Trading Hours for Futures and Options

Trading Hours for Futures and Options

You need to know the very best trading hours for Futures and Options.  If you are new to this trading, this short explanation will help you avoid some confusion and save you a lot of time:  In the 1990’s most of the world’s stock and commodity markets added electronic trading and with this great innovation came an expansion of the hours that trading is available.

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For commodity futures contracts and the options on futures, there is almost a 24 hour a day Globex (global exchange) market that allows trading at virtually all hours.  This is where the confusion begins.

It is true that these markets are OPEN and available for trading, but those posted hours are NOT practical for all trading.

The reason for this –  is simple.  It is largely because trading volumes remain thin outside regular hours, amplifying risks: Thinly traded markets are more volatile, and transactions there are costlier.  It all revolves around liquidity —  There is just not enough liquidity in the middle of the night.  The gap between bid/ask prices is often wide – and your trading software might be displaying a “last trade” price that is hours old – or even from a previous trading date.  Active markets offer efficient prices.  Although trading at all hours is available, market activity is so slow (aka: “thinly traded”) that no fair prices are being offered.

If you are ever logging on to trade and the prices don’t make sense on your quote screens, this is probably because you have logged on outside of what are called regular hours.  This is what I mean when I say “it is possible but not practical” to trade markets during times when there is no or little activity.  So what are the regular hours?

Regular Trading Hours

I am going to make this very easy for you.  There are hundreds of futures contracts and scores of lines of fine print to explain every contingency on trading hours.  I am going to list the regular hours for the most commonly traded markets in one, simple table:

Wheat (CBOT)
8:30am to 1:15pm
Central Time Zone (Chicago)
9:30am to 2:15pm  Eastern Time Zone (New York)

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI)
Henry Hub Natural Gas (Financial)
RBOB Gasoline 8:00am to 1:30pm
New York Harbor Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (AKA: HO Heating Oil)

8:00am to 1:30pm Central Time Zone (Chicago)
9:00am to 2:30pm Eastern Time Zone (New York)


7:20am to 12:30pm Central Time Zone (Chicago)
8:20am to 1:30pm   Eastern Time Zone (New York)

Futures for STOCKS (Equities):
S&P 500 and e-Mini
  (and all stock/equity indexes)
8:30am to 3:15pm Central Time Zone (Chicago)
9:30am to 4:15pm Eastern Time Zone (New York)

Here is a link to download a free XLS File so you can customize you own list and version for your location. DOWNLOAD
Here is a link to download a free PDF file with a complete list of all contracts, trading hours – and Globex hours DOWNLOAD

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The commentary and examples are for teaching purposes only and are not intended to be a trading or trade advisory service. Any investments, trades, and/or speculations made in light of  the ideas, opinions, and/or forecasts, expressed or implied herein on the web site and/or newsletter, are committed at your own risk, financial or otherwise. Trading with leverage could lead to greater loss than your initial deposit. Trade at your own risk.   Investors and traders are responsible for their own investment/trading decisions including entries, exits, position, sizing and  use of stops or lack thereof.  This is not a trade advisory service and is for educational purposes only.

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