A stock exchange is, by definition, a market where stocks can be bought and sold at certain times of the day. It functions as an entity that provides orderly trading and efficient dissemination of price quotes for publicly listed companies.
Exchanges generally take place from Monday to Friday. The Saudi Stock Exchange is an exception to the rule, since it is open from Sunday to Thursday. A small number of exchanges close for a lunch break. This is seen most often in Asian markets. The London Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange have a two-minute break at noon every day.
For a US investor, access to any of the international markets and exchanges requires an account with a brokerage house, either online or offline.
Key points to remember
- Most stock exchanges around the world are open during normal business hours, local time.
- Trades entered with an online brokerage between trading hours are executed at the open, unless otherwise specified.
- North American exchanges closely match New York time for the convenience of traders.
- All exchanges publish annual calendars listing their scheduled holidays and half days.
- US investors can buy and sell stocks listed on most foreign stock exchanges through a broker.
- An alternative for foreign equity investors is to trade American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which trade on US stock exchanges and in US dollars.
Trading hours on public holidays
Public holidays depend on the local calendar, so they are different for each location. The New York Stock Exchange closes July 4 for Independence Day. The Singapore Stock Exchange closes in early February for the Chinese New Year.
Some exchanges close for half a day from time to time. For example, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is only open until 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Exchanges post their annual calendars well in advance.
Trading hours on North American exchanges
Trading in North America is generally based on the Eastern Time Zone, regardless of where the exchange is located. The exception is the Mexico Stock Exchange, which displays its hours in central time but adjusts its hours to match those of the NYSE.
The headquarters of the commercial exchanges are in New York, Toronto and Mexico City. The westernmost time zone is Mexico City, with the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV) trading in Central Standard Time (CST) business hours. However, even though BMV trades on CST, the hours mirror those of the NYSE, so all things considered, the trade is open during the same time frame.
Asia and Middle East Trading Hours
There are 11 time zones across Asia and its immediate neighbors, but luckily they synchronize their trading hours for trading and liquidity reasons.
Some Asian markets, including the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO), are taking a lunch break.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange has 18 public holidays a year, including a five-day break for Chinese New Year.
UK and European Trading Hours
Europe, like Asia, has many individual exchanges. The largest stock exchange organization in Europe is Euronext, a pan-European exchange that operates in seven countries and is headquartered in Amsterdam.
South America Trading Hours
The largest stock exchange in South America is in São Paulo, Brazil. The exchange trades two hours ahead of the NYSE, much of the action follows that of the NYSE.
Stocks, commodities and options are all traded on the São Paulo Stock Exchange.
Africa Trading Hours
Africa’s largest stock exchange is in Johannesburg, South Africa. Egypt, Nigeria and Mauritius have smaller exchanges.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has acquired the Futures Exchange of South Africa and the Bond Exchange of South Africa, so all of these assets are traded on the JSE.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. South African Standard Time (SAST), with no lunch breaks. The exchange therefore opens 6.5 hours before the NYSE.
Australia/Oceania Trading Hours
The Sydney-based Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is about the same size as the South African stock exchange. The ASE merged with the Sydney Futures Exchange in 2006. Bonds and derivatives are also traded on the ASE.
The market opens later than most, at 10 a.m. local time, and there is no lunch break.
The world’s first public stock market was established in Amsterdam in 1611. It initially only offered shares of the Dutch East Indies Co.
What is the difference between a stock exchange and the stock market?
A stock exchange is a market or infrastructure that facilitates the trading of stocks. The stock exchange is founded and managed by a company, private or public. It allows companies to list their stocks on its marketplace.
The term stock market more generally refers to all stocks or a group of stocks in a particular region, industry or sector.
What major exchanges are closed during lunch?
The major exchanges with the official lunchtime closing are the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO), the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (SEHK).
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange have a two-minute break at noon. Their traders don’t eat so fast. The mini-pause is designed to protect institutional traders from high-frequency traders, whose split-second trades can distort prices.
What hours are the NYSE and Nasdaq open?
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq are generally open the same hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Both publish annual calendars of their holidays and half-days. In 2022, the NYSE has 10 full holidays and four early closing days. The Nasdaq has the same holidays but seems to have fewer half days.