Since its formation in 1817, the New York Stock Exchange has opened continuously every Monday morning and closed for the week on Friday afternoon.
Despite this apparent constant barrage of trading, the Exchange does in fact close for some U.S. Federal holidays.
Excluding any extraordinary circumstance, the following days are when the 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. frenzy is not in session:
|New Year’s Day||January 1||January 1|
|Martin Luther King, Jr. Day||January 21||January 20|
|Presidents Day||February 18||February 17|
|Good Friday||March 29||April 18|
|Memorial Day||May 27||May 26|
|Independence Day||July 4||July 4|
|Labor Day||September 2||September 1|
|Thanksgiving Day||November 28||November 27|
|Christmas Day||December 25||December 25|
(It should be noted that the markets will close at 1 o'clock on the Friday after Thanksgiving each year, as well as the day prior to July 4 if that day occurs during the workweek. Holidays that fall on a Sunday are traditionally observed the following Monday.)
Since the rise of the U.S. economy at the close of World War II, the NYSE has set forth to hold closing days to a minimum, as investors and corporations alike stand to gain from an extended year of trading.
However, with the advent of the Internet and further globalized markets, traders from around the globe are continuing to demand increased hours in the trading day, and possibly push the workweek to six days to include Saturday. While this won't happen any time soon, the probability of higher profits for investing groups may one day push the market to change.
Outside of the holiday schedule — which is predetermined each year by the officers at the Exchange — the NYSE has closed unexpectedly on several instances in the past.
The majority of the cases in which the Exchange had extended closings were due in large part to war (outbreak of World War I: July 31 – November 27, 1914); union strikes (NY Transit strike: January 6 – January 14, 1966); economic panic (Panic of 1873: September 20 – October 5, 1873); and terrorist attacks (World Trade Center attacks: September 11 – September 14, 2001).
In addition, there have been multiple occasions when the Exchange initiated early closings, usually due in large part to backlogged work.
Interestingly, the NYSE has only closed twice in its history — full or partial day — for private citizens, those being Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and J.P. Morgan.
There are also traditional practices that have survived the years on Wall Street, and therefore become Stock Exchange tradition. These occasionally have an effect on the time for trading. Most notably of these scheduled quirks are the continued observance of Presidents Day, which the NYSE consistently refers to as Washington's Birthday, on the third Monday every February instead of February 22 (stemming from the Monday Holiday Law, 1968); days of mourning for a deceased president (the last one occurring on January 2, 2007, in observance of Gerald Ford's death); and occasional moments of silence at the beginning of trading for topics the NYSE deems appropriate.
Due in large part to increased trading, closures are avoided generally as much as possible.
Barring any radical change, the market will continue to operate on a daily basis — each week, Monday through Friday, during the same hours, and observing the same scheduled holidays — executing the millions of trades that help make investors rich.
And despite the rolling tide of hopes and fears that resounds each day on the trading floor, you can bet that while you might be hoping for additional holidays, those working at 11 Wall Street don’t share your sentiment.