Stock Market Hours
The hours that the stock markets are open probably seem odd to many people working in more conventional establishments. Of course it's not as simple as it looks. Whilst the doors to the outside street may be closed, there's still a million and one things going on inside the building - 9.30pm to 5.15pm really would be too good to be true. The opening and closing times were pretty vague when the stock exchanges were first established and the times of the "bells" came about by little better than trial and error - eventually a sort of optimum was reached. With a few minor adjustments, they stayed the same until the dying days of the twentieth century but of course, times have changed and many of the parameters which were important a hundred years ago have either lost their relevance or they're just not there at all now. Once, it was of major importance that the news of the day's trading got to the offices of the Newspapers in time for the copy to be prepared and the platens to be made in time to get the finished publications onto the newsstands early in the morning. Now that's all done electronically and digitally - no runners, no paper and no platens! In any case, how many investors these days get their information from newspapers when the internet is so much more convenient and immediate? We live now in what's usually called a "24/7" world. With business being fully spread round the planet and with the different cultures around the globe, there's something somewhere, open all the time. The New York stock exchange - Wall Street - is closed July 4th. That's about the most important day of the year to Americans but London, Frankfurt, Paris, Hong Kong etc. don't celebrate Independence Day so their stock exchanges trade as usual. In France, the big day is a few days later, July 14th, quartorze juillet - the French language doesn't require capital letters for dates. That commemorates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 which began the French Revolution, just as formative a day in world History as July 4th 1776. Needless to say, the Paris "Bourse" is closed that day but the rest of the world carries on as usual. Life as a whole now is 24/7 and with globalization, no economy is isolated from what goes on elsewhere. With the globalization of manufacturing, has come globalization of information, mainly as a result of the explosion of digital communications technology. It's not just important, it's vital that the Dell sales center in Texas is in constant touch with the company's manufacturing facilities in Malaysia and Singapore - equally, it's vital that stock holders of businesses based in Hong Kong can track events back here in New York - or Chicago - or wherever they happen to live. The hours that the doors of the stock markets around the world are physically open tend to reflect the needs and customs of the countries concerned. That's not to say that the markets are really closed. So much trading is done electronically that it's truer to say that, like the Windmill Theater in London during the dark days of World War two said "We Never Closed".
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