How to Leverage Forex Sentiment for Maximum Profits

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 27, 2023

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Market sentiment is one of the most important drivers of price in any capital market. Sentiment indicators provide traders with important signals indicating the state and direction of the market at any given time, which they can then use to initiate and liquidate trades.

In the foreign exchange market, sentiment plays an important role in forex trading. Because of the macroeconomic and geopolitical reality of today’s world, an accurate assessment of forex sentiment can be turned into profitable trades. In this article, Benzinga explains how to identify and leverage forex sentiment for maximum profits.   

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What is Market Sentiment?

Market sentiment can be defined as how the investment and trading community feels toward a particular tradable asset, including the currency pairs traded in the forex market. Market sentiment reflects the overall vibe or feeling market participants have toward an asset as revealed by its market movements and the positioning activity observed in the market. 

In general, rising exchange rates would indicate strength and bullish forex market sentiment for that currency pair, while falling exchange rates would indicate weakness and bearish market sentiment. Market sentiment typically reflects the consensus of traders and thus indicates the probable future direction of the forex market.  

Having a good understanding of market sentiment can be useful to traders in any market. When the market reflects a change in sentiment, it usually means the market is preparing to change direction. As a result, knowing how to discern market sentiment and when it changes can lead to profitable forex trades.

How is Market Sentiment Measured?

Measuring market sentiment in the forex market involves several elements. Fundamental factors that contribute to forex market sentiment include a nation’s overall economic health. If a country’s economy shows strength relative to other nations’ economies, the overall perception of that nation’s currency would be positive. This would result in a favorable market sentiment that would affect the currency positively versus other nations’ currencies.

Conversely, if a county’s economic fundamentals show a declining scenario compared with other nations’ economies, that perception should lead to negative market sentiment for its currency. This negative market sentiment typically results in a softening of the nation’s currency versus other nations’ currencies and consequently to lower exchange rates if it is the base currency or higher exchange rates where it is the counter currency.

Other indicators of market sentiment tend to be technical in nature, often using trader surveys to find out which side of the market the majority of traders is on. Spot forex data can be difficult to analyze because of the decentralized nature of the huge over-the-counter forex market so traders often determine forex market sentiment from the listed currency futures market.

The forex futures market indicator most commonly used to determine market sentiment in major currency pairs is the Commitment of Traders (COT) report published weekly by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Some sentiment traders also use the futures open interest figures that are constantly updated by the International Monetary Market (IMM) of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  

Popular retail trader sentiment indicators include FXCM’s proprietary Speculative Sentiment Index (SSI), which shows the positions of retail traders in the forex market. FXCM publishes this indicator twice a day, and it reads positive if more traders are long or negative if more traders are short. 

In addition, some traders use the position summaries provided by major online brokers to assess market sentiment among retail traders. A position summary report is typically posted on a broker’s website and shows data about the open positions of that broker’s clients in a particular currency pair. Such reports can be useful for traders who are looking for information on market sentiment because it provides an overview of how the broker's clients are positioned in the market.

A broker’s position summary typically includes some or all of the following information:

  • Open positions: This is the total number of open positions in a particular currency pair or financial instrument.
  • Percent long or short: This is the percentage of long and short positions.
  • Average rate: The average exchange rate of open positions.
  • Volume: The total volume of open positions.

By analyzing this information, sentiment traders can get an idea of the overall sentiment toward a particular currency pair among the broker's retail trading clients. For example, if a majority of the clients have a long position, it may indicate that bullish sentiment exists toward that currency pair. 

Keep in mind that a position summary published by a broker only provides a snapshot of the sentiment among that broker's retail clients, so it may not reflect the sentiment of the broader forex market and professional currency traders. The report also may not be completely accurate because some traders may not disclose all of their outstanding positions to the broker. It makes sense to check with multiple brokers to see whether their positioning data is similar.

While a broker position summary can be a useful tool for gaining insight into market sentiment, it should generally be used along with other market analysis techniques and should not be relied on as the sole determinant of trading decisions.


Some online sources specializing in the forex market publish their own sentiment indicators. One example is DailyFX, which puts out a free Client Sentiment Report. The data in this daily report used to generate the sample graphic shown above is obtained from the online broker IG. The report combines market sentiment analysis with helpful trading ideas. 

Finally, some forex market sentiment analysts will review content posted on social media sources like Facebook or Twitter. Others might review articles posted by news outlets and market analysts. 

The Role of Sentiment in Forex Trading

Capital markets where people put their money at risk generally display price moves based on the psychology, emotions and perceptions of market participants. Mass psychology determines how traders and investors react to economic and geopolitical events, and it can have a substantial impact on the market prices and trends of any tradable asset. 

The forex market is no exception to this general rule, and assessing market sentiment plays an important role in successful forex trading. Determining where the collective sum of economic opinions that reflect the attitude of market participants lies can be a powerful predictive tool for a forex trader. Having an awareness of forex market sentiment can help a currency trader identify trading opportunities and understand market dynamics.

By analyzing market sentiment, a forex trader can more readily gauge levels of supply and demand for a particular currency pair that would affect its exchange rate. Positive market sentiment would lead to increased demand for the currency pair and a positive impact on its exchange rate, while negative sentiment could lead to lower demand and a weaker exchange rate.

Sentiment analysis can also be useful in forex risk management. By evaluating market sentiment you can assess the level of risk of a particular trade and manage the size of your positions accordingly. Keep in mind that sentiment analysis is only one tool available to forex traders. Sentiment can change quickly under certain market conditions, so be sure to evaluate sentiment in conjunction with other indicators and be ready to adjust your trading strategy accordingly.  

Benefits of Trading on Forex Sentiment

Trading on forex sentiment, or the overall mood or feeling of traders toward a particular currency pair, can have several advantages. These benefits include:

  • Early warning of potential market moves: Sentiment analysis can provide early warning signals of potential market moves before they happen. If sentiment is bullish for a currency pair, it can indicate that traders are optimistic about the pair's future prospects, potentially leading to upward exchange rate movements.
  • Confirmation of technical analysis: Sentiment analysis can also confirm the signals provided by technical analysis. If the sentiment is bullish and technical analysis also indicates a buy signal, this can provide additional confirmation of a potential trading opportunity to go long. If sentiment is bearish and technical sell signals arise, this signals that taking a short position could be profitable. 
  • Improved risk management: By understanding the overall sentiment of the market, traders can better manage risk by avoiding trades that are against the prevailing sentiment. If sentiment is bearish for a particular currency pair, traders may consider avoiding long positions or tightening stop-loss orders.
  • Contrarian trading opportunities: Sentiment analysis can also identify potential contrarian trading opportunities where traders take positions against the prevailing market sentiment. If prevailing sentiment is extremely bearish, traders may consider taking a long position to profit when that sentiment eventually improves.  If sentiment is very bullish, traders can take shorts to profit from an expected downside reversal. 
  • Better understanding of market dynamics: Traders can gain a better understanding of the underlying market dynamics that may be driving exchange rate movements by analyzing market sentiment. This can help traders make more informed trading decisions and improve their overall trading performance.

Risks of Trading on Forex Sentiment

While trading on forex sentiment can offer several potential benefits, it also carries certain risks. It should generally be used in conjunction with other analysis tools to confirm potential trading opportunities and manage risk effectively. The risks of trading on forex sentiment include:

  • Subjectivity: Sentiment analysis is based on the interpretation of traders' emotions and opinions, which can be highly subjective. Different traders may have different opinions about the same currency pair, and this can lead to conflicting trading signals.
  • Limited scope: Sentiment analysis typically focuses on short-term market movements so it may not capture the longer-term fundamentals that drive exchange rate movements in the forex market. Sentiment analysis is best used in conjunction with other market analysis tools.
  • Lack of reliable data: Sentiment analysis relies on data from various sources, such as social media, news articles, broker publications, futures exchanges and economic reports. Because this data may not always be reliable, accurate or up to date, using it can lead to potential market sentiment interpretation errors.
  • Herd mentality: Sentiment analysis can sometimes lead to herd mentality where traders follow the prevailing sentiment without conducting their own analysis. This can lead to overdone or crowded markets, especially when traders blindly take positions that are not supported by other analysis tools.
  • Sentiment volatility: Market sentiment can be highly volatile and subject to sudden shifts. This can result in potential losses for traders who have taken positions based on their sentiment analysis, especially if they are not vigilant.

Strategies for Using Forex Market Sentiment

While incorporating forex market sentiment into trading strategies can provide valuable insights into market dynamics and help traders make more informed trading decisions, traders should generally use proper risk-management techniques and ideally use sentiment analysis in conjunction with other analysis tools to confirm potential trading opportunities.

Several forex trading strategies exist to help you trade based on forex sentiment. Currency traders can use one or more of these strategies to incorporate forex market sentiment into their trading decisions. These trading strategies include: 

  • Contrarian: Traders using this strategy take positions against the prevailing sentiment of the market. For example, if the sentiment is extremely bullish, a trader may consider taking a short position, betting that the sentiment will eventually turn negative. This strategy is often used by experienced traders who are looking for trading opportunities with a high potential payoff.
  • Trend or position: This relatively conservative strategy involves taking positions in the direction of the prevailing sentiment and market trend. If the sentiment is bullish on a currency pair, a trader may consider taking a long position to profit if the upward trend continues. 
  • Confirmation: Traders using this strategy use forex market sentiment to confirm other indicators obtained via technical or fundamental analysis. For example, if the sentiment is bullish and your technical analysis also suggests buying, this can provide additional confirmation of a potential trading opportunity.
  • News: This strategy involves using forex market sentiment to trade around economic news releases or other significant events that can impact the market. Traders can use sentiment analysis to identify potential market reactions to news releases and take positions accordingly.
  • Range: Using this strategy entails taking positions based on a neutral market sentiment when the market trades within a well-defined trading range. For example, if market sentiment for a currency pair is neutral, a trader may consider taking long positions at the trading range’s support levels and short positions at the resistance levels of the trading range.

Short-term Trading vs. Long-term Trading

How traders use forex market sentiment indicators can depend on their trading time frame. Keep in mind that forex market sentiment can change quite quickly after a major geopolitical event or the release of important news or economic data. 

Position traders who primarily trade for the long term may find changes in forex sentiment present an opportunity for them to take their profits and reevaluate their trend-following positions. While market sentiment probably has greater importance to day and swing traders who look to profit from short-term moves and reversals, long-term traders tend to rely on overall market sentiment and how individual economies fare over time.    

Short-term currency traders, on the other hand, tend to keep a keen eye out for significant changes in forex market sentiment, especially when important economic data or other important news is released. Many successful short-term forex traders react quickly to changes in sentiment and watch how other traders are positioned through the COT report and futures open interest that is constantly updated.

Basically, sentiment trading involves correctly identifying and taking advantage of changes in market sentiment. In addition to using the indicators mentioned above, confirmation of a forex sentiment change can be achieved by using technical analysis indicators, the COT report, a broker’s SSI and observing increased volume and expanding open interest in the futures market.      

Should You Use Forex Sentiment in Your Strategy?

Whether to use forex sentiment in your trading strategy will depend on your personal preferences, trading style and risk-management approach. Forex sentiment analysis can help you gain insight into the overall mood of the market toward a currency pair, which can help you identify potential trading opportunities.

By understanding market sentiment, you can make more informed decisions about the level of risk associated with a particular trade. Sentiment analysis can also help you stay ahead of market trends and react quickly to changing market conditions.

On the downside, forex sentiment analysis is not foolproof and can be subject to inaccuracies, especially if relying on retail trader sentiment data. Sentiment can also change quickly in response to changing market conditions, so you must be vigilant when monitoring sentiment indicators. In addition, relying solely on sentiment analysis without a sensible risk-management strategy can expose you to significant losses.

In general, trading on forex sentiment can help you make better-informed trading decisions, but it is best to use sentiment analysis in conjunction with other technical and fundamental analysis tools to confirm potential trading opportunities and manage your risk effectively. You should also stay aware of the limitations of sentiment analysis and learn to conduct your own market analysis when trading forex.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is risk sentiment in forex?


Risk sentiment in the forex market refers to the overall market mood or sentiment toward riskier or safer assets, and it reflects how traders perceive the level of risk in the market and how willing they are to take on risk. It is influenced by various factors such as global economic conditions, geopolitical events, central bank policies and market news and data.


Does forex sentiment work?


Forex sentiment analysis can be a valuable tool for currency traders to gain insights into market sentiment and identify potential trading opportunities. It should generally be used as part of a comprehensive trading strategy and not relied upon as the sole determinant of trading decisions.


Which forex sentiment analysis is best?


Forex traders often use market sentiment as a factor in their trading decisions, and they employ various analysis tools to gauge it, so the best approach to forex sentiment analysis depends on your preferences and trading style. Many traders use a combination of fundamental and technical analysis, along with sentiment indicators and social media analysis, to gain a comprehensive view of forex market sentiment.