After-Hours Trading

After-hours trading, sometimes called extended trading, is trading undertaken on electronic market exchanges either before or after regular trading hours.

In the United States, pre-market trading occurs between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET), and after-hours trading typically occurs between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET. After-hours trading is usually abbreviated on message boards with the acronym AH.

Until recently, after-hours trading volume was relatively low. However, the volume of extended trading has exploded, as online trading and related computer technologies have become more prevalent and the markets have grown more international.

Once the preserve of big institutional investors who had the confidence to deploy unorthodox methods, after-hours trading is increasingly being adopted by retail investors, who are becoming more comfortable with the interconnected electronic communications networks that make it possible to trade at unconventional hours. Online trading is less of a novelty and more commonplace, removing the mystique of after-hours trading.

After-hours trading allows nimble investors to act quickly to major events that are investment "catalysts," such as sudden corporate misfortune, political turmoil overseas, terrorist attacks, etc.

Trading before or after the markets officially open allows instantaneous investment decisions that are pegged to the latest developments. A caveat is that after-hours trading can be subject to the emotional whims and fears of less-seasoned, smaller investors—consequently, veteran pros on Wall Street sometimes derisively refer to after-hours trading as "amateur hour," a play on the AH acronym.

More Stock Market Advice

Headline News

Stock Picks

Tesla Motors

If Tesla ever begins to cut back on development and innovation costs, earnings will soar.


China seems to be raising up its very own version of Amazon in Alibaba (BABA.


Roy Ward uses the PEG ratio to determine if the stock is undervalued or overvalued.

Cabot Wealth Advisory

What Fed Speeches Mean for the Stock Market Today

By Chloe Lutts Jensen on September 29, 2016

Four Fed presidents gave speeches yesterday, and every word was digested by the stock market in an attempt to better predict the Fed’s next move. With odds of a December rate hike now about even, how should stock investors prepare?Read More >

The Emerging Market Stock You Ought to Own

By Paul Goodwin on September 27, 2016

The company I’m talking about (the one that you probably don’t own) is the largest Chinese instant messaging company. It is a giant in its own right, with a market cap of $262 billion and annual sales of over $19 billion. The company grew revenue by 28% in 2015 and routinely boasts after-tax profit margins over 30%.Read More >

Tesla Model 3 vs. Chevy Bolt: Which Affordable Electric Car Is Better?

By Timothy Lutts on September 26, 2016

The Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt are the first two affordable electric cars with a driving range of more than 200 miles. Let’s see how they stack up - and what they could mean to Tesla Motors (TSLA) and General Motors (GM) stock. Read More >