Whether you are looking to day trade in the stock market or purchase funds for your retirement, knowing the stock market hours of operation and the days the markets are closed is important.
Additionally, there are a few different markets to know, and pending where you are located in the world, the trading hours can be very different.
This post will primarily focus on the major stock exchanges in the United States but will be important for any successful investor or day trader to know.
Lastly, getting access to any of the markets and extended hours trading will require you to open a brokerage account with a financial institution.
There are a lot of options to choose from, but this type of account can be for day trading or opening a retirement account.
Now, let’s dive in!
What Time Do the Stock Markets Open?
Two of the biggest trading markets in the world and in the United States are NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is based in New York City and has normal trading hours from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. The only reason that would change is if there was a holiday or an early close for a holiday.
And the NASDAQ is also an American stock exchange which is the electronic marketplace for trading. Just like the NYSE, the trading hours begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4 p.m EST.
The NASDAQ offers additional trading times, which is called pre-market trading hours. These run from 4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. EST, and after-hours trading extends from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m EST.
- Stock Market Hours Central Time: 8:30 am CST – 3:00 pm CST
- Stock Market Hours Mountain Time: 7:30 am MST – 2:00 pm MST
- Stock Market Hours Pacific Time: 6:30 am PST – 1:00 pm PST
Is the stock market open on weekends?
While there are after-hours trading thanks to the technological advances in being able to trade electronically, the stock market is not open on the weekends.
These exchanges used to be open on Saturdays and followed banking operation hours. But in the 1950s that changed and the stock market was no longer open on weekends.
Even with technology making it easier to trade, the markets are still closed on weekends. The Motley Fool covers a bit more of the history here.
What Days Is The Stock Market Closed?
Now that you know the times the market is open, what days is the stock market closed? For those stock exchanges in the U.S markets, you’ll find them closed on the following holiday schedule:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King’s Day
- President’s Day
- Good Friday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
Sometimes a few of these holidays will fall over a weekend, but the markets will not observe them on that following Monday.
If anything, you might notice that trading leading up to some of these holidays on any given calendar day is slower, as people are not as focused on the markets.
Also note, the global market might be slightly different pending their own customary holidays. So if you are active on markets outside the United States, be sure to when those markets are closed.
Are There Dates When the Stock Market Closes Early?
Besides the holidays that the markets are closed, the stock exchanges also close early for some of them.
For example, a day before a major public holiday may close a few hours early for traders to have a jump on the holiday time.
These pre-holiday closures typically happen at 1:00 pm EST and usually will be a very slow trading day as well.
Here are a few of the dates that typically close early pre-holiday:
- July 3rd, if it falls on a regular trading day
- Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving
- Christmas Eve, if it falls on a regular trading day
On these days, it’s better to ignore the trading markets and relax a bit. This is especially valid if you are day trading. The reason being, the trading volume on the pre-vacation days is usually fairly light, and there’s rarely any action going on in the markets.
When Is The Best Time of Day To Trade Stocks?
As you know now, the regular trading hours are from 9:30 am EST to 4:00 pm EST. This is a pretty big window of time to make purchases and sales of stocks.
But a common question for new investors is if there is a best time of day to buy and trade stocks when the markets are open.
The short answer is, there is no exact time that might be best for you to purchase. It depends on your investing strategy, your goals, and what you might be watching to buy, sell, or short.
However, there is some data to suggest some ideal times when the action might be best.
The First Hour (9:30 am EST – 10:30 am EST)
Typically, stock trading during the first one to two hours when the market is open is usually the strongest.
It tends to be the most volatile and where most of your opportunities will be. It usually follows any news from the previous evening, so more people are in on the action early.
This is where professionals and experienced investors can make money quickly. But for newer investors, you might want to sit back for a bit and let the start cool off first to avoid costly mistakes.
If you are just investing for the long-term in ETFs or index funds, it might not matter much what time you invest — since you’ll probably not be concerned with making money immediately.
The Middle (11:30 am EST – 3:00 pm EST)
Once lunchtime and early afternoon starts to approach, many professional day traders end up not trading or slowing down.
Usually from 11:30 is when the trade volume and volatility will begin slowing down.
This means any trades you have can take longer to execute and prices don’t fluctuate as dramatically.
The Last Hour (3:00 pm EST – 4:00 pm EST)
Many day-traders also trade the last hour of the day, from 3 to 4 pm EST. By that time, traders have had a long break since the morning session, allowing them to analyze and regain focus.
The last hour can be a lot like the first, when you’re looking at common stock market patterns and figuring out your next move. This time can be full of big moves and sharp trend reversals.
Like the first hour, many amateur traders jump in during the last hour, buying or selling based on what has happened so far that day. The last few minutes before the close can also be a crazy time with a lot of volume.
Can You Buy Stocks After Hours?
Yes, you can buy and trade stocks after hours. There are some trading session limitations and pending which financial institution you choose, their options to purchase after hours may be limited.
Also, after hours and any premarket trading takes place only through electronic exchanges. If you are looking to buy or trade stocks after hours, this is typically between 4 pm and 8 pm EST.
However, each online broker will have its own rules and various lengths time within that standard timeframe where they will allow trades.
For example, one broker might have after hours trading from 4 pm EST – 6 pm EST where another might be 4 pm EST – 5 pm EST. If you are interested in the after hours trading, you should check a broker’s policies first.
Cost of trading stocks after hours
Although you can trade stocks pre-market and after market, there may be an additional cost for your early or late trades. Typically, when you purchase stocks online you’ll have a commission fee.
Many of the online brokers now are starting to offer commission free trades. But after hours maybe slightly different.
The fees will be relatively small and any extended hours orders may not be filled completely or at all due to the limited volumes.
Is It a Good Idea to Trade Stocks Pre-Market?
Many investors or day traders get eager some days to buy or sell assets. But a general rule of thumb is that no, it’s not a good idea to trade stocks pre-market.
It’s up to you and your level of expertise though if you do want to test pre-marketing trading, but approach with caution. The reason it is a high risk is because there is a lack of volume and unpredictability.
The stock market can never fully be 100% of what you might expect. And pre-market action has no guarantee to reflect the same when the market actually opens.
And because the volume is much lower, it may be more challenging to execute a sell. This could cause you to be stuck and not able to sell off if needed until the opening.
Some Stock Broker Accounts to Consider
Whether you have an online stock broker account currently or looking for a new one, you have tons of options to consider.
It’s important to do any research before blindly opening an account, especially if it is your first investment account.
Some things to look for include:
- Account minimums and platform fees
- Security and money protections
- Types of account options and investments
- Historical performances of funds
- Platform and invest reviews from other users
- Financial history of the brokerage company
- Website and apps access/usability
While I won’t get too detailed into all of these top stockbrokers below, these are some of the best ones you want to consider whether you’ll be day trading, passively investing, or trading in a retirement account.
- Ally Invest
- Fidelity Investments
- TD Ameritrade
- Interactive Brokers