Market hours: pack pleaser

The Wolf of Wall Street worked hard and played harder. His opposite numbers over in the City of London want shorter trading hours so they too can have balanced lifestyles – without Jordan Belfort’s trademark excesses.

Fair play. Traders and brokers on the London stock market put in longer hours than peers in other global trading hotspots including New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Most of Asia takes a one-hour lunch break; in Japan, the market is only open for two-and-a-half hours before traders down tools for hirugohan.

Of the main equity markets, only those in Europe have trading days as long as the UK. London’s turns over roughly the same, measured by value, as Hong Kong and – based on year-to-date data – one-seventh that of New York.

Chart showing current stock exchanges trading hours worldwide

Computers can do a lot more of the heavy lifting than was the case in the days when Mr Belfort was pumping and dumping stocks in the glitzy offices of Stratton Oakmont. UK-based data tracking firm Coalition estimates roughly half of all cash equities trading is now done electronically, up from a third around six years ago. Robots have no families or parties to go to – they can work all through the night and day if need be.

This is not the case for human traders, who in London must already contend with ghastly commutes, Third World infrastructure and horrid weather. Exchange bosses should cut them some slack.

This Lex Data Points article is one of a series that explores statistics succinctly.


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