The Knowledge guide to foreign exchange rates looks at the best print and electronic sources for current and historical rates. On this page we focus on sources for historic exchange rates.
An important consideration with web sources for historic rates is that they usually give figures for the working week only. If you are looking for an end of month rate and enter the last day of a month in any given year, you should be aware that it may show up as unavailable if this is also a date at the weekend.
The FT provides tables of foreign exchange rate data through their Market Data website for the last three years.
To use this service:
1. Go to the data archive page and choose the option for 'Currencies' from the 'Choose a category' drop down menu.
2. Select the desired FT table from the 'Choose a report' drop down menu.
3. Select the date you require from the calendar and your table should appear.
Tables available include:
The Pacific Exchange Rate Service offers an extensive range of current and historic exchange rate data. The service is provided by Professor Antweiler of the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business and is primarily for the academic community, i.e., economists and other researchers. The earliest historic exchange rates start in 1971. However, some data is only available from the first year of the website's launch in 1996.
The Database Retrieval System provided by Pacific Exchange Rate Services allows you to select a base currency, a target currency, time span, volume or price notation and a frequency of figures within that (daily, weekly or monthly). Data can be downloaded in a variety of word processor and spreadsheet friendly formats for ease of use.
The Pacific Exchange Rate Service also includes a quick reference source for historic annual exchange rates for three currencies from 1948 to the last full year.
Each reference document gives the annual rate against 24 international currencies for the years 1948-2000. These have been compiled from a variety of sources, including the IMF, World Bank and OECD.
Oanda is a commercial website providing foreign exchange, currency trading, and information services. The website includes a range of historic services covering 164 currencies. The data range is generally from 1990 onwards, but the start point of data for each currency varies. It is worth noting that the rates provided by Oanda are averages of figures gathered from Telerate, Bridge, and Reuters rather than being closing market prices.
XE.com provides a combination of historic and current exchange rate services. In looking for historic exchange rates their most useful service is the Interactive Currency Table service. This covers 79 world currencies with data going back to 1st January 1995. The service is easy to use, just choose a base currency and a date. The service then creates a web page with a table showing exchange rates with that currency on the date you specify.
The Bank of England provides exchange rates through their Bank of England Statistical Interactive Database - interest & exchange rates data - interest & exchange rates data page. This includes the rates for many currencies against sterling and the dollar as both monthly averages and end month rates. The site provides monthly, quarterly and annual tables going back to January 1963 provided in various forms including HTML, excel, XML and CSV files.
In addition their Statistical Abstract - 2002 contains tables in excel format containing Interest and exchange rates data providing monthly averages for foreign exchange rates between December 1975 and July 1999 against the Dollar and Sterling. They include:
The information contained within the Bank of England Statistical Abstract pages are not 'official' rates and are no more authoritative than rates provided by any commercial bank operating in the London market.
The ICAEW Library & Information Service can provide information from a range of print sources on end of month, monthly average and annual average exchange rates. Unfortunately we are unable to provide historical daily rates.
Financial Statistics is a monthly publication from the Office for National Statistics. Chapter 7 covers Exchange Rates, and provides:
The Bank of England is the source for all the tables listed above.
Simon's Direct Tax Service maintains a list of foreign exchange rates, as published annually by the Inland Revenue for general use in converting amounts in foreign currency to sterling. The tables are located in Binder 9 International, Part F 6.1 and start in 1981-82 continuing up to the most recent year end. The averages for the year to 31st March and 31st December are given for 60 currencies from the Argentine peso to the Zimbabwe dollar.
The Library & Information Service currently subscribes to Simon's Direct Tax Service through the online platform from Lexis-Nexis.
International Financial Statistics is a monthly publication from the International Monetary Fund in Washington. The publication dates back to 1974. The ICAEW Library & Information Service holds copies of the January and July editions from 2007 until 2012 (as well as a copy of the edition for December 2012) to maintain a record of monthly interest rates between these years. The main features of International Financial Statistics are:
The exchange rates printed in the Financial Times can be checked by visitors to the library by looking at the back issues in the Library & Information Service. The last three months are held in print format and previous editions are maintained on microfilm and date back to 1975.
The Stock Exchange Weekly Official Intelligence gives the daily currency exchange rate for the last 5 days in 18 currencies including the traded prices of EC currencies against sterling. No indication is given to explain how this figure has been calculated, but the trend in the volume is to give closing prices. A note adds that other currency rates are available on request.
The Library & Information Service holds back copies of the Stock Exchange Weekly Official Intelligence up until Saturday June 19th 2004. It is published and marketed by FT Interactive Data, on behalf of The London Stock Exchange PLC.
The annual volume of FT Interactive Data's Capital Gains Tax Service lists a number of exchange rates for the UK and the Republic of Ireland. These include:
If you're having trouble finding the information you need, ask the Library & Information Service. Contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 7920 8620, by fax on +44 (0)20 7920 8621 or by email at email@example.com.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this Knowledge Guide is correct. However, the content of sites changes frequently and members should satisfy themselves that the information they contain is suitable for the purposes they wish to use it for. We would be grateful to receive notification of any links that do not work at the library email address above.ICAEW accepts no responsibility for the content on any site to which a hypertext link from this site exists. The links are provided ‘as is’ with no warranty, express or implied, for the information provided within them. Please see the full copyright and disclaimer notice.