The thrill of being a trader is intoxicating. The thought of making money from home as the market ebbs and flows in its cycle is a dream occupation for many people. However, why do so few traders end up succeeding at the timing the markets, while so many others fail?
As a successful trader, you need a trading plan to ensure that you know how to unfold your trading strategy as the session progresses on your local market. That trading plan begins with knowing which time of the day is most profitable for you to trade the markets.
Knowing when the markets open is vital if you want to be sitting in front of your trading station when the bell rings. Statistics show that day traders get the largest percentage of their gains from trading the first hour of the day.
However, if you don’t know what time the market opens, then you’ll miss out on breakout opportunities that occur as volume comes into the market.
Understanding the Behavior of the Market
If you want to be a successful trader, then you need to pay attention to the market’s behavior. There’s a reason why the first half an hour to hour of the trading day presents the most opportunities.
There are thousands of other traders like you looking at scanners and reading news releases in the hour leading up to the markets open. When the bell rings, every trader on the planet has their attention on the charts and their level 2. It’s this mass behavior that primes the market for a breakout in the first half an hour of the trading session.
In essence, everyone has their gun loaded, waiting for that first opportunity to show volume and strength to open a trade. Most traders only place trades in the first hour after the open, and then they head out to lunch.
On a slow day where there aren’t as many opportunities emerging on your momentum scanner, you might stick around until 11 am, waiting for a stock to pop in a slow market. However, most traders are done for the day and heading for lunch by 11:30 am at the latest.
Understanding this behavior puts you in a place where you know there will be volume coming into the market, and with volume come volatility.
We decided to give you a breakdown of when the markets open, and the best times to be sitting behind your trading station.
What Time Do Stock Markets Open?
Both the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ officially ring the bell for the start of the trading session at 09h30 Eastern time.
These exchanges are the most popular participation point for global traders, and it’s where the volume arrives first in the trading day.
However, by the time the bell rings at the NYSE, the trading session is almost over in London, Paris, and Germany.
The FTSE, CAC, and DAX all open at 08h00, but that’s in European time.
If you’re intending on trading the London open of the FTSE, then you’ll need to get out of bed at 03h00 on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.
Some traders like to trade the Japanese and Asian stock markets, but these indexes are 14-hours ahead of New York, meaning that you’ll need to stay up late for the open at 9 am.
Most of the world’s stock markets open at 09h30 and close at 16h00 with the bell sounding the end of the trading day.
Some traders like to trade the close and benefit from the last flurry of price action as the march toward the closing bell draws near.
Read: What is the NASDAQ?
Vacation Days for the US Stock Market
The stock market takes vacations, just like any other retail business. For those exchanges in the U.S markets, you’ll find them closed on the following days.
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King’s Day
- President’s Day
- Good Friday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
If any of these holidays occur over the weekend, then the market does not observe them on the following Monday. Trading leading up to some of these vacation days is typically slow, with the 4th of July and Thanksgiving being notably slower weeks as traders celebrate the holidays.
Are There Dates When the Stock Market Closes Early?
The stock exchange observes public holidays in the United States. On some days, the exchange also closes early to give traders and the markets a few hours off from the normal closing time. On these dates, the market closes at 1 pm, and there’s rarely any opportunities worth taking on these pre-holiday early closures.
- July 3rd, should it fall on a regular trading day
- Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving
- Christmas Eve, should it fall on a regular trading day
On these days, it’s better to take time off and don’t bother setting up your trading station. Volume on the pre-vacation days is light, and there’s rarely any action going on in the markets such as breaking news.
What Time Do Global Stock Markets Open?
We put together this section for international traders that want to know what time the global stock markets open around the world.
Trading Hours in Asia
- The Shanghai Stock Exchange opens at 9:30 am, closing at 3 pm Shanghai time.
- Japan’s Tokyo Stock Exchange opens at 9:00, closing at 3 pm Tokyo time.
- The Hong Kong Stock Exchange opens at 9:30 am, closing at 4 pm Hong Kong time.
- All three of these exchanges take a lunch break between 12 pm and 1 pm
Trading Hours in Europe
- The London Stock Exchange opens at 8 am, closing at 4:30 pm London time.
- Euronext Paris opens at 9 am, closing at 5:30 pm Paris time.
- The Swiss Exchange opens at 9 am, closing at 5:30 pm Swiss time.
- All three of these exchanges take no lunch hour, trading through the entire day until the close.
Trading the Pre-market and After the Close
Before 1990, traders didn’t have the option of trading outside of regular trading hours. However, the introduction of the internet and technology changed this for many brokerages and prop trading firms. Today, hundreds of brokers will allow you to trade in the pre-market and after the bell rings.
Pre-market trading hours for the NASDAQ and the NYSE are between 8 am to 9:30 am Eastern time. These exchanges also support trading after the market close, from 4 pm to 8 pm Eastern time. It’s important to note that while many brokers now cater to pre-market and post-market trading, there are still plenty that doesn’t offer their clients this service.
If you want to trade the pre-market or after the bell, then make sure your broker supports this function.
Is It a Good Idea to Trade the Pre-Market?
A short answer is, no. While plenty of traders do use the market to take positions, it’s a risky affair. The reason why risk is so high in trading the pre-market is a question of volume. The volume describes the number of shares traded on a specific stock.
Volume creates liquidity, meaning there is someone else taking the other end of the trade you’re either entering or exiting. However, in the pre-market, the volume is light. As a result, you might find yourself taking a position in a stock, only to find that you can’t exit the trade because of a lack of willing buyers or sellers.
The market makers don’t start trading until the bell rings, and therefore, they have no obligation to buy or sell your shares, especially if you get into a pickle. Consequently, you could end up blowing up your account on a trade because you can’t exit the position.
However, there are some attractive moves in the pre-market if you’re looking at the right stock. It’s not uncommon for stocks to gap 20 to 50% in the pre-market session, and if you get in early, you could make a ton of profit when the bell rings for the start of the trading day.
However, the risk is always higher in the pre-market, and we recommend you avoid trading in this period unless you have some information that others don’t know about yet.
It’s for this reason that most professional day traders wait until the bell rings before they start placing trades. The Pre-market might present plenty of opportunities that give traders FOMO, but the reality is that it’s not worth the risk, unless it’s part of a proven trading strategy.
What Are the Best Times of the Day to Trade on the Stock Market?
When newbie traders start their journey into investing in the stock market, they often spend all day stuck behind their screen. Sure, this presents you with every opportunity the market has on offer, but that’s not to say that you should take ever one that comes across your screen.
A newbie needs plenty of time behind the screen and level 2 to learn how to use these tools, so it’s almost advisable for newbies to trade as much as they can during the day. However, the newbie should also be trading with a practice “paper account” before they start trading with real money.
A paper account helps the newbie get used to the intricacies of their trading platform, giving them a practice environment when they can execute hotkeys and practice trading their strategy. However, when the newbie trader advances to finding a trading account with real money, they’ll need to be more selective with their trading hours.
There are various parts of the trading day that offer the trader more potential for finding profitable ideas. Likewise, there are parts of the day where you’re more likely to give back most of your profits, or even end up in the red for the day.
In this section, we’ll go over the best times of the day to trade, and when you should shut it down and walk away from your trading station.
The First 15-Minutes
The first 15-minutes of the trading day after the bell rings offer traders with the most opportunities of the day. It’s during this period that the market starts to price in data from breaking news that morning.
Therefore, during this period, you’ll need to be staring at the stocks you select from your scanners as the bell rings. Missing out on this vital first 15-minutes could cost you the only trading opportunity of the day.
Therefore, you must prepare for the open as best as possible. 30-minutes before the bell rings, start curating your daily stock watch list. Look through your gap scanner to find the leading gappers of the day, and then bring the charts and level 2 up on your brokerage trading platform.
During this stage of the market open, volatility is at its peak, as more traders interpret the news, and start jumping into positions in the market. It’s during this initial stage that spreads are larger, and the chance for halts on stocks is more common. Many traders only trade this initial 15-minute stage right out of the open and then walk away for the rest of the day.
The First 30-Minutes
The first 15-minutes is key to your trading strategy. However, the action doesn’t stop there. After the first 15-minutes, spreads tighten, and limit-up, limit-down halts are more common.
As a result, the price to the halt extends, and you might have to wait for more price movement for a stock to move into a possible halt. However, there’s still plenty of volume in the market at this stage, and you’re likely to find a winner if you’re in a hot market.
The Power Hour
The first hour of the trading day presents traders with the most opportunities to get involved with the market, and many do. However, the volume continues to flood into the market for the first hour after the bell rings. After this point, the volume starts to dry up, and most traders are already vaunting their winnings, or they’re feeling frustrated over their losses.
The Market close
Some traders like to trade the last 30-minutes of the trading day. During this time, traders are aggressively moving overnight positions around, and there’s also plenty of opportunities to get in on some great ideas.
Wrapping Up – When You Trade Matters as Much as What You Trade
Many newbies make the mistake of researching the market, looking for the best opportunities. However, they might fail to note that the time of the day you choose to trade is as important as what stock you decide to trade.
Follow the tips in this article, and adjust your trading strategy to suit the advice. You’ll find that you get more opportunities, and there’s less risk of you giving your profits back to the market in the afternoon.