Can you trade options after hours? No.
Rather than create the shortest article ever to a very commonly asked question, I’ll expand a bit since the full answer is a bit more complicated. This question is regularly asked, often during earnings season as traders are looking to close options after hours based on a big move. We will discuss when you Can trade options and then some ideas for handling those after hours moves.
Regular market hours
For US equity options, the regular market hours are from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM ET. We’ll stick to Eastern Time zone throughout the article to avoid any confusion. These same hours are also applicable to many ETFs and ETNs.
There are multiple symbols, mostly ETFs, that actually trade until 4:15 PM. As of the writing of this article, here’s a list:
DBA, DBB, DBC, DBO, DIA, EEM, EFA, GAZ, IWM, IWN, IWO, IWV, JJC, KBE, KRE, MDY, MNX, MOO, NDX, OEF, OIL, QQQ, SLX, SPY, SVXY, UNG, UUP, UVXY, VIIX, VIXY, VXX, VXZ, XHB, XLB, XLE, XLF, XLI, XLK, XLP, XLU, XLV, XLY, XME, XRT
A nice resource for these names is at NasdaqTrader.com
If I missed one, please do reach out
Proprietary products (CBOE)
CBOE offers options on their proprietary products. SPX and VIX also stop trading at 4:15 PM. CBOE also started offering what they call “global trading hours” on both of these products – you can trade them from 3:00 AM to 9:15 AM.
Options on futures can be traded almost around the clock starting at 6:00 PM Sunday and going through 4:15 PM on Friday. There is a gap between 4:15 PM and 4:30 PM and then 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM Monday through Thursday.
So, Can I trade Options After Hours?
Still no (outside of the exceptions listed above). That means if you bought that call in Tesla (Ticker: TSLA) and it rockets after hours because Elon Musk finally invented the perpetual motion machine, you can’t sell your call to lock in profits. Then when it turns out he was just having another $420-inspired tweet storm, and the stock returns to reality at the market open, please don’t contact me asking why you couldn’t sell your call. Just re-read this article!
That’s annoying, what can I do?
Glad you asked – it lets me really stretch out this article.
If you need quick market exposure after hours (for say – an unexpected election result) – I would suggest the futures. You can buy/sell them outright or use the options.
Back to the TSLA example, your only choice is to buy or sell the underlying. You can trade the underlying during Pre-Market (4:00 – 9:30 AM) or After-hours (4:00 – 8:00 PM). The liquidity will not be as good, but it works in a pinch.
The idea is that if you have a call and the stock takes off, you sell shares to lock in some of the gains. If you have a put and the stock drops significantly you would buy shares. If there is continued volatility, you can continue to buy/sell shares accordingly.
Can you trade options after hours? No (except for futures, SPX, and VIX). You can hedge your portfolio with those products. You can gamma scalp with stock when you guessed right and bought calls/puts in [insert popular stock here].
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