What is After Hours Trading and How Does it Work?

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  • 16 Aug 2023

After-hours trading, as the name implies, involves conducting trades outside the usual trading hours, specifically after the stock market's closure for the day. These after-hours trading sessions can occur before or after the standard trading period. In India, after-hours trading usually occurs from 4:00 PM to 8:55 AM on the BSE and NSE

The specific duration of after-hours trading can vary based on prevailing market conditions. With considerations ranging from the types of tradable securities to the accepted order types, this feature is governed by a set of regulations and guidelines that investors are expected to adhere to.

Previously, trading beyond regular hours was accessible primarily to High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) and Non-Institutional Investors (NIIs). However, advancements in technology have democratized this capability, enabling even the average investor to submit orders for execution during after-hours. Retail investors now have the option to utilize an After Market Order (AMO) feature on their brokerage platforms, allowing them to place orders after the standard trading hours have concluded.

After-hours trading involves making investments or conducting trades outside the usual trading hours. This allows you to submit orders when the stock exchanges (NSE & BSE) and the market have concluded for the day.

The advent of Electronic Communication Networks (ECN) has contributed to the broader availability of after-hours trading, enabling retail investors to execute trades beyond the customary trading hours. This empowers investors to promptly respond to news, events, and developments that transpire while the NSE & BSE are not operational.

The NSE and the BSE's trading sessions follow a structured timetable. Regular trading hours conclude at 3.45 PM, and the market resumes at 9:00 AM on the following day. The interval between the market closure and its reopening the next trading day is designated for after-hours trading.

For equity trading enthusiasts, after-hours trading is available between 4:00 PM and 8:55 AM on both the BSE and NSE platforms. Should your interests lie in trading derivatives, such as Futures and Options (F&O), the after-hours trading window spans from 4:00 PM to 8:55 AM.

In after-hours trading, ECNs are utilized to process orders, differing from conventional exchange transactions. ECNs employ limit orders to pair corresponding buy and sell orders within the network. Consequently, investors are restricted to setting limit orders specifically applicable to after-hours trading. Should the order not be executed, investors must submit a new order when trading recommences on the subsequent day.

To carry out an after-hours order, access your brokerage account, opt for the desired stock for trading, and place a limit order. It's important to note that your broker might impose additional fees for after-hours trading. The settlement process for after-hours transactions mirrors that of regular trading activities.

  1. Extended Trading Opportunities:After-hours trading extends the trading window beyond the regular market hours, allowing investors to react to news or events outside these hours. This can benefit traders who cannot participate during regular trading hours due to work or other commitments.

  2. Reaction to Earnings Reports and News: Companies often release their earnings reports after the regular market hours. After-hours trading allows investors to react to these reports immediately rather than waiting until the next trading day.

  3. Reduced Price Gaps: Some significant news events or economic data releases can lead to price gaps between the closing and opening prices of the regular trading sessions. After-hours trading can help reduce these gaps by allowing trading to occur immediately after the news is released.

  4. Flexibility for International Investors: After-hours trading can cater to international investors who are in different time zones and may find it more convenient to trade outside of regular market hours.

  5. Hedging Risk: Investors may use after-hours trading to hedge against risk or to adjust their portfolios based on new information that becomes available after the regular market closes.

  1. Liquidity Risk: After-hours trading typically has lower trading volumes compared to regular trading hours. This can lead to greater bid-ask spreads and potentially increased price volatility. Lower liquidity can make it more challenging to execute trades at desired prices.

  2. Price Volatility: The lower trading volume during after-hours trading can result in higher price volatility, as there may be fewer participants and less market depth to absorb large orders. This can lead to significant price swings that may not accurately reflect the true market sentiment.

  3. Limited Information: After-hours trading occurs after most corporate announcements, news releases, and economic data releases. This limited information can lead to gaps in understanding the market's reaction to important news, potentially resulting in uninformed trading decisions.

  4. Thin Markets: Thinly traded stocks or securities with lower liquidity may have even greater risks during after-hours trading, as fewer participants facilitate trades.

  5. Technical Glitches: After-hours trading systems may experience technical glitches or outages that could disrupt trading activities or prevent traders from entering or exiting positions.

  6. Institutional Dominance: After-hours trading is often dominated by institutional investors and professional traders, which could result in smaller retail traders facing competition from more experienced market participants.

  7. Gaps and Price Discrepancies: Due to the limited trading activity during after-hours sessions, securities can experience gaps between their closing price and opening price the next day. This can lead to disparities between the prices at which orders were placed after hours and the prices at which they are executed the following day.

  8. Lack of Pre-Market Trading: In many cases, after-hours trading sessions are shorter and less active than pre-market trading, which occurs before regular market hours. This may limit the opportunities for traders who want to react to news before the market opens.

In Conclusion

After-hours trading has emerged as a significant development in the country's financial landscape, providing investors with extended opportunities to react to market-moving events and news beyond the traditional trading hours. While offering greater flexibility and potential for higher returns, it also introduces heightened risks and complexities that require careful consideration and prudent decision-making.

As this practice continues to evolve and gain traction, market participants must remain vigilant, well-informed, and equipped with a deep understanding of its mechanics to navigate the after-hours trading environment successfully. With regulatory oversight and technological advancements playing pivotal roles, the future of after-hours trading in India promises increased market efficiency and accessibility, transforming the way investors engage with the stock market.

After Hours Trading FAQs

Significant news that impacts the stock market valuation causes a stock to experience a spike after hours. The primary cause of substantial after-hours stock price fluctuations is the release of a company's quarterly earnings results.

Investors can immediately react to breaking news and find after-hours trading more convenient.

Electronic communications networks process after-hours trading by matching sellers with buyers rather than utilizing a stock exchange. Before opening a new stock exchange session, the activity is also referred to as pre-market trading.

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