What is an E-mini?
Emini futures trading hours are a bit complicated to explain, but essentially you can trade e-minis around the clock. We’ll get into the specifics further on down, but many people like to trade e-minis because of their flexibility.
E-minis are somewhat complicated financial trading instruments themselves. Essentially, they are electronically traded futures contracts that represent a portion of a standard futures trading contract.
Futures, by the way, are contracts in which the buyer and seller agree on the price for a given asset and exchange the cash now. However, they do not exchange the actual commodity or asset when they draw up the contract, but on an agreed upon future date.
You can buy futures for just about everything, from oil and commodities to index tied futures. Basically, you can buy dow futures today (or any other index linked future). Its performance will be linked to the future performance of the index. For example, you can buy s&p futures, DJIA futures, or NASDAQ futures and then profit as the indices themselves rise. S and p futures are among the most popular index futures.
Sp futures were the first index tied futures offered. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched SP futures in 1997. Their status as the first index future helps explain why s & p futures remain so popular.
Emini futures trading hours
If you want to buy sp futures or any other type of future, it is relatively easy to do so using e-minis. Traders trade futures around the clock, but there are a few brief shutdowns each day for maintenance.
For example, ES contracts trading runs from 5:00PM to 3:15PM the next day (Monday through Thursday). At 3:15PM, trading stops for 15 minutes and then resumes at 3:30PM and runs until 4:30PM. Trading then stops for maintenance until 5PM when trading resumes.
Trading hours for other types of contracts, such as NQ and YM contracts, runs on similar times, but there are some slight variations. If you are going to be trading a specific contract, just head to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s website and look at the trading hours. Hours are also slightly different on weekends, so make sure you check out the schedules for all the specifics.
This probably sounds confusing, but it’s really not. As an investor you just have to be aware of the brief shutdown periods. For most traders, these brief shut downs will amount to nothing more than a minor inconvenience. These brief shut down periods ensure that the markets run as efficiently and problem-free as possible. This is great news for investors.
Compared to stock markets, however, which generally run during standard business hours, e-minis and their 24 hour trading can be very convenient. If you have a regular nine to five job, trading stocks can be difficult. It is difficult for you to monitor your portfolio while you are at work. Conducting trades can also be very difficult, especially if conditions are changing quickly. Thus, the flexibility of e-minis, such as S&P 500 futures, can be very convenient for many traders.
E-minis and Indices
E-minis are also great because they give investors an opportunity to invest in indices without being forced to commit to the full value of a full-sized contract. Buying up shares of every S&P 500 company can be expensive and unaffordable for many investors. In contrast, e-minis allow you to quickly and easily buy a smaller slice of all those companies.
Sp 500 futures, DJIA futures, and NASDAQ futures, among others, are a great way for investors to invest in relatively maintenance free instruments. Instead of having to analyze individual companies, you can focus on larger market trends, like economic growth, which for many investors is appealing. Given that market indices often outperform even professional investors, e-minis can actually generate substantial returns.
At the same time, because investments are spread across so many stocks, risks are actually lower. Remember, as an investor it’s best to never put all your eggs in one basket. A single S&P five hundred future can give you exposure to 500 different stocks. Imagine that!