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A guide to GBP/JPY forex trading 

The GBP/JPY currency pair is one of the most popular minor currency pairs to trade in the forex market. A minor currency pair does not include the USD as its base currency or quote currency. The base currency being the first currency listed and the quote currency being the second currency listed. 

With the GBP/JPY pair, the British pound is the base currency and the Japanese yen is the quote currency. This shows you how many Japanese yen you can buy for one unit of British pounds (£1). 

The GBP/JPY forex pair carries two common nicknames in foreign exchange trading circles – the “Geppy” and “The Beast”. How has this currency pair attracted such a ferocious nickname? Let's explore the GBP/JPY pair, including what makes it tick from an economic and geopolitical perspective. 

Why does the GBP/JPY forex pair matter? 

One of the main reasons that the GBP/JPY currency pair is so influential in forex trading is because it acts as a barometer for economic prosperity in Asia and the Western world. It can show the success of policymaking in one of the most powerful nations in Western Europe, as well as one of the leading nations in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Although it is a strong ‘East meets West’ benchmark, the GBP/JPY is equally popular for its price volatility. Volatility is when the price bounces around in either or both directions, with no settled patterns over a relatively short timeframe. 

It’s this volatility that attracts retail day traders, who look to complete successful swing trades by riding the price action. With volatility recurring in such a consistent fashion on the GBP/JPY pair, it’s no surprise that it’s such a hit with swing traders. 

It's also a popular forex pairing for those who favour carry trading. This approach requires a forex trader to purchase a high-interest currency against a low-interest currency. Let’s say the British pound had a 2% interest rate and the Japanese yen had a 1% interest rate. For each day you go long (buy) with GBP/JPY and the pound’s interest rate stays higher than the yen, you will earn the difference between the interest rates of the two currencies. Here, it would be a 1% return. 

Getting started with GBP/JPY forex trading

If you’re wondering how to get started with buying and selling GBP/JPY with an online forex broker, you’ll be pleased to know that the forex market is open 24/7. Unlike the stock markets, the exchange of foreign currencies does not let up at the end of business hours. 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t busier times than others. Trading volumes on GBP/JPY are typically higher between 8 am-5 pm GMT. There are other moments when trading volumes spike, too. Most notably when there are significant announcements involving the British or Japanese economies. 

If you’re just starting in forex trading and thinking of trading ‘The Beast’ that is the GBP/JPY currency pair, it's important to understand the market mechanics before trading the market with your hard-earned money. 

As with all other forex pairs, the market is displayed as GBP/JPY, which is the ticker symbol for the pair. It’s the ticker symbol you’ll need to find when you want to open and close positions on the ‘Geppy’. 

How much does it cost to trade the GBP/JPY forex pair? 

With most online forex trading platforms, the GBP/JPY ticker symbol will have two prices displayed alongside it. The first is known as the ‘bid price’. The bid price is the price available to those wishing to sell GBP/JPY. The second price is known as the ‘ask price’. The ask price is the price available to those wishing to buy GBP/JPY. 

The difference between the bid price and the ask price is what’s known as the bid-ask spread. This spread is a kind of commission kept by the broker handling your transaction. 

Bid-ask spreads are one of the most common costs incurred with trading forex pairs like GBP/JPY. The gap between the bid and ask prices is usually the smallest with the major currencies involving the US dollar. The spread can be much wider between the bid and ask prices on some of the minor currencies and especially on the ‘exotic’ currencies which involve fiat currencies from developing or emerging nations. 

The tighter the bid-ask spreads the less your open position on GBP/JPY has to move to enter profitability. Day traders buying GBP/JPY with a three-pip difference between the bid and ask price will know that their entry position has to move just four pips to their advantage to be profitable. The bid-ask spread on GBP/JPY is usually wider than three pips and is closer to eight or nine pips on average. That’s why it’s so attractive to swing traders that thrive on market volatility. 

How the outside world can influence the GBP/JPY pair 

Although it’s possible to use technical indicators to pinpoint opportunities to buy and sell GBP/JPY, many newcomers to forex trading may also use fundamental analysis. By simply interpreting decisions and announcements made by the central banks of the UK and Japan, as well as their respective governments, it’s possible to get a handle on the general direction of a country’s economy. 

Decision-making from central banks 

The Bank of Japan is notorious for being one of the most active central banks in the forex market. At the heart of the Bank of Japan’s decision-making is the preservation of the nation’s exports, which play such a key role in the Japanese economy thanks to its tech and industrial sectors. You can glean a lot from the Bank of Japan’s monthly rate releases. 

Each release has a rate statement attached, explaining the backdrop of the economy and their reasoning for maintaining or changing the base rate. 

If you're someone that prefers trading fundamentals like news releases, statements and press conferences, these Bank of Japan rate statements can provide a general overview of the current landscape and the short-to-medium-term trends. 

It’s a similar story with the Bank of England, with their own rate statements providing a sense of the direction of travel for the British economy in the months ahead. If one economy appears to be struggling or making dovish statements more so than the other, it could be a prime opportunity to get involved with buying or selling the GBP/JPY pair. 

Many carry traders read these statements from central banks for reassurance before taking their positions. Historically, Britain has had much higher interest rates than the Japanese. 

In fact, the Bank of Japan has opted for zero or even negative rates in recent decades to facilitate spending and growth. If that stays the same, carry traders will continue to take a long (buy) position in the GBP/JPY and short (sell) JPY overnight to earn positive swap interest. 

Of course, the risk in these trades is that short-term volatility can appear, potentially wiping out those material gains. 

The price of energy commodities 

Aside from interest rates and policy announcements from the central banks, the most dependable barometer to gauge GBP/JPY sentiment is energy commodities. The UK still heavily exports crude oil on a global scale, while Japan is one of the biggest importers of crude oil. 

It also is one of the leading importers of natural gas. This leaves the Japanese economy highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of global energy commodities. 

Other factors that can influence the price of energy commodities (i.e. crude oil and natural gas), and add pressure to the Japanese economy, include inflation and global political volatility.

Domestic politics 

Governmental policy in both the UK and Japanese governments can also bear the direction of the GBP/JPY currency pair. General elections and public referenda are some of the key triggers for volatility in the British pound. Both of which can bring a sense of instability to the economy for a period. 

It’s a similar story to the Japanese government. The view of the Japanese yen largely relates to what the government is lobbying for in terms of monetary policy and growth strategies. Ultimately, a Japanese government that seeks to maintain or improve upon the nation’s export industry is more likely to have a positive impact on the yen. 

The history of the GBP/JPY pair

The GBP/JPY brings together two of the most historic fiat currencies in modern times. Since the 17th century, the British pound has been one of the most influential currencies. The Japanese yen has been the native currency of Japan since 1871, when it was introduced by the Meiji administration to usurp the proliferation of Spanish dollars in circulation across the country in the mid-to-late 19th century. 

Historically speaking, the yen has been one of the cheaper fiat currencies to buy in the Asia-Pacific region. This has long been a target of the Bank of Japan to ensure exports remain at good value. However, as the value of the Japanese economy has grown, so has the price of the yen. 

Although the GBP/JPY currency pair remains highly unstable, the long-term trend has seen the yen strengthen considerably against the pound. Since July 1982, the price has fallen from 440.52 yen to the pound to just 166.13 yen to the pound in June 2022. 

The price of GBP/JPY has fluctuated significantly in more recent times. The pound had recovered in June 2007 to 250 yen to the pound, but the onset of the global recession saw the pound weaken significantly by January 2009 to 120 yen to the pound. 

The UK’s Brexit referendum and subsequent vote to leave the European Union saw the yen strengthen against the pound from 166 yen to the pound down to 133 yen to the pound. 

The all-time high of GBP/JPY reached 1,014 yen to the pound in January 1963, while its all-time low of 116.85 yen to the pound was reached in September 2011. 

When to buy the GBP/JPY pair 

Ideally, you will look to purchase GBP/JPY when the British economy is growing, and the pound is increasingly strong against other major and minor currencies. A good benchmark for when GBP is strong in the forex markets is solid GDP and controlled rates of inflation. 

Ideally, the Japanese economy will weaken when the British economy is booming. However, at the time of writing, both economies appear to be struggling under the weight of inflation and supply chain pressures. 

When to sell the GBP/JPY pair 

In terms of the best market conditions for selling GBP/JPY, you would want the Japanese economy to consistently outperform the British economy. This would cause the Japanese yen to grow in value against the British pound. Short-selling a currency pair like GBP/JPY is made easier when using a Contract For Difference (CFD) broker. 

CFD trading allows you to make a profit when an underlying asset’s value diminishes, for example, the fall of a currency like the British pound. The profit or loss from shorting a currency pair like GBP/JPY is based on the price difference between your entry and exit positions. 


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