Everyone knows the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ are open Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.
But it hasn't always been that way.
When did it start and what were the trading hours before that? In fact, the NYSE has not always been open Monday to Friday. It used to be open Saturdays and closed Wednesdays!
Breaking Down NYSE Historical Trading Schedules
1792 - 1871
The NYSE was formed in May 1792. When the market first opened there was not continuous trading like today. Instead they held morning and afternoon "call trading" sessions in which an official calls out each stock and brokers trade each stock in turn.
1871 - May 1887
Continuous trading on the NYSE started in 1871. In these early years, trading hours were changed frequently. Markets opened at 10am and closed between 2pm and 4pm. Markets were open six days a week, Monday to Saturday.
May 1887 - September 1952
In May 1887, the trading hours were officially set to Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm and Saturday from 10am to noon.
September 1952 - June 1968
In 1952, the Saturday trading session was finally retired. Trading hours were now Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm.
June 12, 1968 - December 31, 1968
In the late 1960's a funny thing happened. Trading volume boomed. In the age before computers, this meant more paperwork. A lot more paperwork.
Back offices were congested and could not process all of the trades. To give clerical staff more time process paperwork, the NYSE closed trading on Wednesdays for 6 months.
The trading schedule was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am to 3pm. Closed Wednesdays.
January 2, 1969 - July 3, 1969
Starting in the new year, the NYSE added Wednesday trading back, but shortened the trading day.
Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm.
July 7, 1969 - September 26, 1969
In July, trading hours were extended by 30 minutes.
Monday to Friday 10am to 2:30pm.
September 29, 1969 - May 1, 1970
In May 1970, trading hours were extended 30 more minutes.
Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm.
May 1970 - October 1974
With the Paperwork Crisis resolved, trading hours were extended for 30 more minutes.
Monday to Friday 10am to 3:30pm.
October 1974 - 1985
In 1974, the closing bell was once again moved 30 minutes later – this time to 4pm. This is still the closing time today.
Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.
1985 - Present
Finally, in 1985, the trading schedule was changed to what it is today.
Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4pm for a total of 6.5 hours of trading.
Future Trading Schedules
So what's next? It has been over 35 years since the last time the schedule changed. Will the NYSE trading hours change anytime soon?
There has been some support for shortening the trading day to one hour.
However, it's very unlikely.
The NYSE is the center of the world's financial markets and a lot of down-stream systems rely on it.
The NYSE trading hours have not changed since before computers were widely used. No doubt there are thousands of systems that have been built with the assumption that the NYSE trading hours will never change.
Programmers may hard code values they do not expect will change. If the times do change, who knows what might break.
Have a suggestion?
If you have anything you'd like us to add to the article, let us know.