Last Updated on 17 November, 2020 by Samuelsson
As you may already know, futures are standardized contracts which trade on an exchange. Unlike the stock market, futures contracts trade almost round the clock during the week, so you may be wondering if they also trade on weekends.
Strictly speaking, futures do not trade on weekends, but due to differences in time zones, the Asian big markets (Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and others) open for a new week much earlier than the U.S. market. So, the global and US futures market starts trading on Sunday evening in the US.
There are many things you need to know about futures exchanges in the US and their trading hours. To learn more, keep reading.
Trading hours For the Biggest US Futures Exchanges
With the availability of electronic trading platforms, such as the Globex platform, futures contracts are now traded globally. So once any exchange is open in any part of the world, futures can be traded.
The round-the-clock global market starts with Australian market — which opens around 5 p.m. Eastern time — and ends with the close of the U.S. markets at about 5 p.m. ET, by which time the Australian market has opened again for a new trading day. As a result, the futures market is open for 24 hours each day from Sunday to Friday.
However, there are slight differences in the trading hours of the various types of futures in the biggest futures exchanges in the US. Let’s look at some of the exchanges and their trading timetable.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
This is the biggest futures exchange in the US, and they have their headquarters in Chicago. They have several product categories, including energy futures, agricultural product futures, equity index futures, foreign exchange futures, metals, interest rates, and even weather. Their trading hours are usually stated in Central time (CT). See examples below:
For metals, such as gold, silver, and copper contracts, trading starts from 5:00 p.m. CT (6:00 p.m. ET) on Sunday and closes at 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET) on Friday. There is always a 60-minute break each day, starting from 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET).
Most of the contracts under this category start to trade by 7:00 p.m. CT (8:00 p.m. ET) and temporarily close by 7:45 a.m. CT. After about 15 minutes break, the normal U.S. trading day starts by 8:30 a.m. CT (9:30 a.m. ET) but closes early, at 1:20p.m. CT (2:20 p.m. ET).
In the energy category, trading begins at 5:00 p.m. CT (6:00 p.m. ET) on Sunday and closes at 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET) on Friday. A 60-minute break from 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET) to 5:00 p.m. CT (6:00 p.m. ET) each day is the only period without trading activities.
Trading starts from 5:00 p.m. CT (6:00 p.m. ET) on Sunday and closes at 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET) on Friday. Just like the energy futures, there’s a 60-minute break each day, starting from 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET).
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)
The ICE started with energy futures but has since expanded to include foreign exchange, interest rate, agriculture, equity, and metal futures. The exchange is usually open for 24 hours each day from 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday to 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday except during the maintenance period, which normally starts from 6:05 p.m. ET every day.
WTI, Brent crude, and other energy contracts trade from 7:50 p.m. ET to 6:00 p.m. ET the next day. The period between 6:00 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. is for clearing and maintenance. The week opens on Sunday evening and closes on Friday evening.
Currency futures contracts trades from 8:00 p.m. ET to 5:00 p.m. ET the next day, starting from Sunday to Friday. Both the currency pairs and dollar index are traded.
For agricultural products, such as cocoa, cotton, and coffee futures, trading begins at 9:00 p.m. ET and closes at 2:30 p.m. ET the following day, from Sunday to Friday.
Equity index futures
A lot of global equity index contracts trade here, especially European equities. The market opens by 8:00 p.m. ET each day, starting from Sunday, and closes by 6:00 p.m. ET the next day. The market closes for the week by 6:00 p.m. on Friday.
Cboe Global Markets
Cboe Futures Exchange (CFX), the futures exchange section of the Cboe Global Markets, are well-known for their volatility index futures — VIX futures. In addition to the VIX, they also have S&P 500 variance futures, Treasury note volatility index futures, corporate bond index futures, and recently, AMERIBOR futures.
Most of these products trade from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., Mondays to Fridays. This is the only period you can place a market order for the products. However, there are extended trading hours — 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. — when stop/limit orders are permitted.
Nasdaq derivative markets list stock futures on more than 100 underlying shares. Trading is done electronically via the Nasdaq Futures (NFX) platform. The open session commences from 7:00 p.m. ET and closes at 6:00 p.m. ET the next trading day, from Sunday to Friday.
Holding Positions Over the Weekend
Even though the market is closed, traders can (and some do) leave their trades open over the weekend. But this can be very risky, especially for a trader whose trading style is not suited for this practice. What do I mean by this?
There are different styles of trading — scalping, day trading, swing trading, and long-term trading. While a swing trader may attempt it, a scalper or day trader has no business leaving a position open over the weekend. Keeping positions open over the weekend is better left for position traders (long-term trader) and, maybe, swing traders, because they trade on larger time frames and have bigger stop losses.
Even for a swing trader, it still could be dangerous because of the associated risks.
The Dangers of Keeping Positions over the Weekend
There are a few reasons not to keep positions over the weekend, and here are some of them:
Price gap: It is not uncommon for the market to open with a big gap from the previous close. Just one piece of news (even a rumor) is all it takes for the price to open on the next trading day with a wide gap, rendering your stop loss useless.
Stop loss hunting: Some brokers widen their spread when the market is about to close on Friday and again when the market opens on Sunday. If your stop loss is not far away enough, your position may be knocked off before the market even starts to move.
No rest of mind: When you have a position open over the weekend, and you’re not used to it (not a long-term trader), chances are that you will be worried about the trade, especially now that a single tweet can do a lot of damage.
Are There Securities That Trade Over the Weekend?
One of the biggest forex and CFD brokers, IG, offers weekend trading opportunities for some of their popular indices. These are the securities they offer for weekend trading:
- Weekend FTSE 100
- Weekend Germany 30
- Weekend Hong Kong HS50
- Weekend Wall Street
- Bitcoin Cash
Another option is to look towards the Middle East where Saturday and Sunday are official working days, so their stock markets are usually open during the weekend. Securities like DFM Index (Dubai stock index) and Tadawul Index (Saudi Arabia stock index) can be traded during this time.
Furthermore, binary options also trade over the weekend.
Futures markets are closed during the weekend, but due to differences in time zones, Asian markets open when Americans are still enjoying their Sunday. Electronic trading has made it possible to access the market from anywhere. While the market is open from Sunday to Friday, there are slight differences in trading hours for the different categories of futures contracts.
Although the market is closed, some traders keep positions over the weekend. But there are risks involved. A piece of negative news can cause price gaps which can make you incur great losses.